Nick Poindexter

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Tag: Matthew (page 1 of 4)

Filthy, Stinking Rich

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
-Matthew 19:23-26 (NIV)

Here we find Jesus explaining to his disciples the impossibility of salvation for those who put their trust in money above God. And he illustrates it in a peculiar way, contrasting a 1,000-pound camel with the size of the eye of a sewing needle.

I think a lot of modern-day Americans skim over verses like this because they don’t believe it is applicable. They hear about this “rich man” and think, “Wow, I’m glad I’m not that guy!”

And here’s why we are in a dangerous situation: we don’t feel rich. We look around our communities and neighborhoods and we say, “Look at what they have! I wish I had as much money as them. Now that’s a rich person!” But is that a fair comparison?

Consider this: More than half of the world’s population lives on less than $2 a day. Narrowing it down even further, over 1 billion people live on less than $1 a day.

Folks, I spend more than that on a pack of chewing gum.

When over 50% of the world gets by on 2 bucks a day, maybe it’s time to stop comparing yourself to your neighbors down the street and instead looking at yourself in a new light. When Jesus is talking about the rich, he’s talking about us. In the grand scheme of things, mostly likely you are filthy, stinking rich.

I think there are a scary number of people who think that they will simply waltz into heaven one day but don’t realize that at this very moment, their personal god isn’t Jesus. Their allegiance is pledged to money.

According to Jesus, becoming a part of God’s eternal kingdom is going to be hard. And it’s going to be especially difficult for those who are rich. Matter of fact, you’d have better luck squeezing a camel through the eye of a needle.

The disciples, for all their faults, actually got this one… “Who then can be saved?” What a great question! And they’re right — the fact that we are rich is a tremedous spiritual disadvantage. We have something consistently competing for our hearts.

But the point is not of despair but of hope. Yes, it is impossible — apart from God’s grace. But by realigning our trust in him instead of money we are redirecting our value and security back to the One who provides for us in the first place. This allows us to use God’s gifts for God’s purposes for God’s glory, freeing us from the intoxicating grip of greed and self-sufficiency.

And when we do that, we are left with the only thing that matters, the only thing that truly lasts…

The kingdom of heaven awaits.

The Curtain Is Torn

Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.
-Matthew 27:50-53 (NLT)

As Jesus dies from his crucifixion, the Gospel of Matthew records the occurrence of three miraculous phenomenons. First, the Temple curtain was torn in two. Next, there was a major earthquake. Lastly, dead people came back to life.

I think the latter two are easier for us to wrap our modern-day mind around. I don’t care what culture you are living in, if a huge earthquake hits the moment someone dies and suddenly you’re seeing deceased people walking around town, then you would know for a fact that something colossal had taken place. But a curtain being torn in two? It’s an inexplicable event for sure… But why is that a big deal?

To fully understand the significance of the curtain, you have to understand the architecture of the Temple. The building, which housed the presence of God, was divided into three main areas: the courts, the Holy Place, and the Most Holy Place. Also, the further you went in, the more exclusive the access became. The courts were for the average Jews, the Holy Place was for priests only, and the Most Holy Place could only be entered by the high priest once a year, on the Day of Atonement. And separating the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place was a curtain.

But this wasn’t just any curtain. This extravagant cloth was 60 feet tall by 30 feet wide and thought to be around 4 inches thick! It is said that it weighed so much that it took 300 men to carry it!

So when Jesus gives up his spirit and the curtain of the Temple is split, it was way more than a physical, supernatural occurrence. This was a symbolic event showing that the separation between God and man was gone. It didn’t matter whether you were a Jew, a priest or the high priest… The barrier was permanently eliminated for all.

Regardless of who you are or what you’ve done, it is imperative that you know that nothing is standing between you and God. Jesus Christ, our high priest, entered the Most Holy Place, atoned for our sins once and for all, and then ripped the curtain in two.

The barricade is destroyed. The roadblock is removed. Access to God is eternally available.

Thank you, Jesus.

The Great Omission

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
-Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)

As Jesus is about to depart from Earth at the end of Matthew, his last words to his disciples are recorded, commonly known as the Great Commission. The statement Jesus gives contains three key commands: they are to 1) make disciples, 2) baptize disciples, and 3) teach disciples. No ifs, ands or buts about it… Those are three distinct actions that Jesus requires of his followers.

Unfortunately, many people like to cherry pick Jesus’ words here and just adhere to the instructions they want. When applied to their life, if often sounds something like the following: “I’m a Christian? Check. Been baptized? Check. OK, I’m good. See ya in heaven!”

There’s more involved with being a Christian however than just “get saved, get baptized.” Disciples must also be taught. Why? Because current disciples still need to grow. Then they are ready to evangelize and make more disciples, and the cycle continues.

That’s why Sunday morning worship services are important. That’s why mid-week youth group meetings are important. That’s why daily personal Bible study time is important. They aren’t just things we do… They are commands from Jesus himself about how his followers should learn and develop.

And this isn’t a “You have to go to church to be a Christian” rant. You don’t have to go to church. But you are commanded to be to taught. So if are a follower of Jesus but you are missing out on opportunities to be taught what he said, you might need to rearrange your priorities a little.

Make disciples. Baptize disciples. Teach disciples. All three are equal, and all three are vital to the process of reaching the world that Jesus put into action thousands of years ago.

Anything less isn’t the Great Commission. It’s the Great Omission.

Hidden Treasure

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
-Matthew 13:44 (ESV)

In Biblical times there were no vaults or banks, so the practice of burying your money in the ground was rather common. It provided basic protection against thieves or invaders. The problem was that if the owner died or had to quickly move away, then the treasure would remain buried indefinitely.

With that said, Jesus tells a story of a man who unwittingly stumbles upon one such forgotten, hidden treasure. The reaction of the man is evidence of what a huge bargain he viewed his discovery as. He didn’t have to sleep on this one. There was no indecisiveness… He immediately abandons all that he has. It don’t think we can emphasize those words enough. The man didn’t sell some of what he had. He didn’t trade with some of his excess. He gave it all up. The whole nine yards, ball of wax, and enchilada. Everything.

And this man did gave it up full of joy and excitement? I can imagine the scene as he was going around town selling his possessions… The man’s friends and family must have thought he had lost his mind. However, he was never thinking more rationally! From his viewpoint, this transaction was indeed a no-brainer.

I am reminded of the missionary Jim Elliot, who felt lead to reach and minister to the Waidoni tribe of remote Ecuador in the 1950s. While there, Elliot was attacked and killed along with 4 others by Waidoni warriors. Some years earlier, he appropriately enough recorded these words in his journal: He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.

So the parable begs the question: What is the kingdom of heaven worth to you?

Jim Elliot, like the man in the parable, understood that one way or another, you are going to sacrifice everything. You can sacrifice everything later to have it all now… Or, you can sacrifice everything now to have it all later.

Some rewards are great enough to be worth great sacrifices.

It Does A Body Good

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
-Proverbs 17:22 (NIV)

I recently saw some statistics on stress that baffled me. According to the American Medical Association, 75% of all illnesses and diseases are stress-related. On top of that, the American Institute of Stress says that up to 90% of all doctor visits are for problems connected to stress.

But this really shouldn’t come as a surprise. Solomon made the same point clear thousands of years ago when he penned this proverb. This simple yet applicable advice rings true today… Having a positive outlook on life can do wonders health-wise. Alternatively, having a negative view withers you up.

This attitude carries over to the people we are in contact with as well. Ever been around someone who is invariably unenthusiastic, discouraging, and pessimistic? Solomon is right. It really does such the life right out of you. But cheerful, joyful people? They change everything for good like medicine.

And don’t just take modern doctors and medical organizations’ words for it. The Great Physician himself agrees. One of the major themes of Jesus’ first sermon was simply “Do not worry.” Specifically, in Matthew 6:27 he says, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” You think Jesus was getting at something?

As a child I remember the ad campaign to promote the consumption of milk based on its health benefits. The slogan was “Milk: It Does A Body Good.” While that may be true, it’s not the only thing…

A cheerful heart. A positive outlook. A Christ-like perspective.

Whatever you want to call it, it does a body good.

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