Month: August 2017

First Pick

First Pick

“I’ll take him! … I’ll pick him! … What about him??”

Ah, so many great memories from the eighties. Not even a teenager in that decade, when looking at the music, movies sports, it truly is my favorite decade to date.  It is remarkable what comes to mind when thinking about a particular decade; as was the case recently when reading and reflecting on a section of scripture found in gospel of Matthew.

The introduction line of this write up was taken from a commercial that ran quite frequently in the 80’s to promote youth membership with the YM-YWCA. The commercial showed a row of kids being picked, one at a time, for a game of who knows what by unidentified team captains.  As they came to the last kid to be chosen, there seemed to be a struggle over who would take him; and not because he was the most popular or most talented.  Sensing the struggle, along with the fear of being left out, the boy looks on in dismay.

Of all the things one remembers, often what comes to mind most are those things we find ourselves identifying with and this commercial was no exception. I never forgot this commercial for one reason, I was that YMCA kid growing up.  I was always the last or 2nd to last person picked when it came to games in school or at the local kids club.  I remember how frustrated I would get as it was never based on skill as much as it was based on popularity and reading Matthew 9 v 9 – 13 took me right back to those days.

Believed to be the author of the gospel bearing his name, Matthew tells of the time Jesus first called him. At the time Matthew was probably one of the most repulsive and unattractive people one could keep company with and it had nothing to do with looks.  In verse 9 we learn that Jesus found Matthew at a tax collectors booth. I’m not sure how he found himself in that vocation but it is evident that once called, he follows Jesus without question.  One gets an idea of what was really thought of the position in verse 11 when it states:

When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

As we see the position of tax collecting was put right on par with the actions of a sinner and was highly offensive to those, including the religious, of Jesus’s day to be found in their presence. To me there is a sadness found in the perception of Matthew, specifically because ones identity is often found in what they do.  Regardless of whether or not Matthew did his work honestly and rightly, he is instinctively labeled a person of interest; a sinner.  From there the disciples are questioned, if not chastised for the company Jesus kept.

At the time, those encountering Jesus, including the religious elite, were still at the discovery stage. With loyalties still in question Jesus was held with somewhat modest esteem; mainly due to his actions; something I find sadly humorous as it was those same actions, miracles as they were known, on which they would later crucify him.  Questions like “Who is this man?  How is he doing these things?  Who does he favor?” surely swarmed in their minds.  When it was found that he kept with tax collectors and sinners, they were greatly offended as they had hoped he would be one of them; that he would drive their agenda which included the avoiding of those deemed less or worthless.

In hearing the murmurings going round the room and more than that, knowing the hearts of those saying them, Jesus responds beautifully and so encouragingly in verses 12 – 13 when he states:

“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.””

In this we understand what it means to know Jesus and more than that the purpose those around him were missing; that of Messiah, Saviour.

As I meditate on his response I find myself frozen at Jesus’s ask, if not challenge, found in verse 13:

“But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’”

I can say that I have gone, I have learned and discovered a few things. You see, not only was I a YMCA kid so to speak; but I was also Matthew.  I know what it is like to feel the shame of my sin.  I know what it is like to feel so undeserving; that my eyes should only ever look down.  But I’ve also learned that there is a great physician and his name is Jesus.  In meeting him, in being called by him, I have received his much needed mercy and have been made well and now walk not just head up but head high.  I so pray for all to not just learn but to experience Christ’s grace as I have; to be a first pick and made well and righteous before a loving father.

Coming back to the YM-YWCA commercial again, the young boy smiles as he is finally selected; leaving one with the impression no one is left out at the Y. I’m so thank that this is a guarantee in Christ.  As was with the conversation with Abraham found in Genesis 18, if there were a few righteous God would spare. In Christ, the Father sees the righteous and many have been saved.  I am proud to say that I am one of them and that the revelation of the empty tomb is at work in the saving of many more.  In Christ we are made right and to Christ, the cost was eternally worth it.  I pray you would see Christ, confess and repent of your sin and receive his offer of grace in living for him today and know that you are more than a YMCA kid but a son or daughter of the most high.

God Bless – Sean Bosse

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Forward Thinking

Forward Thinking

As an IT professional and working in the industry for the past 18 years, the one thing I have always become accustomed to has been change. There doesn’t seem to be anything like technology and its constant moving forward.  On more than a few occasions I have found myself investing time training to improve my skillset only to find myself behind still.  As a recent example, I had certified in an industry standard network infrastructure course only to find out, once completed, that an update to the certification was coming the next year.  If I’ve learned anything from the industry is that one must always be thinking ahead, if not one step ahead.

This reality has me thinking of Jesus; as I find circumstances in life often do. In the reading of the scriptures and in particular the words Jesus himself spoke, it is evident that as he faced the present his perspective was that of a forward thinker; this thought of how the present could or would impact the future.  Knowing that this thought process would take into account all of us who have ever lived I, as stated in Psalm 38 v 8, “Stand in awe of God.”

In looking at much of what Jesus had said, two messages come to the forefront as priority; that of a future in store for the unbeliever and the future secured for those who place their trust in Him. In looking at these two specifically it becomes apparent that He has more to say to the unbeliever than to the believer.  Matter of fact, 13% of all of what Jesus said was in regard to the fate of those who die outside of his grace and this should come as no surprise.  In light of any present danger, the priority is always given to those exposed.  That said, for the believer Jesus has some great things to say to remind and encourage the believer who is thinking if not forced to look to the future.

In the face of an uncertain future Jesus was quick to remind his disciples as well as us of his purpose. In John 16 v 7 Jesus states:

“But I tell you the truth, it is for your benefit that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.”

And who is this Advocate you say? It would be the Holy Spirit; the presence of the Living God inside of the believer as a source of guidance and comfort.  And what will Jesus be doing from his place in Heaven you say?  The answer is found in John 14 v 2- 4:

“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

If doing all this work were not enough, Jesus still puts the needs of us all ahead of his own when praying for us as outlined in John 17 v 20 – 23.

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

In placing this in my heart I hear the love He has for me. Even more than that, I see it in all that he has done for us on the cross and in the empty tomb.

Another forward thinker that comes to mind when searching for encouragement in the face of an uncertain future was the Apostle Paul. In spite of all he had faced, he seemed to welcome it in light of the secured future he had in Christ.  In 2 Corinthians 5 v 7 – 9 Paul boldly states the following:

“For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it”

Wow is all I can say. When one’s priority is Christ’s glory, Paul shows that the method of God’s glory is of no concern.  As a precursor to this revelation, Paul was willing to and had become whatever was necessary to save lives by the power of the living gospel.  For further reference to Paul’s freedom in this regard, see 1 Corinthians 9. I simply and humbly pray, “Owe God, that I would have such faith.”

In closing, I refer to the reminder found in Ecclesiastes 5 v 1 which says:

“Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to myself after a conversation, “I wished I had listened more and spoken less”. If you are standing in the midst of a storm or a trial, it is my prayer that in you’re searching the scriptures, in your prayers and meditations that you would have ears to hear.  And in the hearing, all the joy the future holds for those who call on his name would be revealed.  As you to think ahead, that you would see and rejoice.

God Bless – Sean Bosse