Thursday, September 26, 2013

Matthew 2

Matthew 2:1-12 – The Magi Visit Baby Jesus

Jesus was born in Bethlehem during the time of King Herod.  The Magi or Wise Men heard about the Christ child and saw His star and wanted to go and worship Him.  They inquired if anyone had seen the king of the Jews.  When Herod heard this, he was disturbed and jealous thinking he might lose his throne.  He deceived the Magi telling them he wanted to worship Him, too and told them when they found this king of the Jews; they were to report back to him.
The Magi continued following the star and when it stopped over the place where the child was, they bowed down and worshipped Him and presented Him with gifts.  They were warned in a dream not to go back the Herod so they returned home another way.

Who were these Wise Men?  They were Persian priests.  They studied philosophy, medicine and astronomy.  They knew the prophecy of the star and were prepared to follow it when it appeared. God probably gave them the desire to seek Him and lead them to the truth of who Jesus was.  They responded and were obedient to the light of the star.  They chose to follow the light.   

There are several groups of people mentioned, but they responded in different ways to the birth of Jesus:
Herod and all of Jerusalem – All were disturbed by this King of the Jews.  Herod wanted to be in control and was jealous and threaten by Him.
Magi – They were overjoyed of His birth and went to worship Him presenting Him with expensive gifts.  Being warned in a dream to return home another way, they listened and obeyed God’s instructions.
Priests and TeachersThey were very religious on the outside, but their hearts were far from God.  They ignored the news of the promised Messiah and made no attempt to go with the Magi to see and worship Him.  To ignore Him is to rebel against Him.

There were many wise people in the Bible and there are many in the world today.  God is looking for wise men who will imitate the qualities of the wise men of Matthew 2.  They came to worship the newborn King.  We should have the same attitude.  He is our Lord, Redeemer and friend.  Following the true light results in a personal relationship with Jesus, guidance from God, and a life of joy.

Which group do you identify with?
How wise are you? 
Do you choose to follow the light of Jesus? 
Do you know who Jesus is? 
Do you ignore Him and make no attempt to worship Him?

Micah 5:2 speaks of Christ’s prophesied deity, humanity, and kingship.  “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old from ancient times.”  Ruth 4: 11-13, 18-22 and 1 Samuel 16:1-13 link Bethlehem with Christ’s great ancestor David.  Bethlehem was David’s home town and Samuel came there to anoint David.

Matthew 2:13-23 – The Escape and Return

When Herod found out that the Magi had outwitted him, he ordered all the baby boys under 2 years old to be killed thinking the baby Jesus would surely be killed.  An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and warned him to take his family and escape to Egypt.

The antagonism shown in Matt. 2:16 is repeated all through the life of Christ.  In Luke 20 the teachers and priests were always trying to trap Him with questions.  He was despised and then arrested and put to death.  Matt. 26 the chief priest and elders plotted against Him.  He was arrested.  His own disciples fled and said they didn’t know Him.  John 1:11“He came to that which was His own, but his own did not receive Him”. John 10:31“Again the Jews picked up stone to stone”. 

Knowing that Jesus came from a despised and an unexpected place encourages us that if Jesus could suffer so much, surely we can suffer a little.  Our suffering is very small compared to His.  God will be there with us no matter what, just as He was there with Jesus.

We believers are often antagonized and ridiculed because of our relations with Christ.  People question our faith.  They reject and persecute us for our beliefs.  Christians even die for their beliefs.  Many countries today kill and persecute Christian.  The USA seems to be on a path with our religious freedoms being tested daily.

Here are some maps of the countries where this is happening.  

The Top 10 Countries where Christians are persecuted are:

  1.  North Korea
  2.  Saudi Arabia
  3.  Afghanistan
  4.  Iraq
  5.  Somalia
  6.  Maldives
  7.  Mali
  8.  Iran
  9.  Yemen
10.  Eritrea

God spoke spoken in dreams in the Old and New Testaments.  He spoke of warnings, instructions, and announcements.  Now more often, He speaks to us through His Word and His Holy Spirit guides us.

There are a lot of lessons in Matthew:
We are to worship Him – The Magi bowed before Him.  They had no problem getting down on their knees.  They gave Him their best gifts.  They were focused on Him.
God takes care of His own – God protected Joseph, Mary, and Jesus and He will protect us, too.  He warned them to leave when they were in danger.  He warned the Magi not to go back to Herod.  He provided for Him with the Magi gifts.
We are to listen and be obedient to His voice – He spoke to Joseph with a warnings of danger and Joseph obeyed.  He spoke with a warning to the Magi and they obeyed.  If we do what He asks, He will do what’s best for us.   He will guide and protect us, if we listen and obey Him.

What much time to you spend worshipping God in prayer and Bible study?
Is there something He has told you to do and have you obeyed?
Are you listening when He speaks to you?
Why is it so hard to study and understand the Bible?  If it was easy, we would not value it so much.  Don’t give up.  There is nothing better you can do than spending time in God’s Word.

In Psalm 91 there are conditions under which the Lord promises to take care of His own:
If we make Him more important than anyone else and put Him first, we will rest in God who is more powerful than anyone else.
If we make Him our Lord, He will be our refuge and no harm will come to us.
If we trust Him, He will protect us from illness and evil spirits.
If we acknowledge His name, He will protect us.
If we love Him, He will rescue us.
If we call upon Him, He will answer.  He will be with us in trouble.  He will deliver us.  He will be our salvation.

Mary trusted God when she was with Child.  Joseph trusted God when he took Mary as his wife, when God warned him to flee Egypt and again when they left to go to Nazareth.  The Magi trusted God when they were warned to go home another way.

Do you trust God to take care of you?
How does He take care of you?
Are you certain that you are in God’s will?

Jesus always reveals Himself to those who truly seek Him.
Encountering Jesus Christ in true worship brings joy and a godly perspective.
God guides and protect His offspring.
Being identified with Christ may result in persecution.
Obedience to God’s direction is our greatest protection.

Next week my post will be on Matthew 3.  Hope to see you here.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Matthew 1

The Genealogy of Jesus Christ

Matthew needed to convince the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah.  The Jews first requirement was they needed proof of a man’s ancestry before he would be considered for royalty.  Matthew begins his gospel by demonstrating the qualification of Jesus starting with his genealogy.  This is essential in establishing Jesus’ earthly right to the throne.  “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham..”Matt. 1:1.  Matthew shows Jesus’ genealogy from Abraham to David to the exile to Babylon and from the exile to Jesus’ birth.  Then Matthew shows Jesus heavenly origin in Matt. 1:18-25.  Jesus was legally in Joseph’s line, but Joseph was not his true father since Jesus was conceived of a virgin as prophesied in Isa. 7:14 – “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:  the virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

There are over 40 men’s names mention and only 5 women are mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy:  Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Wife of Uriah (Bathsheba), and Mary.  Some of these women were not considered to be “good women”.  All but 1 were connected with some great sin.  Normally women were not included in genealogies.  Why do you think these are included here?  These were special women. 

Tamar was the forgotten woman.  Tamar was part of Judah’s family by married his son Er.  After he died, his brother Onan was to give her a son, but he practiced contraception so she did not become pregnant.  This was wicked in the Lord’s sight so he was put to death.  Judah told Tamar to go and live as a widow leaving her without an inheritance.  She was simply forgotten.  Tamar took matters into her own hands and tricked Judah to sleeping with her so she would bear a son.  See her story in Gen. 38.  Many people feel like they are forgotten, but Jesus died for all, forgetting no one!  He does not forget or forsake those who have trusted Him as Savior.  “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” - Heb. 13:5b.

Rahab was a prostitute.  She hid the Israelite spies protecting them from the king of Jericho.  Then when the city was destroyed, only her and her family were spared.  See her story in Joshua 2.  God can use people in His plans, even if they have done wrong things.

Ruth was the foreign woman.  After her husband died Ruth went with her mother-in-law back to her country and there she met Boaz.  They married and had a son named Obed who was the father of Jesse who was the father of David.  See her complete story in the book of Ruth.  God received this foreign woman into Jesus’ genealogy just as He receives those foreign to the church into His family. 

Bathsheba was the fallen woman.  She committed adultery with David.  She became   the mother of Solomon.  See their story in 2 Sam. 11-12.  We all fall into sin, but forgiveness is always available.

God loves everyone even the ones with bad reputations and who mess up.  Matthew probably included these women to remind us that God can use imperfect people.  Both men and women are made in God’s image – Gen 1:26-27.  In the fall of man, Gen. 3 both were sinners.  “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Gal. 3:28.

Mary was the mother of Jesus.  She is different from the other women.  She is known as the most blessed among all women.  She had the highest of all privileges.  When she heard from the angel that the miracle of God would take place within her through the Holy Spirit, she accepted it with faith.  “I am the Lord’s servant.  May it be to me as you have said.”Luke 1:38.  I am sure she went through public disgrace.  She was probably the talk of the town.  Even her family probably suffered.  But what an honor to be chosen by God to give birth to Jesus.  This was not the plan Mary had for her life, but she listened, trusted and obeyed God in this difficult situation.

What lessons do you learn from Mary?  We learn that we need to accept and trust what God has for us and don’t complain.  Just do it!  Don’t say, “I can’t”.  Don’t worry about what others think.  God is with you and will help you through it.  He has your best interest at heart.

The Birth of Jesus Christ

Joseph and Mary were promised to marry, but he thought Mary hadn’t been loyal to him and wanted to privately divorce her.  He was compassionate toward her showing the character of God.  God showed Joseph the truth in a dream and Joseph believed the Lord’s messenger and obeyed God’s message.  He proved his faith in God’s Word by not divorcing her.

Two names were given to Mary’s Son:  Jesus, meaning God is salvation (Jesus saved us when He paid the price for our sins by dying on the cross); Immanuel, meaning God with us (He is always with us even in times we don’t feel as if He is).

It was the ultimate blessing to be the parents of the Son of God.  They had the best seat in the house to watch God’s plan.  They received many rewards and blessings both here on earth as well as in heaven.

Do you know Christ as Jesus who saves you?
Are willing to let God lead you through difficult paths?
What do you need to let go and take a risk for Him?
Are you willing to give up what is safe for God’s plan?
Will you let God transform your heart?

Salvation is for all sinners.
All believers have equal privileges in God’s kingdom.
God often uses difficult circumstances to accomplish His will.
God uses imperfect people to accomplish His perfect plans.
Focusing on Christ strengthens us to make difficult counter-cultural decisions.
Immanuel is God’s perfect gift of grace.
Jesus is everything you need.

These notes are a result of my BSF study of the book of Matthew.  See you next week for insights into Matthew 2.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Introduction to the book of Matthew

Is the Holy Bible reliable?  There are so many versions; how can we know which one to believe?  All reliable translations have been prepared from early copies of the original manuscripts of Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic texts.  The different versions don’t teach different doctrine.  Any differences are due to the original language translated into our language today. 

The Holy Bible is written by 40 different writers.  Some were shepherds, fishermen, tax collectors, doctors, kings, preachers, prophets.  It was written in 3 different languages – Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic.  It was written on 3 different continents and over a period of 1500 years.  God chose humans to write the Bible.  Several times the Bible says God breathed and guided them as they wrote.  “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophets own interpretation.  For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:20-21.  It’s His revelation to humans.  From Genesis to Revelation, God’s standards are revealed.  It has 1 common theme that God has a love for people and he would go to any extent possible to have a relationship with man.  It doesn’t tell us everything about God, but it tells us what we need to know about Him.  He desires to reveal Himself to us as He did to Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and through the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.  The New Testament was written by the end of the first century.

The Holy Bible has been attacked throughout history, but it has lasted through the years.  It has always overcome its critics and always will.  The Holy Bible means it is holy and is a special book.  All religions have their bibles, but they are not the Holy Bible.  Scripture means God breathed.  These bibles are not God breathed.  The Holy Bible scriptures were translated by scribes and monks from the original language word by word.  They were obsessed with its accuracy.  They checked and rechecked it to be sure it was translated correctly.  The Holy Bible is the only book that has endured throughout history.

There are four Gospels in the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  All wrote about Jesus as the Christ.  Matthew’s emphasis is the clearest message as he presents Jesus as Messiah, Son of David, King of the Jews.  Mark is believed to be the first gospel written, but Matthew is listed first because he often referred to the Old Testament.  Matthew shows what God told His people in the Old Testament came true.  Jesus was the Messiah they had been waiting for.  He refers to the Old Testament over 60 times. 

Mark is read like a diary in chronological order.  Mark was first a missionary with Paul and later a companion of Peter.  Mark calls Jesus Obedient Servant and emphasizes His power.

Luke was a medical doctor and the only writer of the Gospels who was a Gentile.  His gospel was written to the Gentiles.  He was good at accounting and he did interviews to validate events.  He presented Jesus as the Savior of sinners.  His gospel has the clearest account of Jesus’ post-resurrection.  Luke calls Jesus Ideal Son of Man and emphasizes His service.

John was the closest to Jesus.  He wanted to just sit with Jesus and meditate.  He was more spiritual than the other three.  The first three gospels are synopsis gospels, because they contain much of the same accounts while John goes into deeper truths.  John calls Jesus Divine Son of God and emphasizes His sympathy.

Matthew gives the necessary connection between the Old Testament and the New Testament.  There was 400 years of silence between the Old Testament and the New Testament.  Matthew wrote the long-awaited Messiah had come to save both Jew and Gentile.  He was a Jewish tax collector and became one of Jesus’ 12 disciples.  He compiled his writings in sections so the book is not in chronological order.  Matthew is called the teaching Gospel.  He writes about what Jesus taught on the mountain (The Sermon on the Mount); the choosing of Jesus’ disciples; the lesson stories Jesus told called parables; Jesus’ ministry through miracles; Jesus’ trial, death, burial, resurrection and ascension; when Jesus returns to the earth.  He emphasizes that Jesus is King and the Messiah.  Matthew calls Jesus Mighty King and emphasizes His wisdom.

Is the Holy Bible relevant?  Yes!  Through it God guides and protects.  It brings us hope.  God wants to reveal Himself to us through the Bible.  He speaks to us off the printed page.  He wants you to spend time with Him every day to get to know Him better.  Spending time reading His Word and in prayer is how you get to know God.

Do you believe that the Bible is God speaking?
Do you believe the Bible was written for you, to guide you in your actions and thoughts?
Christ is presented as King of Kings so will you choose to acknowledge Him as King of your life?
Are you spending time in His Word daily?
Is there something you must do to your schedule to spent time with God each day? 
Do you start out each day in His presence or do you just give Him the leftovers of your day?  Make an appointment daily to read the Bible, study and pray.  Make that appointment unbreakable!

We study the Bible so we can get to know Jesus.  Throughout Matthew Jesus tell us to come to Him – Matt. chapters 4, 10, 11, and 16.  Coming to Jesus is the greatest privilege and is also a great responsibility.  We must come to Him and then go.  Do not keep the gospel to yourself, but apply it in your life and give it out to others.  Then you will become more loving, wise, and peaceful.  We are called to come to Him daily so like eating we get filled each day.

Outline of Matthew’s Gospel

I.                Advent of Jesus Christ – Matt. 1-2

II.             Preparation for Jesus Public Ministry – Matt. 3-4

III.           Jesus’s Public Ministry – Matt. 5-25

IV.            Jesus’ Crucifixion – Matt. 26-27

V.              Jesus’ Resurrection and Last Commission – Matt. 28



God’s true Word has the power to transform.
Jesus Christ proves faithful every time in every circumstance.
Answering God’s call glorifies Him and satisfies our soul.
Follow my weekly posts for insights on each chapter of Matthew.  Most of my posts will be a result of my studies through Bible Study Fellowship (BSF).  See you next week for chapter 1.