Thursday, March 25, 2010

¡A mi me gusta mi nombre!

Over the past few days I've been thinking a lot about a certain biblical group of individuals, the Levites. I think it is also interesting to note that my biblical namesake, Matthew, was also called Levi. While this certainly is not some amazing coincidence, I still think it interesting to ponder as that name has deeply penetrated my heart as of late.

Here is this group of individuals who have been set aside for God, even among his chosen nation, they themselves have been chosen for a unique roll. The tribe of Levi has special privileges to go along with their great responsibilities. From their rolls in maintaining the Holy places to being the first to give at times (as seen below in just 2 recent examples that I read)

“Only the tribe of Levi you shall not list, and you shall not take a census of them among the people of Israel. But appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of the testimony, and over all its furnishings, and over all that belongs to it. They are to carry the tabernacle and all its furnishings, and they shall take care of it and shall camp around the tabernacle." Numbers 1:49-50 (ESV)

"And you shall take the Levites for me—I am the Lord—instead of all the firstborn among the people of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the cattle of the people of Israel.” Numbers 3:41 (ESV)

My point is that they were called to be set apart. Not that God loved them more, but for whatever reason they were called to be different.

And as for me ... Matthew ... Levi ... it's a reminder that I need to be set apart for God. We who profess Christ as our Lord are that holy nation. Now, God dwells in us, and we are to carry that responsibility in our own lives. We need to set ourselves apart from the rest of the world. Not in isolation, but in love, peace, and joy, so that we can be His light.

May the ways of the Levites continue to dwell in us all. May we lead by servitude.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Christians don't suffer

Yeah, that's a funny one isn't it! Although I've never got asked this question I think I've felt the thoughts come my way when I share my struggles at times with non-believers:

Q: So Matt, if God is so good (to you), why are you struggling so much at times and getting beaten up?

A: If God exists, and salvation through Jesus is the path to eternity and all others lead to hell, and I wasn't on His path ... why would the enemy be attacking me? I (we) get attacked when we're in the game and we're going for the goal.

All that does to me is prove that the enemy exists, and that He exists, and that I'm on the right path.

Yet at the same time, He is supposed to be the Lion of Judah. There is no fear where He is present because He casts out fear. Which is why I do think that if we are allowing Him to control our lives we will never lose, battled, but not for a loss. A professional boxer who wins in the 9th, 10th, 12th, or 15th round often doesn't look like he is ready to go enjoy the rest of his day, but he still didn't lose.

"We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed" 2 Cor 4:8-9 (ESV)

Or perhaps with fear and trembling I can rephrase the above verse. "We WILL be afflicted, perplexed, and persecuted" ... does that fit my battles? Oh yes.

I have my afflictions ... I am perplexed at times at the Will of God ... and while I do feel in minor ways I have been persecuted, I can't imagine the pain that is being felt by our brothers and sisters across the world.

I firmly believe that though we will be afflicted, perplexed, and persecuted, we should still have joy, and that is our challenge. We don't have to think that misery is what comes with a Christian life, we are expected to live our life to the fullest. We just have to know how to give those troubles to Him when they come so we 'can' still have that joy ... and trials will come ... unless ... well ... here, let me say this:

Frankly, if you're life is going peachy, you don't have any bumps in the road, and nothing has made you question your beliefs, I dare to say that either the enemy hasn't got to you yet, or more likely, you're on his road, not His road.

Check the road signs ... God loves you, and will protect you ... the enemy hates you and seeks to destroy you ... just make sure you're not doing the destroying for him.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My weapon ...

Imagine yourself in a battle; physical, emotional, spiritual, etc. I assume you would want your finest weapons at the ready; after all, we all need to be prepared when we are called to fight.

I sat praying last night about one thing, and God pointed me in another direction, as usual to which seemed like the root of what I needed to be praying for at that moment. I began to think of the weapons that I have that can help me in my Spiritual battles. Yes, the Word is the sword of the Spirit but it wasn't that weapon that He wanted me to see. However it was in my room (at that moment anyway). Just behind that door ...

Once you realize the weapon you need to use, wouldn't you dust it off, take care of it, sharpen it? Wouldn't you make sure it was good and ready so when you had to fight the enemy it could be with you?

We are called to sharpen each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. We are called, as husbands, to wash our wives with the Word, build them up, and love them as Christ loved the church; thus we are expected to lay our lives down for them.

My weapon is my Godly wife.

However if not taken care of, those weapons can become dusty, mistreated, and worst of all, felt unwanted or unneeded.

As I was praying she was sleeping behind those doors. Not just my wife, but also the greatest weapon I can have at my side. Men, we need to take care of our wives ... as Christ takes care of us.

Father, may I never forget the amazing gift (and weapon against the enemy) that you gave me here on this spinning rock. Help me to learn to encourage more, critique less, give more, take less, and continue to build her up with your Word, prayers, and love. Thank You for Your Grace, and undeserved gifts.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Ka-Boom! That was for me! :)

Did you ever have the pleasure of being the recipient of a surprise party? I did, and it was great! :) Even better, it remained a surprise, because as you know not all surprises actually make it to being an actual surprise by the time it comes! My wife did a wonderful job and it was an awesome afternoon/evening. There is something about being celebrated that just fills us with happiness. I'm not one for enjoying being the center of attention, especially when it comes to social engagements, but it was different; I felt loved by so many people.

Well, did you know that we get an even greater party when we find choose His path? I was reading a devotional and it brought me to Luke, chapter 15. In particular verse 7 (perhaps a verse that you've read many times before):

"Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance." Luke 15:7 (ESV)

Can you imagine heaven rejoicing for you? Angels celebrating? I wonder what fireworks may have happened (and will happen) for us! To a non-believer it seems like a fairy tale, to a believer it's even better. The cool part is, if you want a party for yourself, all you got to do is ask to sign up! :)

Ka-Boom! =)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Digging for Cheerios

OK, so I'm cleaning my couch yesterday and of course with kids ranging in age from 13 to 3 in the house I expected to find some treasures buried in the couch, but not to this extent! It turns out that when I went to do my usual hand sweep I found that my hand went in farther then I before ... a lot farther! Wow was there stuff back there! Crazy!

I ended up taking a picture because I thought it was too funny not to send my wife but then my mind started going toward my life, and God. I thought of those areas in my life, my soul, my deepest cracks that sometimes I don't even know are there, and I thought of what is hiding in them.

Garbage? Sure ... a lot of that. In fact Marceen pointed out to me that since it was a couch we got from a friend of ours, and I found the couches' "secret hiding spot" that some of that stuff wasn't even ours. It's garbage that we've carried over from someone else ... or to put it in a life perspective; baggage.

It reminds me of what I'm stuffing in my cracks may be garbage that I'm carrying from others in my life ... the chips on our shoulder perhaps.

But you know what I also found? A few treasures ... a few memories ... that when you pull them out you can't help but smile. Like pulling out a toy that makes you think of that smiling giggling child holding it! Or even the cheerio that makes me think of those precious faces sitting on the couch watching them eat as they talk, play, or watch TV ... good stuff ... really good stuff!

I don't know about you, but I'm going to live a life that stuffs cheerios in every crack ... so that when I need them, I can always search and find an old memory that reminds me of how blessed I have been. Yes, garbage will accumulate ... however my prayer is that I will continue to clean that out, give it to Him, but hold on to the blessings and be thankful!

If I'm honest it also makes me sad thinking of that day when I'm cleaning my couch and I don't find anything but maybe a lonely receipt, or a couple coins ... but no toys ... no cheerios ... because they're all too old to play with toys ... *sigh* ... but that's OK ... that's what He's teaching me ... to enjoy the cheerios while they're there ... and who knows ... God willing I hope as a grandpa to fill those couches again!!! =)

So if you'll excuse me I need to do some housekeeping ... I'm digging for cheerios!

"Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him." Psalm 127:3 (NLT)


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