Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Matthew 6

"Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them.  If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in Heaven." - Matt. 6:1.  In chapter 6 Jesus is continuing His teaching with the Sermon on the Mount.  He tells us not to be like the hypocrites.  A hypocrite is a pretender with a mask to hide his true identify.  Jesus repeats several phrases in Matt. 6:1-18:  "I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full" and  "Then your Father who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."  He is instructing us to be careful when we do our acts of righteousness like giving to the needy, our prayers and our fasting to not do them for the praises of men like the hypocrites, but to do them without others knowing.  If you do them in secret, then God will reward you in heaven.  If you do them publicly for men to see then your reward will not be in heaven, but only here on earth.  God knows what we do even in secret and He will reward us.  If someone finds out about your good works, that's OK.  You will still get your reward from God.  It's all about your heart motive.

Matthew 6:1-4 - Giving to the Needy

Christians have responsibilities to give to the needy and to forgive others and God will forgive us.  He rewards us for caring for others, when we pray and when we seek Him with a pure heart.  Many people today use religious activities to gain approval of others.  They brag about how many committees and boards they are on.  They do volunteer activities out of a sense of obligation or duty.  They give large offerings for the wrong reasons.  They like to be noticed and appreciated.  When they do this they get men's praises and earthly rewards, but are losing their heavenly reward and may miss out on God saying, "Well done my good and faithful servant."

Jesus said, "they have received their reward in full".  Meaning they have already received their reward and there is no reward in heaven for them.  So to received God's rewards you must do what God commands - love others and do your good deeds in secret not drawing attention to yourself.

Matthew 6:5-18 - Prayer and Fasting

Jesus also instructed us how to pray. We are not be like the hypocrites praying in public praying long prayers for others to see.  We are to pray in secret.  We are not to babble like the pagans using many words.  God sees and hears us when we pray.  There is no need to keep repeating ourselves.

Jesus gives us the Lord's Prayer in Matt. 6:9-13 as an example of how we should pray.
"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us today our daily bread.  Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." This is meant only to be a pattern for us to follow as we pray.

Here He is showing us that we are to honor God as our Father and that He is holy:  we want His will above our will to be done on earth and in heaven; request of Him to give us what we need both physically and spiritually; we want to be forgiving to others just as He is to us; we should ask Him for the ability to resist sin and that He will help us stand up against Satan's temptations.

Why pray for God's will?  Because when we do, we yield to God's authority.  It's a humble admission that He knows what is best.

Why fast?   When we pray, sometimes we get distracted.  We fast because we want to be closer to God.  When we fast, it helps us focus our attention to God.

If God know what we want before we ask, why pray?  To pray is not to get what we want, but to deepen our relationship with God.  Prayer changes us rather than the situation sometimes.  It gives us confidence in God being sufficient.  Prayer invites God into our lives and God wants a relationship with us.  Prayer is simply talking with God as you would a friend.  Prayer is seeking God and is a demonstration of our faith. 

There are specific lessons about prayer here:
Do not pray like the hypocrites to be seen by others.
We should glorify God.
We are to seek His will.
Pray for both our physical and spiritual needs.
Seek forgiveness.
Pray for strength against temptations.

Luke 18:1-8 tells us we need to be persistent when praying and to never give up.  Remember prayers are answered in God's timing, not ours.

Matthew 6:19-24 - Treasures in Heaven

People tend to collect earthly treasures such as money, new cars, big homes, powerful jobs, and many other possessions.  These do not last forever and can be lost by fire, theft,  job loss, failing economy, etc.  They are here today and can be gone tomorrow.  Jesus tell us to store up treasures in heaven not on earth.  Some treasures we can store in heaven are: offerings to God, love for others, actions that glorify God, words of praise and thanksgiving to God, true worship, and anything that makes us more like Jesus.

The following verses talk about treasure:
Psalm 119:72 - the law from your mouth is more precious than silver and gold.
Luke 12:15-21 - a man's life does not consist of his possessions.
1 Cor. 2:9 - we can't conceive what He's prepared for us in heaven.
2 Cor. 4:17-18 - what is unseen is eternal.
Phil. 3:8 - nothing is worth having except Christ
1 Peter 1:4-5 - our inheritance is kept in heaven and will never perish, spoil, or fade.

Luke 11:34-36 and Matt. 6:22-24 tell us that the eye is the lamp of the body and your body is full of light.  If you have bad eyes, your whole body is then full of darkness.  In other words - the eyes guide your body and if there is light you can see where you are going.  You believe in Jesus and have a healthy spiritual life.  But if you have bad eyes or double vision, you are in darkness and can't see where you are going.  You want to go to heaven, but don't want to give up worldly things.  You lack clear guidance so you are in darkness.  Verse 24 says, "No one cannot serve two masters."

Do you have earthly treasures?
Who is your master?
What motive or desire will you ask God to help you change?
What are you treasures in heaven?


Matthew 6:25-34 - Do Not Worry

Jesus tell us not to worry.  We should not worry about our life, what we eat or drink, or what we will wear.  He gives us reasons for not worrying.  The birds do not sow or reap, yet our heavenly Father feeds them.  We cannot add a single hour to our life so why worry?.  He even takes care of the lilies of the field.  He knows what you need.  "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own." - Matt. 6:33-34.

What do you worry about?
Will you trust God and stop worrying?
How has God provided for you?
What will you do to thank God for His provision?

Principles:
God rewards those who do good works to please Him.
God rewards those who serve for His glory, not the personal gain.
Real treasure is stored in heaven.
God is worthy of our undivided focus.
Christians need not worry.
God rewards our trust in His care with worry free living.

Thanks for visiting my blog.  Hope to see you next week for Matthew 7.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Matthew 5:17-48

Matthew 5:17-20 - Jesus' fulfillment of the Law

Jesus continues teaching on the mountain (Sermon of the Mount).  He tells His purpose – to fulfill the law.  He promises that all will be fulfilled.  Then He cautions to not teach law breaking and to be more righteous than the Pharisees.  The Law includes the first 5 books and the Prophets in the Old Testament.  It includes the 10 Commandments found in Ex. 20.

Obedience to God is not about the rules, but transformation of the human heart.  The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were obedient to the law, but was not what Jesus wanted.  They were considered righteous in the public eye.  Righteousness is not what you do when in public, but how you are in private - on the inside.

What do you do when no one is around?
Are you known as a religious person?
How do you act in secret?

Matthew 5:21-48 - Living to a Higher Standard

Jesus uses illustrations that refer to the law of the Old Testament. 

Murder

The OT Law says, "Do not murder." - Ex. 20:13, but Jesus now raises a new standard by which we should live.  The people probably thought they were behaving and living okay.  After all they didn’t kill anyone.  Jesus gives a higher standard for anger by teaching that if anyone is angry with his brother without cause, he will be subject to judgment like a murderer. – Matt. 5:21-22.  “Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.” 1 John 3:15.  Concerning offerings – if we have openly sinned against someone, we must confess to God and then apologize to the person against whom we have sinned.  Then we can offer our gifts to God. – Matt. 5:23-26. 

We all murder, because we get angry with others.  Take it to the Lord in prayer and pray for them and for your feeling toward them to change.  To resolve anger ask God for help, confront the anger, examine why you are angry, and change your expectations.  Go to that person or write them a note.  Take some action and settle it quickly.  “In your anger do not sin.  Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”Eph. 4:26.

Are you holding on to anger?
Do you need to make peace with someone?

Pray for the person you are angry with.  It's hard to hold a grudge when you are praying for someone.  Anger does not lead to murder.  Anger is murder.  Anger and hate blinds, but forgiveness heals.

Adultery 

The OT Law says, "Do not commit adultery." - Ex. 20:14.  Marriage is sacred and adultery is wrong.  Jesus said, - "But I tell you that anyone looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." - Matt.5:28.  When playing with it in your mind, cut it off.  Stop and do what you have to do to flee from such thinking.  It's OK to look and admire someone, but it's that constant stare in wanting them with our deep desires that is sinful.  Sometimes we are indifferent to it until we are affected.

With whom other than your spouse do you have a desire for?
What are your innermost thoughts and attitudes?
What unclean thoughts are polluting your mind?

Divorce 

The OT says, "Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce." - Deut. 24:1.  Now days it is common to divorce instead of working out problems and letting God have a chance to heal the marriage.  God instituted marriage as a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman.  Adultery is a sin.  God does not approve of sin and He never commands divorce.  Divorce is never desirable, but Jesus permits it only for marital unfaithfulness. – Matt 5:32.  1 Cor. 7:15 says if an unbeliever walks out of the marriage, let him go and don’t feel guilty.  God said, "I hate divorce", but He never said "I hate divorced people."  Anyone who has sinned in matters of divorce and remarriage, there is comfort.  Jesus forgives this sin like all other sins.

Oaths 

Words are sacred to God so say and do what you say.  Always speak the truth.  To lie is a sin.  There are some phrases that make us think the person is untruthful – “to be honest with you”, “I swear”, “I’m not lying” of if they say the same thing over and over trying to convince us what they are saying is true.  Just say what you mean and mean what you say.

Do you have to guarantee what you say is truth?

Turn the other cheek

Turning the other cheek shows true humility and real love.  Christians are not to take matters into their own hands, but surrender their rights.  God is the one to take revenge.  It belongs to Him.  He also said we should not hold tight to your possession, but be generous.

Is there someone you need to forgive and pray for?

Love Your Enemies

We are to love our enemies and be perfect as our heavenly father is perfect.  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”Lev. 19:18.  Who is your neighbor?  Your neighbor is every human being.  The best way to love your enemy is to pray for them.

Jesus tells us to be perfect.  What does it mean to be perfect?

Gal. 5:16 – we are to live by the Spirit
Eph. 4:22-24 – put off your old self and put on the new self
Phil. 2:12-13 – obey God
Phil. 4:8 – think about things that are noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praise worthy.

Relationships would change if we obeyed Jesus’ words.  It would be a much more peaceful world if we loved our enemies.  Our relation with God would be better, because we are obeying His commands.  When offended, we can look at it as an opportunity to witness. 

What attributes of God and Jesus did you see in these passages? - Love, faithfulness, mercy, perfection, all-wise, goodness.

Principles:
The Old Testament is the authority for LIFE - God's righteous standards will never change.
True righteousness is not just a matter of behavior, but a matter of the heart.
Christians are meant to be different inwardly and outwardly.

Does this chapter in Matthew speak to the Pharisee in you?

See you next week for Matthew 6.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Matthew 5:1-16

Matthew 5:1-12 – The Beatitudes

Jesus begins teaching His disciples on the mountainside - “The Sermon on the Mount”, which reveals the standards that Christ requires of all those who belong to Him.   Once we have repented, our sins are forgiven by Christ on the cross and we are a new creation in Him.  Now He teaches the secret of the Christian life.  We call it the Beatitudes.  These 8 attitudes bring about God’s blessings and are the character traits of Gods’ people.  Matt. 5:1-10 -

1.      Blessed are the poor – Those who can’t please God on their own, they are spiritual poor before Him.  It is the opposite of being self-centered.

2.     Blessed are those who mourn – Those who are sad and grieve over their sins and come to true repentance.  They are aware of their spiritual poverty.

3.     Blessed are the meek – Those who are humble, those who submit and are obedient to God.  To be meek is not a weakness.

4.     Blessed are those who hunger and thirst – Those who constantly seek God and want to do what is right.

5.     Blessed are the merciful – Those who are gracious to the underserving and don’t judge them, those who are forgiving like Christ was.

6.     Blessed are the pure in heart – Those who have proper motives and thoughts. Their purpose is to love God and serve Him in love to others.

7.     Blessed are the peacemakers – Those who reconcile relationships.  Jesus was known as the “Prince of Peace” and we want to be like Him.

8.     Blessed are those who are persecuted – Those who are courageous and endure adversity with unshakable convictions.  Jesus teaches that His followers will never get away from persecution and trial.  It should be a joy to share with Him in His suffering.

Jesus goes on to say “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matt. 5:11-12.

Blessed means fortunate, favored, happy, having good fortune.  Which of these traits is true of you?  How are they a blessing?

We learn about receiving rewards from these texts:
Matt. 5:12 – when we are persecuted because of Jesus, great is our reward.
Matt. 6:3-6, 16-18 – if we give in secret, we will be rewarded.
Luke 6:22-24 – when we suffer because of Jesus, great is our reward in heaven.
Luke 19:11-27 – we are to be productive and not lazy Christian to get our reward.
1 Cor. 3:8-14 – if our work survives, we will receive a reward.
Col. 3:23-24 – work as if working for the Lord and you will receive an inheritance from the Lord.
Heb. 10:35; 11:26 – don’t lose your confidence and regard disgrace for the sake of Christ for future reward.
Heb. 11:6 – He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.
 
Will you receive a reward from Christ?
Do you follow what the above scriptures say about rewards?

Matthew 5:13-16 – Salt and Light

Jesus tells his disciples that they are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.  "You are the salt of the earth.  But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and tramples by men.  You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." - Matt. 5:13-16.

How is salt used?  It is used as a preservative and makes food taste better. 
One grain of salt changes the taste of food.  Salt gives savor and it hinders corruption.  We are committed to the whole truth of God, which is the salt that hinders corruption.  Jesus said the whole world is salted by you.

How can you be salt in the world?  We are an example to others.  We can forgive instead of taking revenge.  We can speak up when we see something is wrong.  When we hear an off-colored joke, we can put salt on it.

How is light used?  Light is invisible, yet powerful.  It helps you see in darkness, shows your path, warns you of danger, helps you see clearly.

How are Christians the light of the world?  We can be a witness for Jesus.  Our lives should reflect Jesus.  We can do good works and acts of kindness.  We can volunteer and help those in need.  We can be kind and forgiving.  We can be non-judgmental, slow to anger and show understanding toward others.

What must take place within the believer before God’s salvation can work outwardly in every situation?  Phil. 2:12-16 – We are to continue to work out our salvation with fear and trembling and do everything without complaining or arguing.

Christ is the "light of the world" - John 8:12.  He calls you to be the light of the world by witnessing for Him.  There are lonely and troubled people in the world.  Have you given yourself in friendship talking with them about their concerns in order to bring them to Christ?

Principles:
Because Jesus experienced temptation and suffering, He is able to sympathize with us when we suffer.
Jesus is the perfect substitute for us and proves to be the perfect Savior.

See you next week with more on Matthew 5.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Matthew 4

Matthew 4:1-11 - The Temptation of Jesus

Jesus had been given super national powers at His baptism, but was still human.  The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert where there it was dry, wild animals, and there He fasted for 40 days.  He was exhausted and hungry.  Satan took advantage of Jesus’ situation and tempted Him over and over.  Jesus used what He had in His human body to resist.  He used God’s Word.  He trusted God’s Word.  Satan’s purpose was to cause Him to sin against God’s will.  He was trying to get Jesus to sin by denying truths about God – God’s provision, God’s plan, and God’s preeminence. 

God also had a purpose in allowing Jesus to be tempted.  It was to prove the Lord was perfect and was without sin from the beginning.  It positioned Him as the author of our salvation.  Being tempted allowed Him to appreciate and understand our suffering.  God needed us to see this perfect example of Jesus.  God allowed Satan to tempt, but one day He will not.

Satan's purpose for tempting Jesus was to cause Him to turn away from God's plan, which would ultimately be the suffering of the cross. 

Satan wants us to deny God’s truths in the same way.  We have the same Word of God available to us.  Satan accuses us to God.  He masquerades around as beauty and comes in many forms.  He’s not red with a long tail.  Satan says to us, “You need it.  You deserve it.” 

 
In Hebrews 2:17-18 it tells us why Jesus had to be tempted.  “For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he make atonement for sins of people.  Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” 

Jesus’ attitude is found in Matt. 4:4“It is written: Man does not live by bread alone, on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  He was very weary, but strengthened by the Word of God.  We should resist in the same way and rely on the Holy Spirit to give us strength to resist the temptation to deny God.  Know His Word and remember:  “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” -  1 cor. 10:13

Principles: 
The devil is real and God’s Word helps believers to resist temptation.
God calls us to depend on His Spirit not our own strength.
Faith in God's Word empowers believers to resist temptation.

How have you experienced similar temptations like Christ?
Do you know the Word of God? 
Do you use it so it can give you strength?

Who is Satan?  He is called “the prince of this world” in John 12:31; 14:30, “the evil one” in Matt. 13:19, 38, “the devil” in Matt. 25:41; Luke 8:12; John 8:44.  He is the “father of lies”, “a murderer”, “the deceiver”.  He is a spiritual, invisible being.  He is extremely powerful whose influence and whose invisible evil angels attack all the earth.  He is God’s powerful adversary.  The devil was created by God among angelic beings, but his heart was overcome with the sin of pride, which led him to exalt himself against God.  As a result of his rebellion, he was banished from God’s presence and took with him other spiritual beings called demons.  God allowed him to rule in “the kingdom of darkness"   He exercises his evil authority by leading his fallen spirits and his dominion over all of lost humanity.  “The whole world is under the control of the evil one.” - 1 John 5:19. 

Jesus’ main work was to destroy him who holds the power of death – that is the devil and free all those who live under the devil’s control.  Christ has delivered us from the fear of Satan’s power and the temptation to sin.  God promised we can resist Satan by faith in Jesus and he will flee from us.  Satan’s power over us was defeated at the Cross.

The story of Jesus’ temptation ends with “then the devil left him”.  Angels then came and attended Jesus.  It is not known exactly what they did, but I am sure they brought food and met all his physical needs.  We receive comfort that in every victory over temptation, God will  provide for us.

Matthew 4:12-25 – Jesus Begins His Ministry

Jesus began to preach the call to repentance.  “Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is near.” Matt. 4:17.  He called 4 men fishermen to be His first disciples - Peter, Andrew, James and John.  He said, “Come, follow me…I will make you fisher of men”. Matt. 4:19.  In calling them, He was calling them to help share the good news of the Gospel, to be soul winners.  They immediately left and followed Him.  Notice they did not hesitate.  This is a great example for us.

Do you want to be a soul winner?  Many of us want to witness before we follow the command of Jesus – “Follow Me”!  A follower is a disciple and a disciple is a learner.  A committed disciple of Christ will be the most effective witness.  To truly follow Jesus involves salvation, sacrifice, and being a learner.  Jesus’ disciples spent lots of time with Him.  They ate with Him, worked with Him, listened, learned from Him, and submitted to Him.  They saw miracles and what He was like in His private times when the world was not watching.

How will you learn from Jesus today?  You first need to learn to love and read His Word.  Then you need to communicate with Him through prayer.  Jesus calls it abiding or remaining.  “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” John 15:7.  Then you need to be disciple by being godly followers. “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” – Eph. 4:11-12.

Jesus said it simply.  “If you love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15.  “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves.  He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” John 14:21. 

Do you know now that He is the Messiah?
Are you a follower of Jesus?
What blessing have you received as a result of following Jesus?

Prayer is very important to Jesus and should be important to us.  He started His day with prayer.  He sets the example for us.  He needed to pray for the busy day that was ahead.  We need to pray for our busy day ahead.  Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”Mark 1:35.

Have you established a habit of early morning prayer?
Or do you give God your leftovers of the day?

Matt. 4:23-25 summarizes Jesus’ ministry of teaching, preaching, and working of miracles.  Jesus did 9 miracles.  His ability to heal all different kinds of diseases demonstrates He has authentic power over sickness, over demons and over all creation.  Great multitudes followed Him as He taught and healed.  

Principle:
God's power in us draws others to Him.

Maybe through His power you can forgive someone.  People are drawn to Jesus in us.  Let it shine in you.  No one was there to see Jesus being tempted.  It's private obedience that draws us to Him.
 
Join me next week when we study Matthew 5

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Matthew 3


 Matthew 3:1-12 – Preparing the Way for Jesus

There were 30 silent years before Jesus baptism.  We are not told much about His life growing up.  We do know that He grew up as a normal child.  He had a mother who was deeply spiritual.  She loved, trusted, and obeyed God.  Jesus was blessed by His foster father, Joseph.  He became a carpenter.  He recognized God’s will for him and his family.  He obeyed God.  So Jesus was brought up in a loving, God-fearing family.  What a great start in life.

Do you give your child the best start in life?
Do you read Bible stories to him, take him to church, and live a righteous life as an example?

In Hebrews 2:10-18; 4:15-16; 5:7-9; Luke 2:40-52 we learn some things about Jesus’ early life.  He had brothers.  He was tempted in every way.  He prayed with loud cries and tears.  He learned obedience.  He grew and was filled with wisdom.  The grace of God came upon Him.  At the age of 12 He stayed in Jerusalem and talked with teachers and had understanding.  He grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.  During these silent years in Nazareth He experienced all that we experience.  So He knows exactly how we feel in every circumstance.

For 400 years God had been silent toward His people.  Then came the prophet, John the Baptist.  His work was to prepare the way for Israel’s coming King, Messiah Jesus.  Isaiah 40:3“A voice of one calling: ‘In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.’”  John the Baptist was that voice.  He was a bold preacher and warned of the coming wrath.  He said all should repent and be baptized.  John baptized with water, but the one to come would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.  John prepared the way for the Lord Jesus by causing people to recognize and confess their sins.  He pointed them to Jesus, the Lamb of God.

John preached to the crowds about Jesus.  Luke 3:18“With many other words John exhorted the people and preached the good news to them.”  He said Jesus would be more powerful, He would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire and He could clear out His church and gather all believers together.

The Holy Spirit works in the life of a Christian.  Joel 2:28 – The Holy Spirit will come on all people and they will prophesy and dream dreams and see visions.  Ez. 36:25-27 – The Holy Spirit will cleanse you from all impurities.  John 7:37-39 – He will satisify our deep inward thirst.  Acts 1:5, 8 – He gives us power.  Isaiah 44:3 – He will bless our descendants.

There was a need for repentance: the Kingdom of Heaven is near; because the Lord’s paths need to be straight (into our hearts); because of spiritual pride; because of coming judgment.

Repentance means to turn and involves turning from sin and turn toward God.  The Bible speaks many times about turning away from sin.  There can be no true repentance without confession of sin.  Baptism symbolizes spiritual and moral cleansing that lasts for eternity.

Sin can become a pattern in our life and become normal.  We need to recognize sin and not rationalize it.  Will you ask God to show you your sin?

Luke 3 give extra details about John the Baptist’s message.  He told the people to share with others, collect no more taxes than what was due, not exhort money or accuse people falsely, and to be content with your pay.  These are good lessons for us all.

The difference in John’s baptism and the baptism of Christians since Pentecost is John baptized with water and simply prepared the people for Christ.  Christian baptism today includes these things, but much more.  We today are baptized with the Holy Spirit and is a sign that points to God’s promise and includes a new life in Christ.  Our baptism unites us forever with Christ.

Matthew 3:13-17 – Jesus’ Baptism

Jesus came to John the Baptist and wanted to be baptized.  He had no sin and didn’t need to be baptized.  But Jesus said in Matt. 3:15b“It is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”  This was His first identification with us as sinners.  He set the example for us.  Although He had no sin, He took our sins upon Himself at the Cross.  His baptism marked the beginning of His public ministry.  It was the anointing for service.  When Jesus came up out of the water, heaven opened and the Spirit of God descended on Him like a dove.  “And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’” Matt. 3:17

Why did Jesus decide to be baptized?
He needed to be identified with us as sinners.
It anointed Him to begin His public ministry.
He sets the example for us to follow.
He was obeying God.
It fulfilled prophesy.

Principles: 
Every person needs to confess and repent.
True confession acknowledges the reality of our sinful identification without Christ.
Repentance leads to a new identity in Christ and sets us apart by His grace.
Believers can follow Christ’s example of obedience through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Is your life self-indulgent?
Have you confessed of your sins?
Have you repented?
Have you ever truly turned from sin and turned to God?
Have you ever intentionally received Christ into your being through faith?

See you here next week for the next for Matthew 4.