Sunday, February 7, 2010

"If you want good fruit, you must make the tree good. If your tree is not good, it will have bad fruit. A tree is known by the kind of fruit it produces” (Matthew 12:33 NCV).

I have heard this verse quoted many times. I have it underlined in my Bible…but I chose it to share with you because it has a very different meaning to me today. Last spring, I spent time reworking my garden in my backyard. My poor yard was so overgrown and needed some real tender care. But it meant rolling up my sleeves and getting my hands dirty. It was some of the hardest work I have ever done…but the payoff was tremendous. From just reading up on how to trim, feed and water my roses…they went from bare wilting bushes to flowering plants. I had flowers that I could create into beautiful arrangements. My kitchen was blessed with vases full of crimson red roses not to mention the wonderful smell I was able to enjoy.

This was a real picture of my spiritual self, wilted and dying. I had failed to spend time maintaining my spiritual tree…reading God’s word, feeding and watering my spirit. My spiritual tree was not good…it could never produce good fruit in its current shape.

It is my hope and prayer that we just take the time to read God’s Holy Word and allow it to just feed us the Fruits of His Spirit.

The book of Matthew is the first book of the Gospels. The Gospels are God’s love letters to us. Matthew, the author is a tax collector of the day. It makes me wonder what Jesus saw in him. The profession was not an honorable one…and people despised them. They took from there own people and gave to Rome. As long as they met their quota, they could tax whatever they wanted and as much as they wanted. People ducked when they saw them coming down the street.

Not only was Matthew a tax collector he was a public tax collector. Some tax collectors did their business underground. They would hire runners to do their dirty work. Matthew did not…he did all of his own. This made him a leech at the bottom of the pit. He pulled his big stretch limo right into the middle of town and set up his table for business. This is right where he was when Jesus called him.

Knowing this makes me wonder what Jesus saw in Matthew. Then again, what did Matthew see in Jesus that he was so willing to drop it all and follow him. The clergy of the day wouldn’t give Jesus the time of day. He really had no clout in the local church. No committee, no office…no special robes that set him apart. As a matter of fact…Jesus was a simple carpenter with calloused hands. He had dirt under his fingernails and holes in his sandals.

What a pair they were…whatever they saw in each other must have been something. Matthew heard the call and never went back. He spent the rest of his life convincing others that the carpenter was the King. Jesus gave the call and never took it back. He spent his life dying for people like Matthew, convincing a lot of us that if he had a place for Matthew, he just might have a place for us.

The content of this book is:

  1. The birth and preparation of the Messiah 1:1-4:11
  2. Jesus’ ministry in Galilee 4:12 – 20:29
  3. Jesus’ last days on Earth 21:1 – 28:20

Because Matthew wrote to a Jewish audience he began his Gospel by showing through family records that Jesus was a descendant of both King David and Abraham.

Exploration Materials: Jesus’ family history – Ruth 4:18 – 22, 1 Chronicles 3:10 – 17, Luke 3:23 – 38, the virgin birth of Jesus Isaiah 7:14

Revelation 2:1-7

"To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

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