Child of God

He's got the whole world in His hands!

Beautiful Llandudno - one of our very favourite places!

“As he walked along, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, sitting in the tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow me’, Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.” (Mark 2:14)

Hello again. I trust you’re all well. We’ve had a rather dramatic week, as a member of the family had a health scare, resulting in a short spell in hospital but, praise to God, is now on their way back to full health and strength. You just never know what life is going to throw at you next, do you?

Levi (another name for Matthew) was one of Jesus’s chosen disciples. More than any other disciple, Matthew knew how much it would cost to follow Jesus, yet he didn’t hesitate for a moment. When he left his tax collecting booth, he guaranteed himself unemployment. For several other disciples, there was always fishing to return to but, for Matthew, there was no turning back.

From a despised tax collector to a follower of Jesus was a dramatic U-turn. Jesus used Matthew’s skills as a record keeper to record what was going on around him. A keen observer, a meticulous and accurate recorder of events, Matthew actually wrote the first of the four Gospels in the New Testament.

Each of us is one of God’s works in progress. God trusts us with skills and abilities, along with the capability to serve Him. Matthew couldn’t have known that God would use his skills as a tax collector to record the greatest story ever lived. God has a meaningful purpose for each of us too.

When I became a Christian, I was not working, as I was recovering from a breakdown. I have, however, always enjoyed writing and had begun keeping a journal to record my feelings, on the advice of my counsellor. Several years later, I used these jottings as the basis of my blog, which I only started two years ago when I was furloughed from my job. I believe that my gift from the Lord is my way with words and this is my thanks to Him, my way of using His gift to me.

Matthew, a Jew, was appointed by the Romans to be the area’s tax collector, collecting taxes from citizens, as well as merchants travelling through the town. Tax collectors were expected to take a commission on the taxes they collected. Most of them over-charged, in order to benefit themselves. The Jews despised them because of their reputation.

When Jesus called Matthew to be one of His disciples, Matthew gave up a lucrative career; sometimes, the decision to follow Christ requires difficult choices. Matthew actually repented of his years of stealing from people; he offered to return any money, plus interest, that he had unlawfully extracted. He was a changed man and his was a changed life.

The day that Matthew met Jesus, he held a meeting at his house to introduce others to Jesus. Matthew didn’t waste any time in starting to witness, but new believers can share their faith right away.

While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, several tax collectors came and ate with Him and His disciples. Jesus hurt His own reputation, as Matthew had cheated many people before Jesus found and changed Him.

“When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Matthew 9:11)

The Pharisees were a strict group of religious Jews who insisted on exact obedience to the Jewish law and traditions. They were very influential in synagogues. They constantly tried to trap Jesus and thought His association with ‘baddies’ was the perfect opportunity. They were more concerned with their own appearance of holiness than with helping people. They truly were the kind of people we would refer to as ‘holier than thou’! But God is concerned for each person – we’re all sinners, after all.

“Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick… for I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:12-13)

Those who are sure they are righteous cannot be saved, because the first step to following Christ is acknowledging our need of Him, and admitting that we don’t have all the answers.

The Great Orme walk

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

The Bible states we are all sinners but, in ancient Jewish times, the label was reserved for the worst of the worst – like tax collectors. Tax collectors were ‘sinners by trade’, lying and cheating their way into riches, and robbing even the poorest among their people. The richer they were, the worse they were assumed to be.

By calling Matthew, Jesus was showing that no-one would be excluded from His movement – not even those society considered irredeemable. Many horrific crimes are committed on a daily basis in this world. We see so many ‘bad’ people out there but Jesus will not turn His back on anyone, no matter how huge the sin, if they will only confess, repent, turn to Jesus and trust in His goodness. No-one is excluded from His offer – no-one!

Llandudno pier

I hope you have a safe, healthy and blessed week.  Until next time:

No Christ, no hope - know Christ, know hope!

Love, Ann