Thursday, May 8, 2008

Matthew, Chapter 16

I must begin with a warning today. Today's entry will be highly personal. This is because I needed the Word of God this morning to truly speak to my heart, and it did just that. My personal entry seem to come off much better, anyway, because They allow me to really relate the Scriptures that were written 2,000 ago to something that is happening right now. That just makes God's power that much more personal and awe-inspiring. It also proves to me that the Bible is truly the living Word of God even today.

Today we are in chapter 16 of Matthew. There are four different things going on in this chapter. We have Jesus denouncing the Pharisees who have asked for a miraculous sign. We have a warning against avoiding the Pharisees. We have Peter's confession of Christ in which he receives the name Peter. Finally, we have Jesus predicting His death. It was the first two aspects that truly spoke to me this morning. We see the Pharisees asking for a miraculous sign so that Jesus might prove His divinity. Because of this, Jesus warns His disciples against being infected by their yeast. He uses another parable to illustrate this point, and this morning Christ's words seemed to be etched on my heart.

5When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. 6"Be careful," Jesus said to them. "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

 7They discussed this among themselves and said, "It is because we didn't bring any bread."

 8Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, "You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? 9Do you still not understand? Don't you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 10Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 11How is it you don't understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees." 12Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. – Matthew 16:5-12

Lately I feel as if I have been crushed by depression. It is almost a physical weight I have been carrying around on my shoulders and chest. Because of the circumstances of life, I am faced with a time where nothing seems to get better. I am unemployed, but I have been able to substitute teach. God has provided this way, but it feels like all the work I have done has already been spent because of getting hammered by unexpected bills and such. To top it off, two weeks from now the school year will be over and I can no longer teach. At that point I am totally on god's grace to find a new job, and my temp agency has been less than accommodating with finding me a new position. Most days it feels like I am moving forward only out of sheer inertia.

I am of little faith, however. In this passage Jesus reminds the disciples of something he had recently accomplished with the feeding of 5,000 and 4,000 people on two separate occasions. We don't know how long it had been since these miracles, but they were in the last two chapters and Jesus' public ministry lasted only about 3 years. Because of that, it had to have been fairly recent. This hits home this morning because in the past God has come through for me even when it seemed hopeless. I was in a similar situation last July, and God came through with an assignment at the NCAA that last nine months and bailed us out in a very similar situation. Though I have not had a permanent full-time job in over three years he has delivered, like feeding the thousands, time and again. Still, this morning I struggle with a lack of faith.

Through it all, I am more than thankful that God has the patience to smile and still love me though I am lacking faith. Both my wife and I are struggling severely at the moment when it comes to trusting god. He seems to be silent while our wants seem to be at odds with His wants for us. I have the promise of the Scriptures, however, that he still loves us through this. That is bringing me to tears this morning. God sees past my shortcomings and still loves me. I know I am His regardless because I have placed my trust in him through the death of His Son on the Cross. As bad as things are, they could be infinitely worse, but God would still be there and He would still love me. Right now I want to rage and scream against him, acting like a spoiled child, but He would still love me.

Though I don't even want to go on right now and I feel absolutely worthless in the eyes of men, He still loves me and treasures me as if I am the greatest treasure in the universe. How can I not give Him praise for all that? I don't even have questions for you today, just praise for a God that can accept me and my eccentricities simply because he made me.

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