1. Grief vs Solace
If we do not mourn, we will not be comforted, Matthew 5 v 4. So we have to grieve……when it’s time for grieving we grieve; think back to times when you tried to play it strong and refuse to grieve……….How much comfort did you receive?
According to Solomon there is a time and a place for everything, including tears……..
Tears speak a language God understands. A tear is a prayer.
2. Tempted vs Tested
Jesus was tempted right after his baptism- so will we.
The devil knew Jesus was hungry, he offered food- he knows what we want too, he will offer it as well.
Matthew 4 v 4- we need more than physical food daily…..
Jesus was prepared- he knew scriptures and his faith was already honed. We look to Ephesians 6 v 10-17
Devil did not stop after one attempt, he made three attempts but fled after Jesus did not succumb, James 4 v 7
Devil is stronger than us, but not stronger than who is within us 1 John 4 v 4
God tests but does not tempt….
We are tempted by our own desires which matures and give birth to sin James 1 v 13. Jesus was tempted by the Devil, Job was tempted by the Devil………God allowed them both….think on why
We will be tempted and tested too; but we cannot survive without a strong foundation……Matthew 13 v 18-23 and Matthew 7 v 24-27
We need to remember to ask God to help us not to be led into temptation….Matthew 6 v 13.
4. Being Kind
Does God expects us to give away everything we have?
Jesus told his disciples that it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven Matthew 19 v 16-24… Does this mean the rich will never see heaven? I think not- he says where your treasure is, there your heart is. So own your treasures, but dont be owned by them.
He was also teaching that there is only one way for us to become immune to the dominant power of money, and it is for us to hold it loosely, or give it away. Chuck Swindoll explains it this way “As long as you are clutching, you will never be open to the Holy Spirit……God will gently tug at first, but if you resist he will pry it away- and I can assure you it will hurt”
The Widows Mite – Luke 21 v 1-4 she gave out of all she had. She didn’t think she had too little to give……that’s the same mind we should have… it’s never too small to give. You may want to give more, but maybe you can’t……still give what you can and of what you have been entrusted …..think hard enough and you will find you have a lot to give. He did not not say rich people should not give either, but instead I believe he meant giving is a heart condition…..
No one has to know about your giving……Matthew 6 v 2-4
It is more blessed to give than receive, the more you give the more you get and never forget he loves a cheerful giver…..Acts 20 v 35 and 2 Corinthians 9 v 6-7…..
5. The means justify the ends
..….it’s your motive and intentions that make the act. Matthew 5 v 17-20….….. he did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it………as without the law we would not have known what sin is Romans 7 v 7.
Grace doesn’t mean we break the law with impunity or we break it and then presume on faith. Obeying the law should not be done either in order to gain a reward, or to tick off boxes on your check list; but should come naturally once you accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour.
Jesus summed all Ten Commandments into two at Matthew 22 v 36-37, in essence repackaging the rules into principles. This means we have no excuse, we cannot say it’s not a part of the law so I can or cannot do this or that.
Jesus came thus and provided a deeper explanation of what it means to obey the Law look at how he spoke about murder, adultery, taking oaths, retaliation, divorce……Matthew 5 v 21-end
6. Ask and you will receive…….Matthew 5 v 7-11
If we do not ask, seek or knock how else will someone know you need something?
God knows what we need even before we ask, however he still expects us to ask…….remember he gave us free will. He will never impose. Furthermore asking, will lead to a deepening of our relationship with him- a dependence on him……Matthew 6 v 11…… ask daily for your bread….remember what happened when the Israelites tried to hoard the manna??? Exodus 16 v 19-21
He does tell us however at James 4 v 3– that we may ask but not receive, if we ask with a selfish motive.
He also says at John 16 v 24 that we should ask through Jesus…….and James 1 v 6-7 exhorts us to ask with faith………faith is a precondition to pleasing God and to receiving from God.
Philippians 4 v 6-7 also shows us that God invites us to ask for everything…….although our focus should not be solely on making requests.
1 John 5 v 14-15 also attaches another condition- we receive what is in accordance with his will…..
7.Fear vs. Courage
Galatians 5 v 16-17….. flesh vs spirit. That’s the perennial war waging inside of us. This is mentioned again at Romans 8 v 4- 13 and Romans 7 v 15-23.
We cannot fight and win this war on our own, we need God’s spirit to help us hence we need to ask for help to do this. Romans 7 v 24-25
No one is born courageous……..courage is something we practice, one small decision at a time.
Neither are we courageous all the time; our teeth will be shattering, knees knocking, palms sweating and heart pounding but depend on God to give us power beyond what is normal.
Maya Angelou said ” courage is the most important virtue, because without it we cannot practice any other virtue consistently” ……. that is a truism.
Many opportunities will arise for us to be courageous…..courage comes from our responses to them. They do not give advance notice, so we can miss them and especially too if we do not have a heart for God. We need to ask for wisdom and we need to know our limitations too……
8. What a Christian does
Fruits are borne from vines and branches. To bear fruit, the branches must get nutrients from the vine. John 15 v 5- 8.
Suffice to say, a tree can bear bad and good fruit……Jesus is the lifeblood for good fruit and good fruits have certain characteristics ……..love, joy, peace, faith,patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control……Galatians 5 v 22-23.
Test the fruit to know if it is good or bad………Matthew 7 v 15-20. Christians are called to be salt and light- food is not very tasty without salt……light is needed for us to endure darkness, light is the source of hope after darkness, and without darkness we would never appreciate light. So we are God’s handiwork created IN Jesus (the vine) to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Our faith must therefore be manifested in the works we do, or the fruits we bear. Its not a faith only or a works only theology. Just like James said, body without spirit is dead and faith without works is dead.
9. Female Dress
1 Peter 3 v 1-4……women and more specifically wives must focus on their internal traits. External traits and adornment are of lesser importance in God’s eyes, provided it is him you seek to please. The funny thing is by pleasing him, you will get what you want eventually.
Do not put emphasis on …..the braiding of hair and the wearing of gold or accoutrements for example…….. dress ‘in a way that is proper for women professing devotion to God’. God values humility, modesty, cleanliness, moderation etc….your mode of dress should reflect that. Also do not dress to draw attention to self and away from God, do not seek to become self- indulgent or narcissistic. In all circumstances it’s God who must be glorified.
Bear in mind too weather conditions, cultures and the fact that what may be expensive to me is certainly not so for Michelle Obama for example. 2 Timothy 2 v 9-10 ….I do not think this is saying either that we must buy only inferior or poor quality cheap things to wear, but rather that we should live within our means, wear what you can afford and be contented.
And one more thing – Deuteronomy 22 v 5 , should women dress like men? Definitely not. Dressing to look like a man is different from wearing pants- women wear pants all the time and certainly are not mistaken for men.
10. Shared Humanity
Pema Chrodon famously said ….”……..compassion is not a relationship between healer and wounded, it is a relationship among equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others…….” Philippians 2 v 3-4 shares a similar narrative in my mind.
Lets not focus on US vs THEM……..because we are ‘either or ‘ at some point or another. We offer help and we need to ask for help at times too. We are thus warned not to be kind, helpful, compassionate and caring to satisfy our own ego or out of rivalry. So we really should not grumble and complain before we do something, or do it to solicit a future favour……I know that’s hard at times.
Motive……are we people-pleasing and grandstanding, hustling or trying to win over, because that’s all about pleasing self and not about honouring others and its hard work too. So start with SELF and start with WHY. We can’t love others if we don’t love self, we can’t be compassionate to others if we don’t have self-compassion. That’s how I believe we consider others above self, and look out for the interest of others as well self.