The other day as I was standing in my kitchen I noticed my reflection in the side of the teapot. It was misshapen and distorted. It was not a true reflection of my image but it was the best reflection that little teapot could give. It is what it is.
As Christians are called to reflect Christ but we will always give a misshapen image of Him. We are clay pots with imperfections that distort the true reflection of Christ. How can we become mirrors that give a true image?
We let God mold us. We have to be willing to surrender ourselves to His mighty hand so that He can shape us to become more and more Christlike. Only then will we be perfect.
Until then, we do the best we can because we are what we are, and by the grace of God He is changing us.
Scriptures to reflect on:
Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26-27
Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8
So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:18
Today in our Bible reading plan we are up to Matthew 17:1-26. A large part of this is the Transfiguration of Jesus. This is where Jesus takes Peter, James and John up a hill to pray.
As Jesus is praying Moses and Elijah appear and Jesus changes or is Transfigured. Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light (v2).
One question I am often asked is why did Moses and Elijah appear? The answer is was to confirm Jesus’ mission as God’s chosen Messiah.
Moses and Elijah were two great Old Testament Leaders and Prophets. Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible including the Law, Elijah was a great Prophet who had predicted the coming of the Messiah.
Moses being there showed Jesus came to fulfill the Law. Elijah showed that Jesus was the one whom the Prophets spoke about. This along with God’s voice in verse 5 showed Jesus was the long awaited Messiah.
In Psalms 116:1-2 NLT the Bible says, “I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!”
These verses tell us that God is so responsive that we can always reach Him. It says He bends down and listens to our voices!
As Christians we need to remember that God is always near, always listening carefully to every prayer and that He answers each prayer.
Verses like this give me confidence and a desire to pray. Knowing He is near and listening is comforting.
Like it says in verse 2, “I will pray as long as I have breath”.
One question I have been asked a number of times is which version of the Bible to I like the best. Over the years I have gone back and forward between the New International Version or NIV and the New Living Translation or the NLT.
One reason I used the NIV so much is because we were given a free one in the 1990’s at the Bible college I attended. Apparently for several years in the 1990’s every Bible college student in Australia received a free NIV. This is what they said when we received our copy.
As a result many colleges around Australia adopted this as their main resource. Students had to use that in their assignments, readings in chapel and had to use it for their memory verses. As the students graduated they took it with them to their churches and this slowly became the norm in the congregations.
For many years I used the NIV in my studies, web writings and sermon preparation. All of my Bible resources were based on it and it just seemed natural to return back to it.
As the years progressed though, I found myself reading the NLT version in my private devotions. Also if I didn’t quite get the meaning of the NIV passage I would turn to the NLT and its use of slightly different words or phrases. It was easier for me to understand in many cases.
More recently I have been using the Life Application Study Bible in the NLT. I really like the simplicity of the text and the notes for each verse. It gives background information and asks how you are applying it to your life. It has helped me to become more of a doer rather than just a hearer of the Word.
So if I had to answer which Bible do I prefer. The answer would be NLT. But in saying that when preparing a message I use the NIV, NLT and the NKJV to get a fuller picture and to be aware of what the congregation might be using themselves.
As with all things related to the Bible, we all have to find which resources and Bible we prefer the best. Ultimately it is about reading it, understanding it and applying it to your life.
We are up to Matthew chapter 12 in our reading plan today. A large part of this chapter is about Jesus’ interactions with the Pharisees.
The Pharisees didn’t like the way Jesus did things. He acted differently to their laws and way of doing things. That made them feel very uncomfortable.
They accused his disciples of “harvesting” grain on the Sabbath. Jesus explained they were preparing food like David’s followers who were hungry and went into the Temple and ate the bread.
Then they tried to trap Jesus on a issue of heading a man’s hand on the Sabbath. Jesus talked about saving a sheep who had fallen into a ditch and how they would rightfully help it out. Jesus then healed the man’s hand in the Synagogue.
The Pharisees got so caught up in keeping the rules. They applied them to themselves to give them a sense of purpose and righteousness in trying to fulfil them.
They also applied them to others so they could judge them and in turn make themselves feel superior and righteous. They also liked to trap people so they could have them stoned.
Rules are not bad, but the Pharisees always took them to the nth degree. They saw them as hard and fast and never thought of compassion, mercy or justice. This is why a loving, caring and compassionate Jesus often rebuked them.
I am so glad I am not a Pharisee in Jesus’ day. I would hate to be so caught up in the rules that I missed the Messiah I was waiting for. Even worse I would hate to think I would want Him dead because He was different to what I thought He would be.
In Matthew 11 we see a few verses in the middle that talk about the criticism of John the Baptist and Jesus. Jesus says…
“For John didn’t spend his time eating and drinking, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by its results.” (Matthew 11:18, 19 NLT)
John the Baptist was criticised for fasting and was accussed of being possessed by a demon. Jesus on the other hand was accussed of being a drunkard and gluton and hanging around with sinners.
It seems sometimes whatever we do some people with take the opposite line and criticise us. This often happens when people are being over religious or do not want to change their lifestyle, thinking or ways of doing things.
I like what Jesus said at the end of verse 19, “But wisdom is shown to be right by its results”.
For us today we will often receive criticism if we stand up and try to do something new or different. If that is the case we need to keep on praying, keep believing and keep moving forward in what we feel is what God wants us to do.
In time if it is really of God, it will shine through and the results will speak for themselves.
In Matthew chapter 10 we see that Jesus sent His disciples out to reach out to the Jews.
He said, “Don’t go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, but only to the people of Israel—God’s lost sheep. Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near” (verses 5-7).
Then in Matthew 10:14 Jesus says, “If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave”.
Why did Jesus tell his disciples to shake the dust off their feet if a city or home didn’t welcome them?
Apparently it was a custom for pious Jews when leaving Gentile cities. They shook the dust from their feet to show their separation from Gentile practices.
If the disciples shook the dust of a Jewish town from their feet, it would show their separation from Jews who rejected their long awaited Messiah.
In Matthew chapter 6 it talks about doing things privately and then receiving rewards from the Father in Heaven. There are three things we should do.
1. Give privately (verse 4)
Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
2. Pray privately (verse 6)
But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. (v6)
3. Fast privately (verses 17-18)
But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
God tells us to do these things in private as it is so easy to do them publicly to receive praise from others.
Because of this our acts of giving, prayer or fasting can be done with impure or selfish motives, the right things for the wrong reasons.
These three things are a good reminder to question our motives for the things we do. Are they self-centred or God-centred?
We have finished week 1 of our Bible reading plan reading all of the New Testament. So far we have read Matthew chapters 1-5.
I am reading it not as a preacher or a blogger, I am trying to read as a Christian who wants to feed myself. Each day I am trying to read and meditate on the passages throughout the day.
I have really enjoyed this week. So far we have looked at John the Baptist, the birth of Jesus, the escape to and return from Egypt, the baptism and temptation of Jesus, His early ministry, the calling of the first disciples and the start of the Sermon on the Mount.
It has been an action packed week. But I have to admit I feel a bit lost today. As I am up to date I have to wait until Monday to continue on!
If you want to join in, here is a copy of the page http://www.passionaustralia.org/Biblereadings.html.
Often when we think about investments we think of putting money into a term deposit or buying shares or putting money into superannuation.
These are good things, but they are not the most important ones to me. I like to invest in good quality resources to learn and grow my faith so I can pass it on to others.
A little over a year ago I purchased the base package of Logos Bible Software. It has hundreds of books and other Bible resources that I could not afford in paper format and probably wouldn’t have room to store.
Since them I have added the Expositors Bible Commentary set and the Hope for the Heart counselling series of 100 books. I guess with these and other smaller books I have spent about A$600.
To me this is a much greater investment than trying to put $600 in a term deposit or superannuation. It is helping me to become more Christ-like in the way I think and live. It then flows out to others to whom I come in contact with.
I would encourage you to invest in good quality Christian books and Bible resources. Buy a good study Bible, a good commentary, a good Bible dictionary and if you can buy some Bible software.
It can make a world of difference to you and those around you.