Daily Readings & Thought for July 9th. “WHOEVER DOES NOT TAKE … IS NOT WORTHY OF ME”
Today we read some particularly challenging sayings of Jesus in Matthew’s gospel. Jesus sends out his disciples to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” [ch. 10 v.6]. They are to proclaim that “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” [v.7] We note that he does NOT say ‘the kingdom IN heaven’! We read in ch. 5 his teaching that “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth” [v.5] – their inheritance is a heavenly kingdom to be established on the earth when Jesus returns.
There are challenging messages from God in today’s 65th chapter of Isaiah. First we read of warnings! “But you who forsake the LORD … I will destine you to the sword… ; when I spoke, you did not listen …” [v.11,12] The gospels tell us of when “many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him” [John 6 v.66] and we suspect this has happened in every generation since! Today God surely says of many, they ‘do not read and absorb my meaning.’
Back in Isaiah we read a positive message to committed believers in v. 16-18 , “he … shall bless himself by the God of truth … because the former troubles are forgotten and are hidden from my (God’s)eyes. “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered. But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy” [v.16-18] The chapter concludes by describing the amazing ultimate harmony in nature – as well as between people! “The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox … They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,” says the LORD.”
Returning to our Matthew chapter, we find verses 38 & 39 particularly thought challenging. Jesus teaches, “whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” May we be among these, the ones’ who “find it” because we no longer think and live the way this godless world does! At times we can find ourselves in difficult circumstances – but everyone who accepts and follows Christ and lives by his principles, “will receive a righteous person’s reward.”[v.41]
And what a wondrous time awaits them ( and us)! Life in a renewed earth where even nature will be at peace. May Jesus NOT say to any of us you are “not worthy of me.” May we “take” whatever “cross” our Lord puts upon us and so be among those who are “glad and rejoice forever in that which (God) creates”