Reflection on Matthew 11:16-30

Scripture

Then Jesus said, “Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

Observation

Jesus addresses the crowds. He says that people complained against John the Baptist because he was harsh in his judgements and lived an austere lifestyle. But they are now critical of Jesus for partying with sinners,

He goes on to denounce the towns where he has worked great signs and miracles, but the people in those towns failed to repent.

Then Jesus makes His offer to all who will trust Him. If we let go of the burdens that wear us down and take up His yoke, we will receive rest in Him.

Application

The religious laws were a heavy burden for the Jewish people. The original laws given by God were not meant to weigh people down, but to be a joyous part of life. But over the centuries they became such an imposition that nobody could hope to fulfil them all. What had been a means to fellowship with God was now a barrier to fellowship with God.

So Jesus offers us a different way. We no longer have to obey rules to find peace with God. We simply have to receive the grace of God through Christ. Then our burdens are lifted away and we find rest in Him.

Of course, the religious spirit, which infects every sphere of human existence, immediately rears its head and tries to destroy grace. We feel inadequate because we fall into sin. Churches and pastors invent rules to define acceptable behaviour. A spiritual principle morphs into a religious rule.

Be on your guard against those who say, “You must,” You ought to,” or “Thou shalt not.” Instead the Holy Spirit will direct your conscience and the Word of God will be your guide.

Our way of living must always flow from our relationship with Christ.

Prayer

Thank you Lord for the rest that you give when I hand all my burdens to you. Protect me Lord from false religion and harmful rules. Amen.

Reflection on Matthew 4:1-11

Scripture

Then Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil.

Observation

The Holy Spirit pushes Jesus (literally “throws him out”) into the wilderness to fast and to be tempted by the devil. At the end of forty days, the devil comes to Jesus with three tests, all starting with the words, “If you are the Son of God.”

The first test is to turn stones into loaves of bread. Jesus says that the word of God is more important than bread.

The second test is to jump off the highest peak of the Temple, trusting angels to rescue Him. Jesus says, “You must not test the Lord.”

The third test is to receive all the kingdoms of the world in return for worshipping satan. Jesus says that the Scriptures tell us we must worship the Lord alone.

Application

Temptation is part of being human, and is multiplied many times over when we are seeking to walk with the Lord.

Satan wants to smash the Kingdom of God by discouraging and disarming God’s people. So sin is always around us, and the devil always has his leg out trying to trip us up.

The tests always use the same mental weapons.

1. Sow doubt about God’s will. For Jesus it was, “If you are the Son of God.” For Adam and Eve it was, “Did God really say?” We need to hold onto God’s promises about who we are in Him and His directions for our lives.

2. Use the eyes to intensify desire. We live in a highly visual culture. Satan will happily use images to stimulate our desire for something that we should not have. We need to filter what we look at so that we focus on what is good, uplifting and God-honouring.

3. He will use Scriptures, out of context or twisted, to justify an act of sin.

4. Satan often gets us at times of physical weakness. He waited until Jesus had fasted forty days and nights and was very hungry before he attacked. We need to be especially alert when we are tired, stressed, busy or recovering from illness.

Prayer

Thank you Lord that when we fix our eyes on you we can stand firm and resist the temptations that come. Thank you that even when I fall you forgive me. Please grant me grace to grow in strength and in spiritual vigour. Amen.

Today’s Sermon

The sermon for August 4th 2019 is now available on the New Life web-site.

In this sermon, which is based on Matthew 28:16-28, I talk about “God With Us Always.”

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