Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Matthew 9:35-38, 10:1-42

Matthew 9:34-35 - 10:1-4 - The Call

Jesus continued to travel around healing and preaching to the people.  He had compassion for the people who were like sheep without a shepherd.  The religious leaders of that day were not very good shepherds.  They were selfish and cared only for themselves.  They neglected the flock (people).  Jesus came to be a caring shepherd for people in desperate need.  The people were being harassed and helpless.  They were like sheep without  a shepherd.  They were like a field full of grain ready for the harvest.  Jesus told His disciple to pray for workers. "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." - Matt. 9:37-38.

Jesus called 12 disciples.  He chose them individually.  These were regular men with different personalities.  He not only called them, but gave them power to do what He called them to do.  He gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal disease and sickness.  When God calls us, He also equips us.

Do you see others around you with Jesus' eyes?
Do you know someone like those in the crowds?
Will you pray for God to send workers?
Will you be one of His workers?
Matthew 10:5-15 - The Instruction

Matthew called them apostles.  An apostle is someone who is sent to do a job by his master.  Their job was to tell others about Jesus.  For their first mission He gave them instructions to not go to the Samaritans or the Gentiles, but to go to the lost of Israel.  The gospel would go to both the Samaritans and the Gentiles later.  God's intention was to go to all the world, but it must begin with Israel.

They were to preach "the kingdom of heaven is near", heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who had leprosy, and drive out demons.  He told them, "Freely you have received, freely give." - Matt. 10:8.  They were not to take any money with them, but trust God to provide.  He would give them what they needed.  They should expect God to inspire the hospitality of others.  They were to look for a worthy person and stay at their house.  If they were not welcome or did not listen to their words, they were to leave and not waste their time.  God does not force His truth on anyone.   

Do you feel unprepared for the job?  Replace that thought that if He called you He will equip you.
How faithful are you in carrying out His instructions?

Matthew 10:16-39 - The Warnings

Jesus warns them that people will oppose them.  He was sending them into towns that would be very judgmental and they would be like sheep among wolves.  They were to "be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves". - (Matt. 10:16).   They are to be on guard against men who will arrest them because of Him.   Then Jesus encouraged them to not be afraid and to not worry about what they would say.  The Holy Spirit would tell them what to say.  Men will hate them because of Jesus.  They will be betrayed, but they are to stand firm.  Jesus says, "Do not be afraid of them.  There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed or hidden that will not be made known." - Matt. 10:26.  At judgment all their evil thoughts and deeds will be revealed for all to see.  "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul." - Matt. 10:28.  "Don't be afraid; you are more worthy than many sparrows." - Matt. 10:31. Yes, you are more worthy and more important to God than anything else.

Are you as shrewd as a snake and as innocent as a dove?
Jesus tells them that trouble will come to families.  Jesus didn't come to bring peace to the earth.  He wanted everyone to have peace, but there are those who do not accept Him and will cause trouble.  Others will be loyal to Christ which will cause a division in families.  We all have the freedom to choose.  Some will choose Jesus and some will oppose Him.

"Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my father in heaven." - Matt. 10:32.  We need to confess Jesus publicly before men, if we expect Him to be public about His allegiance to us.   He called everyone publicly.  There is no such thing as a secret Christian.

Have you confessed Jesus publicly?
Are there situations where you are afraid to be identified with Christ?

Jesus said, "Anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." - Matt. 10:38-39.  This means you should be willing and prepared for hard times.  You may not actually die on a cross, but you should give up your own desires and do what Christ wants you to do.  You die to self.  Resurrection life only comes after we take up our cross to follow Jesus.  It is a personal thing, a personal choice.  Everyone must do it for themselves.  We aren't forced - we are to do it willingly. 

There are many places in the world that persecute Christian even to their death.  100 million Christians in 60+ countries are being persecuted and is increasing in Muslim countries.  See the following websites:

Do you deny self and identify with Christ?
How do your actions and attitudes show others following Jesus is necessary?
Are you willing to follow Him, when it's difficult?
Matthew 10:40-42 - The Rewards

If we welcome Christ's servants, we will be rewarded.  "And if anyone give even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward." - Matt. 10:42.  When we support God's servants/workers and their work with even the smallest act of kindness, it is remembered in God's eyes and we will be rewarded.

Do you see the needs of others and try to help?
Do you tell others about Jesus?

Jesus calls regular people to work for Him.
When God calls us to serve, He equips us.
When you identify with Christ, expect persecution.
God uses persecution to further His kingdom.
Following Jesus is rewarding.
Living a life of Christ is not easy, but has eternal value.
Serving Jesus is all about Him and not about you.

Lots of lessons again this week - as always.  This week is Thanksgiving.  We take so many things for granted.  I hope you will stop and thank God for the many blessings He has given you and how He has provided for you. Happy Thanksgiving!

See you next week for Matthew 11 -12. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Matthew 9:1-34

Last week we learned that Jesus has the authority and power over disease, people, nature, and Satan's forces.  This week we see 5 miracles of Jesus.  These passages are full of lessons.  They teach us that Jesus is God, that sin paralyzes us, and we should surround ourselves with Christian friends who will stand by us and help us in our time of need.  It's not just about the healing.  What Jesus wanted to do was to change the heart.

Matthew 9:1-7 - Freedom to Walk

Four friends of a paralytic man brought him to Jesus.  They could not find a way to get to Him, because of the crowd.  So they carried him up to the roof and lowered him down in front of Jesus where He was teaching.  When Jesus saw the men's faith, He told the paralytic to "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven." - Matt. 9:2.  Jesus told him to get up and go home.  When to crowd saw this, they were amazed and praised God.  The Pharisees on the other hand said this was blasphemy.  Blasphemy is doing something that only God can do.  People today react in the same ways.  Either they are in awe of Jesus or they ridicule and judge Him as well as other Christians.

People today are paralyzed in various ways.  They are spiritually in need, spiritually paralyzed, or even alienated from spiritual life.  God honors faith when we intercede for others.  As Christians we can bring people to Jesus to be restored by praying for them, living a good example, being a witness, quoting just the right scripture at the right time, and being nonjudgmental.  We all sin, but Jesus frees us from the power of sin.  We recognize sin quicker and we don't have to live with the guilt and weight of sin.

Sin is the most important thing in this healing.  It was the forgiveness of his sins.  Jesus knew the most important was not to heal him.  Just because we're sick does not mean sin is in our lives or that well people are not sinners.  Jesus is not required to heal and forgive, but He does it because of His love.  Ask God to show you your sin and when He does ask Him to forgive you.

God's grace empowers the forgiven to walk in new life with new strength.

Matthew 9:9-17 - Freedom to Follow

Right in the middle of Jesus' miracles Matthew includes his calling from Jesus.  He was an unlikely character to be a follower of Jesus.  Matthew's other name was Levi.  He was a tax collector.  Jesus saw Matthew sitting in the tax collectors booth and told him to "follow me" and Matthew without hesitation got up and followed Him (Matt. 9:9).  Matthew took Jesus to his house and prepared a banquet for Him and other sinners, including other tax collectors.  Jesus knew the heart of Matthew.  He knew it was time for him to accept the call.  Matthew left everything to follow Jesus.

The Pharisees found fault with Jesus eating with lowly tax collectors.  Jesus rebuked them harshly, because the Pharisees were judgmental holding themselves above others.  They had become all about rules, power and money.  They refused to give up their lives and social stature causing them to lose eternal life.  We should all be like Matthew.  We should leave our sins behind and not be like the Pharisees. 

The following verses give evidence of a person who has responded to Jesus' call:
Luke 9:23; Luke 14:27 - One who denies self and takes up his cross.
Rom. 6:2, 18 - One who has died to sin, is freed from sin and has become a slave to righteousness.
1 Thess. 1:9 - One who has turned from idols to the true God.
1 John 1:8-10 - One who has confessed sin.

Have you confessed your sins to God?
How does your life show that you follow Jesus?

In Matt. 9:14-17 Jesus was asked why He and His disciples do not fast.  He says the time has not yet come for mourning.  After He dies, then they will fast.  Jesus talks about the bridegroom.  Who is the bridegroom?  It is Jesus. (Is. 62:5, Hosea 2:19-20).  The guests are the disciples.  We, the church are His bride.  Jesus also talks about old and new cloths and wineskins.  Jesus or the gospel is the new wine or new cloth.  We cannot patch the new wineskins with old traditions of sacrifice and legalism.   "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" - 2 Cor. 5:17.  Jesus didn't come to be amend the law.  We cannot patch Jesus into our lives.  He makes us new and we are a new creation in Him. 

God's grace calls us to give up old, self-centered ways and follow Jesus.

What way is He asking you to follow Him?  He desires our full commitment when we follow Him.
Will you follow Him?
Will you trust Him?

Following Jesus does not mean we will not sin, but we won't have to live a life with the quilt of sin.  Sin will not enslave us anymore.

Matthew 9:18-27 - Freedom to Live

A woman who had been bleeding for 12 years came up behind Jesus believing if she just touched His garment she would be healed.  She touched his cloak and immediately she was healed.  Jesus said "Take heart, daughter, your faith has healed you." - Matt. 9:22.  Jesus showed His willingness and recognized her faith and by His power she was healed.

Jairus, one of the synagogue rulers came to Jesus pleading for Him to help his daughter who had just died.  He asked Jesus to come and put His hand on her so she would live.  Of course, He went to his house and healed her.  Jairus probably was part of the group who opposed Jesus.  His daughter probably had been sick for some time and perhaps Jairus turned to Jesus as a last resort.  We assume he had some faith since he did go to Jesus for help.  He wasn't worried what the others would think.  Jesus was not judgmental of Jairus.  He still showed love and compassion toward him.  Jesus also knew his heart.

Two blind men called out to Jesus, "have mercy on us, Son of David!" - Matt. 9:27.  By calling Him the Son of David, they believed He was the Messiah.  Jesus healed them and told them to tell no one.  Jesus did not want to be known only for His physical healing, but to be known that He was sent by God for spiritual healing.  They did not obey Jesus.  They were probably so excited that they could see, they told everyone of the miracle.

Each time Jesus healed the crowds were amazed.  Then there were others who were blind to the glory of God that they blasphemed God and His Son saying Jesus obtained His power from the prince of demons.  People respond in the same ways today.  Some are in awe of Him and give Him the glory and others blaspheme, ridicule and doubt.

There were probably many other healings done by Jesus, but Matthew focused on Him as the Messiah, the Promised King.

The freeing life giving power of Christ is greater than any power that tries to enslave us.

What in your life will you ask God for to exercise your faith?
How do these miracle encourage you to trust Jesus more?
Is your life showing you truly believe He has power in your life?

This lesson shows us Jesus' deep compassion for men, women, and children who are without a shepherd.  He came to earth to be your Shepherd.

Do you know Him as your Shepherd?
Have you come to Him with your need?

What great examples of faith we see in this chapter.  I pray that God will strengthen my faith to be like these.

Wow!  What a lesson?  See you next week for the next Matthew study.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Matthew 8

Jesus begins to establish His power as the Messianic King through miracles of healing and casting out demons.   There are five miracles in this chapter:  Jesus cleanses a leper, Jesus heals a centurion's servant, Jesus heals Peter's mother-in-law and others, Jesus calms the storm, Jesus heals two demon -possessed men.  These miracles show He has power over all things and all people.

Matthew 8:1-17 - Jesus' Authority Over Disease

The Leper

A man with leprosy came to Jesus for healing.  Anyone with leprosy was not allowed to come into contact with people, because it was very contagious and deadly.  This leper was very bold and didn't worry about others thought.  He was humble and didn't doubt that Jesus could heal him.  "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." - Matt. 8:2.  Jesus reached out His hand and touched him and said, "I am willing.  Be clean." - Matt. 8:3.  Jesus accepts all those who seek His cleansing.  Jesus was filled with compassion for him.  After healing him Jesus told him to go and not tell anyone, but to show himself to the priest.  The priest would examine him and pronounce him clean so he could be restored to society. 

Jesus knew the man could not keep quiet and had to tell everyone of this miracle in his life and that it would cause great hardship for Jesus in the future.  Jesus does the same for us.  He knows we mess up and don't always obey, but still he put His life on the line for us at the cross.

The leper acknowledged his need.  He trusted Jesus.  He worshipped Jesus.  We are all lepers before God.  Sin makes a person unclean.  Our sin contaminates others.  We need God to cleanse our sin.  We may be good and moral, but before God we are filthy rags.  God provides a remedy for sin.  Like the leper you need to acknowledge you are unclean, believe Jesus has to power to cleanse you, have faith that He has justified you to be clean before Him, and then thank God.  Nothing you are repulses Him.

Have you asked Jesus to cleanse you?
D0 others know the grace Jesus has given you?

The Centurion

When Jesus entered Capernaum, a Gentile centurion came to Jesus and told him his servant was paralyzed and was suffering.  He told Jesus to just say the word and the servant would be healed.  The centurion had great faith and was not afraid to ask for help.  He felt unworthy in Jesus' eyes.  He cared about his servant showing he was a compassionate leader.  Jesus noticed his great faith and said, "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.  I say to you that many will come from the east and the west and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.  But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." - Matt. 8:1-12.

The centurion displayed extraordinary compassion and love for his servant as well as extraordinary faith in Jesus.  His faith gave Jesus great joy and praised him publicly for it.  Because of the centurion's great faith, he would enjoy a special meal with the Jewish patriarchs.  Jesus promised that people from every corner of the would join in the feast, but warned the Jews not to assume they would be welcomed simply because of their ethnic heritage.  Faith is the only way to belong to God's kingdom.

What have you done lately to show your faith and trust in Jesus?

Jesus Heals Many Others

Jesus continued in healing people.  He saw that Peter's mother-in-law was ill with a fever.  He touched her and the fever left.  Then she got up and began to serve Jesus.  Her illness was  not as serious as the leper, but He took the time and healed her.  This shows  Jesus' love and compassion for even the smaller things.

Many people who were demon-possessed were brought to Jesus.  He drove out the spirits and healed all the sick fulfilling the Isaiah prophesy.  "He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases." - Matt. 8:17, Isaiah 53:4. 

Matthew 8:18-22 - Jesus' Authority Over People

A teacher of the law came to Jesus and said, "Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go." - Matt. 8:19.  But Jesus told him, "the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." - Matt. 8:20.  Another told Jesus that he wanted to go first and bury his father, but Jesus told him, "Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead." - Matt. 8:22. 

He is saying here is that it's not going to be easy to follow Jesus not will it be a perfect life and that Jesus comes first above everything else.  Following Christ always brings changes to a person's life style.  Anyone who chooses Christ will be an enemy of Satan and his demons.  The time is now to follow Jesus.  If you are not a child of God, don't put it off.  You don't know what tomorrow will bring.  Do it now!

Are you waiting for when the time is right to follow Jesus?  The time is now!

Matthew 8:23-27 - Jesus' Authority Over Nature

Then Jesus and his disciples got into the boat and without warning a furious storm came up.  The disciples where afraid and called out for Jesus to save them.  Then Jesus showed His humanity by realizing they were afraid and He calmed the storm.  He showed compassion and love for them.  They were amazed at His power.  They lacked faith and trust in Jesus to protect them.  If they had realized who Jesus really was, they would have not been afraid.

What storm have you faced that God used to build your faith?

Matthew 8:28-34 - Jesus' Authority Over Forces of Evil

After Jesus calmed the storm they arrived on the other side of the lake,  two violent demon-possessed men came out from tombs.  They ask Jesus, "'What do you want with us, son of God?' they shouted.  'Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?'" - Matt. 8:29.  They then begged to be sent into a herd of pigs so Jesus drove them out into the pigs.  The demons knew who Jesus was, they were afraid of Him, they knew His time had not yet come, and they knew their fate would be Hell. 

We are in spiritual warfare.  Satan and his demons are very real.  Hell is real.  Even the demons fear it.  That is why they ask Jesus if He had come to torment them.  They knew judgment awaited them.  They would rather be cast into pig than be cast into Hell.  All things, including Satan, his demons, and people who follow him were created by and are subject to Christ and await final judgment and the Lake of Fire.

We need to not remain ignorant. We need to know that Satan is not on our side.  He is the enemy of Jesus which makes him our enemy.  Without Jesus we don't stand a chance against him.

The townspeople did not thank Jesus nor did they consider the two men who were restored as of any value.  Instead they pleaded for Jesus to leave their region.  They were afraid of Jesus' power.  They lost 2,000 pigs because of Him.  This shows their indifference to the saved men and their greed.  Does this sound like some people today?

What do you fear?
Who or what controls you? - drugs, lack of discipline, refusal to forgive, love of money?
Have you confessed your sins to God?
Who holds the authority over your life?

I hope the lessons in these miracles has made you stop and think.  Jesus has authority over all things and all people.  See you next week for Matthew 9.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Matthew 7

Jesus continues with the "Sermon On The Mount" teaching respect to man's relation to others.  He warns against judging others, teaches persistent praying, to watch out for false prophets and reminds us to be wise as we obey God's Word.

Matthew 7:1-6 - Humble Hearts

To judge means to form opinion without weighing the evidence.  Jesus warns against judging other or we ourselves will be judged by the same standards.  We are to be humble, gentle, and patient.  "Love your neighbor as yourselves." - Gal. 5:14.  Before judging others we need to examine ourselves and fix our problems first.  We are not condemn or we will be condemned.  We are to forgive and then we will be forgiven.  "Give, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap..  For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." - Luke 6:38.

"Do not judge" doesn't mean that Christians can never express their opinions.  Jesus wants us to discern between spiritual truth and falsehood.  It means we should not condemn.  Not all judging is wrong, only that which is hypocritical.  "Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment." - John 7:24. 

These verses teach what we can judge:
Matthew 18:15-17 - other believers who sin against us.  If we see a fault with another, we are to first examine ourselves.  If a brother has sinned against you, go speak to him and if he doesn't listen then take another with you.  If he still doesn't listen, take him to the church.  If he still doesn't listen, then treat him as a pagan.  When you do something wrong, wouldn't you want someone to tell you?  When we judge another believer, we not to be critical, but restoring.  We need to hold each other accountable and always with love and humility.
Gal. 1:8 - tells us we can judge people who do not preach the truth.
Gal. 6:1-5 - believers who are caught in a sin, but to do it gently.
2 John 7-11 - people who do not acknowledge Jesus.

Jesus referred to some unbelievers as dogs - those who mock the truth and are unwilling to listen to the pearls of God's truth.  They reject God.  Matt. 7:6 says we should not impose the truth on others even if we are right if they don't value the truth and are unwilling to listen.  We can't force them to believe and we are just wasting our time.  The only thing we can do is to live a holy life as an example to the unbeliever and let them see Jesus in you.  That is a better witness that harsh critical condemning words. 

Believers are called to be discerning, but not condemning, when we relate to others.

What relationship are you approaching with a judgmental spirit?
Will you ask God to reveal this to you?
Where is your heart?  Is it full of legalism, grace, or humility?
What part does kindness play in your attitude toward others?

Matthew 7:7-12 - Persistent Prayer

There are three stages of prayer:  Ask, Seek, Knock. 
Ask - This is dependence on God.  God wants a relationship with us even though He already knows what we ask ever before we ask.  He wants us to talk with Him.
Seek - This is a yearning for God.  When we seek God, we are earnestly seeking Him and focusing on Him.  We look for Him expecting to find Him as well as answers to our prayers.
Knock - This is to be persistent.  Keep on praying and never give up. 

Do you persistently pray for something or have you given up?  Remember God answers prayers in His timing, not ours.

"If you then though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" - Matt. 7:11.  Does this mean He will not answer prayers of unbelievers?  No.  We are all evil and it is only by the grace of God that He has forgiven us making us righteous by the blood of Jesus.  Remember no one is perfect, only Jesus.

Like a parent, God already know what His children need and what is best for them.  You don't give your children everything they ask for, because you know what they need and what is best.  We don't get everything we ask for from God, because He knows what we need.  Sometimes He gives us suffering and desperation to draw us closer to Him.

Jesus tells us in verses 12 to do everything to others as you want them to do to you.  This is known as the "Golden Rule".  This is hard to do sometimes.  We can't do it without God.  Jesus said the greatest law is to love God.  We can't show true love for Him unless we love others as ourselves.

God the Father gives wisdom, discernment, and love for others through persistent prayer.

Do you pray persistently?
Will you ask god for His best plan?
Will you ask Him to help you follow the Golden Rule?

Matthew 7:13-29 - Discerning Decisions

Jesus tells us "Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the    road that leads to destruction, and many will enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." - Matt. 7:14.  Narrow is Jesus.  He is the only way to heaven.  To follow Him is hard, but leads to eternity.  Jesus said, "I am the truth the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father, except through me." - John 14:6.

Jesus warns us to watch out for false prophets.  We can identify them as wolves in sheep's clothing and by their fruits (Matt. 7:14-20).  We should not be fooled by their outward appearances.  They distort the truth to gain disciples (Acts 20:29-30), they deny the Lord bringing destruction on themselves (2 Peter 2:1-2). 

We are to test them to be sure if they are from God (1 John 4:1).  We should pay attention to the way they live.  Do they show righteousness and humility in the way they live?  Is their teaching the true Word of God?  Are people growing in their faith because of them or are they falling away?

These false prophets do not know Jesus (Matt. 7:23), they do not do what He says (Luke 6:46), they do not have the love of God in their hearts (John 5:40-43), they do not accept Jesus or believe in Him (John 6:29), and they reject God (Hosea 8:2-4).  These deceive themselves by accepting praises from each other and were not doing God's will.

When judgment day comes, there will be those who Jesus will not recognize even though they called Him their Lord.  Maybe they went to church and performed some religious duties.  They spoke about Jesus, but really didn't mean what they said.  They only lived it on Sundays.  It isn't enough to believe in Jesus - even the devil believes.  They did not truly accept nor obeyed Him.  They never truly had salvation.  Jesus made a great claim about His identity on that day in Matt. 7:22-23 - He is Lord!  He wants us to build our life upon Him, the sure foundation (Matt. 7:24-29, Luke 6:46-49).  We are to believe in Jesus and obey His Word.  We are to put His words into action.

We can be sure.  Jesus wants you to be sure.  In 1 John 5:13 - "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life." If you are not sure, tell God, "I want to be sure and I can't do it without you.  Jesus, save me from judgment.  Help me not to doubt."  Then believe and let Him change your life.  It's that easy.  "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away." - John 6:37.  Then thank God.

These verses also talk about the true foundation:
Isa. 28:16 - Jesus is the precious cornerstone.
1 Cor. 3:11 - Jesus is the sure foundation.
1 Peter 2:4-8 - the true foundation is Jesus.

When storms come the Christian will stand.  Our foundation is Jesus.  Build your foundation on Him before the storms come.

What foundation is your life built on?
What is the true direction of your life?
Will you seek Him this week?
The more you obey that which is right, the more you can recognize that which is wrong.

People were amazed and astonished at Jesus' teaching, because He taught as one having authority (Matt. 7:28-29).  When God's Word is presented truthfully, it has great power and is set apart from the mere opinions of men.

Hope you received great lessons from Jesus' teaching.  I know my toes were stepped on big time.  See you next week for Matthew 8.