Tag Archives: Matthew

God Is Always with Me

At the end of the book of Matthew, Jesus says to the disciples, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b (NIV). When He said this, He was talking not just to those disciples who were present, but to all who believe in Him even today. That includes me. He is always with me. He showed me that in a very concrete way this past week.

On Tuesday I had an appointment that I had been putting off for over a year. It may seem like a small thing to many of you, but to me it was huge. I was afraid to make and keep this appointment. But with God’s encouragement I finally did it.

I went to the dentist to have prep done for a crown. I know, people get crowns every day, but I have since childhood been extremely uncomfortable in the dentist’s chair. It stems from a childhood experience that I won’t go into because it’s not the point of this story. Suffice it to say that I have for as long as I can remember been tense and nervous when I have to go to the dentist, even for a cleaning.

There was no getting around the fact that I needed a crown. I have a hairline fracture in a tooth and I barely chew on that side because if I chew on anything even slightly hard it hurts. A year ago the new dentist I started seeing told me I needed to do this. He was nice about it and understanding about my fear, and he didn’t pressure me to put a crown or overlay on every molar in my mouth as a prior dentist had tried to do. I liked his manner enough that I finally felt like I’d found a dentist I could trust. (His name is Jack Henry in Lake Oswego, if you happen to be looking for a good dentist.)

After praying for God’s peace (see Philippians 4:6-7), I finally scheduled a cleaning one week and the crown prep the following week. Halfway through the cleaning appointment, I realized I was the most relaxed I had ever been in a dentist’s chair. This gave me hope that the crown prep wouldn’t be so bad.

Did I mention that I dislike Novocain intensely? It tends to cause my cheek and jaw to hurt for several days. So in spite of the good cleaning appointment, I was still feeling anxious as I looked ahead to the crown prep because I knew there would be Novocain and drilling involved.

But again, I prayed that God would give me peace and help me to not be afraid during this appointment.

I arrived on time and was escorted to the dentist’s chair. I asked if I could listen to music while they worked because I had brought my iPod and headphones. The dentist not only said I could but said it was a great idea. He likes to listen to music when he has dental work done, too, because he doesn’t like the sound of the grinder and drill. It was very reassuring to know that he understood that this procedure was not at all pleasant and that he was going to do whatever he could to make it better.

As he began to work, I shuffled my iPod on a MercyMe and Jeremy Camp playlist I had created in anticipation of Fish Fest that I am going to in August with some friends. And that’s when God so clearly reminded me that He is always with me. The first song that played was God with Us by MercyMe. I heard these beginning lyrics:

Who are we
That You would be mindful of us
What do You see
That’s worth looking our way

We are free
In ways that we never should be
Sweet release from the grip of these chains

I knew that He was mindful of this small thing in my life. I knew He had released me from the chains of fear that had kept me from making this appointment a year before. As that song ended, I felt the peace of knowing God was with me, but He wasn’t done reminding me. The next song to randomly play on shuffle was Here with Me, also by MercyMe, with lyrics that say:

And I can feel your presence here with me
Suddenly I’m lost within your beauty
Caught up in the wonder of your touch
Here in this moment I surrender to your love

You’re everywhere I go
I am not alone
You call me as your own
To know you and be known

Oh, that He would care so much for me; that He knows so well my anxiety and fear and also how to calm that fear. And then He reminded me of why I was feeling such peace in what would have otherwise been a tense and stressful situation. The next song to play was Every Time by Jeremy Camp. The chorus and one of the verses of this song say:

Every time I’m on my knees, pleading for Your strength
I will find You there, find you there
Every time I’m on my knees, reaching for Your strength
I will find You there, find You there

I’m holding on to this hope
I’ve been given, to be always with You
I’m seeing now
That this fullness of faith is, always seeking You

That very morning I had been on my knees pleading God for strength and peace to endure this appointment that my natural self dreaded. I held onto the hope that He would be with me, and He was faithful as always. Rather than be anxious about my appointment, I brought my concern to God, with thanksgiving, and His peace was my reward.

By the time this third song ended, Dr. Henry was done with the drilling and grinding. I was not tense and had not felt a thing. And to top it all off, the Novocain wore off much more quickly than I had expected and there were no lasting effects of pain in my cheek or jaw.

God is always with me, even at the dentist. What an awesome and wonderful God He is!

 

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Repent and Follow Jesus – A Poem

This poem is a found poem of sorts. It is based on the principles from my Bible Study Fellowship Teaching Leader’s lecture on Matthew 11–12. I rearranged the exact words of her four principles, but the concepts are what she shared regarding this passage of scripture.

Repent and Follow Jesus

Go straight to Jesus, trust His Word,
when facing doubt and frustration

Indifference to Christ’s revelation
brings only condemnation

To those called by God who humbly obey
in faith He brings peaceful elation

The proud who stubbornly reject Christ
will be excluded from His gift of salvation

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Finding Jesus in the Old Testament

Any serious study of the Bible includes some basics of Bible prophecy. There are, of course, the prophecies that Jesus:

For me, the connection between the Old Testament and the New Testament through the fulfillment of prophecy is sufficient proof of the Bible’s authenticity and Jesus’ authority as King and God. One of the things I love about God is how He frequently shows me new connections when I read His Word, in answer to a prayer I said many years ago (which you can read about here). Truly all of the Old Testament scriptures are about Jesus and His relationship to His people.

Last Monday I was in a Bible Study Fellowship seminar titled “Personal Quiet Time” given by our wonderful Substitute Teaching Leader Ginger. We learned a great method for reading God’s Word and listening for what He has to say to you in the passage you’ve read.

In the middle of this seminar, as we were each practicing a method of personal quiet time we had just learned, God revealed an Old Testament – New Testament connection to me in a most awesome way.

First of all, He worked ahead of time to make what He wanted to teach me possible for me to see. For some reason I went to the seminar without either my Bible or my phone (which has a Bible app on it). I left both in the room my group was to meet in after the seminar. As I entered the seminar I sat in the front row next to my friend and fellow Group Leader Gina. When it came time for us to open our Bibles to read the passage Ginger asked us to consider, Gina loaned me her study Bible and she used her iPad Bible app. If I’d had the Bible I bring to BSF (and had left in the room) what happened next would not have been possible because that Bible doesn’t have a concordance.

As part of this exercise, we read Mark 1:35-45, which begins, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” As I read this, I was reminded of another verse that I have long felt was a call to me to not sleep in so late but rather to get up early to spend quiet time with God, as Jesus did in the Luke passage. I knew the text of the verse, but not what chapter and verse it was. Using the concordance in Gina’s Bible I found that the verse was Isaiah 50:4, which says, “The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.” I was sure the Lord was trying to tell me that I had ignored His prompting to get up earlier long enough.

But then my eyes fell upon the next verses in the Isaiah passage that describe Jesus’ obedience and endurance in going to the cross, as well as His unwavering trust in His Father:

The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears;
I have not been rebellious,
I have not turned away.
I offered my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard;
I did not hide my face
from mocking and spitting.

Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,
I will not be disgraced.
Therefore have I set my face like flint,
and I know I will not be put to shame.
He who vindicates me is near.
Who then will bring charges against me?
Let us face each other!
Isaiah 50:5-8 (NIV).

Suddenly I knew that it wasn’t about what time I get up, but whether I desire to know Jesus more and spend time with Him in my otherwise busy day. I realized it was okay that I am not a very early riser even if Jesus was. He had to be to beat the crowds and have any time alone with His Father; I have other options. Then, to confirm what I had heard from Him, the Lord spoke again through Ginger. As we finished the exercise and discussed what we had learned from the passage, Ginger pointed out to the group, as an example of developing personal quiet time habits, that I had found a creative way to spend time with God, and that is by doing my BSF lessons while I eat my lunch at work.

What a blessing! I learned new prophetic connections and received wonderful encouragement, all because I made the time to arrive early for this one-hour seminar. And because God is good.

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Have You Read What He Said? – A Poem

You think He’s a prophet, a great teacher,
nothing more, nothing less

Seriously?
Have you ever read
the many crazy things He said?

He spoke like a street corner sandwich-board

From that time on Jesus began to preach,
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.

Or a homeless man rambling on
about angels and demons

The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom.
The weeds are the people of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil.
The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.

He was homeless, with no place to lay His head

No one listens to a crazy man with a sandwich-board
or the homeless man rambling on

You surely don’t call them prophets, or great teachers
just crazy, nothing more

He spoke like a paranoid schizophrenic
certain the ones in power were after Him

We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered
over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law.
They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles
to be mocked and flogged and crucified.

He was plagued by delusions of grandeur
claiming He was God; had always lived and always would
even after He died, He claimed He would rise again

“On the third day I will be raised to life!”
 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”

No one would listen to someone who made such claims today
They would lock Him in the loony bin, put Him on meds
until He understood He was just a man

The leaders of His day did even worse
They crucified Him because He claimed He was the Messiah
the Son of God

Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man
sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.

Then the high priest said, “Look, now you have heard the blasphemy.  What do you think?”
“He is worthy of death,” they answered.

But He offered some great advice, you say
and spoke of love and forgiveness

That He did, but His advice, His commands
turned many away who thought His teaching too hard

If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. . .
And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. . .
And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out.

He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life,
and I will raise him up on the last day.
For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.

Those who followed Him then, those who follow Him now
do so not because He was a great teacher or a prophet
but because He was who He said He was
Immanuel, God with us
nothing more, and certainly nothing less

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Hope of Things New – A Poem

Innocence lost
can never be restored

Trust broken
is forever destroyed

Zuzu’s petals
cannot be pasted

Hope shattered
remains in tiny pieces

Cake once eaten
can never be made whole

With you and me
restoration is impossible

But with God
all things are possible
all things can be made new
all things will be used for our good

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The Merciful Servant – An Elfje

Heavy
Pain, sadness
It lingers within
My heart must forgive
Mercy

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Matthew’s Gospel – A Cinquain

Matthew
Jesus’ account
Loving, healing, teaching
ultimately giving His life
Ransom

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Lost and Found – An Elfje

Lost
His sheep
She wanders afar
My prayers for rescue
Found

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Fearless – A Poem

This poem was inspired by my Bible Study Fellowship teaching leader, who has been a great inspiration to me. We are doing a study of Matthew and some of the phrases in this poem are inspired by the encounters with Jesus that we have been studying.

Fearless

Fearless disciple
following Christ
wherever He may lead
Into the storm
or to foreign lands
wherever there is need

Fearless child
of the Living God
rejoicing, “I am freed!”
The cross of Christ
the Gospel true, she
rejoicing plants a seed

Fearless leader
forging ahead with
teaching we do heed
The Word of Life
the source from which all
teaching does proceed

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My Favorite Name

This is a post that I wrote the first December that I was blogging. I wasn’t getting nearly the traffic back then that I do now, and since I’m having a little trouble getting anything new written I thought I’d repost this. The timing is perfect because tomorrow is Christmas Eve. It’s the perfect time to ponder Immanuel.

As Christmas is fast approaching, I’ve been thinking about the many names given to Jesus in the Bible. He is called the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Prince of Peace, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Alpha & Omega, and many more. But my favorite name of Jesus is Immanuel. The prophet Isaiah wrote: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14. This verse is quoted in Matthew 1:23 regarding Jesus, and in Matthew the writer defines the name Immanuel to mean “God with us.”

When I look at one of my many nativity scenes, that is what I see: God with us. For thousands of years God tried to get the message across to His people that He loved them and would always be there for them. He spoke through miracles, such as the parting of the Red Sea, and through prophets, such as Isaiah and Daniel. But in spite of all His attempts to get through to them, His people didn’t always get it.

So God decided to become one of us, to be with us, to experience life just as we do. I like the name Immanuel because it reminds me that God loves us enough to be willing to experience all the pain, trials, and heartache that we do, to fully understand how we experience relationships and love. God did this in hopes that we could and would better relate to Him. Because ultimately what He wants is for us to be with Him.

This Christmas, I hope you will feel the blessing of being with God and of God being with you. I hope you will experience the fullness of Immanuel.

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