Called to follow Him

imageIn the eyes of the important leaders, Levi was a sinner- not worthy to follow or to be called by the Rabbi. Jesus made it clear that “self-righteous” people are not part of those he calls, only sinners (those who are willing to let His righteousness change them). The focus changed from Levi’s inadequacy to Jesus’ ability. -Teresa

Mark 2:13-17 (ESV)

13 He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. 14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.

15 And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 And the scribes of[a] the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat[b] with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

That righteous man

  Jesus Christ our Savior lived a righteous life. His example of forgiveness during suffering has inspired numerous Christians who are persecuted even today. He inspires us to live under the power of the Spirit- full of God’s grace.  Lord, we are amazed at your supernatural love that reaches to the deepest needs of our society. As you reach out and touch us, Lord, heal our sin sickness. Forgive us, O Lord, so that we may truly forgive others. – Teresa

Matthew 27: 15-23 (ESV)
15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. 16 And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. 17 So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. 19 Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.” 20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” 22 Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” 23 And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

A beautiful thing

  Wine is better with age, I like to think that people are that way too. When we realize how precious every day tasks are, our gratitude quotient improves dramatically, making us happier. Then, when the moment comes to pour out who we are to the Savior- in that sacred moment of time (even when others may misunderstand) what has become better with age makes such an impact on the Savior that He carries the aroma of our gratitude around Him through His suffering. In the same way, the aroma of this perfume just a few days after it was lovingly applied announced what the banner on the cross spelled out, “King of the Jews”! Rather than mock Him, Mary’s annointing affirmed the Savior’s true identity.- Teresa

 Matthew 25: 6-13 (ESV)

6 “Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper,[b] 7 a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. 8 And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? 9 For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” 10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. 12 In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”

Don’t engage with a deceiver

 Insight and wisdom will always treat us right, unlike one who may look good on the outside but hides cactus spikes under their pretty flower! The lesson that Eve learned in the garden was not to even engage in discussion with the serpent, the master deceiver- you won’t win. This is a lesson for men and women alike…don’t engage with those whose words are too smooth to be true. – Teresa

 Proverbs 7:1-5 (ESV)

7 “My son, keep my words

    and treasure up my commandments with you;

2 keep my commandments and live;

    keep my teaching as the apple of your eye;

3 bind them on your fingers;

    write them on the tablet of your heart.

4 Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,”

    and call insight your intimate friend,

5 to keep you from the forbidden[a] woman,

    from the adulteress[b] with her smooth words.”

  

Unscathed

 When we experience spiritual warfare, I propose that we don’t take on this battle alone. Rather, if it feels like we’re circling the drain, escape to the stronghold. This way of escape presents itself in our everyday walk with God the Father, Jesus Christ our Lord and the promised Holy Spirit. When we are in communion with God, our ability to discern rests on our willingness to ask for help. The answer may be truth telling, righteous living, a way of faith or risk to take for Him. It may present as hopeful encouragement, prayer or avoidance of the danger (see Dr. Gil Stieglitz, weapons of righteousness coaching at ptlb.com). Though an army is encamping against us we will not fear. God, the ‘three in one’ trinity, will lead us through the battle, unscathed. -Teresa

 Psalm 26:1-3 (ESV)

27 “The Lord is my light and my salvation;

    whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold[a] of my life;

    of whom shall I be afraid?

2 When evildoers assail me

    to eat up my flesh,

my adversaries and foes,

    it is they who stumble and fall.

3 Though an army encamp against me,

    my heart shall not fear;

though war arise against me,

    yet[b] I will be confident.”

Nothing given is lost

 Although the disciples were shocked at the difficulties a rich person would encounter  when trying to enter Christ’s kingdom, they were reassured that nothing was impossible for God. Jesus then went on to validate their extreme sacrifice of leaving all to follow Him. In the end, nothing was lost. In fact, not only would they inherit eternal life now (knowing God and Jesus Christ whom he sent- see John 17:3) but after the ressurection they would receive one hundred fold of all they gave up. -Teresa

Matthew 19: 23-30 (ESV)
23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person 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 a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 27 Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world,[a] when the Son of Man will sit 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 children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold[b] and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

Mourning Israel

 When Israel (Jacob) died, Joseph had his body embalmed and travelled to the cave near Mamre to bury him there. The Canaanites who witnessed the Egyptian entourage named the place where they mourned Abel-Mizraim meaning “mourning of Egypt”. In Genesis 50:11 it says, “this is a grievious mourning by the Egyptians”. Afterward, Joseph’s brothers had a hard time believing Joseph’s grace and mercy would last. They were most likely reminded of the grief and mourning Jacob displayed when he concluded falsely that Joseph was destroyed by a wild animal. Joseph represented a new way, not life under the sun but life because of the SON!! He showed grace and mercy even in the midst of his loss. He ecognized the importance of being part of God’s will be done (and looking toward Messiah -God’s kingdom come)- Teresa

 Genesis 50: 15-21 (ESV)

“15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” 16 So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: 17 ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people[b] should be kept alive, as they are today. 21 So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.”

Closer than a brother

 

  
Benjamin was Joseph’s brother, the other nine were step brothers. Yet…Joseph was a type of Christ to all of them- sticking closer than a brother. He brought salvation in a time of severe famine. He extended forgiveness when it was his right to punish them for mistreating him. What we do with God’s Son will determine our eternal destiny. Do we recognize him as Lord of all? He alone has the power to pay our sin debt that keeps us from a right relationship with the Father.- Teresa

Genesis 45:4-15

4 So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6 For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. 7 And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. 8 So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. 9 Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; do not tarry. 10 You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, and your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. 11 There I will provide for you, for there are yet five years of famine to come, so that you and your household, and all that you have, do not come to poverty.’ 12 And now your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see, that it is my mouth that speaks to you. 13 You must tell my father of all my honor in Egypt, and of all that you have seen. Hurry and bring my father down here.” 14 Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept upon his neck. 15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them. After that his brothers talked with him.

Heart-revealing words

 The clear glass window reveals nature’s serenity. If you would like a revelation into someone’s heart, listen to their words. (See Mat 12, “for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” and also, “for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” ). When the Pharisees told the people that the only way Jesus was able to cast out demons was by Beelzebub (prince of demons), Jesus had insight into their hearts. Instead of accusing the Pharisees of speaking falsehoods to gain power , he pointed out why their logic was not sound and why their heart was on the road to perdition. #gatherwithHim- Teresa

Matthew 12: 22-32 (ESV)

22 “Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. 23 And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” 24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” 25 Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. 26 And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house. 30 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31 Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”

Beauty in the mist

 Although a thick blanket of fog may envelope our circumstances, God is dealing bountifully with us. We don’t always understand  why or how long but His desire is to draw us near to Him. When Jacob ran from Laban, he had two warriors after him- Laban who did not like being deceived and Esau who remembered that his brother stole from him. In the midst of dire circumstances, Jacob built an altar (see Gen 31:52). God had a plan for Jacob to be changed, to become a man after his own heart- to have a total character change. His new name representing this change was…Israel!! His kindness leads us to repentance. -Teresa

Genesis 32: 9-12 (ESV)

9 ‘And Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your kindred, that I may do you good,’ 10 I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps. 11 Please deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I fear him, that he may come and attack me, the mothers with the children. 12 But you said, ‘I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’”

Psalm 13:5,6 (ESV) …of David

5 “But I have trusted in your steadfast love;

    my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.

6 I will sing to the Lord,

    because he has dealt bountifully with me.”