Tag Archives: Gospel of Matthew

A Great Time To Be a Fan – A Critical Time To Be a Follower

I’m writing this blog post on Thursday but it will post on Saturday. As of now the KC Royals are playing every game hoping that the next victory will help them squeeze their way into the post-season.  The Chiefs are off to their best start in recent memory with a great chance to knock out their new coach’s former team.  It’s a great time to be a fan of KC sports.

I suppose it’s a great time to be a fan of Jesus as well.  After all, He conquered the greatest enemy of all – death!  And while we may “share” in the Royals’ or Chiefs’ victory through the window of our televisions, we can only share Jesus’ victory if we follow Him.  And following Jesus is hard!  While being a fan of Jesus might be socially acceptable, following Jesus isn’t.  In fact Jesus himself said that if we follow him, the people will despise us.

“And all nations will hate you because you are my followers.  But everyone who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:22

“Students are to be like their teacher, and slaves are to be like their master.  And since I, the master of the household, have been called the prince of demons, the members of my household will be called by even worse names.” Matthew 10:25

It seems to me that we are in the middle of a message series that approaches those teachings of Jesus which the crowd considered to be too difficult to understand and/or follow.  John records in chapter 6 that many, in fact, turned away.  Remember that these are the same people who ate the miracle fish and bread meal earlier in the chapter.  It very well may be that this series offers a turning point for all of us who listen.  What if we find the cost of being a follower to high?  What if we discover that we prefer what is socially acceptable rather than obedience?

“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23


Don’t Tell Me How to Love God

To many, the term worship has become a smorgasbord-word and the definition varies with each individual according to how they fill their plate.  Successful worship then is judged according to how the song arrangements makes them feel.  To allow more people to “feel” like successful worshipers, we ask pastors and worship leaders to become short-order cooks and prepare only the favorite dishes week after week.  We might be extremely disciplined in our physical diets because of our desire to live healthy lives, but when it comes to the spiritual we only want what tastes good.  Caught in the trap of this mindset we reject any disagreeable exhortation from fellow worshipers.  We think it a comfortable compromise to say “You love God in your way and let me love Him in my way.”

Matthew 22:37-39 is referenced a lot as a foundation for building a healthy worship philosophy.  I’ve used it many times when leading worship.  Most worship leaders, if asked for a two word definition for worship would very likely answer “Loving God.”

“Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important; ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matt 22:37-39 NLT

This is an important statement by Christ and because we acknowledge that Christ is the Son of God, we know that this greatest commandment is God revealing what He expects of us, His people.  But what does it mean to love God with all our heart, soul and mind? Is He talking about feeling love toward God? If I have a happy feeling about God does that mean I am worshiping? Though our God is Righteous, I can’t see Him warning us that we’ve “Lost that lovin’ feelin’.” Would we dare to define true worship with the words of Blue Swede -“Hooked on  a Feeling?”

There’s more to it than just feeling love for God.  Worship isn’t meant to be passive.  It’s active.  Over and over again Christ reminded His disciples that they should obey.   John 14:5 relay’s Jesus’ instruction most clearly “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” How do we love God? WE OBEY.  This is successful worship.

Obedience is a worship dish that is best served hot!  We don’t go at this obedience half-hearted.  And we don’t with grumbling in our spirit.  We serve God with a glad heart and with our whole heart.  It is our desire to demonstrate our love to God that should motivate our obedience.  It’s easy to obey when there is a reward, but what if our obedience was simply obedience.  My kids are much more obedient when they know they are earning a special privileged or if they know that Christmas is getting close.  This obedience demonstrates a love of self.  We are all guilty of this when it comes to our worship.

I have had occasions in the middle of leading worship when I sing a lyric such as “all of you is more than enough for me” and I know that I haven’t lived as if that were true. While I keep singing, I begin to pray in my heart and repent from the times I’ve lived for myself rather than for God.  If all of Jesus is more than enough for us then we demonstrate this by pursuing him with relentless obedience motivated in love.


Liar or Lover?

I have some favorite words.  I’m sure you do too.  There are a lot of words I like for the way they sound, like STEADFAST!  What a great word!  I want to be steadfast.  There are other words I like because of what they represent like “breakfast.”  I’m a big fan of breakfast – any time of the day.  I also like the word meat because… well… I like meat!  And when you put certain words together, it’s even better – Breakfast Meat! Are you hungry yet?

As I think it over, it’s more than mere words that bring me elation, but rather it’s what they represent.  If I had to choose between using the WORD “breakfast” or eating a REAL breakfast that was sitting right in front of me, I’d pass on the mere word and dive into the eggs, waffles and bacon!

Substance is always preferred to mere words.  It must be this way with God, too.  We talk a lot about worship, but is it the word or the concept that we love or do we demonstrate to God how much we love Him?  We love to sing about worship, but do we worship?  Does our worship have substance?  Just as I prefer a real breakfast to the mere mention of the word, God’s desire is that we truly worship Him rather than just talk positively about it.

Reminds be of a parable:

Matthew 21:28-32 “What do you think? A man had two sons.  And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went.  and he went to the other son and said the same.  And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two obeyed his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you.

We understand that it is not enough to say that we love God and will obey Him.  We have to actually OBEY Him.  Worship is loving God.  How does God expect us to show our love?  Obedience.  The words Worship-Love-Obedience are meant to be used together.  Take away any one of those words and worship becomes something less than substantial – mere words.

We seek to obey because we love God.  We need to be careful that love rather than duty drives our obedience. Duty has its place, but love is God’s greatest command. “Love the Lord your God with all you heart and all our soul and all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37) “Let love be your highest goal!” (1 Cor 14:1)

However, if we say we love God, but do not obey Him, the Bible calls us liars!

1John 2:4-6 If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth.  But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him.  Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.

I don’t mean to be harsh, but there are only two things we can do as people who claim to know Jesus.

Be a Lover or be a Liar!

Holy God and my Father, I desire to be a true worshiper, though I know that I have failed to obey You so many times.  Other times I have obeyed out of duty and hated it because my love was for myself and not for You.  And at times I have merely gone through the motions of worship with my mind disengaged from Your presence.  Forgive me for my half-heartedness.  And help me so that my  Worship and Love show through in Obedience and my Love and Obedience make complete my Worship and let my Worship and Obedience demonstrate my Love for You. amen.


Make Way For The King!

The People Seek Jesus to Make Him King

The People Seek Jesus to Make Him King (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Palm Sunday we remember how Jesus entered Jerusalem to the praises of His followers.  They placed the branches of palms on the road to make a path.  Most even took the cloak off their back and placed that on the road to make Jesus’ path. (Matt. 21:8) Would you do that?  Would you ruin a perfectly good cloak to make way for your Savior?  Do you know how hard it is to get out donkey stains?

Remember what happened next? Jesus went to the temple and found the place full of greedy selfish people. They were “helping” outsiders – guests – by changing their foreign currency into the proper form so that they could buy the animal for sacrifice.  They were ripping people off!  The church was full of guests.  But the scribes and chief priests could think only of profiting off of them.  After all, these people only come to the Temple once a year.  Jesus – in righteous anger – dumped over the tables and drove those crooks out of the temple yard.  Temple was to be a place to spend time in prayer and to know the Father.

If it troubles you to think about Jesus’ show of anger, just remember that in a few days he would die for the sins of these money changers.

When guests show up for Easter services next week, let us be humble.  They are not here so we can be proud of how full building is. (Not for our profit)   They are here to seek and to find the Savior, the Redeemer.  They are here at the invitation of the Father. Take off your cloak and lay it down to make a path; a path that leads them to Jesus.   Let’s all humbly serve our guests next week and every week.  In the name of Jesus.