Today’s Reading: Matthew 18
Good morning, SHINE girls! This is Rebekah Vepraskas. :) How are y’all? Bright eyed, loving your Savior and off to a great morning? Indeed...! :)
Well, hold on to your caps because Jesus comes on strong in Matthew 18 today, girlies. Wow!
Every word sinks right down to your bones; every slice has really good teaching we can take to heart. He even steps on some toes here, or he steps on mine…
Keep in mind that the disciples are having a petty fight when Jesus is asked in verse (1), “Who gets the highest rank in God’s kingdom?”
He responds in a lengthy explanation, challenging them to humble themselves like children, resist all forms of temptation, give children the attention they seek from us, engage in conflict resolution, forgive in all cases, and he talks about the good Shepherd seeking out one wayward sheep.
Verse 12: “If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13 And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray.”
Recently, I heard a teacher say that the Lord gave us commandments not to make life hard, but to make life easier. Wow! That's a novel perspective!! But... it kinda makes sense.
He gave us a road map through His teaching to show us the way. He didn’t teach these things to give us an unattainable standard to live by. He loves us. He was fully human, too. He gets us. He knows that things like forgiveness are hard to exercise, but vitally important. He knows that giving children the direction and attention they deserve is a huge responsibility, but vitally important. He cautions us to resist temptation because it will make life easier for us if we do. He tells us to humble ourselves because he knows it’s not our nature, but again, it’s vitally important.
In the middle of all of these cautionary topics that Jesus lays out, He tells us how desperately He seeks us.
He doesn’t want His teachings to create space and distance between us and Him. He wants to make life better and smoother for us.
It's OK for Jesus to give us a road-map without us having to buck Him back. The road map is for us, not HIM. He loves us the same, regardless, we never earned that love.
If we have slipped away, only for a second and only because we weren’t paying attention, He doesn’t want us using His road-map as an excuse to stay away.
...Maybe you’re really far away; He is still on the side of the mountain searching for you, His irreplaceable sheep. That road-map is our notes/cheat sheet to the open book test of life. We are being deceived by satan if we believe that Jesus’ road map is a reason to stay away from our Good Shepherd.
Ok, I don't know about you, but to me-- that's good news!
I love Matthew 18 because it’s a road map with a real big hug right smack-dab in the middle. The Lord has his arms open, let’s run back to Him with whatever we’re facing in our path. He is so ready to guide us again.
Stringing a bell around my neck (so he can find me),