Jesus taught about the demands of discipleship…
Chapter 18 has been called the discourse on greatness and forgiveness.
It outlines principles of conduct that are suitable for all those who claim to be subjects of Christ the King.
Jesus weaves three themes throughout His discourse on the ethics of Christian relationships—humility, purity, and mercy.
Those who are humble will be the greatest in the kingdom.
The Father protects his “little ones,” and will make every effort to restore those who stray.
Christians must mercifully forgive their sinning brothers and sisters.
Have you ever made a fool of yourself?
We all have at one time or another. And it often happens when we have not been paying much attention to our surroundings.
It is sometimes called “sleeping on the job.”
I remember hearing this story of this one Bible student, who was in Bible college.
It seems that he held a night job and always found it difficult to stay awake during his early morning, first-hour class.
In fact, one day he fell asleep in his seat before the beginning of class.
The other students arrived and took their seats.
The instructor walked in, opened his notes, and began teaching.
Virtually no one noticed our sleepy friend. . . until a student nudged him and whispered,
“Quick—the professor just asked you to lead in prayer!”
Reacting to what his brain had barely registered, the sleeping student snapped straight up in his seat and began praying.
Of course, all this was to the complete surprise of everyone in the room.
It was an unforgettable moment, prompting every person in the room to ask, “Where have you been?”
Jesus likely felt like asking the same question of His disciples on more than one occasion.
As Matthew 18 opens, the disciples had evidently been sleeping on the job.
They were out of touch with their surroundings and their Master.
Chapter 18 opens with the disciples asking Jesus a question.
The fact that they asked this particular question indicates they still did not understand the heart of Christ’s instruction and the appropriate relationships in His kingdom.
Like the groggy student, they were “asleep on the job” and spouting off the wrong questions at the wrong time.
The disciples asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
Jesus spent the rest of the Matthew 18 discourse telling them, “You are asking the wrong question.”
In our interpersonal relationships, including conflicts and disagreements with our brothers and sisters, we should not need a court of appeals beyond responsible leaders in the church.
Ideally, the church’s decisions will be guided by God and based on discernment of principles found in His Word.
Believers have the responsibility, therefore, to bring their problems to the church, and the church has the responsibility to use God’s guidance in seeking to resolve conflicts.
Handling problems God’s way will have an impact now and for eternity.
Jesus looked ahead to a new day when He would be present with His followers not in body but through His Holy Spirit.
In the body of believers, the church, the sincere agreement of two people in prayer is more powerful than the superficial agreement of thousands because Christ’s Holy Spirit is with them.
Two or more believers, filled with the Holy Spirit, will pray according to God’s will, not their own; thus, their requests will be granted.
The rabbis taught that people should forgive those who offend them—but only three times.
Peter, trying to be especially generous, asked Jesus if seven (the “perfect” number) was enough times to forgive someone.
But Jesus answered, “Seventy times seven,” meaning that we shouldn’t even keep track of how many times we forgive someone.
Always forgive those who are truly repentant, no matter how many times they ask.
Judge yourself: How are you being Jesus’ disciple?
While it can be demanding, Jesus basically calls us to love God and love our neighbor as yourself—it’s really not that complex at all.
The question is: Is your heart hard?
Take it to your Father. You’re only a prayer away from tenderness.
We live in a hard world, but we don’t have to live with a hard heart.
Friday, May 20
Pursuit of His Presence
NO WHINING, PLEASE
by Kenneth Copeland
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
— Matthew 18:21-22
We need to face the fact that we can’t walk with God and be even a little unforgiving or a little offended.
If we’re going to walk with God, we must allow His love to drive out every trace of any kind of unforgiveness.
“But you just don’t know how badly they treated me!”
“Has God forgiven your sin?”
Then you forgive them. Period. End of discussion.
Quit crying and whining about how hurt you are.
Maybe you have been mistreated, but if so – get over it!
Everybody has been mistreated in some form or another.
The reason I can talk so straight to you about this is that God has already said these things to me.
I remember one day when I was moping around at home. I’d just come in from preaching on the road and it seemed that as soon as I got there, I had to start fighting the devil. I was whining about it when Gloria said something to me I didn’t like.
“Oh, she doesn’t care about me anyway.” I muttered in self-pity.
Right then, the Lord spoke up in my heart and said, “It isn’t any of your business whether she cares for you or not. It’s your business to care for her.”
Then He added something I’ll never forget. He said, “I’m the One Who cares whether you hurt or not. Your hurts mean everything in the world to Me, but they ought to mean little or nothing to you.”
As the Church, we need to learn that today. We need to quit paying so much attention to our own hurts and cast them over on God. We need to take a lesson from the pioneers of the faith.
People like Peter and John and those Pentecostal old-timers years ago would walk into the very jaws of hell.
They’d go through persecutions that make the things we face look like child’s play.
They didn’t come out crying about how they’d been hurt either. They came out saying,
“Glory to God! We’re getting an opportunity to suffer for His Name. What a privilege!”
When you have that attitude, it’s not hard to forgive because your focus isn’t on yourself. It’s on God and His purposes, God and His love.
If you want to discover the secret to real forgiveness, that’s where your focus has to be – on God.
We are instructed to forgive others in the same way, or on the same basis, that God has forgiven us.
Speak the Word: I forgive others, as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven me. (Eph. 4:32)
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