Tag Archives: Jesus

You are the light of the world

Image Copyright 2017 by R.A. Robbins

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  — Jesus, Matthew 5:14-16 NIV Accessed from Bible Gateway

Jesus said “you are the light of the world.”  Yes, the light of God shines through you.  For too long we have focused on the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus and ignored the life in between.  By doing so we have missed the lessons Jesus came to teach us about how to live on this earth.  Don’t hide your light.  Let it shine!

I would like to wrap up our study of the life and teachings of Jesus with a final thought.

Christmas has come and gone. But this year don’t take the baby out of the manger and put him away till next year. Celebrate Christmas every minute of every day. Welcome the Christ presence into the world by living in conscious awareness of the presence of God within us all and following Jesus our great example by living his way of life and teachings.

Dig a Little Deeper:   How do you shine your light into the world?

The Rich and the Kingdom of God

Today we are looking at the story of Jesus and “the rich young ruler” from the Gospel according to Matthew.

16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

18 “Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’[c] and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’[d]

20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”

28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife[e] or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.  —Matthew 19:16-30 NIV  accessed from BibleGateway.com

This is another one of those teachings of Jesus no one wants to hear.  After all we all want to be materially rich, don’t we? Some churches even teach that God wants you to be rich.  Not achieving material wealth may even be seen as a sign of spiritual “failure.”

But what did Jesus have to say about material riches?  He said that it is very difficult to follow him and to enter the Kingdom of God because you have to give up everything.  Not only material wealth and possessions but also earthly relationships and responsibilities. Why? Because these things not only distract us from our relationship and dependence on God, they may even replace it.  When this happens all those other things become our god to be not only sought after but worshiped.

Verse 30 is the clincher in this whole teaching.  “But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.”  Those who work to claw their way to the top may find that in the end they have nothing spiritually. Likewise those who are poor in the eyes of the world may have amassed great spiritual riches.

This is an area where I believe many churches have been led astray and have led their followers astray.  Throughout the gospels we see Jesus’ disdain of the rich.  Jesus did not teach the “gospel of wealth.”

Dig a Little Deeper:  Following Jesus is costly.  It may require you to give up your money, your possessions, your job, even relationships.  Are you ready to do this?

The Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven

The disciples were always jockeying for position.  They all wanted to be the first, the best, the closest to Jesus with a high position in the Kingdom.  So we can imagine their surprise at the answer Jesus gave  to the question in Matthew 18:1, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Jesus answered:

 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!

Jesus, Matthew 18:1-7, New International Version, accessed from BibleGateway.com

Children are a blessing from God and parenting is a sacred trust and a great responsibility.   Jesus welcomed children.

We have seen throughout our study of the life and teachings of Jesus so far that it is not the rich and powerful who will be first in the Kingdom of God.  It will be the meek, lowly, humble, peace-loving and childlike who have overcome the temptations of this world to become hardened, angry, greedy and violent who will lead the way into the kingdom of God.

 

Dig a Little Deeper:  

What have you learned about the Kingdom from watching children”

 

 

And Who is My Neighbor?

Jesus often taught by asking questions.  He also told a good story as a teaching tool (the parables).  I chose the Parable of the Good Samaritan as an example of both.  This is also a message we need to hear today. It is clear, plain and needs no interpretation.  All we need to do is live it.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[c]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d]

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[e] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”  —Luke 10:25-37, New International Version, Accessed from Bible Gateway.com

 

Dig a Little Deeper:   

Who is your neighbor?

Do Not Worry

Copyright 2017 by R.A. Robbins

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” — Teaching of Jesus from the Bible, Matthew 6:  25-28 NIV, accessed through Biblegateway.com

This should be so easy, but it is so difficult, isn’t it?  From an early age we are taught we must provide for ourselves.  And society tells us we are a “failure” if we do not provide not only the basic needs, but are also not wealthy in the eyes of the world. 

How often do we say “I need that” when we really don’t?  Wanting something because of what it represents in terms of power or prestige is not the same as needing it.  When you look at our country, the United States, how much suffering do we create in other parts of the world by our greed?

Trusting that “God will provide” is not easy.  This is something I know about. I have worried and fretted over not having enough and wondering how we would just survive.  I have tried and tried to find ways to bring in more money, but those attempts only made matters worse.  But I have also seen provision in the form of needs being met in the most unlikely of ways. When I lost enough weight that my clothes no longer fit I worried about being able to afford new clothes.  Then friends started showing up with bags full of clothes.  Let me tell you, God does have a sense of humor.

We have been notified by a state we haven’t lived in for 20 years about “lost money” the Treasurer’s office had been holding for us.  When the grocery budget has been tight sales and discounts have been plentiful. A doctor waved his fee with no mention being made of financial hardship.  I’m sure you have stories like these. These are all ways God provides, but how many times do we overlook them?

Worry is hard on the body and the mind.  It makes us sick. So, isn’t it time to heed the words of Jesus, “do not worry about your life?”

 

Dig a Little Deeper: 

How has God provided for you?

 

A Den of Thieves?

Today we are looking at the account of Jesus driving the money changers out of the Temple.  I chose the version of this story from John 2:13-17, New International Version, accessed from Bible Gateway.com.

13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”[c

John 2:13-17, New International Version,  accessed from BibleGateway.com

 

I chose the story of this incident from the book of John because it clearly shows that Jesus was angry, to put it mildly.  How does this apply today? Have we turned our churches into markets? Or as accounts from other Gospels say “a den of thieves?”

Are you saddened when you see churches being run as big businesses?  Do you know of churches where the Senior pastor has the title of CEO or functions as one?   Have you ever attended a church that charged for everything from Sunday School literature, to classes, to church dinners, to children’s Vacation Bible School?  Doesn’t this exclude certain people? Does your church operate a bookstore where books and other religious merchandise are sold? Do you know that some churches charge for prayer or spiritual guidance? 

Dig a Little Deeper:   

What do you think Jesus would think about our big buildings with even bigger budgets?  Would Jesus come into our churches today and start turning things upside down?

 

 

Going the Extra Mile

Copyright 2017 by R. A. Robbins

38 You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[h] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”  –

— Jesus. Matthew 5:39-51, NIV, Accessed from Biblegateway.com

 

This is one of those difficult teachings of Jesus that we would like to cut out of our Bible’s isn’t it?  It definitely goes against our Western sensibilities.

 

Dig a Little Deeper: 

What are some ways you can go that extra mile with someone in your own life?

:) Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness

Copyright 2016 by R.A. Robbins

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” — Jesus, Matthew 5:10, NIV, accessed from BibleGateway.com

Let’s face it, living a righteous, Godly life has never been easy.  There has always been opposition.  The prophets suffered greatly for their calling.  John the Baptist, Jesus and many others were murdered for their faith.  Early Christians met in secret because of the persecution and death they faced if discovered.

Notice that Jesus did not say fight back.  He said we are blessed when people insult us, make fun of us, persecute us.  We are blessed (made happy) because it means we are living in a way that is different than ”the world” and people are taking notice.  Persecution means others are recognizing the Christ within us.

In the world we live in now the temptation to not only fight back, but to kill and destroy the opposition is stronger than ever.  Even “good church going folks” are falling prey to this.  Some pastors are even telling their congregants to arm themselves.  This is not the way of Jesus.

Remember we are blessed when the world turns against us.  It means we are doing something right.

Dig a Little Deeper:

  How do you handle persecution against your faith/”way of life?”  Are you willing to take an unpopular stand to state you are for what is right? –Regardless of the cost to you?

:) Blessed are the peacemakers

Copyright 2011 by R.O. Robbins

Blessed are the peacemakers,  for they will be called children of God.” 

— Jesus, Matthew 5:9, NIV, accessed from BibleGateway.com

It seems that many Christians have trouble with the idea of Jesus as a peacemaker and even more trouble with the idea of themselves as peacemakers.  After all what can one person in this world do to stop the violence and pave the way for peace?

The answer to this is simple.  We stop being violent.  We become peace.  We live, breathe and act out of peace.  One person.  One kind loving act.  That is how it is done.  Is it easy?  Of course not.  But is it possible?  Yes, but we cannot look at the whole big picture of violence in the world because it will be overwhelming.

No one can wave a magic wand and make all war and violence stop.  But we can calm the violence and anger within ourselves.  Next, we bring our families, churches, and communities together in peace.  That’s how peace spreads.  One person at a time.

“Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.”

 

Dig Deeper:

  How are you making peace in your world?