January 13: Matthew 21:28-32
Key Verse: Matthew 21:32
For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.
How much do you think you obey God? I know it is a loaded question because so many of us do not realise when God is speaking to us because we are so caught up in the things and people around us. When we get caught up, we lose focus and we tend to stop listening for those small voices and hints He gives us. It is not often we receive an audible response from God but rather a response through others – how we treat those responses defines how well we listen to God!
I went through a stage in 2018 of not listening to the people around me when they were telling me to go to the doctor and get myself checked out… I was too caught up in worldly things, worldly ways and my own pride to listen – God had obviously been trying a few ways to get my attention. Needless to say, early 2019 came along and I ended up in intensive care. The rest of 2019 was spent in hospitals and recovering and revisiting hospitals – all because I did not want to listen to something so small as my friends and fellow Christians telling me I needed to get myself checked out!
It is not just you who will be affected by these choices you make – it affects all those people around us, especially the people we love the most! Listening to God has got to be central to our lives and needs to be a constant in our lives. Don’t just dismiss things other people say, start praying about things and then stop and listen. The more we are caught up in our own busy lives, the less we get to listen. We need to stop and just focus on God for a while – every day!
John was telling all manner of people about God and it was the people who were not so focused on what they thought they should be doing who heard the most. The religious people were so focused on doing the right thing and trying to keep themselves apart from the world; they lost focus on God. I wonder how many people stopped what they were doing and actually listened to Jesus as He was reminding them of this fact here.
Points to Ponder:
Do you get caught up in work too easily?
Will you make a time in your day to stop and just listen for God?
January 12: Matthew 14:1-5
Key Verse: Matthew 14:5
Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered John a prophet.
When we continue to walk with God and listen and obey His wishes, we are going to meet all manner of opposition during our life; not because we are doing anything wrong but because there are people out there who somehow feel unsettled with us. When we lead a life with Christ, we act differently from the other people around us and we often start to stand out, we get noticed!
When we get noticed more than the people who are actively going out to get noticed, they start to object – they don’t like us getting the attention more than them. Don’t be too surprised when they start to work against you, using worldly measures to try and get back at you or bring you down. This is exactly what was happening back in the days of Jesus walking amongst us – the authorities did not like Him getting more attention than them and made stories up about them to try and bring them down in one way or another.
If we continue to listen to Christ, He will guide us as far as He can, but at some stage we are going to lose track and give in to the ways of the world and the people around us; just another way the evil one has to stop us from worshipping Christ. We are living in the world and the world can get very powerful because of the support it gets from people of the world.
Herod was not about to give in and allow another man to become too popular just in case he lost popularity amongst the people; his power came from the fact others were afraid of him and of his ways. If he lost that fear amongst the people, he may lose the political battle he would face against the people. Fear of the unknown or fear of losing popularity will often make us do stupid things – Herod was heading down that path and beginning to hate John for what he was able to achieve by telling people about Jesus. Herod also seemed to understand God was a lot more powerful than many realised and he was not going to give anybody the chance of allowing them to see God was more powerful than him!
Points to Ponder:
Are you proud of something in your life?
Would you be willing to lift up someone else just to give God the glory?