Hope you all had a beautiful Easter. ❤
I decided to skip posting for our Read Through the Bible adventure for Easter, but am resuming today. See latest chapter here. In this chapter, Jesus issues some powerful warnings to us in the form of parables.
Our reading schedule is a bit off in terms of aligning with the Holy Week, but the advantage of this timing is that Easter becomes more than just a one-day (or one-week), check-off-the-list commemoration of Jesus’ death and resurrection. In the days that follow, we’ll get to again remember and reflect on Christ’s sacrifice and victory.
Last week, I watched The Passion of the Christ for the first time. The depiction of Jesus’ suffering was truly powerful (and painful just to watch), and yet it probably doesn’t portray even half of the agony he experienced for us. Looking forward to “watching the movie” again in Matthew this week.
I gotta say, the past few weeks have been powerful for me, in many ways.
I’ve seen prayers answered and dreams fulfilled.
I’ve felt intense pain – physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
I’ve also experienced surges of energy while praying – and felt significantly renewed physically from them!
I’ve experienced a sweet fellowship with Jesus that I rarely (if ever) have experienced before. Of course, he’s always been there, but I’ve been more aware lately of his presence, and the reality of him.
In reading Jesus’ words in Matthew, he is coming alive to me in a new way. His love, his truth, and his gentle heart – the heart of a Shepherd, who would leave the ninety-nine to go after one missing sheep. [Matthew 18]
I’ve seen God “show up” or answer something even when I’d taken a break from my structured “prayer routine” (prayer list for each day). Which is a powerful reminder that the praise for answered prayers and blessings belongs completely to God, and not to us for our faithfulness in praying. God answers – however is best – because he is faithful, not because we are.
Copious words aren’t required for God to hear us. He knows what we need even before we ask [Matt 6:7-8]).
Prayer is indeed powerful. But when we are weak and can’t pray anymore, Christ is still strong, and he intercedes for us. [Romans 8:34]
And all thanks and praise to God, a very dear friend of mine has been pursued by Truth and was recently born again. ❤ I cannot stop rejoicing over this, and I imagine the angels in heaven are continuing to celebrate, too!! [Luke 15]
There are more things which have taken place which I can’t write about here.
To sum it up though, these past few weeks have been a few of the hardest – but also sweetest, richest – weeks of my life.
At first, attempting to read through the Bible seemed daunting (and to be honest, still does sometimes). But it’s become something more than an item to “check off the list”. It’s become a spiritual, metaphysical adventure. And even a physical one. The Holy Spirit has been very present in this journey.
And we need to have a relationship with Christ, not simply be following a religion. Otherwise, we are in the same boat as the Pharisees. See Matthew 23.
Church membership does not make you a Christian.
Good works will not make you a Christian – or acceptable in the sight of God. (Good works are, however, the fruits which naturally begin to be produced by someone who is born of the Spirit.)
The faith of your family does not make you a Christian.
Serving at church does not make you a Christian.
Reading the Bible and praying every day does not make you a Christian (although these are important for knowing God’s heart and staying close / drawing closer to him).
Only the work of Christ on the cross makes you a Christian.
Are you in Christ?
I urge you to ask this question of yourself carefully and honestly. Even the demons believe in God, and shudder. [James 2] Yet faith without works is dead. Does this mean that works earn us salvation? No. But rather, when following Christ, it will become more and more evident that we are his. If we belong to him, he will lead us to do works in his name. And he will call us to a difficult road. If we are living only for ourselves, and not for him, we need to ask whether Christ is actually living in us in the first place, and if he is, why we are quenching his Holy Spirit. [1 Thessalonians 5]
The time is short. We cannot afford to be unsure where we stand with God. We cannot afford to delay our choice to be reborn through Christ. Whether he returns in our lifetime or not, we each face the possibility daily of meeting death.
Are you ready for his return? Is Christianity a convenient add-on – or “Christian” a convenient label – in your life, or is Christ your life?
I hope you are enjoying reading through Matthew. If you’re behind on the reading, no worries! There is no rush to follow along at this pace.
As they say, “The best plan is the one you actually do.” If you read half a chapter a day, or read every other day, that’s better than not reading at all!
And if you don’t like starting with Matthew, that’s fine too! This definitely isn’t the only – or necessarily the best – path for reading through the Bible. It’s just the route I picked. 🙂
❤ The Bleeding Blogger