Luke 8:11, 15, “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. …15 [T]he ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.”
I want to be “good ground,” so when Jesus plants seeds from God’s Word in my heart., I will humbly receive them (James 1:21). Jesus gives me living water—His Word and His Spirit—for watering the plants. As they start to grow. I can nurture them with the plant food of faith that results in obedience. (James 2:17, “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”) I will diligently practice applying God’s Word to my life. I need to pull out weeds like anger, bitterness, jealousy, regret, strife, pride, haughtiness, and anything else that interferes with nourishing my soul.
Then these plants in my heart can mature and produce Holy Spirit fruit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.
(Scripture quotes are New King James.)
God gave us good gifts on Good Friday, such as the forgiveness of our sins through the death of Jesus on the cross, direct access to God when the temple curtain in front of the Most Holy Place was torn in two, and most important, the proof of His astounding love for us.
Today I want to remember what it cost the Triune God to give these gifts to us. Jesus laid aside His glory, honor, and equality with God to become a lowly human baby and experience temptation, rejection and other struggles as a man. Finally He suffered the agony of Gethsemane and the humiliation and excruciating pain of betrayal, abandonment, mockery, beating, the torturous death of the cross, and the separation of the “Tri-unity” when our sin was laid on Him. The Almighty Father could have said, “These humans aren’t worth letting my beloved Son go through all this,” and then sent His angels to the rescue. But He didn’t. He watched it all.
And God did it all for us when we were still sinners, rebellious and determined to go our own way (Romans 5:8). Incredible love! Yet true. I’m reminded of an old hymn that includes the lines, “Why should my Savior to Calvary go? Why should He love me so?” (“Why Should He Love Me So?”—words and music by Robert Harkness.) I also think of the chorus of another hymn, “Lest I forget Gethsemane, lest I forget Thine agony, lest I forget Thy love for me, lead me to Calvary.” (“Lead Me to Calvary”—words by Jennie E. Hussey.)
Yes, God gave us wonderful things on Good Friday. May I never forget or take for granted the great love He showed at such great cost.
I don’t have to be perfect because Jesus Christ died for me and exchanged His righteousness and perfection for my sin and failure, and He rose again leaving sin and failure at the cross, and He lives forever at the Father’s right hand. He intercedes for us (me), and His Holy Spirit lives in me to work out Christ’s righteousness in my life.
My trying to be perfect and pretending to myself that I am–these prevent me from receiving the mercy and forgiveness Jesus went through so much to provide for me. “If we say we have no sin, we are calling God a liar” (1 John 1:10), and we can’t partake of the pardon and cleansing offered in 1 John 1:9.
I’m through trying to hide my sin, failure, and mistakes (from others and myself) behind a façade of personal goodness. I choose instead to hide them in the blood of Jesus where they are dissolved and carried away.
Let me cease from trying so I can rest in trusting.
Psalm 42:11 says, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.” (New King James Version)
This is what I need to tell myself when I get disappointed or discouraged: “Self, hope in God. Let the disappointment go and trust God to work it for my good and His glory. O my soul, don’t look to others nor hope in satisfactory solutions. Let God satisfy you. Trust His wisdom, not your own. Remember, soul, that you find rest in God alone (Psalm 62:1). Hope and trust in Jesus our Lord.
“Jesus can help me, Jesus alone.” (from the hymn “I must tell Jesus”)
O Lord our God, the God who hears,
The only God who loves and cares,
The holy One who answers prayers,
You hear our cries, for You are near.
Omniscient God, God all wise
Your love extends beyond the skies.
Let us see truth with open eyes,
Believe Your Word, reject the lies.
We praise You, Lord. In You we hope.
We trust in You because we know
You deliver us from every foe
And comfort, heal, and make us whole.
This sermon by Pastor Tom on Matthew 26:27-66 reminds me that I can be jest as self-righteous and blind as those who tried and condemned Jesus. It also encourages me to trust God when I am unjustly criticized.
We are all capable of being very self-righteous and very blind – you aren’t safe from it just because all your friends tell you that you are open minded. A whole set of things that is called “open minded” is, in fact, just a new set of beliefs that is actually closed to alternative views. That leads me to the other application. This passage may be an encouragement to you when you are unfairly judged and insulted by our culture, and people who have bought into the new cultural values.
To listen to the sermon, click the play button:
To download, right click on the link (or do whatever you do on a Mac) and save it to your computer:
Download Matthew Part 95
Matthew #95. Matthew 26:57-66
We are continuing with the last night of Jesus life before the crucifixion.
None of this happened quite the way the enemies…
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Jesus is the giver of living, life-giving water. It is free to all who will come to Him. There’s no discrimination—everyone who wants to can come. His life is real, fulfilling and satisfying—vibrant, wonderful life now and forever. Jesus offers, but He doesn’t force us to accept. Each one of us must choose. Will we go His way or our own way?
Revelation 22:17 “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ Let anyone who hears this say, ‘Come.’ Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.”
John 4:14 “But those who drink the water I [Jesus] give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
I’ll come God’s way, through the blood of Jesus, following and obeying Him. That is real life. Nothing else comes close.
(Both Scriptures New Living Translation)
Mark 6:53, 55-56 Amplified Bkible “And when they had crossed over, they reached the land of Gennesaret…. and they ran about the whole countryside, and began to carry around sick people on their sleeping pads or mats to any place where they heard that He was. and wherever He came into villages or cities or the country, they would lay the sick in the marketplaces and beg Him that they might touch even the fringe of His outer garment, and as many as touched Him were restored to health.”
I wonder how many today come to Jesus and receive healing for themselves or someone else and go away. They’re content with healing and don’t go on to become His disciples. Following Jesus instead of our own interests requires laying down the lordship over our own lives, but the rewards are worth the price. Jesus offers healing because He is good and merciful, but He offers so much more as well. He offers forgiveness of sins, peace of mind, joy, fulfillment, strength, and on and on. The most important thing He gives, though, is relationship with the living, triune God—in this life and the next.
Dear Lord, please don’t let me ever settle for anything less, but remind me to take up my cross and follow You so You can give me the greatest gift—You, Yourself. Amen.