Matthew 3: Christ Calls us to Repent

One of Jesus’ first word at the start of His ministry was “repent“.

“This is the time of fulfillment.The kingdom of God is at hand. So repent (mετανοείτε), and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15).

I find it so fitting and perfect that these were His first words when He began His ministry. He calls us to repent. He came to earth, God in the flesh, to give man the opportunity to repent. Without Christ, people don’t even have the option to turn to God. We were born in this world stained with sin, and like we learned in my study on Matthew 1, because Adam sinned and we were all in his body when he fell and became separated from God, we all fell and became stained with sin and separated from God.

But Christ changed things. From my study on Matthew 2, we learned that the name Jesus means salvation, and that’s because He is the bridge leading us back to God. He is the hand of God, reaching out to us poor, wretched sinners, and asking us to come. He is our Maker, who suffered tremendous torture in order to give us this choice, this opportunity to repent.

So, what does repent mean?

It means to turn.

Repent means that you turn to God. Your life was on a trajectory in one direction – a direction away from God and towards damnation. But when you repent, you humbly realize that you’re a sinner in need of a saviour. The direction of your life is now towards God and away from sin.

Repent is not necessarily an outward behaviour of just “doing good things and not sinning”. Repent is such a deeper thing. It’s in the deepest corner of your heart. It’s your heart changing, turning towards God which leads to forgiveness and redemption. In this, you become born-again and actions begin to follow because of your changed heart and regeneration. Not the other way around. Heart first then behaviour changes.

Repent is such a term used so often and even in ways that the word was mistreated or misplaced. It’s been used in ways promoting a works-based salvation and been used in abusive ways. But really, the word simply means changing your heart towards God.

This happens right before you are saved and it leads to the moment of salvation.

Then, for believers, their lives and hearts are now set on the things of God and not desirous of sins that are displeasing to God. Yet, because we’re human and will always fall short and slip up, we’re called to continually turn to God and repent. But this repentance isn’t the kind to get us saved or keep our salvation, it just means that we are aware of our sin, and continually walking that narrow path of a Christian, turning to God when we mess up and trusting that He has grace for us.

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” (Ephesians 1:7)

Christ’s call for all to repent is so life-giving. It’s an invitation to turn our hearts to God. It’s a door that we can open into eternal life by putting our faith in Him and turning towards Him in repentance.

Repent is a beautiful word and can ignite both a spark of hope in one person and fear in another person. Spark of hope because repentance leads to salvation, and fear because if one doesn’t repent, they will suffer damnation.

Let the word repent ignite a spark of hope in your heart.

Matthew 2: God’s Plans Will Always Prevail

Reading Matthew chapter 2, a theme really stood out to me. Read these verses below!

“And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.” (Matthew 2: 12-14)
“But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life. And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.” (Matthew 2: 19-21)

The theme that stood out to me is the truth of God’s plans always prevailing. As we can see, His will can not be thwarted. Herod wanted to murder Jesus because he felt threatened by this newborn King. He thought that because he was such a powerful man, that he could take it into his own hands and murder this King. Little did he know, that this King wasn’t just any King, this King is the King of Kings, including King over Herod. This newborn baby was God in the flesh, and Herod’s plans to murder Jesus could never have come to fruition.

As a believer, this gives me great comfort. Life is so wish-washy. Life is so fickle. We think we will live to 90, when in reality we can’t even control our next breath. We think we can’t know the truth of our existence, when in reality the truth is right in front of us, in all of creation.

This theme of God’s plan prevailing gives me great comfort because in a world full of fickle randomness, to know that I am a child of God, literally His child, I know that my life is no longer random. Being in Christ means that I have benefits that start here and lead to eternity. Benefits, such as having God’s direct care and provision, knowing that my prayers are heard, knowing that I am cared for, knowing that He has a plan for my life and He will fulfill that plan through me, knowing that my pain has a purpose and I am not here to suffer and die, but suffer and be glorified, knowing that I am loved, forgiven, set free, redeemed, and covered in God’s protection…there is nothing comparable to that.

Before I trusted in Christ, I had no one to turn to. Yes, there’s always a person, a family member, a friend…but they are imperfect and can’t be everything you need at every moment. But when I was redeemed, that all changed. I now have God, who is unchanging, always the same, and always there for me. He’s the King of Kings, and in control of my life and is benevolent and graceful towards me.

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

If people only know this immense treasure and gift was right at their heart’s fingertips, they would turn to Jesus in a blink. They would no longer walk in this world lost and wandering, they would have purpose, hope, and a calling. They would experience a love so deep that they could never experience within this fallen world.

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
“You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.” (Song of Solomon 4:7)

To have the God of Heaven feel this way about us? What a beautiful God. A God so great He created all of the beauty we see in the world. A God so intelligent that He created Math. A God so loving that He gave His son for us. A God so sweet that He comforts us with fuzzy kittens.

The amount of beauty from this God is indescribable. And the greatest miracle of all? That He came as a vulnerable newborn baby, to redeem humanity from the fall that occurred in the Garden of Eden. What kind of loving God do we have, that would do such a thing?! He was born to sacrifice His precious, Holy, unstained life – for our miserable, wretched, vile and foul sins.

This God could have let us just die and go to hell without even a thought of dying on the cross for our sins. But, because God is love, He would never do such a thing. He is love. Love comes from Him and there is no such thing as love outside of Him.

“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8)

This loving God belongs to me, and I belong to Him. That’s because I came to Christ and now I am His Bride.

“I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.” (Song of Solomon 6:3)

Because I have this close relationship with Christ, I know that my life on earth is no longer random. His plans and desires will prevail in my life and no mere human can stop his plans from taking place. And this is true for every believer in Christ. But to have this, a person must come to Christ and put their faith in Him.

Reading Matthew 2 really comforted me when I saw this theme and honed in on it. And I hope it comforts you. If you are a believer, know how powerful God is over your life and nothing can thwart His plans. If you are an unbeliever, know that you too can have this.

All you have to do is receive it.

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)

Bible Study: Matthew 1

Matthew is the first book of the New Testament. This is where Jesus is first introduced, as He is the pinnacle height of all human history. The long-awaited Messiah is finally here. Why is this important? Because prior to Christ, there was no hope of human redemption. Since Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden, all of the seed inside of his body (the entire human race that would come forth into existence) fell with Adam and the rest of the world.

“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12)

Unfortunately, that one sin of Adam effected the entire human race and the world around us. This is because sin brings death and separates us from God’s holy perfection. Many people blame God for the problems around us in this world and shake their fists at Him – this is complete foolishness, because in reality they should be shaking their fists at themselves. We as humans are the ones who sin, not God. Look at this world and tell me, is God the one murdering, raping, being hostile, cursing, and sinning? No, it’s humans. It is prideful to place the blame of our sins on a holy, perfect, righteous God. And of course, pride is the original sin. So it’s no wonder why so much of the human race as enough pride to be shaking their fists, angry at the Creator of Heaven and Earth (all the while enjoying His creation!)

“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.” (Isaiah 14:12-15)

As we can see, the first sin ever committed was by Satan himself, in heaven. And what was his sin? Pride. Pride for thinking he can be more glorious, more high than God himself. Can you guess what Adam’s first sin really was? If you guessed pride, you are correct. It wasn’t about eating a piece of fruit that caused humanity to fall and be separated from God, it was disobeying God. And any disobedience in God stems in pride. Pride, because we think we know better than God not to obey Him and His commands. Pride, because we want our own way, not God’s way. So, the devil was the first sinner in Heaven, and his sin was pride. Now, let’s zoom in on the Garden of Eden where Satan tempts the first human beings to sin now – human beings in which he has a deep hatred for. Why? Because human beings are made in God’s image.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Genesis 1:27).

“Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” (Genesis 3:1-6)

Zooming on on Genesis 3, we see that Satan lured Eve into disobeying God and eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and Adam followed suit. Because Satan fell due to his pride, he tempted Adam and Eve to likewise be prideful in disobeying God, just as he did in Heaven. Eating the piece of fruit was so much more than just eating a piece of fruit. It echoed the pride of Satan in Heaven, and the root of it is pride against God, wanting to be like God.

They weren’t satisfied with just being human and being under the Lordship of Christ. They wanted more. This is what caused the fall of humanity, and this is in the heart of every human: pride.

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:10-18)

Can you see how pride would be the root of all sin? It’s the first sin that took place in Heaven and then in the Garden of Eden, and it’s the root of all sin in humanity today and through all generations. Think about it: all sin is disobedience to God, and disobedience to God means you are being rebellious to your Creator. And the truth is, is that we all are. We are all sinners, we all have pride. We have all fallen, and we all deserve judgement for our sins which includes hell. We have all been separated from God, because He is holy and we are not.

This is why we need Jesus.

Let’s get back to Matthew now. Here comes the introduction of Jesus Christ. He had long been prophesied over the span of thousands of years. Matthew starts by listing Christ’s genealogy. This is important because it displays that Christ indeed came through Adam, like all human beings, yet did not sin (because He is God). Another important aspect is that this genealogy also displays that Jesus came from the line of David, which is important because the Messiah was repeatedly prophesied to come from the seed of David.

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 1:18)

The text goes into declaring that Mary became pregnant not through sexual intercourse, as all humanity does, but from the Holy Spirit – this is to show that Christ, though He is man, He is not merely man but God in the flesh. He was conceived in a virgin through the Holy Spirit. This means, though He was born as a descendant of Adam, He is not under Adam’s fallen nature that was given to all humanity. He is outside the sin that took place in the Garden of Eden. Humanly speaking, Jesus was born through the line of Adam, but spiritually speaking, Jesus was not under the fallen nature of Adam because He came from God and he is God.

“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1: 21)

Jesus is a powerful name, and has abundantly powerful meaning behind His name. His name means salvation, and He is what all of humanity desperately needs. Because all of humanity has fallen because we come from Adam, who sinned in the Garden of Eden, we were separated from God. Jesus is the One who can restore us to God, the way it was originally intended for humanity prior to Adam’s sin. Through Jesus and only Jesus, we can be reconciled to God.

It is imperative to let go of our pride and humble ourselves under God. He literally made us, shouldn’t we submit to Him? Coming to Christ in trust and faith, repenting and turning to our Creator in humbleness will lead to all abundant blessing. He will forgive us of all our transgression against Him. He is so ready to forgive, but it takes receiving His forgiveness and grace. That’s all it takes – letting go of our pride, and trusting in Jesus.

Why is Jesus the One to save us from our sins?

Because humanity could never be sinless, which is the only way to be restored to God and enter eternity in His presence. Jesus, being both fully man (born from a woman) and fully God (conceived by the Holy Spirit), He is the one who lived that sinless, perfect life for us, and died for our sins. He became the sacrifice for our sins, because sin = death. All of God’s judgement and ager went on Jesus on the cross of calvary. And now, if you repent and trust in Christ, you will be given God’s endless grace and mercy, and be forgiven of your sins. When this happens, all of Christ’s perfection now rests upon you, and God only sees Christ’s perfection when He looks at you. He no longer sees your sin, and you will no longer be judged and sent to eternal damnation for your sins.

“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (1 Corinthians 5:21)

It’s both incredibly simple, yet hard. Simple, because all it takes is putting your faith and trust in Christ, yet it’s hard. Why? Because it means that you have to let go of your pride. Satan is a real entity and he wants to ensure people stay away from God and rebel against Him, just like he did in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. He’s still doing that today. He hates human beings because they are made in the image and likeness of God, and so he wants as many people to go to hell as possible. There is spiritual warfare at work to keep people in their sin and pride and not trust in Jesus Christ.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” (James 4:7-8)

Jesus lovingly came to this broken, sinful world, and lived a perfect life. He sacrificed His perfect life for our sins, so that we may have His perfection resting upon us like a blanket, and that we can salvation and be reconciled to God. Jesus is the height of human history, no other will ever do what He did. And all who come to Him will be given forgiveness, redemption, and God’s endless grace.

Why Should We Trust in Jesus?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

There’s only one thing that we as humans can trust in with all of our entire heart. That one thing we can trust in is Jesus Christ! Because He’s perfect in every way and therefore loves us perfectly, we can rest in the fact that because of His perfection and love, He will always act towards us in that love. That means He’ll never hurt us, leave us, lie to us, abuse us, cause us pain. It also means that He will save us when we put our faith in Him, along with protect us, cherish us, and do things according to our very best interest.

The second part of the verse, “lean not on your own understanding”, means that we as humans don’t see all the things that God sees nor do we understand all things. And because God knows all things and sees all things, as well as love us perfectly, we CAN trust Him with everything in us.

It doesn’t mean we understand all things, but we can trust that He does, and that because He’s God, He’s in control of all things. Trust requires faith because it relies on the One that we put our trust in. And when it is God that we put our trust in, we know that we are safe.

This world can be so uncertain and chaotic. But the one thing that will always remain, is God.

Covid Should Bring You To Hope in Christ

And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

Romans 5:5-6 ❤

As we daily face the grim reality of this current pandemic situation, many people all over the world feel hopeless. It’s completely understandable, but there’s amazing news! The good news is that there is a beautiful, glorious, mighty and powerful God out there that we can put our hope in. In a shaky world, God can be our constant rock. The one thing we can rely on while everything else crumbles before us. He can be the one thing that holds us firm while this entire world moves in chaos. We do not have to feel hopeless. We can and should put our hope in God, for this is the whole purpose of your existence.

And how do we know that we can hope in God? Because Jesus died for us people who have sinned. If He has done this extravagant act of love for us, then we can be rest assured that hoping in Him will lead to security, love, and eternal life.

Hope in Christ in every season, through every fear, and during every hardship. He is the only way to true freedom.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

2 Corinthians 3:17 ❤

When You Live Your Life Apart From God

apart from God

When you live your life apart from God…

You may seem like you have things under control. You feel like you don’t need Him, because you can’t see Him, and if you can’t see Him, then you don’t need Him. You trust in yourself and what you can do. Your heart feels like an empty pit of darkness and purposeless because you walk around this earth not even knowing why you have breath in your lungs. You spend your life trying to fill that emptiness you have with things like sexual immorality, pornography, gambling, drinking, money, or even good things such as family, security, job, and staying busy. Family is one of the most beautiful things given to us by the Lord in this life, but if you have a family without God? Meaningless. It’s all meaningless without God. But with God, everything is meaningful.

Yet apart from God, no matter what you turn to, whether it be something dark and sinful like pornography, or something “clean” and seemingly fulfilling such as family, your strivings to fill that void within your soul are in vain because you realize at the end of the day, you’re still empty. You yourself can never fill that void, nor the things you try to fill it with.

You thought climbing up the ladder socially, financially, educationally, and occupationally would give you the “perfect” life and the ultimate happiness. The American dream, right?

Wrong. Because in this quest for total life fulfillment you failed to turn to the only One who can give your heart and soul purpose, the only One who can give you fulfillment and satisfaction, the only One who can save your soul. You spend your life denying God and His existence, yet you seek lesser and temporal joys that always leave you more and more empty. You realize you have it all on the outside but are still empty in your heart.

When you live your life apart from God…

You fall into to addictions such as drugs, prescriptions, pornography, and alcohol because that desire to fill that void inside of your heart and soul became out of control and the need to fill it was unquenched, so thus began the seed of addiction. Your need to be filled has spiraled into complete uncontrollable urges to keep up with that dopamine hit and that rush. But it always leaves you feeling empty and in despair, once it is over. And, it will always end. It is temporal and leaves you more shattered every single time you indulge in these things, because even though these things may give you a pleasurable hit, it is devastating to the well-being of your soul.

When you live your life apart from God…

You are walking on this earth and your eternal destiny is hell. You work and work and work to get ahead in this life and stock up the riches and the big family and the big house with a pool, only to die and live in eternal judgement where none of the things you acquired on this earth will even matter to you in the slightest, because it’s all over. You spent your life seeking everything but God, and now it’s too late and there are consequences. You will live your life apart from God, and then die and see His glorious face in judgement. There, you will realize that you’re entire life was spent in vain and you will weep and gnash your teeth and cry for a second chance…but there will no longer be any chances.

When you live your life for God…

for God

You recognize that you are a sinner and you have sinned against a holy, righteous, perfect God. You recognize that God is just and good, and that you will be judged because you have broken His law. You recognize that you are completely useless to try and save yourself or win God’s favor by anything you do. You recognize that all of your “good works” are filthy rags because everything you do is tainted by sin, and God sees all things – even a grain of impurity. You recognize that because of this, you are destined for eternal punishment in hell because just like a just judge in a courtroom will not let broken laws go unpunished, a holy God even more so will not let those who broke His perfect law go unpunished. Hell awaits once you die.

When you live your life for God…

You become helpless to do anything to go to heaven yourself. You recognize that you are desperate for a Saviour, and it is only found in the Lord Jesus Christ, the One true God. You recognize that He is absolutely perfect, lived the perfect life you cannot live and kept God’s law perfectly the way you would never be able to. You recognize that Jesus died on the cross for your sins, shedding His perfect blood for you, and rose again three days later.

And you put your faith and trust in Him, letting go of everything and falling into His eternal arms, trusting in His forgiveness and love and mercy and grace. When this happens, your soul is saved for all eternity.

When you live your life for God…

You realize that your time on earth is short, but you are on your way to Heaven. Death no longer scares you, and you know that you are loved immensely by the God who made you. You now have a desire for Him, to talk about Him, read His word, preach the gospel – you live, breath, and live more for God! He captures your every thought, and He fills your mind. You fall in love with Him as you see His creation as a display of His own beauty. You live your life with the burdens of sins on your shoulders lifted. You live your life with your soul satisfied knowing you have a personal relationship with Christ that will never, ever, ever end. You know that whatever happens, God is in control. You have peace that any hardships that occur, God will work it out for your good. You know that the things of this world are only temporal, so you don’t put your heart or trust in them. You are free from the bondages of this world to live for Christ and Christ alone, and you have the love of God in your heart for the first time – a love that is so immense that it takes your breath away.

When you live your life apart from God…

You are dead.

When you live your life for God…

You are truly living.

bible

The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. (Ecclesiastes 1:1-2)

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13.50)

And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2: 1-10)

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:2)

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. (Matthew 22:37)

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

 

The Highest Price

The most worthy God paid the highest price for our sin-stained soul.

I walk in complete wide-eyed wonder of this God who loves this much. Of this God who is intimately acquainted with me and is so involved in every little thing I do and think and feel. Who cares for me tenderly and protects me passionately. This God who I can’t even begin to comprehend His majesty, that He loves so much that He would experience the most painful execution in human history to save us, have us, keep us, make us His.

I’m in utter awe that I get to know Him. Not just know Him, but k n o w Him. That He loves us humans with a great love. The greatest love. It’s beyond our mind’s ability to fully grasp. It’s just too great.

He’s so majestic, He’s so wonderful.

All I can do is humbly bow low in complete submission, and love Him until I die.

It’s what I want. He’s what I desire.

I can’t believe He’s mine.

There’s not a thing in this world I would choose over Him. I’m His possession.

Surrender to Jesus, and experience the most incredible love, fulfillment, joy, purpose, pleasure, and satisfaction that you can’t even begin to imagine. He is  e v e r y t h i n g.