Connect360: The Great Dilemma

  |  Source: BaptistWay Press

Lesson 12 in the BaptistWay Press Connect360 unit “Miracles: The Transforming Power of Jesus” focuses on Matthew 17:24-27.

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  • Lesson 12 in the BaptistWay Press Connect360 unit “Miracles: The Transforming Power of Jesus” focuses on Matthew 17:24-27.

Jesus sent Peter fishing with a strange purpose. He told Peter the mouth of the first fish he would catch would hold the money for their taxes. Peter was a fisherman, and all fishermen know you can find strange things in the belly of a fish. But the payment for their taxes? Really? Peter had to decide if he would obey Jesus’ command and fish for tax money. Obedience rested with the going and fishing.

Freedom is the opposite of obligatory behavior. In freedom, we give not because we must but because we want to. What’s the difference? We pay the tax man because we must. We buy our grandson a birthday gift because we want to. Granted, there’s far more joy in the want-to! The want-to is the more perfect way.

What if God could work a miracle in our hearts to turn our have-to mindsets into a want-to attitude? What if God could change our hearts so wholly we find joy even in have-to situations? God can and does work that miracle through our saving relationship with Jesus Christ. He works that miracle through the transformation of the human heart when we place faith in Christ as Savior.

Miraculous transformation

Transformation is the key that unlocks the want-to door to joy. Paul wrote about this miracle transformation when he said, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). For those who scoff at God’s ability to change even the most crusty and rebellious of human hearts, let us remember Matthew 19:26, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Jesus announced, “The sons are free.” And he followed that announcement by saying essentially, “Let’s go ahead and participate in the tax ‘so as not to give offense.’” Because he was free, he chose to participate, not because he had to. The move from forced action toward want-to makes all the difference. It releases springs of joy into the heart and soul.

Get the picture? Moving from obligation into want-to is a miraculous transformation. It turns life around on even those who would persecute Christians by their abuses of authority and power. Turning life around from obligation to freedom is why Jesus said, “If someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also,” and “if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles” (Matt. 5:40–41). Again, there’s great joy found in want-to!

Compiled by Stan Granberry, marketing coordinator for BaptistWay Press.

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