Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Look At Matthew 12

I really enjoy reading and I absolutely love reading the Bible.  So, part of my job is wonderful for me because I get to be familiar with a lot of books and Bible studies for small groups.  As the ministry assistant for Community Life (which is the department that oversees small groups), I need to be familiar with the materials we have so I can help group leaders find studies for their groups.  There are some good Bibles and curriculum that encourage people to read through the Bible or the Old or New Testaments.  I was asked by someone about why would read through such a large portion of scripture and shouldn't we be digging in to a smaller section of scripture.  That was a great question!  But I want to share my answer with all of you because I think this is so important for all of us to remember.  I told her how I have been digging in the book of Matthew a few verses at a time and that it has been a wonderful experience.  But, I continued to let her know that while it is important to dig in, it is also important to get the perspective of a bigger picture.  Reading through the Bible gives us a view of the bigger picture of which we are all a part.  So, even though I am not reading through the New Testament with you, I want to go back and look at a big picture I noticed as I was reading through Matthew 12.

The chapter starts with Jesus and His disciples being yelled at for "working" on the Sabbath (they were picking heads of grain while they were walking through a field because they were hungry).  Jesus was then tested on whether or not it was okay to heal on the Sabbath.  Jesus was later accused of casting out a demon through the power of Satan.  Jesus answered them by explaining that the fruit of the person will show what is in their heart.  He talks about the sin of speaking against the Holy Spirit.  Jesus rebuked the religious leaders for wanting a sign because if they were listening to the Spirit they would recognize the Messiah.  And at that point I began to look at how Matthew made sure all these stories were mentioned in succession of one another.  That there was a bigger picture that was being painted for us.  As I was processing that, our pastor preached on Galatians 5:16-26; please read those verses!

Paul wrote about living with the power of the Spirit, and he almost seemed to be summing up what Jesus had been telling us through all the interactions we read in Matthew 12.  The first thing we are told is that we are to be guided by the Holy Spirit and we will be led to do what is right.  He writes more on this in Galatians 5:18 (NLT), "But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses."  This is what Jesus was pointing out in Matthew 12!  When we are being led by the Spirit we do not need to be concerned about the law because the Spirit will always guide us to live the way God wants us to live.  The law was there to show us how to live; however, as believers and followers of Jesus we have the Spirit guiding and empowering us to live out a life that honors God.  Following the Spirit's guidance we will show the fruit Jesus referenced: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

"Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives."  Galatians 5:25 (NLT)

Who guides you?

This post is linked with Thought Provoking Thursday.

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