Matt 8 to 10 One question Jesus asked those who came seeking healing: Do you believe I can do this? They and we may respond with an affirmative, but it is the action behind our answer that proves whether we believe or not.
Jesus asked the leper: Do you believe I can do this, but even without an answer, Jesus responded with instant healing. How great is His mercy! Then the centurion came and sought healing, but responded that Jesus’ healing powers were so powerful that He could heal without even seeing the afflicted one. What great faith! Seeing his daughter die, the synagogue leader came and asked Jesus to lay his hand on her and restore her to life. Why would he take that step unless he believed in His power? While a storm raged, the fearful disciples woke Jesus up and heard him ask: “Why are you cowardly, you people of little faith?”
Jesus tested all of these with one question: Do you believe I can do this? Is our faith in Jesus so strong that we believe with a word, in his presence or not? We say we believe, but our actions prove whether we are just answering or responding in faith.
Matt 5 This is the first in a series of “Heaven on Earth 101” class, where we will learn how to make the gospel relevant to our society. One of the things we learn from Jesus is that He always took advantage of the opportunities God the Father gave him to “go and make disciples.” So in the chapter on the Beatitudes, we see him using this time to fulfill what we are called to do: “go and make disciples, baptizing them and teaching to obey.” As the master teacher, He used real-life examples to show them that to “just” know the gospel is not enough. The test is demonstrating what we have learned in “real-life.”
Jesus also places some warnings so that we should not hesitate to do what He has commanded. The first is if we break one of the least of these commands to be salt and light, to be meek, and yet do not mourn over sinful habits, then we are no better than the experts in the Law who knew God’s Law but did not live by it.
Truly James was right; the world does not know us and therefore does not know the one we call Savior because our walk and talk don’t harmonize. Beloved, “heaven on earth” is to not just live by the letter but by the heart.
Isaiah 36-37 In the 1930’s Al Capone ruled Chicago. He taunted those who did not want to pay him for protection, and if they didn’t, he took note and sent his thugs to “take care of the problem.” Sennacherib was the Capone Hezekiah faced. His thugs were Rabshakeh and his contingent. They mocked God and repeated “Capone/Sennacherib’s” words: “what is your source of confidence….in whom are you trusting.” Capone thought he could play the game of chess with Hezekiah. They surmised that Hezekiah would then be shaking in his boots and succumb to their threats as he had done previously. Hezekiah’s advisors Eliakim and Hilkiah indeed returned to Hezekiah with their clothes torn as a sign they were demoralized just as Rabshekah had hoped.
In the last encounter, Hezekiah did not entrust himself to the Lord. We see that this time Hezekiah went up to the temple and laid the letter before the Lord. The prophet Isaiah told Hezekiah that he would put hooks in the jaws of this “Capone” and send him packing back to his home country because Hezekiah sought God’s help.
God gave Hezekiah three principles that teach us truths about living in a “Capone” world. [Is 37:31]: remain steadfast—Paul said much the same in [1 Cor 15: 58], “be ye steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” Secondly, take root where you are and remain firm in your faith; [Col 2:7]. Thirdly bear fruit that proves your repentance; [Matt 3:8.]
Ecclesiastes 7 to 9 The book of 1 Kings tells us that Solomon loved the Lord, and at Gibeon, as he was dreaming, God tested his heart. “Ask what I shall give you.” Just as God tested Peter, so God was testing Solomon. Who did he really love? Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him, and each time Peter responded with the “phileo” type of love. That was Solomon’s problem too. Until we have an “agape” type of love, our heart is just as Jeremiah said: desperately wicked. In some ways, that is the same question God asks of us. He essentially asked Solomon to determine the answer to that question, and his life is an open book for us to see. Study his life in the books of 1&2 Kings and then Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.
Although it seems that his answer is true wisdom, we only have to look at his last book to see that Solomon loved himself more than God. He struggled with integrity and having a devoted heart for God.
The test of our heart comes in situations and circumstances over which we have little or no control, and Solomon is not the only one who failed that test. We can study the lives of Noah, Moses, and Abraham and others to see their responses.
God puts everything on his scale. Solomon knew that the Lord weighs the heart, do we?