Friday, March 13, 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 someone 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.
Gladys, my 79 year old neighbor lived a wild life of drinking, dancing, and men. She loves telling me her stories over and over again. She could have been one of the unscrupulous characters at Matthew's party. She is unhealthy and not only dying for the gift of friendship, but also dying of cancer. She absolutely adores my two frisky pups. Feeding them cheese, Beggin' Strips, and cat treats - yes, you read that correctly - is the highlight of her day. The dogs are the common ground that enable me to mix and mingle with a girl gone wild, showing her God's tender mercies. She pampers my pooches and tells me tales of glory days. I listen to her and tenderly love her like Jesus. But, for His mercy, I too could be a girl gone wild in a wild, wild world.  

Tom is a 70 year old Native American. We both have a passion for public speaking, and a friendly little rivalry. A few days ago he sent me a cryptic text: "I am in the hospital. PleAse try to come visit in the next couple of days. I know it's a lot to ask, but I would Really like to see you." Tom could have been one of the disgraceful dudes at Matthew's party. Like Gladys he is also sick and not only dying for the gift of friendship, but also dying of cancer. In his deepest darkest days, he reached out to me, the light, and invited me to visit. But for God's mercy, I could be lying in a hospital bed dying of cancer, longing for a visit from a friend. I hastily went, listened to him, and loved him tenderly like Jesus. My own experience with cancer was the common ground that allowed me to mix and mingle with with a Native American mystic ... who needs Jesus. 

David is a 27 year old young man serving a double life sentence in prison. He took two lives. He too could have been one of the unruly rebels at Matthew's party who encountered Jesus. But for God's grace, he could be my son. You might find it offensive that I visit him, love him, and encourage him with Jesus. That's okay. Jesus died for Him too. No matter what others think, he is my brother, and one day we will sit side by side in our Father's house celebrating God's immeasurable mercy. Faith is the common ground that allows me to mix and mingle with a murderer. 

I was a two-faced snob at Matthew's party; pitifully oozing cockiness, conceit, and self confidence. There among the sinners, Jesus found me, touched my heart, and made me whole by His mercy. In the process, He enlarged my heart, enlightened my eyes, and enabled me to see others as He sees them.
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, full of Him, we'll have a spirit of forgiveness and restoration.

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