Thursday, January 22, 2015

Matthew 9:10-13

Matthew 9:10-13
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"

On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." 

Merciful Father-
I continuously marvel at the fact that You love, chose, and adopted me despite my indecent life, impure motives, and improper attitudes. Mercifully accepting my broken life, You took me into Your heavenly workshop and turned me into a sacred masterpiece fit for a King. My beautiful new eyes will easily recognize lost and lonely souls. With a divine perspective, I'll be able to see beyond their faults to their possibilities.

Unnoticed, unhealthy people all around me are dying for the gift of friendship. Like Matthew, I'll find common ground with them. Risking my reputation, I'll spend time mixing and mingling with them, showing them Your tender mercies. Exposed to You they may be radically changed into valuable works of art for Your purpose and pleasure.

Father, forgive me for making this life a popularity contest. Often I'm more concerned about my rituals, routines, and reputation than I am about restoring relationships. It's not about ME. It's all about YOU. Please enlarge my heart and fill it with more of Your merciful love. Open my eyes to see who needs a touch of Your greatness today and I'll obediently reach out to them in the spirit of friendship because of Jesus. Amen.

Invite a lost and lonely soul into the core of your life today. Be courteous and authentic to them. Spend frequent time with them. Allow the Master to touch them through you.

God says, three times in his Word, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." Matthew 9:13, 12:7 and Hosea 6:6. He doesn't want our rituals and routines! He wants our relationship! And, when our hearts are enlarged and full of Him, we'll have a spirit of forgiveness and restoration.

A few years ago I was compelled to reach out to a young man serving a life sentence in a state prison. I wasn't something I was seeking to do, even wanting to do. I read his story in the local paper and prayed, "Dear God, but for your grace this could be my son." Yes, what he did was vile, but God gave me eyes to see that even the vilest offender who truly believes that moment from Jesus His pardon receives. This young man was a sinner like me. 

In obedience to this prompting on my heart, I started mailing him Prayer Pal. Soon we were corresponding via letter. Eventually, God opened the door for me to visit him. Beyond the double fence topped with concertina wire, through the heavy locked doors, in the cold, dark, sterile visit room of the state penitentiary where guards menacingly glare at you, I break bread with this young man and show him Christ's mercy. The blessing I receive by mixing and mingling with this young man is inexplicable and incomprehensible. I go to bless, and leave blessed. 

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