We have now completed the first half of Matthew. The blog for the second half can be found at Matthew Blog Part II
Oct. 21/08 Matt. 14:6
And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.
Jesus did not disappoint them. Everyone who came to Him was healed. It wasn't a half healing or a long term recovery. They were completely healed instantly.
Sometimes we get caught in a rut. We have faith in a method instead of a Person. Jesus did not have to touch people in order to heal them. Sometimes they touched Him. There are a variety of methods but it is the same God.
Oct. 20/08 Matt. 14:3-35
And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret. And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased;
Jesus had a reputation. He could and was willing to heal people. The people of Gennersaret were open-minded. They were excited. Jesus was there and He could help their hurting people. Some communities pushed Jesus away because of theological differences or because they were afraid of His power. Not these people. We lose so much sometimes by judging others who God is using instead of realizing they are on the same team working for the glory of God.
Oct. 17/08 Matt. 14:33
Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.
This demonstration of the power of God further confirmed to the disciples that Jesus was indeed the Son of God. The Jehovah's Witnesses claim that Jesus was not God and did not accept worship. Here the disciples clearly worshipped Christ and there is no word of rebuke from Him. Since only God is to be worshipped, Jesus was here acknowledging His Divine nature.
Oct. 16/08 Matt. 14:32
And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.
Storms don't last forever, although it seems like it sometimes. When the time was right, the wind ceased. God is in total control. There is no such thing as Mother Nature. God controls every aspect of His universe for the benefit of His people and to accomplish His ultimate purpose.
Oct. 15/08 Matt. 14:31
And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
Jesus did not leave him struggling. He reached out his hand and together they walked back to the boat. Jesus didn't carry Peter. He strengthened his faith so he could accomplish his goal. Jesus is not there to condemn us for failure, but to instruct us on how to succeed in God's will for our life.
Oct. 14/08 Matt. 14:30
But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
Walking on a rolling sea in the middle of a storm is not an easy feat. Peter's eyes were diverted from Christ to the waves. Fear entered his heart, driving out faith. At that moment he began to sink. However, he instantly called to Jesus for help. How often do we find ourselves in a mess and then try to cover it up or work our own way out? Peter did not figure that he would try to swim back to the boat. He knew the choice was Jesus or a watery grave. Calling to Jesus should be our first response not our last one.
Peter has received more than his share of criticism because it failed. It is important to note that he tried! He was the only one of the twelve with the courage to get out of the boat. Everyone of them could have walked on water if they had asked. Let's not criticize those who fail especially if we haven't had the courage to even try!
Oct. 11/08 Matt. 14:29
And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
Peter did not act on presumption. He did not just jump out of the boat to go to Jesus. Before He acted He received the clear word of Christ confirming his request. The more important the decision we have to make the clearer we need to hear from Jesus before making it.
There are two different ways of getting out of a boat. You get out differently if you are stepping onto land than you do if you are getting into water. Peter had to get out of the boat as if he was stepping on firm land. And when he did, he found he could walk on water. He then left the safety of the nearness of the boat and moved to Jesus. If we want relationship with Jesus we have to go to where He is.
Oct. 10/08 Matt. 14:28
And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
Peter was the impulsive, brave disciple. He wanted confirmation in a risky, impossible way. You don't get out of a boat in the middle of a storm if you want to live! Yet Peter was asking Jesus to allow him to do just that. Peter was a professional fisherman. He had been around water all his life. He was not talking out of ignorance. He was fully aware of the danger.
Oct. 9/08 Matt. 14:27
But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
Fear is not from God. Jesus did not leave them in fear and misconceptions. He spoke to them. He encouraged them. When we come to Jesus, even in fear and doubt, He will minister us. He does not condemn us for our human weakness. He encourages and strengthens us.
Oct.8/08 Matt. 14:26
And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
The disciples saw a figure walking on water. They could only process what their eyes were telling them through their preconceived ideas. Humans don't walk on water; therefore, it cannot be a human being out there. Something is out there. It must be a ghost. Reaction to ghosts: fear. How many times are we trapped into situations or misunderstand them because we are locked into preconceived ideas?
Oct. 7/08 Matt. 14:25
And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
Jesus did not arrive the instant they were in trouble. He was not in a hurry. He knew they were protected by God and that the ship was not going down. In His timing He arrived. Our time is always now, but God is not in a hurry.
Jesus did not need a boat to travel over water. The height of the waves was of no concern to Him. Since the Father wanted Him on the other side, He just went. Normally He used boats, in this case He didn't. Normally we use natural means to accomplish what God gives us to do to, but if we need more the entire resources of heaven are at our disposal. Nothing is impossible.
Oct. 6/08 Matt. 14:24
But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
Sometimes we get the idea that when we follow Jesus all our problems will be solved and everything will go smoothly. Here the disciples were in obedience to Christ and they were caught in a terrible storm. They were not in trouble because they disobeyed, but because they obeyed! Being in the center of God's will doesn't mean life is easy. On the contrary, it often gets harder because God wants to develop trust and character in us as well as train us to be world changers. It doesn't happen in the comfort zone. On the other hand, there is no safer place than the center of God's will even though it may not appear that way.
Jesus doesn't give us all the information at once. He told the disciples to go to the other side. He neglected to mention the storm in the middle. If God gave us too much information we probably would not even start, but He gives us what we need at the time. It keeps life exciting!
Oct. 4/08 Matt. 14:23
And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
Jesus spent much time with the Father. It was the most important relationship of His life. Prayer is not some routine we go though. It is not repeating words mindlessly. It is the communication of the heart with God. Sometimes - most times - words are used as the instrument of communication.
Oct 3/08 Matt. 14:22
And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.
From another account of this event, we know that the people after being fed wanted to make Jesus king. They were good socialists - they wanted someone Who would supply all their needs without them having to work.
The disciples were probably encouraging the crowd. They believed Jesus was the Messiah/King. At this time they had the old Jewish vision of the Messiah destroying the Roman Empire and setting up a national Israel to rule the world. [Some Christians are still stuck with this vision!] This seemed like the perfect opportunity. Public opinion was in their favour.
Jesus knew they had the right faith but the wrong vision. So the first thing He had to do was get them out of the way, then He could disperse the crowd.
I wonder how often we have the right faith but the wrong vision? Our belief in God is not at fault but we misunderstand what His plan is. We are doing our best but we actually haven't stopped to learn what His plan is. We may be doing more harm than good!
Oct 1/08 Matt. 14:20-21
And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.
Notice that all this food did not magically appear. After Jesus prayed, nothing happened. He gave the loaves to His disciples and in obedience they went to the first row and began passing it out. They probably thought the food would be gone by time the first row had finished. But when they were finished with the first row there was still a little left so they started with the second row and so on until everyone had eaten. If the disciples had not simply obeyed Jesus and started with the first row no one would have been fed.
When Jesus asks us to do something we simply have to obey. It may look foolish but as we start we will see His miracles. The disciples didn't realize how big the miracle was until they went back and filled twelve baskets with leftovers. In the same way, we often do not realize God's work in our life until we look back and see what He has done.
Jesus was not a litterbug. He had His disciples clean up after the crowd. Attention to the little details is important. Christians should be the most trusted users of rented halls and other things because they take such good care of them. Sadly, this is often not the case.
Sept. 29/08 Matt. 14:19
And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.
God is a God of order. Jesus had the people sit down. No confusion with people milling around. Everyone was organized to be ready to eat.
Why do we pray before we eat? We follow the example of Jesus. It shows a thankful and grateful heart. It is also in faith that the meal will met our physical needs.
In faith Jesus gave the food to His disciples, and they passed it on to the rest. Teamwork.
Sept. 26/08 Matt. 14:18
He said, Bring them hither to me.
Although there are no impossibilities, Jesus works with what we have, not with what we don't have. No matter how small what you have is in comparison to the need, Jesus can work with it. If you bury it, then nothing can happen. Let Jesus work with what you have, and miracles can take place.
Sept. 25/08 Matt. 14:17
And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes.
The disciples, on the other hand, did not have quite the same vision as Jesus did. They were locked into the possibilities of what their eyes could see. Give them the tools and they would solve the problem, but to solve the problem without tools... Like us, unlimited thinking was difficult. Do You really mean that all things are possible? Do You really mean that we have every resource we need to fulfill Your instructions? No limits? No impossibilities? YES.
Sept. 23/08 Matt. 14:16
But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat.
Life with Jesus was never dull. He was always thinking outside the box. What can you expect from a Man who knows no limits? Jesus knew the Father. There Father was unlimited. Therefore, He was unlimited. Simple logic. And to take it one step further, since Jesus was unlimited, His disciples were unlimited. Jesus saw nothing hard or difficult in His instructions.
Sept. 20/08 Matt. 14:15
And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.
The disciples were practical men. The people were hungry. The desert was no place for a crowd at night. Their solution was to dismiss the people and let them fend for themselves as best as they could. Nothing wrong with the plan, but Jesus had a better plan.
Sept. 18/08 Matt. 14:14
And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.
The people would not leave Jesus alone even though He was in a period of grief. Jesus did not resent or get angry at them, though. He saw their need, put it ahead of His own, and ministered to them. Ministry opportunities often come at times that are not convenient, but we either take them when they come or lose them.
Sept. 17/08 Matt. 14:13
When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities.
Jesus and John were close. When Jesus heard of John's murder, he wanted time alone. He choose a lonely place where there would be few if any people. Sometimes we forget that Jesus had all the emotions that we have as human beings. He felt the passing of His friend, just as we would feel the passing of our friends. It wasn't that He had any doubt that John was in a better place, but it was a natural sorrow at the separation He felt from His friend.
Sept. 15/08 Matt. 14:12
And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus.
Even through Christians believe in the resurrection, the importance of spiritual things, and a future life, they have also shown respect for the dead. True Christian belief does not treat the present world and things related to it indifferently. The disciples of John, probably at some risk to themselves, recovered John's body and gave it a good burial. Honour and respect does not end with the grave.
Sept. 13/08 Matt. 14:10-11
And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother.
John was beheaded. He was the last Old Testament prophet and the greatest one. Perhaps we have a reference to John in the Book of Revelation where it speaks of martyrs who were behead. Many have died - and are today dying - in the cause of Christ.
Sept. 12/08 Matt. 14:9
And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her.
Herod was sorry he had made the promise but he could not back down without loosing face in front of his officials. There could be no true love and trust in the Herod/Herodias relationship. Each one was simply using the other for their own benefit and pleasure. In this case, Herodias came out on top. Unfortunately, many marriages are like this today. Each "partner" just using the other for their own benefit. All casual sexual encounters and live-together couples also fit into this category. It can be a mutually agreeable arrangement: "You give me what I want, and I'll give you what you what and we'll both be happy." Only in marriage is there the possibility [it's not automatic!] of moving into something greater and deeper.
Sept. 11/08 Matt. 14:8
And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger.
The daughter of Herodias had not started the sensual dance with the intention of having John the Baptist murdered. She was trained in the skills of manipulating lust-driven men. She knew how to use her sexual powers to gain advantage for herself.
Herod offered her whatever she wanted. That was a pretty wide-open promise. He never suspected what the request would be. When the girl consulted with her mother, the mother's bitterness against John the Baptist came out. Have John murdered. Silence that witness against her evil acts so she could enjoy the pleasure of her sin with Herod without interruption.
The girl who manipulated Herod was herself manipulated by her mother. The death of John was of no advantage to her and she could have had anything. The manipulators become manipulated and so the tangled web of deception grows.
Sept. 9/08 Matt. 14:6-7
But when Herod's birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod. Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask.
Herod was a man controlled by his own desires and lusts. He was a powerful political figure, but he was not able to control himself. Others he could sentence to death, but over himself he was powerless. And so he could be manipulated and led into a trap.
Herod's lack of self-control is rampart today. The wide-spread use of drugs, liquor, pornography, etc. reveals it as does dishonest business dealings, adultery, etc. People want to control others, but they cannot control themselves. People without self-control can be easily manipulated or driven into things they would otherwise not do.
Sept. 8/08 Matt. 14:5
And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.
We rely on God not on people, but public opinion can be a powerful force. Few - if any - rulers can afford to ignore public opinion. Herod knew his limits. Not too much outcry for arresting John, but he feared a general revolt if he executed him. Rulers tremble if the silent majority becomes the vocal majority. They try not to cross that line. Instead they are usually wise. They make small "acceptable" changes. Little by little what they want is achieved. For example, 60 years ago the teaching of homosexuality in public schools and the allowing of gay marriages would have caused such an outrage that governments would have fallen. But little by little changes were made in attitudes largely through the public schools, colleges, and universities that parents still send their children to be destroyed in.
Sept. 6/08 Matt. 14:3-4
For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife. For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her.
John had spoken out and condemned Herod and Herodias for their sin. He was not afraid to declare the Word of God to a sinful generation. I am sure he was well aware of the possible consequences of his actions. Sin does not change. What was sinful 2,000 years ago is still sinful today. John challenged the leader of his nation to lead a Godly, moral life. His call was responded to with violence. In the same way, our leaders need to be held accountable for both their public and private actions. They will not be pleased with us.
Sept. 5/08 Matt. 14:2
And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.
Herod had a guilty conscience. He knew he had murdered an innocent prophet of God. The guilt and the fear had him jumping at ghosts. He thought John had returned from the grave to get revenge. The wicked flee when no one pursues.
Until recently, in nations influences by Christianity, even the wicked were afraid of the judgment of God. They would be afraid to lie under oath and other things. The fear of God provided a check on, at least, some of their activities. Runaway humanism has largely removed this fear from the conscious level - although it plagues all the wicked subconsciously. The result is the increasing breakdown of society.
Sept. 4/08 Matt. 14:1
At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus,
Going about doing good can bring you to the attention of people you would rather have been ignored by. Herod was a man you would like to avoid. Nevertheless, Jesus did what His Father told Him and left the results up to the Father. Likewise, all we have to be is obedience, the rest is up to our Father - but don't be surprised if some unpleasant people take notice, too. They are sometimes referred to as EGR people - Extra Grace Required.
Some fools claim Jesus was a mythical figure. But He is linked by historical witnesses to historical figures, like Herod. Jesus really lived, of that there is no reasonable doubt.
Sept. 3/08 Matt. 13:57-58
And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
Jesus did not force Himself on anyone. When they rejected Him, He honoured their decision. The miracles and wonders they could have experienced were withheld. If we don't want God to do something for us or don't believe that He will, it is unlikely that we will see His hand at work. We need faith, not presumption, to see the works of God. And faith is not something we can work up in ourselves. It is, itself, a gift from the hand of our loving Father.
Sept. 2/08 Matt. 13:55-56
Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?
There are those who teach that Mary remained a virgin all her life. This would be unnatural for a married woman and a violation of what Paul would later teach. It looks on married sex as somehow a lessor way of life. The reason Mary had to be a virgin before Jesus was born was so that the sin nature - which is passed on through the man - would not taint Jesus. After Jesus was born, there was no need for her, as a married woman, to remain a virgin. The above verses speak of the brothers and sisters of Jesus. It would appear Mary and Joseph had a large family with five brothers [including Jesus] and, at least, two sisters. We do God no honour by glorifying Mary above what she was: a woman, chosen by God's grace, who loved and served God with all her heart.
Aug 30/08 Matt. 13:53
And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence. And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?
It is a sad fact that those who know us best are often the last ones to believe in us. They have seen our faults and weaknesses and there may be envy and pride involved too. Those who should celebrate our successes are often harsh and critical. Even though Jesus was perfect, He experienced rejection from those who should have known Him.
Aug 29/08 Matt. 13:52
Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.
We are to be always growing, always learning. We are to avoid the opposite dangers of ignoring the past and living in the past. We have treasures in the past, old things, the first things of the kingdom. We never get beyond needing repentance, beyond the blood of Christ, beyond the fundamentals. We appreciate them and build on them, they are the old treasures we prize. However, we are always learning new things as well. Our relationship with God is to be new and expanding everyday. Old and new - the balance.
Aug 28/08 Matt. 13:51
Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord.
The disciples were optimistic. They thought they understood, but they did not understand as well as they thought they did. Just like us. We must always keep a humble and teachable spirit.
Aug 27/08 Matt. 13:50
And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
There is a hell. As much as humanists fight against the idea, they cannot change reality. We do not know a lot of details about hell, just as we do not know a lot of details about heaven, but it is there and it is a place of never-ending pain.
Aug 26/08 Matt. 13:47-49
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,
This is similar to the parable of the wheat and tares. The kingdom of heaven is thrown out. The offer is given. All sorts of people respond, some from heart-felt repentance, others from other motives. We can not always tell which are which. In fact, we should not be judging unless someone is bringing division or disrupting the Body of Christ. God knows those who are His. In the end all will be sorted out. This should sober us as we examine our own lives realizing that there are some who call themselves Christians and think they are saved but, in fact, are not.
Again notice, there is no implication that the bad "fish" outnumber the good "fish." One would expect that the net of the Kingdom would catch far more good fish than bad fish.
Aug 25/08 Matt. 13:45-46
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
A merchant [or business] man is good at trading. He always has his eyes open for a good deal. His eye is toward turning a profit. So this man was an expert in pearls. When he found the best, he willing to give all that he had to obtain it.
The kingdom of heaven is like that pearl. We must desire it with all our heart. It must be the thing which fills our vision. It must be the passion that consumes us. If we would have this pearl, our eyes cannot be clouded with the things of this world. Our priorities must be right.
Aug 23/08 Matt. 13:44
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
I don't think any of us realize the full extent of the privilege and honour that is ours in the Kingdom of Heaven. We take so many things for granted. We allow our eyes to be distracted with the glamour of the world. Our eyes should be on the Kingdom of Heaven. It should be where our joy is. We should rejoice over sinners who repent. We should get excited when the Kingdom of Heaven advances on earth and the kingdom of darkness retreats. If darkness seem to be overwhelming we should work all the harder to let the light shine out. This is truly a cause a man can give his life for! Why is it that false religions can command total devotion, but Christians bulk at simple things like tithing?
Aug 22/08 Matt. 13:37-43
He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Here we see a picture of history from beginning to end. Ever since the Fall of Adam the good and bad seed has been mixed. We see that situation will continue until the Second Coming. However, there is no hint that the wicked will out number the righteous. If anything, as I said before, one would expect the opposite. The Son of Man should be able to sow more seed than the Devil!
Also notice what happens at the harvest at the end of the world. It is the wicked- not the righteous - that are removed. Perhaps the righteous meet the Lord in the air while the wicked are being removed and the earth purified and then they return to the earth. After all, we were designed to live on earth.
We also see that the Kingdom of God, while not limited to this earth, is definitely connected to it. The spiritual Kingdom of God can only be entered by the righteous but as it effects and rules over this earth all sorts of people will live under its authority and influence. The Kingdom of God cannot be limited to the spiritual otherwise there would be no wicked to be taken out of it.
Aug 20/08 Matt. 13:36
Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.
Many people followed Christ and heard His words, a few people became disciples. What is the difference between the many and the few? The price they were willing to pay. For the many the cost was little or nothing. They followed Jesus when it suited them and to the degree they wanted to. They were in control of the relationship. They could come and go as they wished. The few left everything to follow Christ. There was no backup plan. They were committed. They were willing to pay any price to follow the Master. They surrendered control of the relationship to Jesus. The many - like a lot of modern Christians - had only a surface relationship. Jesus would only allow them so close and then they were sent home. The few entered into a deep relationship and had the mysteries of God revealed to them. They learned to know God and perceive reality. Are we with the many or the few?
Aug 18/08 Matt. 13:35
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.
One of the reasons Jesus spoke in parables was that it was a fulfillment of prophecy. The prophet had said that this was the way the Messiah would communicate, and so He did. The critics laugh and say, since Jesus knew the prophecies, He deliberately ordered His life to fulfill them. Of course, Jesus knew the prophecies. Of course, when He realized He was the Messiah early in life, He would have used the prophecies as a instruction manual of how He was supposed to life. That was a big part of their purpose! However, there are also many prophecies - such as His birth, the details of His death, etc. - that He could have no control over and yet He fulfilled ALL of them. That is a miracle of God that would only apply to the true Messiah.
The parables of Jesus were more than just cute stories. They revealed the secrets of God to those who would listen to and apply them. Mysteries were uncovered. Reality was discovered. Satan's lies were exposed. The only way Jesus could have done this was through the supernatural revelation of the Holy Spirit. No amount of study or human learning would have given Him the wisdom He had and shared in His parables.
Aug 16/08 Matt. 13:34
All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them:
Jesus used parables when teaching. Most people liked the story and never dug deep enough to find the real meaning. It was just good entertainment to them. The Pharisees saw through the parables about them, refused to change, and hated Jesus for them. The disciples, those who were serious, had the parables explained. To them were revealed the treasures of the Kingdom of God. In which category are we? Is the Bible just interesting stories? Do we understand the Bible but refuse to change? Or are we submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and becoming a true disciple?
Aug 15/08 Matt. 13:33
Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
Again, the point is that the kingdom of heaven begins small, almost invisible, but then it grows. People may not even be aware of its existence. Over time, it changes everything. Christianity doesn't use the sword to conquer nations. It uses the Word of God with the humble service of His people. Long term, it always wins. Communist and Islamic nations know this. That is why, even through Christians may be harmless and good, productive citizens, they persecute Christians. They cannot afford to let a rival system operate. They know that Christianity will overturn them.
Humanists also know this. This is why in the "Christian" West, Christianity is increasingly coming under violent attack. Homosexuals, evolutionists, and others attack fundamental Christian morality and doctrine. In the name of freedom, they destroy freedom. Some Christians even support them! Do not be deceived. They will not compromise. They do not want to reach a mutual agreement. They know that in order for the humanistic system to exist Christianity must be destroyed. They are willfully ignorant that Christianity cannot be destroyed. It will win in the end and we will have a Christianized world before the return of Christ. Christians need to realize the seriousness of the struggle. Only one can win: Humanism or Christianity. There is no other choice. There is no compromise. One lives, one dies.
Aug 14/08 Matt. 13:31-32
Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.
The kingdom of heaven [or of God] was fully established on the Day of Pentecost. Jesus; however, let His disciples know that it was not going to burst in full maturity all at once. It would start small, so small that it would seem insignificant. Slowly it would grow until it was the mightiest force on earth. Unlike earthly kingdoms, which dominate by violence and cause people to flee, the kingdom of heaven would become a place of refuge. People can come to it and find refreshment and safety.
This supports the post-millennial view, which sees the rule of Christ as growing until the knowledge of the Lord covers the earth as the waters cover the sea. It sees a time in the future when true Christianity will be the dominate force on earth. This does not mean everyone will be saved or that every nation will be Christian, but it does mean the majority will be saved and the majority of nations will be submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Some nations in the world today claim the title of 'Christian' but they are not Christian in the true sense.
On a personal level, this shows that we should not despise the day of small beginnings. Like the kingdom of heaven, sometimes the work of God in our lives seems small and insignificant. But if we will stay the course, we will see a mighty work of God in the end. Good things take time. Don't be impatient.
Aug 13/08 Matt. 13:29-30
But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
The Owner had a better idea. He knew there was not enough tares to damaged the wheat long-term. It would do more harm to the wheat to try to root out all the tares while the wheat was still immature. Let them both grow. Then get rid of the tares, and harvest the wheat.
The amillennialist tries to use this parable to support his idea that good and bad grow equally [although he often views things as getting worse and worse] until the return of Christ. The parable simply says that both good and bad people will exist on earth before the return of Christ. It does not say the wheat and tares are equal. If anything, one would assume that the Owner sowed much more wheat than the enemy was able to sow tares in a night. If the tares were equal to or greater than the wheat, then the Owner would have had to risk the wheat and have them uprooted right away otherwise the tares would have overrun the wheat. The fact that the Owner allowed both the grow indicates that the tares were the minority.
Aug 12/08 Matt. 13:27-28
So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
Our time is always now. We see a problem and we feel we must deal with it right away. We forget the old saying that "Haste makes waste." Yes, a serious problem had happened, but the solution they purposed would only have made the problem worse. It would, actually, have been playing into the enemy's hands.
The servants were wise enough to get instructions before going ahead with their ideas. Sometimes we rush into situations without taking proper counsel. We think we see the right answer and then we get blindsided. It is always good to get Godly advise before entering situation. Good intentions are not enough. Sometimes they can cause more problems.
Aug 09/08 Matt. 13:26
But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
The enemy is crafty. His works are not always direct and confrontational. He can be a wolf who dresses as a sheep. As Christians we need to walk wisely. Often we are trusting when someone says they are from God or has a word from God...after all who wants to argue with God? Christians, like the world, are often swayed by exciting personalities and gifted speakers and writers. However, everything must be tested by the Word of God in context. No one is ever above having their words or life tested by Scripture.
Aug 08/08 Matt. 13:24-25
Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
There is an enemy. We don't like to think we are on someone's "Hit List" but we are. When we came to Jesus, His enemies became our enemies. There is someone out there who will seek us harm all our days. While we are protected by the Blood of Christ, we are not to be careless. We are in a war and we need to act intelligently and seriously.
Aug 07/08 Matt. 13:23
But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
Thank God there is also good soil! For some the Word penetrates the heart. They are sold out for God. For some it may be a quiet, steady plodding in life, for others it may be energetic trailblazing, or, most likely, it will be somewhere in between. In any case, these people have their eyes on Jesus and they will not be moved.
Notice that they all bear fruit, but not all the same amount. Each one works according to his abilities God did not make us all alike, but He did make us all to be fruitful. We need to do our best where he has placed us and not be jealous if someone seems to be more successful. We are responsible only for our own area of responsibility.
Aug 6/08 Matt. 13:22
He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
And then there are those who hear but at just too busy with life. They are just trying to survive, to keep the boss happy, to keep the spouse happy, to manage the kids. Or perhaps they are caught up always wanting something more, something better. They would be embarrassed if their neighbours had something they did not have or could not afford.
These people may be genuine believers, but the devil has effectively sidetracked them so that they are ineffective for the Kingdom of God. All their energies are spent on this life and they are poor in the life to come...which lasts forever. Their priorities are messed up.
Aug 04/08 Matt. 13:20-21
But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
If you have been a Christian for any amount of time, you have seen some of these people. They get super excited about church, get involved in every activity they can, seem to grow quickly. Sometimes they are promoted into leadership or other responsibilities because they seem so on fire and mature. Then something happens. Somebody offends them. The going gets tough. Sacrifices are necessary. Suddenly they leave...disappear. They did not have maturity and persistence. There was no root, the wind blew them away. It takes time to prove character and true growth.
Aug 02/08 Matt. 13:19
When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
When the word of God is shared, it is planted in the heart. But it takes effort to understand. It takes thought and work to apply it. For some this is just too much work, it is not that important to them. Satan is too smart to let the seed sit there - you never know what could happen. He comes and takes it away. There is no neutrality in life. We are moving ahead or going backward. Nobody is ever really standing still in the spirit realm.
Aug 01/08 Matt. 13:18
Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.
Although Jesus spoke in parables to the crowds, in private He explained them to His disciples. The treasures of God are for His children. And we need to take the time to hear. Often we miss what God is saying or wanting to share because we are too busy. Our prayer life is all talk - our talk - we need to take time to hear.
July 31/08 Matt. 13:17
For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
The saints of the Old Testament knew something better was coming. They caught glimpses of it through the types and shadows, but still it was unclear. They wanted to know of the wonders of the New Testament age that they were working for, but it was hidden for the time was not yet. Now we are into the New Covenant. The wonders of unity with God and of His grace and mercy are before us. Sins are no longer just covered, they are forgiven and forgotten. Praise God! We live in the final and greatest era of human history. Let's celebrate!
July 30/08 Matt. 13:16
But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.
We should not take the fact that we can understand spiritual things for granted. By the grace of God He has touched our eyes and ears. We can see and hear reality. We are indeed blessed. Many look but do not see. We can see. Let our hearts be grateful not prideful.
Note: I will be on holidays until July 29. Blog will continue then. God bless.
July 18/08 Matt. 13:13-15
Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
The Jews of Jesus' day were spiritually deaf and blind. They had become so enraptured with dead religion and the things of the world that they could not perceive the realities Jesus was presenting them - if fact - they did not want to see and hear. That would mean a change of lifestyle that they were not willing to make. For most of them Jesus was just an entertaining Speaker or Someone to meet their needs. So Jesus spoke in parables. The treasures of the Kingdom of God were not for them. Does this sound like today?
July 17/08 Matt. 13:12
For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
God is not a socialist. Those who work hard are rewarded, those who are lazy lose even what they have had. Nobody has absolutely nothing. God has given everyone seed to sow. We are all in the process of either adding to what we have from God, or losing what we have been given from God. There is no neutrality. And God will not listen to the whining and complaining of those who want more but are unwilling to put out the effort to get it.
July 16/08 Matt. 13:10-11
And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
God does not just hand out the treasures of His wisdom to everybody. Those who seek after God will find Him, but those who don't really care or are too busy will never discover the deep things of God.
And in the same way, we need to be careful that we are not sharing everything God has given us with people who are uninterested. Sometimes in our concern or desire for them we give them more than they are ready to handle or we assume a level of commitment that is not there. In so doing we cheapen the Word of God.
July 15/08 Matt. 13:4-9
And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Sometimes we get discouraged because we don't see the results we would like to see from witnessing whether verbal or lifestyle. What we have to keep in mind is that we are not responsible for the results. We are responsible to sow the seed. God looks after the growing process. If we have shared the Word to the best of our ability, we have fulfilled what God asked us to do.
July 12/08 Matt. 13:3
And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;
Jesus loved to use parables. It was the Eastern way of speaking [and still is]. Pictures help to communicate truth. They are interesting. They provoke thought. Jesus was not a boring speaker. Multitudes wanted to listen to Him.
The error of some Christians is to try and take everything in Scripture literally. Yes, there are historical books [including Genesis!] and many literal statements; however, there are also many parables and symbolic pictures especially in the prophetic sections of the Bible. One must work at understanding both the context and the author's overall message to come to a correct understanding. This is not to make Scripture subjective to human guess. No, everything needed to correctly understand the Bible is contained within the Bible. We have the tools, are we willing to put in the sweat?
July 11/08 Matt. 13:1-2
The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side. And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.
Jesus was relaxed. He could go anywhere and teach anywhere. Sometimes we think we need to be in a special place or it has to be a special time or else God cannot move. We have to sing 5 songs and take an offering before we can hear from God. Or we have to spend an hour in prayer before God will move on our hearts. That is a legalistic attempt to manipulate God. It never works.
Relax. God loves you. He can use you or speak to you anywhere that you are available to Him. Be natural. Love God, live His Word, and enjoy life.
July 10/08 Matt. 12:48-50
But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
Although Jesus loved and cared for His mother greatly, their relationship was no longer the priority relationship. His priority relationship was with His Father in Heaven and looking after those His Father had given Him. That is where His focus was, although Jesus never neglected His responsibility to His mother even up to the time on the cross.
An adult son must respect his mother but he cannot allow her to run his life. This is especially true if she interferes in his marriage. He must lovingly but firmly but an end to all such interference. The wise mother knows when to let her son go.
July 9/08 Matt. 12:47
Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.
I wonder who sent this person with the message to Jesus? It was probably His mother. "Tell my Son I want to see Him." Like at the wedding in Cana, was she still trying to influence Him? Mary was a great person, but as a mother was she trying to direct her adult Son? The mother/son relationship should be great all through life but it goes through changes. When a son reaches his teenage and adult years the relationship changes - or should change. If fact, it must change if it is to continue to be a healthy relationship.
July 8/08 Matt. 12:46
While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him.
There are some who believe that Mary remained a virgin for her entire life. There is no Biblical reason for this. It would certainly have been unfair to both Joseph and Mary for them not to have had a normal married sexual relationship. The idea that sex is bad or unholy in marriage comes from heathen ideas adopted into the church, not from the Bible. There is also no reason why Jesus could not have had brothers and sisters. The above verse speaks of His brethren.
July 07/08 Matt. 12:43-45
When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.
Jesus gives us a picture of the spirit world. Demons are not destroyed because they are cast out of a person. If a person who is delivered from an evil spirit does not submit himself to God and come under the protection of the blood of Christ, they may end up in a worse condition than before. This is true in a general way of many things. If we are set free from something whether if be physical like sickness or spiritual like bitterness - and do not walk in that freedom we can end up worse than before.
Jesus was using this example to warn His generation. They were the generation that saw the mighty works of the Son of God in Person. They heard His words. As a nation they rejected Him, and as nation they were destroyed in terrible torture and bloodshed in AD 66-70
July 05/08 Matt. 12:41-42
The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.
Have you ever noticed that often it is the people with the greatest opportunities that appreciate them the least? They had the greatest One walking and teaching among them and they ignored or opposed Him for the most part. Of course, we do the same thing. We whine and complain about just about everything and yet people with a lot less than us - but more determination and commitment - can make a lot out of the little they have...and be grateful for it. They are the ones who will be given more and we will find ourselves being passed by.
July 04/08 Matt. 12:39-40
But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Jesus was upfront with them. He knew who He was and He had no need to prove Himself to anyone else. Sometimes we are so insecure in what we believe that we feel we have to defend every point. We are afraid to let any challenge go unheeded. Not so with Jesus. He was full of confidence so He could afford to pick His battles.
There was; however, one sign for those with eyes to see. The prophet Jonah was three days in the belly of the great fish so the Messiah would be in the grave three days. The expression "heart of the earth" is a comparison with the belly of the great fish and does not necessarily mean Jesus went into Hell when He died.
July 03/08 Matt. 12:38
Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.
The Pharisees wanted a sign. Where had they been? Hadn't Jesus done enough miracles? Their request for a sign wasn't because they needed to be convinced that Jesus was Who He said He was. It was just another trick to waste His time and try to confuse people. They had already decided what they were going to believe.
In modern times the challenge is often, "Prove God exists." Many times, like the Pharisees, these people have already made up their minds what they are going to believe. No amount of evidence will convince them otherwise. It becomes a waste of time and resources to try.
July 02/08 Matt. 12:37
For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
Because words flow from the heart and actions flow from words, words are very important. They will be the foundation of our judgment for better or worse. No one ever did anything - good or bad - without words, at least in thought form. We are so careless with words and yet with words God created and sustains all that is. We, too, create with words. Our lives, our characters, our families, our worlds are built or destroyed with words. Take words seriously.
June 30/08 Matt. 12:36
But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
This is a scary thought. How often do we speak evil, hurtful words? If we are going to have explain to God every idle word, how much more every evil word?
This is a good motivation to watch our words carefully and speak only after thinking! Don't just burst out with what first comes into your mind. Think. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.
What is an idle word anyway? An idle word is an unproductive word. No word for God ever returns to Him void or unproductive, it always accomplishes what God wants it to. Even so, we should not be talking just for the sake of talking. Neither should we waste time instructing people who do not want to learn. Our words should be productive words.
June 28/08 Matt. 12:34-35
O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.
What is in our heart will eventually come out of our mouth and be displayed in our actions. The Pharisees had a beautiful religious outside, but when opposed by Jesus they revealed a heart of hatred, murder, blasphemy, and all sorts of wickedness. We cannot ultimately hide who we are. It will come out eventually. If you would be a good judge of character, learn to listen - not only to what is said but to what is left unsaid.
This is one reason not to rush into marriage [or business partnerships]. Take time to study the potential spouse. How do they react under various situations and with different people. If he or she treats you well but does not always treat others well [especially parents] you know that what is in the heart will eventually come out against you. Don't make the mistake of thinking a person will change because of you. They make cover up who they are for awhile, but only God can change a heart.
June 27/08 Matt. 12:33
Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.
Jesus did not like hypocrisy. Especially He opposed evil men who pretended to be righteous. That is why the Pharisees felt His wrath on more than one occasion. They were evil men with a religious exterior. I suspect this sin will met with a harsher judgment that some others that we might think to be worse.
A tree is known by its fruit. A man is known by his reputation. For an evil man to have a good reputation is deception. It is a deception that can lead innocent people to destruction and so needs to be exposed.
June 26/08 Matt. 12:31-32
Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.
What is this famous unpardonable sin? Some live in fear that they have committed the unpardonable sin and so are locked into a dark destiny. This life is the time of probation. No one is beyond hope until death.
The Holy Spirit is the One Who convicts of sin and leads people Christ. If He is rejected, then there is no hope. The unpardonable sin is rejection of the Holy Spirit Who alone can recreate our hearts so that we can accept Christ as Lord and Saviour.
Jesus was making this point especially against the Pharisees who had just implied that the Holy Spirit was an unclean spirit. With that attitude of blasphemy they were not in a position to accept the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Without that work of the Holy Spirit they were forever doomed.
Roman Catholics use the last part of verse 32 to try and prove their doctrine of purgatory. They claim that it implies that some sins can be forgiven after death. That is not what Jesus was saying. He was underscoring the fact that salvation is impossible at all times and in all place without the work of the Holy Spirit.
June 25/08 Matt. 12:30
He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.
There is no neutrality in this world. If we think we are neutral and objective, we are self-deceived. We all view the facts through certain presuppositions or assumptions. We all are either working for Christ or working against Him. There is no middle-of-the-road. This is a war where all of us are fighting one side or the other. Some may do it in ignorance, but they are on someone's side regardless.
Neutrality is one of the biggest lies of the devil. No government is neutral in respect of Christ. They are either enforcing His laws or destroying them. No school is neutral. They are teaching someone's religion. In fact, the public schools are the largest churches in North America. They actively promote and indoctrinate in the religion of humanism and are violently opposed to real Christianity. Any Christian parent who send their children to public school is training them in the religion of humanism. A few children may make it out with their faith intact but most will fall victim to a war they did not understand. They are today's human sacrifices. Sacrificed to the devil on the altar of humanism because their parents believed a lie, or because their parents had wrong priorities.
June 24/08 Matt. 12:29
Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.
The strong man represents satan. He was the ruler of the world. Jesus entered the strong man's house and defeated him. The ability of Jesus to cast out devils was evidence of the defeat of satan. Because Jesus had no sin, satan had no power over Him. Jesus could enter the strong man's house and the strong man was unable to do anything about it.
The problem is that we are infected with sin. The ability of Jesus Himself did not help us long term. We were still under the strong man's power. It was only when Jesus became sin for us, satisfying the justice of God on our behalf, that we were able to take on His sinlessness. We stand perfect before God because of the act of Christ, not because of our own acts. Because of that the strong man is bound and we have the same authority that Jesus had while on earth. We can spoil the goods of the strong man and set the captives free in Jesus' Name.
June 23/08 Matt. 12:28
But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.
The fact that Jesus had power over the demonic realm was evidence that He was bringing the Kingdom of God. In His life Jesus gave evidence that the Kingdom of God was near. At His death and resurrection He established it. On the Day of Pentecost it was officially launched. The Kingdom of God is here in power and glory for those with eyes to see. Unfortunately, there are many sincere Christians who refuse to accept this fact. They are looking for the same type of physical kingdom the carnal Jews were looking for...and they will be just as disappointed.
June 21/08 Matt. 12:27
And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges.
Jesus turned the accusation back to them. If they were going to charge Him with using devils to cast out devils then the same thing must apply to their own people. They couldn't have it both ways.
Because Jesus was totally guided by the Holy Spirit He could have the correct answer every time. How often do we get into trouble because we say the wrong thing at the wrong time. We have to learn to have our tongue yielded to the Holy Spirit.
June 20/08 Matt. 12:25-26
And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?
In order for a kingdom to stand it must be united. Civil war destroys nations. The same is true of families, businesses, and any organization. The members need to stand in unity even if they have areas of disagreement in order to accomplish the overall goals.
Satan's kingdom must steal the Godly principle of unity in order to operate. Satan is determined and his forces are united in their attack against God and His people. We also must be serious and united.
June 19/08 Matt. 12:24
But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.
Of course the Pharisees, like all good legalists, had to find some excuse to explain their own lack of power. They claimed to be the experts with God, but they knew they did not have the power and authority that should have come with that relationship. Something was wrong but they were unwilling to humble themselves and repent.
It reminds me of the story of Gladys Aylward who failed in her theology studies and so no mission board would send her to China where her heart's desire was. So she went on her own and became one of China's great missionaries. [The Inn Of The Sixth Happiness is a great biography.] This is not to say that study and doctrine is not important - obviously I believe it is or I would not be investing so much of my time in this site - but relationship with Jesus is the key element. If that is missing, nothing else matters.
June 18/08 Matt. 12:23
And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David?
The people saw the power Jesus had over demonic activities and it was a testimony to them that Jesus was the Messiah, the true Son of David. Demon powers are overwhelming when viewed from a human perspective, but when viewed from God's perspective they are immaterial. Christ won the victory on our behalf. As we walk under the blood of Christ, we have nothing to fear from the demonic realm.
June 17/08 Matt. 12:22
Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw.
No all physical ailments are caused by direct demonic activity, but some certainly are. This man was blind and dumb not because of physical deformity but because of a demon. Demons hate humanity. They will do all they can to bring death and destruction. One reason for their hate is that humans are redeemable and they are not. In any case, we need to be protected by the blood of Christ and not open ourselves up to demonic activity by horoscopes [even in "fun"] or other occult influences.
June 16/08 Matt. 12:21
And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.
This is interesting especially considering that some Christians teach Jesus came to offer the Jews a physical kingdom. It is true, that while Jesus was on earth, He went almost exclusively to the Jews. Why? Was it because they were God's super people and everyone else was dirty dogs? No. God's plan has always been world-wide. For a time it had to be limited in order to bring the Messiah into the world. The Jews were the instrument of bringing the Messiah into the world so it was only right that they should have the first opportunity of entering the newly established Kingdom of God. For about 7 years the good news was preached to Jews only...then it went world-wide. Everyone could enter on an equal basis. The Gentiles could trust in the name of Jesus. From now until eternity the door is open for all. It will never again be limited to one physical nation. We study this in detail in the Covenants series.
June 14/08 Matt. 12:20
A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.
Continuing with a look at the character of the Messiah, Jesus would be tender and kind. No matter how bruised or wounded a person was, He would not destroy them. His touch would be tender and healing. No one need be afraid of coming to Him. The smoking flax - the fire about to go out - would be restored. No matter how far a person had fallen, the hand of Jesus would be there to pick him or her up. He would restore them, give them new life. We see that in the life of Jesus in the Gospels and in the testimonies of millions of people over the last 2,000 years or so.
We tend to look at judgment in a negative way. Judgment is simply making a ruling on something. The judgment of Jesus brings victory to His people and destruction to His enemies. That is why Christians can look forward to the judgment of God in specific cases and, of course, to the Final Judgment.
June 13/08 Matt. 12:19
He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.
Obviously, this is a prophetic statement of character, not a literal statement of activity because we know Jesus did talk in the cities, he did oppose the Pharisees, and He did cry out in the temple. This is picturing for us the character of the Messiah. He was not One Who insisted and fought for His own rights. He was not pushing a political agenda. He was working for something far greater. He was establishing the Kingdom of God with His own blood - a Kingdom which would revolutionize every area of life including politics. He was laying a solid foundation. It was not a Kingdom to be established by violence and war, although violence and war would be used against it. The character of the Messiah was one of quiet, persistent, diligent, fulfilling the will of God for His life.
June 12/08 Matt. 12:18
Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles.
Jesus was a servant. He did not seek to rule, only to obey. Should we try to be greater than our Master? Are we seeking position and power or are we seeking obedience and service.
Jesus was chosen by God. As the Son, He was chosen by the Father for the greatest mission possible. We also are chosen by God. His hand is on our lives. We, too, have a mission we are to fulfill on this earth.
Jesus was loved by God. He knew the unconditional love the the Father. He never doubted the love of God in all the up and down situations of life. He died that we could know the love of God as well and become His beloved.
The Father was well-pleased with Jesus. Jesus lived His life solely for the benefit and pleasure of the Father. He did nothing for His own benefit. He walked in perfect obedient. Who do we try to benefit?
The Holy Spirit was upon Jesus. He knew total fellowship and guidance. He walked with confidence.
Jesus was to show God's judgment - righteousness - to the Gentiles. They were to be drawn to God by seeing the beauty of justice. God's ways are glorious. Much of the frustration in the West is because we want to keep the benefits of the judgment of God while forsaking His ways.
June 11/08 Matt. 12:17
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,
Jesus fulfilled every Old Testament prophecy made about Him. Skeptics laugh and say that since Jesus knew the prophecies He deliberately fulfilled them. They are partly correct. Jesus was very familiar with the Old Testament and the prophecies would have guided Him as He followed God, which was part of the reason for them in the first place. However, there are many prophecies over which He could have no control - such as the time and place of birth. Even of the other prophecies, no one with their natural abilities could fulfill them all. Only because Jesus was the promised Messiah could His life perfectly line up with all prophecies.
June 10/08 Matt. 12:16
And charged them that they should not make him known:
Unlike many modern ministries, Jesus did not promote Himself. In fact, He often went the opposite direction. He was willing to allow God to promote Him. He did not struggle and strive to get to the top.
His command was not primarily to escape the Pharisees attention because they would have been aware of any large crowd. As the following verses show, His command was due to the fact that He was seeking God plan not man's approval.
June 9/08 Matt. 12:15
But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all;
Jesus did not tempt God. When He knew there were plots on His life, He left. There is nothing wrong with retreat. We do not have to let pride force us into confrontation and, perhaps, early death. Jesus did not retreat as a coward. He could confront and stand firm when the situation required it. He could also retreat with honour when it didn't. He did not have prove Himself to man, He only had to be obedient to God.
Jesus did not heal everyone He came across, but He did heal all who came to Him. Come to Jesus, in faith, and have your needs met.
June 6/08 Matt. 12:14
Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.
Jesus only did that which was good. He had just healed a man, yet some hated Him so much they wanted to kill Him. Legalists are so focused on their details that they miss the big picture. They can develop a hatred for anyone who disagrees with them. A quick survey of Church History shows the bloodshed of legalism.
Sometimes we think if we do good everyone will like or accept us. Not so. Sometimes doing good or doing the right thing earns us enemies. The old saying that you can't please everybody is right. No matter what you do, someone is likely to disapprove. The important thing is to please God, everyone else is secondary.
June 5/08 Matt. 12:13
Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other.
Jesus wasn't just a Man of theory. He did what He said. It was acceptable to do good on the Sabbath so He healed the man with the withered hand. It wasn't an academic exercise, He didn't heal just to make a point, or to prove He could, He saw the man and his need. Jesus had a heart of compassion. To Him everyone was valuable and their needs and concerns were important. It is still that way today.
June 3/08 Matt. 12:12
How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.
Jesus next presented them with a fact they could not argue with. A man definitely is more valuable than a sheep. [This is, of course, before the foolishness of extreme environmentalism.] If that was the case - if they could help a sheep on the Sabbath - then there could be nothing wrong with helping a man on the Sabbath. The Sabbath wasn't meant to be a day sitting around and doing nothing. It wasn't even originally given as a day of worship. It was a day of rest and Godly rest is doing good. After all, God rested on the seventh day but He hasn't stopped doing good.
June 02/08 Matt. 12:11
And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?
Jesus answered their question with a question. He brought out a practical example which He knew they could not disagree with. Everyone of them would have "worked" on the Sabbath to get their sheep out of a pit.
Sometimes we feel we have to have the answer to every question, we have to be able to solve every problem. We don't. We are not God. It's fine to relax and take time to think. It's even OK to say, "I don't know" as long as it is not an excuse.
May. 31/08 Matt. 12:10
And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him.
Jesus lived with constant pressure. His enemies were always setting deadly traps for Him. But because Jesus kept His eyes on the Father fear could not touch Him. He could sidestep all His enemy's plans because He had divine insight. We too can come to the place where we trust God in the midst of life's pressures. We do not have to be fearful or worried when people oppose us - even with malicious intent.
The Pharisees did not care about the man with the withered hand. He was just an unimportant tool to their ungodly ends. Legalists are only concerned with their petty rules and have no real concern for the people around them.
May. 29/08 Matt. 12:9
And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue:
It was the Sabbath so when Jesus had finished with the issue of the corn, He went into the synagogue where the Jews would be gathering. Jesus went where the people were. He was comfortable wherever He was. He could speak from a boat or from a pulpit. Sometimes we get hung up on form rather than content. We have to be flexible and meet people where they are.
May. 28/08 Matt. 12:8
For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.
God is in control. He is not bound by legalistic interpretations of His Law. Some people try to manipulate God. They claim that if they preform certain actions or have enough faith, then God is required to respond in the way they want Him to. Nonsense. As human beings there is absolutely nothing we can do to "make" God do anything. God does make promises and He is faithful to keep His Word but we cannot force Him into it...especially in our time frame. God is Lord of all.
May. 27/08 Matt. 12:7
But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.
It was not that sacrifice was not important. It was necessary but it was never enough. God's eyes were not on the sacrifices, they were on the heart. A sacrifice without a heart commitment was useless, a true heart commitment would joyfully offer the sacrifices. Even in the Old Testament, the heart attitude was the vital point.
Legalists are not happy with following their own convictions. They want everyone else to follow them as well. If God speaks to a legalist and tells him he is spending too much time playing golf and should give it up, it is never enough for him to give it up, he wants everyone else to give it up as well - even through it is not God's word to them. And so condemnation and guilt are piled on innocent people.
May. 26/08 Matt. 12:6
But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.
The Pharisees were so concerned about the temple - the building of which was begun by the mass murderer Herod the Great - that they missed the One of Whom the temple was a type. They focused so much on the physical that they missed the spiritual. They missed the real Temple. Unfortunately, a lot of popular Christianity in North America does the the same thing. They focus on the "literal" nation of Israel and miss much of what Israel was supposed to be a type of. They fail to see the purpose of Israel in the Old Testament and its New Testament application. Like the Pharisees, their eyes are fixed on the type and they fail to see the fulfillment. How sad.
May. 24/08 Matt. 12:5
Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?
No one was supposed to work on the Sabbath, yet the priests did a lot of work on the Sabbath. It was their busiest day! However, they were not Sabbath-breakers. God's Law is uncompromising; nevertheless, those who legalistically follow the letter of the Law and ignore the spirit of the Law often find themselves in opposition to the intent of the Law. The context and application of the Law must be carefully considered. No Law can justly be considered as a item in itself. It must be considered in the broad scope of Divine revelation. It's relation and purpose to the whole must be understood before proper application can be made.
May. 23/08 Matt. 12:4
How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?
God's servants the priests were the ones who were to eat the shewbread. Fresh bread was daily put before the Lord and the day old bread was taken and eaten by the priests. David and his men, when fleeing for their lives from Saul [1 Sam. 21:1-6], requested the bread from the priest. The priest insisted that the men be pure according to the law. When he was satisfied that they were he gave them the bread because that was all they had.
David, as God's servant, had the right to partake of God's provisions. This is a picture for us. Jesus is the Bread of Life. Those who have come to Him in faith have the right to partake of His provisions. Obedient children have a right to the family resources, but those outside the family do not.
May. 21/08 Matt. 12:3
But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him;
Jesus had a sense of humor. He was talking to the Pharisees who prided themselves on knowing the Word of God. They memorized large portions of it. They debated and discussed it. They were the experts. Yet Jesus addresses them in mock surprise like Sunday School kids, "Haven't you read...?" Jesus had no patience or tolerance for religious legalists.
When David - that great hero of the faith - was hungry and in need what did he do?
May. 20/08 Matt. 12:2
But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.
The Pharisees did not object to the disciples taking corn because they knew it was in line with the law. Their objection was that it was done on the Sabbath. Like good legalists their eyes were on the details not on the issues. This doesn't mean that God's Law can be violated for humanistic reasons [or for any reason for that matter]. However, the Pharisees in sinful zealousness had added so many laws and details to God's Law that it was no longer God's Law they were enforcing. It was their own laws, in God's Name, which often subverted God's true Law. Legalists are like that. In their "wisdom" they add to what God has said.
May. 19/08 Matt. 12:1
At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat.
The sabbath was a day of rest, not total inactivity. Jesus had places to go on the sabbath.
Sometimes we forget that Jesus and the disciples were real men. They had the same needs and desires as we have. In this case, the disciple were hungry and, since they were in a corn field, they had meal before them. This was not theft. The Law allowed people to eat what was available. It was unlawful to pluck it and take it away to save for another day or to sell. That would have been theft. Biblical law provides the balance between helping the poor and protecting the owner's rights.
May 17/08 Matt. 11:30
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Now for the really good part! Jesus' yoke is easy. It is not hard or difficult or painful. In fact, He yokes Himself with us and He pulls most of the load! [Of course, we do all the complaining.]
In Jewish teaching the yoke was considered to be the Law. The Pharisees - just as religious, self-righteous people today - made the Law hard. They added to it. They taught people you had to keep the Law in order to please God. They condemned.
Some people today had swung to the opposite extreme and said the Law of God doesn't apply, i.e. there is no yoke. This also is error.
The good news of Jesus is that we don't keep the Law in order to please God. He is happy with us as His children. And His Law, properly understood is for our benefit and protection. It is a good and easy thing when are hearts are right. The Holy Spirit puts within our heart the desire to keep the Law and then works in us the increasing ability to fulfill our desire.
May. 15/08 Matt. 11:29
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
Jesus never promised that we would not have a yoke. A yoke is necessary for oxen to work together to pull a heavy load. Jesus did offer us His yoke instead of satan's harsh yoke. Either way we will wear a yoke. The only question is: Whose yoke?
Jesus set the example. He doesn't put a yoke us that He has not experienced Himself. He can lead the way. He knows how to do it. He is not a proud, harsh Master whipping His poor animals. He is meek and lowly. He is teaching us to work in unison with Him and each other. In that is true rest and peace. Rest is not inactivity, but activity without stress and worry.
May. 13/08 Matt. 11:28
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
God calls us and places in our hearts the desire to know Him, but still we must come. We can stand afar off and only hear about the good things of God. Like the elder brother, we can be jealous of what others receive. Or we can come and experience the fullness of God for ourselves. God is not a respecter of persons. You can come.
Who should come? Those that are discouraged. Those that are depressed. Those who think they have to earn God's favour. Those who are tired and ready to give up. Those who are overwhelmed. Anyone who realizes the truth that they cannot handle life on their own.
What will Christ do when we come? He will give us rest. We will find peace. It doesn't mean that the storm on the outside will go away at once, but the storm on the inside of us certainly can. We can rest in the fact that He is in control. We can be a peace in the fact that we are loved and treasured by God apart from any works that we do.
May. 12/08 Matt. 11:27
All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
This further enforces the teaching that even though nature and reasoning screams out about God, our minds are clouded with deception and our hearts are so black with sin that we cannot know God on our own. No one seeks for God. No one even desires God until God puts that desire in their hearts.
Everything Jesus had and did came from the Father. He was not an independent man. He relied on His Father and His Father provided everything He needed.
May. 10/08 Matt. 11:26
Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.
God does whatever He wants. It is His universe after all. God used His vast, unmeasurable wisdom to design how things were operate. Instead of complaining that we don't like God's system because we don't really understand it, we should be thanking Him that He did it in the best way possible.
It was God's wisdom that He didn't choose the mental giants. We are all on an equal footing when it comes to the ability to know God. Pride, self-confidence, and independence are the real stumbling blocks.
May. 9/08Matt. 11:25
At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
A simple faith is required. It does not mean the Christianity is not logical but it does mean that wise men, blinded by the world, will never figure it out. It takes a faith in the Word of God. A good example of this is the evolution debate. Many otherwise intelligent scientists embrace evolution. They despise or mock creation. They look at the same evidence as creationists but they keep coming to the wrong conclusions! Creationists don't deny scientific facts, but looking at them from God's point of view they can see how the facts make perfect sense with a Biblical creation view.
There is so much that can only be known by revelation not be experimentation. God reveals His secrets to those who love Him and seek after Him. To know God is the highest calling.
May. 8/08>Matt. 11:20-24
Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.
Mighty works don't soften hard hearts. Sometimes we think that if God would do a mighty miracle all our friends or our community would see the light and convert to Christ. Miracles get people's attention but only a work of the Holy Spirit can change a dark heart.
Interestingly, sometimes the most hard-hearted people are religious people...and they can be the cruelest. The cities of Israel rejected Christ whereas heathen cities would have accepted Him if they had had the opportunity. The degree of judgment is based, at least in part, on the knowledge we have or could have had and how we used it. Many religious people, some of whom think they are saved, are going to face harsher judgment then those who never heard the Word plainly declared.
May. 7/08<><>- Matt. 11:16-19
But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.
No matter what you and I do, someone is going to criticize us - usually religious people! This is why we cannot be swayed by the opinion of others. We have to discover the will of God and follow it no matter what the crowd may say. We have to hold to a straight path even when gossip and rumor threaten to destroy us. God is able to defend us. We follow Him and trust in Him.
May 6/08 ><>- Matt. 11:15
He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Sometimes we wonder what people don't understand the Gospel or reject it. They do not have ears to hear. They are locked into their preconceived ideas and will not listen to anything else. If even people who heard the words of Jesus directly could have deaf ears, how much more those who hear His words through us. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit is able to heal their ears.
May 5/08 <>- Matt. 11:14
And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.
Isaiah [Elias] was prophesied to return before Jesus. This was not to be a physically resurrected Isaiah, but someone, like Isaiah, who came in his anointing and power. That person was John the Baptist.
This points out a major interpretation issue. The Old Testament must be understood in the light of the New Testament. The New Testament teaches us what the Old Testament was really talking about. This is very important because there is a section of Christianity which insists on applying most of the Old Testament to natural Israel and/or to the millennium. This is NOT how the New Testament handles the Old Testament. We must reject every theory of man - no matter how much it appeals to us - which contradicts the plain teaching of Scripture. [We look at the theory in greater detail in Death and Beyond.]
May 3/08 - Matt. 11:13
For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.
This is a favourite verse of the Law haters. They don't want to live by the standard of God's Law so they find every way possible to say the Law no longer applies. They confuse Law and Grace, justification and sanctification. Yes, the Christian no longer stands condemned by the Law. Yes, the Christian does not keep the Law to earn God's favour. But that does not mean the Law - God's perfect standard for life - is done away with. [see the e-mail course Life Line].
Anyway, these people say, "See, the Law ended at John!" Often they forget about the prophets being mentioned together with the Law because with still want to use the prophets. Selective reading? In any case, all this verse is saying is that the Law and the Prophets were looking forward to the New Testament age which was introduced at the time of John the Baptist. Jesus Himself said the same thing when He said all the Law and the Prophets pointed to Him.
May 2/08 - Matt. 11:12
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
Another version words this verse this way: ...the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing... [God's Word] This helps us to see what the KJV means by "suffereth violence."
For the 400 silent years the Kingdom of God seemed to lay dormant. It was a dry time spiritually. As we can see from the ministry of Jesus, many demons had invaded the land of Israel and were oppressing the people as well as false spiritual leaders. Then the voice of John the Baptist was heard. The Kingdom of God seemed to wake up from its long sleep. The occupation of the Enemy was challenged. Then Jesus came with full authority over all demonic forces. The kingdom of darkness ran for cover at His presence. But this war was not for the fainthearted. Jesus trained the disciples to storm the gates of Hell. It was a three and a half year training program but when it was done, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit, they were the men who continued on the war.
And the war goes on. We are the new warriors. The Kingdom of God will not advance if we retreat. It takes courage to advance the Kingdom of God. We have to stand against the forces of evil in the oppression of people's lives, spiritual blindness, government oppression, false doctrines, evolution and "christian" compromises with it, civil evils, and everything that opposes the knowledge of God. It is not a mission for the fainthearted. However, as we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, we can stand. We can too can storm the gates of Hell in our world and withstand the counterattack.
Apr. 30/08 - Matt. 11:11
Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
John the Baptist was the last of the Old Testament prophets. He was the greatest because he pointed directly and clearly to Christ. Never dishonour the past or what was accomplished in the past. Nevertheless, in the New Testament age, we have Jesus living right inside of us. That is greater than anything experienced by the Old Testament prophets and saints. Our lives should reflect more the glory and righteousness of God than anything that has gone before. To our shame, often it does not.
Apr. 28/08 - Matt. 11:10
For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
John the Baptist was the spiritual Elijah who was prophesied to come before Christ. If some were looking for Elijah personally to be resurrected and appear as Christ's messenger then they were disappointed. The New Testament itself shows that many, if not most, of the Old Testament prophecies have spiritual fulfillments in New Testament times. Yet there are a popular group of Christians who insisted in literal fulfillments and so twist Scripture from being a beautiful picture of Jesus Christ and His Work to a distorted focus on something else.
John's job was to open the minds and hearts of the people so they would be able to hear the words of Jesus. It was a difficult job. For 400 years there had been no prophetic word from God. The soil was hard. Now, with the voice of John, people once again began to hear a voice from God. Their expectations began to grow. There was a feeling that something great was around the corner.
Apr.25/08 - Matt. 11:7-9
And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.
Even through John had wavered under discouragement, Jesus never spoke against him. We need to be very careful about how we speak of men and women of God no matter what weaknesses we may see in their lives. God honours His leadership and we should do the same.
Apr.24/08 - Matt. 11:6
And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
Blessed is the one who follows after Jesus even in times of confusion and doubt. There times when our head is spinning and we don't know which way is up. Life seems shattered. Hold on to Jesus. Don't leave Him. Things will work out in the end. Through the tears and the doubts and the pain, keep close to Jesus.
Apr. 23/08 - Matt. 11:4-5
Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
Jesus did not respond to John's doubts with theological arguments. John already knew them all anyway. Instead, Jesus responded with visible evidence. He showed him the results which were what the theologicial teaching predicted the Messiah would do. Jesus was doing the works of the Messiah, so He must be the Messiah. John's work and witness was being vindicated.
We have to respond to what people really need. Sometimes all we have is theological arguments [which are important]. Many times, though, knowledge is not the problem. We need to be able to correctly identify the real question and respond to it.
Apr.22/08 - Matt. 11:2-3
Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?
John the Baptist was in deep discouragement. He had faithfully proclaimed the Word of God. He had identified the Messiah. He had courageously stood against immorality in government. He had done everything God had asked him to do...and now he was rotting in a foul prison.
The enemy's questions and doubts assailed him. Why? Had he been mistaken? Were his sacrifices for nothing? Had he misled the people? Was his life wasted?
John never lost his faith in God, but he did wonder if he had misunderstood his call...if he had missed the will of God...if he had caused untold damage by identifying the wrong Man.
Apr. 21/08 - Matt. 11:1
And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities.
Jesus did not give principles to consider. He did not give ideas for a successful life. He was not a motivational speaker. He did not make suggestions. He was a General training His disciples. He issued commands that were expected to be obeyed. This is why Jesus never instructed anyone to make converts. He commanded us to make disciples. A disciple is not simply a believer. A disciple is totally committed to following the footsteps of the Master.
After Jesus had laid the foundation with His disciples He was ready to move out into wider areas. The disciples were still far from perfect, but the foundation was laid. After a solid foundation has been laid, it can be built upon. Many times we fail because we are building on a shaky foundation. Better to invest the time on the unseen but vital foundation.
Apr. 19/08 - Matt. 10:41-42
He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.
When we follow God, He rewards us. God is not a miser. He is generous. Everything we do for Him here and now will be abundantly rewarded in the future. This life is an investment for the future. God not only sees our actions but also He weighs the motives of our heart.
Apr.18/08 - Matt. 10:40
He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
There is an unseen chain reaction. When we honour other Christians we are in fact honouring Jesus. And when we honour Jesus we are honouring the Father. If we mistreat or take advantage of other Christians we are, in fact, doing the same to the Lord. As John points out in his letter, anyone who claims to love God but mistreats his fellow Christians is a liar. How we treat the people God puts in front of us is the same way we treat God.
Apr. 17/08 - Matt. 10:39
He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
The Kingdom of God is upside to the way the world thinks. The world says, "Look out for #1. Promote yourself. Get and keep the best for yourself. You deserve it." That is Satan's fantasy world. Reality is different. To get ahead you have to help others, not caring if you get recognition or not. You have to forget about yourself and your desires. You have to put your entire effort into expanding the Kingdom of God and helping others get ahead. You have to be able not to be jealous if they pass you. Our priorities must be right or - like the Pharisees - our reward will be limited to what we can get for ourselves in this world. We should be patient for what God will give us in this world and in the next one!
Apr. 16/08 - Matt. 10:38
And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
This was a shocking statement to the disciples of Jesus. They had seen the Romans crucify many Jews on crosses. It was a painful and inhuman method of executing criminals. Now Jesus was telling them to voluntarily undergo the painful humiliation to carrying a cross to the place of execution. This is the total removal of all pride. It is learning to simply walk in the steps of the Master heedless of where they lead. Anything less and we are still trying to be independent and so cannot completely follow Jesus. We have a divided mind.
The encouraging thing is that Jesus is not asking us to do something He Himself was unwilling to do. We are to follow Him. In submission and total dependance on the Father He had His body ripped to shreds and hung naked from a cross for all the world to see. If we draw back in pride or self-pity from whatever cross is on our shoulders we are not worthy of our Lord.
Apr. 14/08 - Matt. 10:37
He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
Jesus will be the priority in our life. If anyone or anything else has a higher "rating" then we have a god above Jesus. This cannot be. Jesus will not be second to anyone. We are His priority and He must be ours, no matter what it costs.
Apr. 12/08 - Matt. 10:34-36
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.
We often think of Jesus as the Prince of Peace, which He is. He has brought peace between God and man. But being at peace with God means being at war with those who oppose God. This can be members of our own families. The Spirit of Light and the spirit of darkness divides across family lines, splitting those ties if family members are opposed to God.
Apr. 11/08 - Matt. 10:32-33
Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
The is no such thing as a secret Christian. In some countries there may be undercover Christians because of persecution. You don't jump up and yell, "Here I am, shoot me." On the other hand, no matter where we are we can't deny Christ. Peter denied Christ and then repented with tears. He was forgiven and the time came when he held strong to his confession and was [according to tradition] crucified upside down.
Foxe's Book of Martyrs records of one man who under extreme pressure denied Christ. He was released but felt so bad about what he had done that he publicly cut of the hand which had signed the denial. He was then re-arrested and executed.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit we must maintain our confession of faith. If we give in with the evil thought that we can always get forgiveness later, later may never come.
Christ represents us in heaven the way we represent Him on earth. That should be a good motivating thought.
Apr. 10/08 - Matt. 10:29-31
Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
God is not a distant God Who set the world in motion and then withdrew to watch it. He is actively involved in it. He is even aware of what we we consider unimportant things like the welfare of birds and the number of hairs we have. If God is so concerned about that, how much more is He actively involved with the being He created to be the king of His creation. We do not have to walk in fear no matter what happens. God is watching over us every step of the way.
Apr. 9/08 - Matt. 10:28
And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
The worst anyone on this planet can do to us is kill our body. They can end or make this life difficult, but they cannot effect our soul and our eternal destiny. We do not have to be afraid of anything that happens in this life.
What is really scary is what happens after this life if we do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Our life will never end, but if we do not know Christ our eternal existence in Hell will make even the worst events in this life look mild.
For a more detailed study of this take the course: Death and Beyond.
Apr. 8/08 - Matt. 10:27
What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.
We are to spread the teaching of Jesus around the world. What we have learned from God we are to share. We are not to keep it to ourselves. The Good News must be presented to every creature. The first century Christians took their assignment seriously and the gospel did go to the known world in their lifetime. And in our generation we have the same assignment.
Apr. 7/08 - Matt. 10:26
Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.
We do not have to be afraid of them. We can trust God through every situation. We know in the end the truth will come out. All lies will be exposed. God the Just Judge - Who is also our Father - will see justice done in the end.
Mar 31/08 - Matt. 10:24-25
The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?
Jesus came as a servant. He did only that which was right and good. Yet He was hated and rejected. Can expected any less? We are to have that servant attitude and work for the benefit of others, yet we should not be surprised if we are not always appreciated. If we follow in the footsteps of our Lord, it is enough.
Mar 29/08 - Matt. 10:23
But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.
This is Jesus specific instructions to His disciples. They were not to waste their time where they were not wanted. The harvest is ripe - work with the ripe harvest, not the stoney ground. Unless God has specifically spoken otherwise, this is good instruction for us, too. Look for good ground. If you are being rejected in one place, look for another.
Obviously Jesus was not talked about His Second Coming when He said "till the Son of Man be come." The Bible refers to many different kinds of "comings" of Jesus - one of which is the Second Coming. Much confusion comes into the topic of the Second Coming because people confuse these comings. Context must be studied carefully. The courses on the Book of Revelation and Death and Beyond will help to understand the various comings of Christ.
In this case, Jesus is referring to his Judgment Coming when He would judge the nation of Israel for their rejection of Him and His messengers. This happened in the Jewish War of AD 66 - AD 70.
Mar 28/08 - Matt. 10:22
And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
The pressure to give up on the Christian life will be tremendous whither it is outward attack or subtle influence. The enemy knows he cannot attack God directly - he tried that and failed - so he attacks God through His loved children. This is satan's blind rage and intense hatred manifested through his human servants. They are often unaware of the source of their hatred of Christians. Logically, it makes no sense but they are driven by a hard master.
Salvation comes to those who finish the race - not those who start the race. Many start and give up. Those called by God will be given the grace to finish. They have the perseverance to keep at in even in the discouraging times. John the Baptist hit bottom in discouragement when he began to wonder if Jesus really was the Messiah, but he finished his race. And so must we.
Mar 27/08 - Matt. 10:21
And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.
This religious battle cuts across all lines of friendship and family. As those in persecuted countries can testify, family members will betray other family members to prison, torture, and death. The war is deadly serious and everyone is on one side or the other. Jesus came to bring division between the children of light and the children of darkness. The children of darkness will use whatever means necessary to destroy the children of light. It may be open attack or it may be subtle influence, but the goal is always the same. Wipe out Christianity. God has promised that all such attempts will fail, but the process to victory may be long and painful.
Mar 26/08 - Matt. 10:20
For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
Not only will God defend us in such a situation, but also - if we will allow Him - He will speak though us. This does not mean that end earthly result is always pleasant. Stephen is an excellent example. The Holy Spirit spoke through him in a brilliant defense but it only angered the judges more and they stoned him to death. However, he did see Jesus and there is no greater reward. And his witness burned itself into a hard-hearted man named Saul. Later Saul was to convert and become the great apostle Paul. Would that have happened without the seed planted by the witness of Stephen? Only God knows.
Mar 25/08 - Matt. 10:19
But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.
The instruction of Jesus is not to worry about our defense. Our eyes are to be on God. Nothing happens that He did not allow. We are to trust Him even when we are hauled into court by religious hypocrites or pagans bent on our destruction. God will strengthen us and give us the grace to face whatever happens.
Mar 24/08 - Matt. 10:18
And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
Not only would religious people hate true Christians, but also they would be put on trial in the secular realm. The prime example of this was Jesus Himself Who was betrayed by a friend, hated and tried by the religious authorities, and then turned over to the secular government for trial and execution. We may face the same thing, certainly the disciples did.
Notice an interesting point, it was a testimony against the secular rulers and non-Christians. Their judgment and reaction to the Christian becomes the witness against them in the court of God. While they are judging God's loved children, God is judging them. That is why even when we are under judgment we can feel sorrow for our persecutors because we realize they are going to undergo a worse judgment because of their actions.
Mar 22/08 - Matt. 10:17
But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;
In walking in wisdom we have to be aware of the deceptiveness of men. People will hide their true agendas. Or they will betray us. Even through we are harmless - and should be the best citizens in any country - we uncompromisingly represent the King of kings. That is threat to any who wish to rule their own kingdoms independent of Christ. So, even through we operate with the best interest of individuals and nations in mind, they will often viciously turn on us. Inspired by satan they want to rid themselves of Christians without realizing that they are destroying the very people who stand between them and the anger of Almighty God. Notice that these are religious people who are doing the persecuting and betraying. Religion without relationship with Jesus Christ is a hard and soul-destroing master.
Mar 21/08 - Matt. 10:16
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
God has called His people to be peaceable, but this world is full of war and strife. On the surface it looks as impossible as a sheep walking safely through a hungry wolf pack. Yet God watches over us. We are not to use the world's violent and self-seeking ways to gain our objective. The church has tried to rule the world and it was a bloody disaster. [That is not to say the civil government is outside the authority of the Bible. No, the civil government is to protect its nation according to Scripture and Christians are to be very involved in this process.]
A serpent is patient and often waits for its victim to come within its grasp. So we are to be patient and realize we have to build our lives and our world solidly - not necessarily quickly. Because we know the sovereignty of God, we can wait for Him to work out situations. We do not have to rush around and be uptight. Wisdom and harmlessness are our watch words.
Mar 20/08 - Matt. 10:14-15
And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.
Sometimes God will place us somewhere where the ground is hard and there seems to be no fruit from our ministry because He is investing for a future harvest. More often, though, if the ground is hard and the message is rejected it is time to move on. There is much ground that is soft and ready for harvest. Why should we spend our time on unproductive soil when ripe grain is rotting because there is no one to harvest it?
Those who hear - or had the opportunity to hear - the gospel and reject it are going to face a harsher judgment than those who never heard it clearly presented. This is one reason why I think the hard-hearted church goer who is just doing a religious duty will face a hotter Hell than the drunken bum or prostitute who never had the message proclaimed to them through human lips.
Mar 19/08 - Matt. 10:11-12
And when ye come into an house, salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.
There is blessing that comes from ministering to God's ministers and a blessing that we miss if we are too busy or self-centered to serve those who serve us spiritual food.
The peace spoken of seems almost to be a tangible thing.
Mar 18/08 - Matt. 10:9-10
And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence.
It is a privilege - not an ugly necessity - to provide for the men and women of God that He sends our way. They are a gift from Him - starting with our Pastor - and are to be treasured. God will bless those who bless His ministers.
Likewise, sometimes ministers have a low opinion of themselves. They think they are only worth little and should not have much. Second or third hand clothes are all they need. Nonsense. They are ambassadors of the Great King. Even if all they can afford is second-hand clothes, they should wear them with dignity and honour. Theirs is a high calling. Neither should they be giving their spiritual treasures to ungrateful people but they should find who is worthy. This does not mean a judgmental spirt but a spirit to discern character and attitudes.
The time is coming when men and women of God will be the heroes, not football or movie stars. While we are all ambassador's Christ, special honour goes to those called by God - not themselves - to minister from the Word full time.
Mar 17/08 - Matt. 10:9-10
Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.
In this case, Jesus was commissioning His disciples to live off of the ministry. If they were able ministers of spiritual things, people would be responsible to provide for their physical needs and desires. In our backward Western society we often place greater emphasis on physical needs. We will pay the gas attendant, the grocery store, the bank, etc. but when it comes to paying those who work to give us the far more important and eternal spiritual food and clothing we try to give as little as possible or nothing at all. Getting Western Christians to tithe - let alone pay generously for spiritual food - is worse than pulling teeth. If you don't believe me, ask the average Pastor or missionary.
Mar 15/08 - Matt. 10:8
Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
We are to minister to people out of a joyful heart for all that God has given us. He has bountifully given to us and we just keep passing it on. With the ability and faith that God has given us, we minister to others. A person who truly walks with God will not be conscious of poverty. He may or may not have this world's good but either way his eyes are generous and he doesn't think about his own position. It is interesting that many times people poor in this world's goods are more giving that those who have plenty. In some poor nations of the world native Christians will go hungry for days in order to bless a visiting missionary with a good meal. But there is no reason why everyone who has received from God can't be generous. Two mites or two million...God looks at the heart.
Mar 13/08 - Matt. 10:7
And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Interestingly, there are Christians today who say the Kingdom of God has not yet come. Jesus told His disciples 2,000 years ago that it was "at hand" or close by. 2,000+ years is not "at hand." Do these people know more that Jesus, or did the Kingdom of God actually come on the Day of Pentecost? I know which choice I will make.
Mar 12/08 - Matt. 10:5-6
These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
The disciples were not sent the Gentiles or Samaritans. Why not? Did God love them less? Was God a racist? Were the Jews some kind of Teacher's pet?
If you have studied our Covenant's course you already know the answer. God's plan has always been world-wide. This is obvious even in the Old Testament. The Jewish nation was chosen as the womb through which Christ would be born. In the Old Testament God prepared and protected them for this very special mission. It was only fair - and God promised it - that, when the Messiah did come, they would have the first opportunity to accept Him and enter the Kingdom of God. After they had had their first opportunity [about 7 years] the gospel went world-wide, as we see in the Book of Acts. The door is now - and forever will be till the Second Coming -open to everyone. God's plan has reached fulfillment in bringing in the nations to His family. Through Christ, anyone can be part of the family of God.
Mar 11/08 - Matt. 10:2-4
Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.
Jesus chose 12 men to train. He did not try to train a hundred. He poured Himself into 12. He ministered to thousands, but He trained 12. He also chose them after they had been with Him for a little while. He had been able to observe them and see their character. Sometimes we try to do too much. We need to know our boundaries and stay within them. We have to start small. That is one reason why God sets us in families...we have a small group to pour ourselves into and train in the ways of God. Then we can expand to others, but no one can really pour themselves into great numbers of people. That is why Paul told Timothy to train men who could then train others, etc. It grows as everyone works with someone but no one can work with everyone.
One of the 12 would betray Jesus and Jesus knew that right from the start. Yet He loved and treated Judas the same as all His other disciples. He did not withdraw for fear of being hurt.
One reason Jesus chose 12 disciples/apostles is that they were the counterpart to the Old Testament 12 tribes. In Revelation we see the 24 elders - which show the Old and New Testament saints [12 + 12] - united in the praise and worship of Jesus.
Mar 10/08 - Matt. 10:1
And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.
Jesus was not power mad. He did not have to do everything Himself. He knew how to not only delegate responsibility but also how to empower His disciples. Responsibility without corresponding authority is frustrating and ineffective.
The amazing thing is that Jesus trusted His disciples with this kind of responsibility. This is before the Day of Pentecost. They were diamonds in the rough...very rough. But these were the men that needed to be trained to handle responsibility. They were the ones who would be the foundation of the church. They needed experience before He left...and there is only one way to get experience.
Mar 8/08 - Matt. 9:38
Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.
First of all we need to realize that the harvest belongs to God. It is His, not ours. Second we need to pray that God will send the harvesters to collect the harvest. Third we need to say, "Here am I, send me." It may not be across the ocean, it may only be across the street but it will be working in the harvest.
In line with that we need to realize that evangelism is only one part of harvest collecting. It is the first part, but is not the only part. There are many parts of working in the harvest and we can all be involved in some way.
Mar 6/08 - Matt. 9:37
Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;
There is so much work that needs to be done. The harvest that is not reaped is lost. This is the vision that Hudson Taylor [in the 1800's] saw as he prayed for and worked for the millions of Chinese who were going to Hell without ever having heard the good news of the Gospel. He was embarrassed when one of his converts asked him how long the Europeans had had the good news. After he told him, the convert said with tears in his eyes, "Why did it take you so long to come?"
People all around us are dying and going to an eternal Hell. They needed to be reached by the Gospel. We need to have compassion on them and share the good news. There is much work to do, and few who seem willing to do it.
Mar 4/08 - Matt. 9:36
But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
Jesus was not a hard-hearted "professional" just doing His job. He was not so focused on God or His ministry that people were secondary or unimportant. Jesus cared for the people of God. It hurt Jesus that they had no one to lead them, guide them, protect them. Although Jesus was perfect and had all the Gifts, He was only one Person. He could only be in one place at a time. Physically there was only so much that He could do.
Mar 3/08 - Matt. 9:35
And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.
The opposition of the Pharisees did not stop Jesus. It didn't even slow Him down. He kept right on doing the will of God. We will have opposition in this life, but we cannot let it sidetrack us. We must complete the mission God has given each one of us.
Mar 01/08 - Matt. 9:34
But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils.
The Pharisees, of course, were jealous and embarrassed. They claimed to be the religious experts but they knew they had no power over the demonic realm. They were afraid the works of Jesus would expose them as frauds. The right thing to do would have been to confess their powerlessness and submit themselves to Jesus. Then, under the authority of Christ, they could have been true religious leaders. Instead, like so many, they had to make excuses why they could not do what Jesus could do. The best way to do that was to discredit Jesus and try to bring Him down. Sometimes we wonder why people we thought would support us in the things of God end up attacking us. Often it is because they have the religious spirit of the Pharisees. They do not have what we have but they do not want to humble themselves in order to get it. They don't want to move on with God, but they don't want to look bad before others so they try to prevent anyone else from moving on with God.
Feb 29/08 - Matt. 9:33
And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake: and the multitudes marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel.
In this case it is plainly stated that the cause was demonic. When the demon was cast out, the man was able to speak.
The people were amazed. They had never seen anyone with power over demons before. They had always had to live in fear and subjection. Now, here was One Who had authority and power over the demonic realm. When He spoke, it obeyed.
Feb 28/08 - Matt. 9:32
As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil.
Being under the influence of a demon can have physical consequences. In this case, the demon prevented the man from speaking. Being unable to speak - and other things - can be due to physical causes, emotional stress, or demon oppression. We need to be careful not to jump to conclusions as to which one it is. We need the discernment and wisdom of the Holy Spirit.
Feb 25/08 - Matt. 9:31
But they, when they were departed, spread abroad his fame in all that country.
The men were so excited about getting their sight that they could not keep their mouth's shut. How do you keep a thing like that quiet? Nevertheless, it was an act of disobedience because Jesus had strictly instructed them not to tell. Sometimes we do much damage in our excitement and enthusiasm. We need to control our emotions and think things through. Yes, we need to be excited, but it has to be channeled in the right ways.
Feb 22/08 - Matt. 9:30
And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it.
These men received what they asked for.
Again, we see that Jesus was not seeking fame. If He had been a modern day preacher He would have called the TV and radio stations, printed up flyers, gone on talk shows, "held over" His healing meetings... Not so with Jesus. He didn't want the publicity. Too much attention could hinder what God really wanted to do through His life, it might tempt Him to be distracted from His real purpose. Success in God's eyes is not the same as success in the world's eyes. The Pastor of a church of 30 can be as successful as the Pastor of a church of 30,000 in God's eyes. Or they could both be failures. It all depends on the will of God for their lives, not on outward appearances.
Feb 20/08 - Matt. 9:29
Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you.
Jesus touched them at their point of need. What they had believed for, they would get. Many times we do not get what we ask for because we do not really believe or we act in presumption. A word of caution: We should never condemn anyone for "lack of faith." Sometimes God has a higher purpose and so must answer, "No" even through faith is there. It is the cruel act of "Job's comforters" to assume that lack of faith is the reason behind every No or delayed answer from God.
Feb 16/08 - Matt. 9:28
And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord.
Jesus did not just drop everything to deal with them the moment they requested it. He was not driven by need. In the right time, He gave them His attention.
The first thing He asked them was if they believed He could heal them. Seems like a stupid question, they had been asking Him to do it for the last few hours. But, honestly, how often do we ask God for things not really expecting Him to answer? Maybe we don't want to get our hopes up. Maybe it is a last desperate attempt for a solution that we don't really think will work. Maybe we doubt if God will hear or care. Maybe...
In any case, these men believed Jesus could do it.
Feb 15/08 - Matt. 9:27
And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us.
The two blind men were desperate. They had a problem only Jesus could help them with. They did not care if they were dignified or not. They could not afford to miss this opportunity. They did not know if they would ever be around Jesus again. It was now or never. Sometimes we are too laid back in our pursuit of God. We are not serious enough. We don't perceive our need as that great. So Jesus walks away and we go on in our blindness.
The title "Son of David" was a title of the Messiah. These blind men had no trouble declaring Jesus as the Messiah. Sometimes those outside the "inner" circle have more awareness than those who are inside. Sometimes being close or having a mental knowledge of the truth causes us to take things for granted.
Feb 14/08 - Matt. 9:26
And the fame hereof went abroad into all that land.
Although Jesus did not seek fame, when you raise someone from the dead word gets around - even without the media! Unlike a lot of ministries today, Jesus was not concerned with promotion. He did the works of God, if that led to fame and crowds, fine, if it led to rejection and desertion, fine. His eyes were always, only on the will of the Father.
Feb 12/08 - Matt. 9:25
But when the people were put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose.
Jesus did not allow the scorn of the crowd to hinder His work. He knew what the Father wanted and He did it. First, He got rid of the scoffers. He had no need to argue with them or try to convince them He was right. Just get them out of the way, it wasn't about them anyway. Often we spend a lot of time trying to convince people of things they are not going to believe anyway. Why waste the time?
Jesus simply went in re-united the girl's soul with her body and that was that. No big drama. It was just doing the will of the Father.
Feb 11/08 - Matt. 9:24
He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn.
Jesus saw the reality. Death is not non-existence. The soul is immortal. All Jesus had to do was re-united the soul with the body. Not hard for God. From His perspective, the girl was simply sleeping [this does not teach soul sleep, by the way].
The crowd laughed at Jesus as if He was some kind of fool. They knew - from an earthly perspective - the girl was dead. The crowd rarely sees reality. Jesus did not allow their disbelief to shape His faith or upset Him. If they couldn't see reality, they had the problem, not Him.
Feb 9/08 - Matt. 9:23
And when Jesus came into the ruler's house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise,
Notice Jesus never allowed Himself to be pushed or rushed into things. The ruler had come to Jesus with a urgent, life or death, need. But Jesus did not run to his house. He walked. He took time to minister to the woman with the issue of blood. When He arrived at the house, to the eyes of the world, it looked like He was too late. Jesus never looked through the eyes of the world. He saw reality.
There was no doubt that this young lady was dead. The official mourners were already about their work of comforting the grieving.
Feb 7/08 - Matt. 9:22
But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.
From other accounts we know Jesus felt the power going out of Him and asked the crowd who had touched Him. When the woman confessed what she had done - and was too happy to be embarrassed - Jesus encouraged her. He did not reject her for her unorthodox way of getting her healing. She had had faith and she had had the courage to act on it. She was rewarded. Jesus never rejects or scorns anyone who comes to Him in truth and faith.
Feb. 5/08 - Matt. 9:20-21
And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.
This woman had suffered many things and for a long time. Yet, she had faith that Jesus could heal her. In fact, she did even think Jesus had to say or do anything. If she could only touch a piece of His clothing....that would be enough.
This woman was desperate and she had courage. For a woman to touch a man who was not her husband was unthinkable to the Jewish mind. Also, she had an embarrassing disease. To just walk and explain everything in front of the crowd and ask for a healing would be embarrassing not only for her but [in her mind] for Jesus as well. Add to that that since it was an issue of blood, she was "unclean" and should not have been in the crowd to begin it. If she stepped out and asked for healing in the usual way she had every reason to think that she would be rejected and scorned. Nevertheless, she was not going to miss this change to be healed.
Sometimes we have to be driven to desperation before we are willing to humble ourselves enough to get anything from God. It should not be that way, but many times it is.
Jan. Feb 04/08 - Matt. 9:19
And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did his disciples.
Although it would have been easier [and just as effective] to speak the word, Jesus rose to honour this ruler's request by going to lay His hands on the daughter. The disciples went along, too. They were always with the Master. How many times to we miss what Jesus is doing because we are off doing our own thing instead of following the Master? We are not leaders, we are followers.
Feb. 02/08 - Matt. 9:18
While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live.
What is worship? One expression of worship is faith. It was an act of worship on the part of this ruler to believe Jesus could heal or resurrect his daughter. Too many people think of worship as something that is done on a Sunday morning. No, worship is a lifestyle that is pleasing to God. Worship is who we are more than what we do.
We know from other accounts of this story that the daughter had not died when the ruler had originally tried to talk to Jesus. But as he was talking or trying to talk to Jesus he was informed that she had, in fact, died. Even death would not stop him. With God all things are possible.
He did not have as much faith as the Roman officer who asked Jesus to speak the word only; however, Jesus did not criticize him but honoured his faith where it was at.
Feb. 01/08 - Matt. 9:16-17
No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.
We have to be wise in our actions. Sometimes we are so anxious to move into something new that we destroy the old in the process. This, by the way, is what revolution does. It seeks to destroy the old and build something new out of the ashes. That is why revolutions always destroy a society and build nothing but monsters.
There are new garments and new wine but we don't move into the new by destroying the old. The new is built on the old just as the New Covenant is built on the Old Covenant [as we study in Covenants]. There is no reason why we cannot have the best of the old as we move into the best of the new. We cannot be stuck in the "old" and never move on, but neither can we reject the old.
Of course, this also has application as the New Wine of the Holy Spirit is poured into the new vessel of the Church. To try to limit this New Wine to one physical nation would have wasted the New Wine. The old vessel - the physical nation - needed to move into the new vessel - the world-wide spiritual nation - to be preserved. While many individuals did make this transition, the nation as whole did not and it was destroyed never again to hold the New Wine.
Jan. 31/08 - Matt. 9:15
And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.
Jesus wasn't embarrassed or defensive about their question. He had nothing to hide and He was confident in His actions. Nor did He put them down for asking such a question. He did not say they were wrong for fasting, either.
He answered their question straightforwardly. There is a time for rejoicing and a time for mourning. There is a time to celebrate all the goodness of God and a time for disciplining the body and focusing the mind. When Jesus with the disciples it was a time of great joy and He personally led them and declared the will of God to them. The time was coming when He would no longer be physically present. After that, although there would still be times of joy, there would also be times of fasting as the disciples needed to focus their minds to discover the will of God for themselves.
It is all about knowing the times and seasons of life. And we are not all in the same season at the same time. Someone may be in the season of rejoicing while another is in the season the fasting or trial. We need to be sensitive to each other and not except everyone to be in the same season we are in.
Jan. 30/08 - Matt. 9:14
Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?
Was this an honest question or was it busy-body, legalist question? If it had come from the Pharisees then I would have had no question. Coming from the disciples of John the Baptist, perhaps we should give them the benefit of the doubt.
In any case, they noticed Jesus and His disciples were different. They maintained their holy standards but they were not withdrawn from the people. They mingled, they were welcome, and they did not lose the people's respect because of it.
The particular question had to do with fasting. Fasting was a way of disciplining the body and focusing the mind on spiritual things. Why did the disciples of Jesus neglect this important exercise of self-control?
Jan. 26/08 - Matt. 9:13
But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Sacrifice was necessary under the Old Testament system but it was never enough. Ritual is never enough. It must come from faith...from the heart. The Pharisees had the ritual down but their heart was hard so the ritual was useless. Mercy shows a soft heart, a heart that reaches out to others. Mercy is the heart of God.
The outwardly righteous - if it is not a heart-righteousness - are only self-righteous. They are legalistic and cut down anyone who doesn't measure up to their standards. Legalism is a dog eat dog world. God wants us to live righteous lives through the Lord Jesus Christ but that causes us to reach out to others in mercy and love... not to reject them. It is people who know they are unrighteous that are often the most ready to hear the gospel...if it will come from loving lips and helping hands.
Jan. 25/08 - Matt. 9:12
But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.
Jesus became aware the discussion at the edge of the party. His reply is classic. It is the sick people who need help. No point in sending the doctor to someone who is healthy! Who could argue with that logic?
Jesus was not saying that the Pharisees were healthy. In many ways they were more sick than the publicans and sinners. However, they thought they were healthy. The first step to solving any problem is to admit there is a problem. If person is living in denial, then the healing process cannot be begun. The person who knows they have a problem and is willing to face it is the person who can be helped.
Jan. 22/08 - Matt. 9:11
And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?
Of course, the religious rulers frowned on such activity. The disciples must have been near the door because they were the ones the Pharisees could talk to the easiest. The Pharisees could not understand why Jesus would hang out with outcasts. Neither could the disciples. Jesus was making a bad name for Himself and dragging them down with Him! They might get thrown out of the synagogue if this kept up. In that society being thrown out of the synagogue was a big thing. They would be outcasts themselves, disowned by their families and looked down on and rejected by every "good" person."
Jan. 21/08 - Matt. 9:10
And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.
Matthew was so happy that Jesus called him and respected him and he did the greatest thing he could think of: He gave Jesus a party. He invited Him for dinner - and, of course, he invited all his friends, too. Because of who he was, his friends were not the good up-right citizens the disciples wanted to hang out with. They were tax collectors, criminals, prostitutes...the rejects of good society. The disciples were probably sitting as close to the door as they could wishing they were anywhere else! Jesus; however, was right at home. He did not partake of their sin but he wasn't condemning either. They liked Him! They wanted to be around Him! Is that how the world feels about His disciples today?
Jan. 19/08 - Matt. 9:9
And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.
Matthew was a tax collector. A Jew who had sold himself to the Romans to collect their charges from his own people. A more hated man could not be imagined. Often tax collectors were corrupt taking more than they had to in order to line their own pockets. It would be someone like collecting extortion fees for the mafia.
Nevertheless, Jesus choose him. The other disciples probably cringed to think of this man being included in their group. Tensions were probably high. Jesus saw the heart. He never looked on outward appearances, He always dealt with the heart. He saw people as lost and redeemable. In love, He reached to Matthew.
Matthew, of course, is the one who wrote this gospel. He is the only writer to say that Jesus "saw a MAN." Everyone else who looked at him saw a dog, a worm, a criminal, etc. Jesus saw a man. Jesus gave him respect. In dealing with people, we need to treat them with respect and honour no matter what their outward appearance or actions are.
Jan. 18/08 - Matt. 9:8
But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.
While the religious leaders did not appreciate the works of Jesus, the average person did. They were amazed that God had given such power to men. It had been 400 years since a prophet of God had walked the earth and now here was One in their lifetime doing wonderful works and showing the love of God. Since Jesus returned to the Father, the Holy Spirit has been sent to carry on the works of God through His people. You and I can also bring the love and forgiveness of God to hurting people through the power of the Holy Spirit. He can do miracles through our lives as well. One of the things Jesus did was to show us how man without sin should live. He is the example of what mankind was always intended to be.
Jan. 17/08 - Matt. 9:6-7
But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and departed to his house.
The man's healing was evidence that his sins had been forgiven. In other words, he could not have been healed until his sins were forgiven. The scribes understood this. They should have been excited that now the Messiah had come. Sin could be forgiven - not just covered. But no, they saw it as a threat to their power, authority, position. It just entrenched them all the more in their warfare against Jesus. Even the best of acts will not make friends of everyone. In some cases, it will just make them bitter enemies. Nevertheless, we do not stop obeying God and doing acts of kindness because we are afraid of the reactions of some people.
Jan. 15/08 - Matt. 9:5
For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?
Because this man's sin was the root problem forgiveness and healing went together. I wonder if many times [not all times] when we pray for people and they don't get healed it is because we are trying to deal with symptoms instead of root causes. In our compassion we may be wanted to relieve pain and ignoring the cause. We need the discernment of the Holy Spirit.
Jan. 14/08 - Matt. 9:4
And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?
Jesus knew what they were thinking. This was not because of His Divine nature. When He came to earth He laid aside His Divine nature and all the advantages of it. He lived His life here just as you and I do. He knew what they were thinking because it was revealed to Him by the Holy Spirit. This is the same Holy Spirit Who lives in you and I. He is able to reveal the true nature of people and circumstances around us if necessary...and we are listening.
Jan. 12/08 - Matt. 9:3
And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth.
The hard-harded scribes thought Jesus was blaspheming. Of course, if Jesus had been merely a Man operating on His Own authority, they would have been right. As scribes - masters of the Old Testament - they had no excuse for their ignorance. They knew Who Jesus was, or they certainly should have known. They studied the evidence everyday.
Study is important but by itself it does not produce righteousness. It can produce pride and hard hearts. We need to study - and apply - the Word of God with open and teachable hearts. Then we will truly learn and not make the same mistake the Scribes made as them committed blasphemy themselves!
Jan. 11/08 - Matt. 9:2
And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.
Interestingly the Bible does not say whether the sick man had faith for his own healing or not. It was the people who brought the sick man to Jesus who had the faith. Since faith is a gift from God, when Jesus saw faith, He knew the will of the Father was to heal the man.
Jesus did not start with the healing. He encouraged the man, helping him to overcome whatever fear he may have had. Then Jesus went to the root of the problem. It is dangerous coming to Jesus because He never deals with symptoms until the root cause is out in the open. Many people want to be delivered from the consequences of their actions but they do not want to change their actions! This man's sin - we are not told what specific sin - had caused his sickness. Sin had to be dwelt with first. Jesus forgave the sin. Case closed.
It is important to know that sickness is in the world because of original sin. Specific, personal sins can cause physical sickness - as in this case. But not every sickness is caused by personal sin. Some sickness comes simply as a result of living in a fallen world. If we become sick we do need to examine ourselves to see if sin is at the root of it while realizing that it is only one of several possible explanations. In the same way, if a friend is sick we are not to condemn them for a lack of faith or for sin in their lives. That may not be the reason at all.
Jan. 10/08 - Matt. 9:1
And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city.
Jesus did not force Himself on the unwilling city, He did not try to convince them of their mistake, He did not condemn them for their request. He simply left. He wasn't wanted, He left.
This should be a warning for us. If we ask Jesus to leave, He will. If we don't want His presence, we won't have it. If we want to walk in the hardness of our own hearts, He will let us. Jesus will not force Himself on us. But He is not puppet to be called back at our will or whenever we want Him. If He leaves, He may never return until judgment day. Or He may give us another opportunity. This choice is His, not ours. Be careful what you ask for, you might get it.
Jan. 9/08 - Matt. 8:34
And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.
When the whole city heard what had happened, they came out. In all fairness it does not seem that the loss of the pigs was their primary concern. They knew the power of the devils in these two demonized men. If Jesus had cast out the devils, then He must be more powerful. That scared them. It was a power beyond their ability to understand and control. Like us, they wanted to think they were in control of their destiny and they resisted anything or anyone that would expose their fantasy world. And so, instead of submitting to Jesus, they asked Him to leave. How sad, but how many times do we do the same thing?
Jan. 8/08 - Matt. 8:33
And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils.
The heathens who kept the pigs fled. They were scared by what they had witnessed. But their fear drove them away from Jesus instead of to Jesus. We need to allow our fears, struggles, temptations to drive us to Jesus. It is there we can find the answers for what we need and have peace of soul in every situation. Often; however, we allow things to drive us away from Jesus. Going to Jesus becomes a last option after everything else has failed.
Jan. 7/08 - Matt. 8:32
And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.
I do not understand why Jesus allowed the devils to go into the pigs. Why not just cast them out and be done with it? If you have any ideas, let me know.
For whatever reason, Jesus did it but the unclean animals could not contain the unclean spirits and the animals rushed over a cliff and drown. The evil spirits ended up without bodies anyway. There seems to be something about evil spirits that desires a body to live in. If they cannot get a human body, it seems they may settle for an animal one. The dramatization of a true story in the movie The Ghost And The Darkness would give the impression that animals could be demonized.
Even though the demons were a legion they could not resist Jesus. His Word is Law. They had to obey. It seems that Jesus has more challenges getting His own people to walk in obedience that anything or anyone else in any realm!
Jan. 5/08 - Matt. 8:30-31
And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.
The devils were wiser than a lot of Christians. They knew their time of tormenting these men was over and they wanted to delay their final punishment so they presented and alternative plan which they thought would be acceptable. Often we go to Jesus in prayer - or even just live life - without any plan or purpose. We make general requests without any specific goals or plans. Then we wonder why God fails to answer.
Pig were unclean animals so it is only fitting that unclean spirits should reside there. We also know this was not a God-fearing community because no one familiar with the Laws of God in Old Testament times would have been keeping pigs.
Jan. 4/08 - Matt. 8:29
And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?
These dangerous, demon-possessed men, who terrorized the neighbourhood, where scared of Jesus. Or rather, the demons who possessed them were scared of Jesus. They knew that here was One Who was more powerful than they were. They knew where they were going to spend eternity - in the agonies of Hell - and they wanted to delay it as long as possible. There was no question of a power struggle. They knew Jesus had the authority to do what He wanted with them.
In the same way, we now have Jesus living inside of us via the Holy Spirit. As we walk in submission to Christ, we need fear no demonic power. We are sealed and protected. In fact, they are to fear us. If this knowledge makes us proud or careless then we are headed for a fall.
Jan. 3/08 - Matt. 8:28
And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.
Jesus did not always meet the nice people. Some strange and dangerous people came across His path. Since Jesus knew He was in the center of God's will, fear was never an option. Anything or anyone that the Father allowed into His life was there for a purpose and He had the power of God to deal with the situation. The same is true of us, if we are walking with God. Everything that happens is allowed by God for our good and His glory if we will handle it in the right way. We can face even the difficult situations of life with confidence. We do not have to be fearful or overwhelmed.
Jan. 2/08 - Matt. 8:27
But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!
The disciples were surprised when Jesus answered their desperate cry. They were shocked at the extent of His power and authority. The storm was an opportunity for God to open their eyes to the true nature of reality. It was a chance to respond in faith. Even through they failed the test, Jesus did not reject them. He corrected them, and then moved on. There would be other tests and other opportunities. Jesus does not reject us when we fail. He loves us still. He meets our needs. And He leads us on.
Jan 1/08 - Matt. 8:26
And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.
Jesus rebuked His disciples for their fear and lack of faith. The disciples were driven by fear of the circumstances. Yes, the circumstances were serious, but they could not get their eyes off the problem and see the hand of God behind the problem. They saw the physical reality but failed to see the spiritual reality. Their faith was in the problem not in the Answer. When we respond in fear or panic to situations - no matter how serious - we reveal a lack of trust and faith in God. If God is in control we can be at peace no matter what is happening around us. Let us keep our eyes on God and follow Him fearless of where He may lead.
Dec. 31/07 - Matt. 8:25
And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.
Most of these disciples had been professional fishermen. They were familiar with the ways of sea. If they thought they were in danger - they were in danger. Their lives were on line. In fear they ran to Jesus. At least, they knew where to go. How they thought Jesus would save them I don't know because they were surprised when He did. When we are in a panic we don't think things through.
Dec. 29/07 - Matt. 8:24
And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.
Just because we follow Jesus does not mean life will be smooth. Sometimes Jesus leads us into the storm! This was not a minor upset. This was a life-threatening situation. We seek the clam but Jesus walks in the storm. Following Jesus will drive us out of our comfort zone. The question is: Do we want to follow Jesus or not?
Notice the action of Jesus. He is asleep. The waves are rolling, the water is swamping the boat and He is peacefully sleeping. He knew God was in control. He knew He had to die on the cross; therefore, He could not die before that time. No need to worry or get upset. The disciples were driven by the very real circumstances around them. Jesus looked to the Truth beyond the circumstances. We too can walk calmly through the storms of life. Nothing can touch us that God does not allow for our good. We can trust Him. We don't have to worry about life. Unless we are tempting God, we are immortal until it comes to God's time for us to die, and when God's time comes no force on earth will save us.
Dec. 28/07 - Matt. 8:23
And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.
Wherever Jesus went, His disciples followed Him. They did not give Him directions. They did not direct His paths. They followed. That is our job as well. We don't give God directions. We don't set the agenda. We follow.
Dec. 27/07 - Matt. 8:21-22
And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.
There can be no priority in life greater than following Jesus. We cannot compromise the Gospel. Many try to make the Gospel "acceptable" to the world by compromising with evolution, world systems, political agendas, blind nationalism, etc. NO. Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords. His only terms are: Unconditional Surrender. His way or no way. This does not mean that we present the Gospel in an offense way, but it does mean we present to true Gospel. Neither does this mean that we neglect our earthly responsibilities. Part of a truly spiritual life is being responsible to our families, employers, etc.
Dec. 22/07 - Matt. 8:19-20
And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath nowhere to lay his head.
How you start the race is not as important as how you finish the race. Many have great goals and intentions. but discover later on that the cost is more than they want to pay. Someone has said, "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions." We need to count the cost in advance and then be faithful to our commitment.
Jesus, Creator of the Universe, owned no property. He left it all for us. This does not mean that we cannot own property or enjoy that things of this world. Jesus left it all so we could enjoy life - eternal life and life in this world. There are times when we, too, must make sacrifices for the cause of the Gospel. We are involved in a war. If God allows us to enjoy many things in this life, great, but never let that become a priority. The Kingdom of God is always the priority.
Dec. 21/07 - Matt. 8:18
Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side.
Jesus was the opposite of most preachers today. Jesus saw the crowds coming and instead of polishing His sermon, He left. While Jesus ministered to people His priority was always doing the will of the Father. We wear ourselves out, get under stress and guilt, and desert our families because people are our priority. They do have real needs and we feel we have to meet all of them. The need of the people often out weighs the will of the Father. When that happens we not only destroy ourselves and often our family, but also we do not really help others either. The will of the Father must be our priority. We are not God. We are not responsible for meeting everyone's needs. We are responsible to obey God, nothing more, nothing less.
Dec. 20/07 - Matt. 8:17
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.
The small picture is the individual lives that were changed [very important]. In the big picture He was fulfilling the prophecies about the Messiah. He was showing Himself to be God in the flesh, the Chosen One.
Jesus did not separate Himself from our needs. He identified with them. He took our problems and sicknesses on Himself. He was not offended or turned off by our weaknesses. He simply rolled up His sleeves and went to work. He got involved.
Dec. 19/07 - Matt. 8:16
When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick:
Jesus did not heal everyone He came across in life, but He did heal everyone who came to Him. As far as I know, with only one exception, all the healings were immediate. He also cast out evil spirits. He showed His authority over the spiritual and natural aspects of the world. He only needed a word. It was not a dramatic show or epic fight. He spoke and it happened.
Dec. 18/07 - Matt. 8:15
And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them.
Jesus was a Man full of compassion. He instantly healed her.
When I read this I used to think it was a little mean for her to have to start serving as soon as she was healed. But I have come to see that she was the type of person that loved to serve. You probably couldn't stop her! As soon as she was feeling well her natural response was to see that everyone was well fed [Jesus, have that last piece of pie, I insist. It just can't go to waste!] and cared for.
Dec. 17/07 - Matt. 8:14
And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever.
From this we learn that Peter was a married man. Peter dedicated himself to attended the School of Jesus for three years, although there must have been many "home" times during that period. Obviously, he did not neglect his family because Scripture later indicates that his wife travelled with him in ministry. There was no resentment on her part for his time with Jesus.
It may be that Peter's father-in-law had died before this time since his mother-in-law appears to have been living in his house. Or perhaps she was only moved there so his wife could better care for her. In any case this illustrates the necessity of a family looking after its own to the best of its ability. There would be little need of church welfare or of government welfare [which is illegitimate in any case] if families took seriously their responsibilities.
Dec. 15/07 - Matt. 8:13
And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.
The centurion's request was granted. His faith was rewarded. His servant was healed instantly.
Some people have made the mistake of thinking that if they have faith then God must answer their request. First, God MUST do nothing. He is God and cannot be controlled or manipulated by man. Second, faith will draw a response from God, not always the response we were looking for. Since faith is a gift from God [we cannot work it up], He gives us faith for what He wants to do. The problem is that people confuse genuine faith with presumption. Presumption is trying to manipulate God to do what we want. It never works.
Dec. 14/07 - Matt. 8:12
But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Who were the children of kingdom referred to here? Who is going from the Kingdom of Light to the Kingdom of Darkness? The Israelites who trusted in the flesh. The Jews thought they were God's people because of their national heritage [many Christians today hold similar views about the Jews]. Jesus said, "No." Salvation is solely based on trusting in the finished work of Christ on Calvary and coming under His Lordship. National heritage is not enough - and never was.
People today who trust in their national or family heritage, their church attendance, their prayers, their good works or anything other than the Lord Jesus Christ are in the same position. They have the same false confidence that the Jews of Jesus' day had, and they will meet the same end if they are not awaken to the Truth.
Dec. 13/07 - Matt. 8:11
And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
As we see in Covenants, God's plan has always been world-wide. God has a big heart. He never intended to limit His blessing to one small nation. Limiting was necessary for a time as the way for the Messiah was being prepared but it was always a temporary measure. Christians today who love to focus on this one small nation have missed the point.
Dec. 12/07 - Matt. 8:10
When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
This outsider had more faith than any of the people of Israel - including the disciples! Never despise those who are different or may not be our "first" choice. If we are humble we can learn from everyone. We rob our own lives when we exclude them.
Dec. 11/07 - Matt. 8:8-9
The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
This centurion just keeps getting more and more amazing. He understood authority and recognized authority in Jesus. He knew he did not personally have to do everything. He was in charge of his soldiers. He directed them in the work that needed to be done and they did it. Likewise, he knew Jesus had authority in the spiritual realm over both the spiritual and physical realms. Jesus did not have to personally touch a person to heal them. All He had to do was speak the command and it would be done. Time and distance were meaningless. The centurion was not caught up in the physical appearance of things. He understood reality, he understood authority.
Authority is a hated word in our society today. People fight against authority. How foolish. In order to have authority a person must be under authority - which is why God condemns rebellion against authority. Society cannot exist without authority. Godly authority will produce a prosperous, Godly society and ungodly authority will work at destroying society.
Dec. 10/07 - Matt. 8:7
And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.
Jesus was not a respecter of persons. He did not look down on this man because he was a member of the occupying army which had cruelly treated His earthly people. Roman governors were famous for corruption and murder. Many soldiers were no different. Jesus did not take His chance to get revenge on this representative of the Roman army. Instead, He honoured the man by granting his request. He was even going to break Jewish tradition [which Peter later was unwilling to do] by going to a Gentile house.
Dec. 8/07 - Matt. 8:6
And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.
This centurion was not only a humble man, but he was a compassionate man. Servants or slaves were common. One dies, get another one. Yet this man was willing to humble himself before the Jew, Jesus, to request help on behalf of his servant. This was truly a great man.
This is also an example that when we have authority over people - whether we are parents, business people, military officers, etc., we have a responsibility as much as we can to work for their best interests and to extend help to them whenever and however we can. Help, of course, doesn't mean we please them at all times, true help can be tough. It does mean; however, that we always work with their best interest in mind.
Dec. 7/07 - Matt. 8:5
And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,
It is amazing that a Roman officer living in hated foreign nation would come to Jesus, a Jew. The scorn he must have endured from his army comrades would have been great. The soldiers under him, of course, would not have said anything but you can well imagine what other centurions and superior officers would have had to say. Nevertheless, peer pressure did not prevent him from both living his faith and doing his job.
We know from the other account of this story that the centurion did not come in person. He asked Jewish leaders to intercede on his behalf. This was not done because he thought he was too good to come to Jesus but because he thought Jesus was too good for him! What an amazing attitude. We will never get anything from God unless we are humble people. Pride destroys.
Dec. 6/07 - Matt. 8:4
And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.
Jesus was not into self-promotion. He did not launch giant advertising campaigns. He wasn't trying to be "successful" in the eyes of the world. He had one mission: to please the Father. Everything else was secondary. After healing this man, Jesus instructed him to keep it quiet. He did not want His true mission hindered by curiosity seekers and "fans."
Jesus told the healed man to follow the instructions of the Law. It is as we would expect from Him Who came not to destroy the Law and the Prophets. It would also witness the man's healed condition to the priest so he could re-enter society and take his proper place among the men of the community.
Nov. 5/07 - Matt. 8:3
And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
I am told that in the original language the response of Jesus is very strong. It is almost as if He said, "IF! How could you doubt that I would want to heal you?" The man had faith in the ability of God but not in the goodness of God. Christians who have faith in the ability of God should risk asking God for what they need. There may be a rebuke for lack of faith but notice the leper had his request answered! And his eyes were opened to the true goodness and mercy of God. Never be afraid to press in and never give up. Do not cower behind a false humility. If you need something from God, ask, seek, knock.
Dec. 4/07 - Matt. 8:2
And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
This leper knew where to go for help. He believed in the power of God but not in His grace and mercy. He knew God could heal him but he doubted if God would heal him. Many Christians find themselves in the same position. They know God can work on their behalf but they doubt whether He will. They question the love and will of God. This leper had the courage to risk rejection and ask anyway. Those who refuse to take risks are never going to get anything.
Dec. 3/07 - Matt. 8:1
When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.
Like Moses, Jesus came down from the mountain. As the King He had proclaimed His Law. Obedience was not optional as His last story had made clear.
We all have mountain top or high experiences in life, but we do not live on the mountain top. The time comes when like Moses and Jesus we must descend and deal with the practical issues of life. Mountain top experiences can be a time of great refreshing and strengthening. Church services should usually be this time of encouragement. But we don't live there. We must go to the valley and work these things out in our everyday life. Our faith must be tried. We must be available to help others. By the way, we don't live in the valley either. We journey through mountains and valley on our way to our ultimate destination.
Dec. 1/07 - Matt. 7:28-29
And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
There is an old saying: "Those who can, do and those who can't, teach." This applied very well to the scribes. They had a great knowledge of the Old Testament, its doctrines, and the traditions of men. If it had to do with the Jewish religion, they knew it. But they did not live it. It was all theory and facts with no practical application in their lives. Many Christians are like this, too. They may have a great knowledge of the Bible but there is no practical application in their lives. There is no power and authority. Ultimately, it is a question of whether we have really surrendered to Jesus or not.
Jesus was different. He was totally surrendered to the will of God. He made none of His own decisions. He did only what the Father said; therefore, He had the full power and authority of God backing Him up. His teaching was not a fancy theory - it was His life. The people had never seen that before.
Nov. 29/07 - Matt. 7:24-27
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
The bottom is line is: Do we obey Jesus or not? Those who build their lives on the Rock of the Word of Jesus will have a life that the storms of life will never be able to destroy. Those who "accept" Jesus as Saviour but walk in their own ways will eventually have their lives crushed. Are we hearers only or are we doers?
By the way, Jesus is the Eternal God which means that the entire Bible - Genesis to Revelation - is the Word of Lord Jesus. To reject any part of it is to reject Jesus. Many Christians and churches, for example, have rejected the plain Word of Jesus in Genesis 1-11. Jesus tells us plainly that the world was created in 6 ordinary days about six thousand years ago and there was a global flood. Sinful, fallible man calls Him a liar - and Christians try to twist Scripture to appease them! Unbelievable! Who are we standing with?
Nov. 28/07 - Matt. 7:21-23
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
This is one passage that I find frightening. There are "many" self-deluded people who think they are Christians but are not. They may even do many miracles. They have deceived themselves and their followers. In the judgment, much to their surprise, they will be headed for Hell. This is one reason we are told to examine ourselves to see if we are truly in the Way.
How do we know? Knowing and saying the right things is not enough. Doing great or good works is not enough. We must trust completely in the finished work of Christ on Calvary. This is not simply a verbal confession of faith. This is a death and new birth in the heart. This is coming under Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Those who "accept" Jesus as Saviour but refuse to come under His Lordship are self-deceived. If Jesus is not Lord, neither is He Saviour. Those who run around saying they love Jesus but are busy pursing their own agendas are in terrible danger - as are those who believe their words.
Obedience to the Lordship of Jesus Christ also means a correct [not legalistic] application of Biblical Law in our lives and society. Do not be deceived, those who reject the Law [both legalism and license are a rejection of the true Law] have no light in them [Is. 8:20].
Nov. 27/07 - Matt. 7:20
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
How do we separate the good from the bad? On the surface, good people and bad people, good ministers and bad ministers, good churches and bad churches may appear very much the same. How can we tell?
Jesus tells us to examine the fruits or the long-term results of who they are or what they are doing. People and churches based on rebellion will in the long run produce rebellion no matter how great their words or works are in the short term. Even their "good" works will be burned up in the day of judgment. People and churches based on faithfulness and Christian maturity will also produce that in the long run although they may struggle in the short run. Don't be afraid to look for fruit. Don't waste your life by being deceived by smooth, Christian-sounding words or by short run "good" works. This is especially important when choosing close friends and a home church.
Nov. 26/07 - Matt. 7:19
Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
The end result of these wolves is their own destruction. God will judge them. They may sound like Heaven, but they end up in Hell. The tragedy is that they drag other people down with them. We must be careful that we do not get caught up in their ways. They can often quote Scripture very well, but if we are well-grounded in the Word and are connected to a Bible-believing/teaching local church we have nothing to fear.
Nov. 24/07 - Matt. 7:15-18
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
Christians are to be wise. They are not to believe everything that comes along. Often wolves use the word "Christian" like a magic word. Whether they are financial swindlers, politicians, preachers, or whatever, they think they can put the word "Christian" in it and Christians will support it. Unfortunately, they are often right.
Jesus instructed us to be wise. We do not accept the words of people unless they are backed up by their actions. We have to carefully examine their actions. What are the results of their lives? Are they promoting unGodly programs in the name of Christ? Reject them. Know the Word of God. Be grounded in doctrine - which includes Biblical Law - and you will not be deceived.
Nov. 23/07 - Matt. 7:13-14
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
There are two ways of life. One leads to life, the other to death. The death way seems easy but in the end it leads to disaster. The path of life seems hard and restrictive but once you are on it you discover real joy and life. The broad way is like putting a train engine in the middle of the field. It is "free" and unrestricted but it is useless and going nowhere. When you take the same train engine and restrict it to the tracks, you have given it true freedom and now it can travel anywhere the tracks go.
Was Jesus teaching by this that only a few people are going to be saved? No, and we spend an entire report looking at these verses from that perspective. Are Only A Few Chosen To Be Saved?
Nov. 22/07 - Matt. 7:12
Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
The Golden Rule. We are to treat others in the same way we would want to be treated in the same situation. We have to be able to place ourselves in the other person's position. We have to "get into their skin."
If we would do this one thing we would automatically be keeping all the instructions given in the Law and the Prophets. As we point out in detail in our Life Line e-mail course, the Law is simply God's definition of how we love God and each other. We will never learn to love as God wants us to love if we neglect the Law and the Prophets.
Nov. 21/07 - Matt. 7:9-11
Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
If sinful human fathers, who often fail and have wrong motives, still care for their children, how much more will our heavenly Father, Who is sinless, never fails, and Whose motives are always pure, give good things to His children. We never have to be afraid of coming to our Father or of asking Him for what we desire. We can have a confident and enjoyable relationship.
Those who have had evil human fathers - who have deliberately hurt them - may have trouble with this concept. We must realize that human fathers DO NOT model God. God is the model for human fathers. In other words, if we want to know what fathers are supposed to be, we look at God not at our human father no matter how good or evil he may have been. Human fathers should study how God treats His children in order to see what they should be like. It is a high calling.
Nov. 19/07 - Matt. 7:7-8
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
The context of this promise is the person who is walking in forgiveness, not condemning others, and valuing the things of God. Such a person has his/her eyes on the Kingdom of God. Their priorities are straight, their heart is pure. They can ask with confidence that God will hear and answer.
This person is not simply someone who wishes for things. This involves specific asking. They have put some thought in what they are asking for. They have considered the benefits and possible consequences. They have seen how this will advance the Kingdom of God, the lives of those around them, and/or their own lives. Then, if the answer is not immediate, they seek. This involves effort. It is not just sitting back and waiting for God to do something. It is work. It is finding out God's will and resting in it. Knocking is persistence. It does not give up until it has God's answer. It is not rude and demanding, but it does not give up and go away either. Sometimes God waits to see how serious we are.
Nov. 17/07 - Matt. 7:6
Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
As Christians we often want to help people so badly that we cheapen or compromise the treasures of God. This is seen in the area of evangelism when we promote Jesus as a Saviour who will "solve all your problems," but forget to mention that He is also the Lord Who demands your all. It is seen in the area of poverty relief when we fail to distinguish between what used to be called the deserving poor and the undeserving poor. We cannot force things - no matter how good they are - on people who do not want or appreciate them. They will not end up being helped in the long run and we will be hurt and waste the precious resources God has entrusted to us.
Nov. 16/07 - Matt. 7:3-5
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
We tend to see our own faults in others. If you see someone who is very judgmental and hard against one particular sin, it may be an indication that it is his own weak point. He condemns it in others because he does not want it to be exposed in himself.
Jesus is clear. Our own hands must be clean. Yes, sin does need to be opposed and exposed, but we must be innocent of that sin ourselves. If it is hidden in our heart or our life we have no ground for condemning it in others. We must bring it to light, make restitution, receive forgiveness, and walk in victory. Only then are we in a position to help others struggling in the same sin or expose those who refuse repentance and restoration. From a church or family point-of-view all actions - no matter how difficult - are taken with the eventual hope of repentance and restoration of the offender. It is never condemnation.
Nov. 15/07 - Matt. 7:2
For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
We need to look at context to see who Jesus is talking to. God ordained three foundational institutions for society each with its own responsibilities: the Civil Government, the Church, and the Family.
The civil government is responsible for enforcing God's justice system. It must judge the issues in a case according to the Word of God without consideration to the persons in the case. It must be fair and impartial. It is to represent the justice of God and those involved in civil government will be judged for any corruption or failure to properly represent God's justice.
The church and the family; however, are to represent the grace of God. They are not to be unjust, but they can be merciful considering the persons in a situation as well as the issues. They can take into consideration genuine repentance, etc.
At the time Jesus spoke this Israel was under the civil government of Rome. Jesus is not giving instructions to a civil government. The civil instructions were already laid down in the Old Testament and the Jews were not in a position to implement them.
So the instructions of Jesus are directed toward church and family institutions and also to individual responses. The church and the family are to be merciful - but not unjust. They are not to be hard and legalistic. They are to work toward both restitution of the victim and restoration of the offender. If they act in a hard, legalistic way toward either the victim or the offender, then they can expect the same treatment from God.
Nov. 14/07 - Matt. 7:1
Judge not, that ye be not judged.
This is a verse that people love to take out of context. They like to say, "Don't judge me and my sin - Jesus says so!" If that is really what Jesus was saying then no law enforcement would be possible. It would be impossible to tell good from evil. Total anarchy and social breakdown would occur. Obviously Jesus - the Champion of the Law - would not be promoting anarchy.
What was Jesus talking about? As we look at the following verses, we see that Jesus is talking about a judgmental attitude and about judging others for things that we ourselves are guilty of.
Nov. 13/07 - Matt. 6:34
Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
Again, Jesus is not saying we are not to plan for the future. He is saying we are not to worry about the future. We are not to worry if our plans crumble. Our trust is to be in our loving, heavenly Father. He looks after our future. He may bless our plans or change them as He sees fit, but we trust Him anyway. He is in charge.
We are to be content with what we have. We are not to always be lusting for more. We can plan and work for a more prosperous future but we are to be content with what we have today. Envy is what is destroying the formerly great Christian nations such as Canada, the US, etc. Contentment destroys that false foundation.
Nov. 12/07 - Matt. 6:33
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Our priority is to be the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. How is that going to be in a practical way? A kingdom has a King, and a King makes Laws. If we are to promote the Kingdom of God we must be in submission into the Laws of the King - from Genesis to Revelation. Any rebellion to the King's Laws is treason. It is the same crime Adam and Eve committed. We must implement the Laws of God in our lives, our families, our churches, our business, our nations. By the way, it starts with our lives. We cannot teach the Law to others if we are in rebellion ourselves.
The Law of God also reveals the righteousness of God. It is impossible to know the righteousness of God apart from a knowledge of the Law. This is not legalism. This is talking to citizens of the Kingdom of God. Citizens of the Kingdom must keep the Laws of the Kingdom. Keeping the Laws in NOT the way to become a citizen, however. Citizenship is solely by the grace of God through faith in the Blood of Jesus Christ.
Nov. 10/07 - Matt. 6:25-32
Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
Some Christians think Jesus was teaching that it is sinful to plan for the future. Some have had the attitude that if you do the work of God, then you don't have to plan because God will look after you. Many of them have ended up poor or struggling. Why? They misunderstood what Jesus was saying.
Jesus is not saying we should not plan for the future if we are able to do so [see our report Wise Plan]. He is saying that we should not worry about the future. We should not be over-concerned with the things of this world. We plan for the future but we focus on the daily leading of God. Jesus is challenging our focus. Are we focused on the things of the world - even the necessities - or are we focused on the things of God?
The question is not planning but trust. Do we trust God? Do we know that God is looking after us even if our world seems to fall apart? Jesus is asking where our trust and faith is placed? In our own efforts? In God?
Nov. 9/07 - Matt. 6:24
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
We are slaves. Paul makes this clear in Romans. We are either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. We are slaves to Satan or we are slaves to Jesus Christ. There is no other choice. Any illusion of independence only means we are slaves to sin and Satan and don't know it.
Jesus defines it here as a choice between God and money. Money is not wrong but to be a slave to money is to be a slave to Satan. If our pursuit of financial success overrides our service to God, we have the wrong master. This is one of the reasons behind tithing. It helps to break the grip of mammon on our lives. By the way, we are not only instructed to tithe but also to give offerings and to help the poor and helpless. A generous heart will not be a slave of money - even if it has millions. We tend to think that the rich are more tempted with this than others. Not so. Often people who do not have money spend more time thinking about it and have a difficult time tithing.
Nov. 8/07 - Matt. 6:22-23
The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!
Our eye is our instrument of vision. It is how we perceive our world. If our vision is focused on the Light of God then it will impact our entire life - physical, mental, spiritual. Many of the diseases people suffer today are a result of not having a single vision of God's Light. They are focused on evil or are double minded, both of which are destructive to life.
Everybody - Christians and non-Christians - builds their lives on presuppositions [see our course]. By faith people either believe there is a God or by faith they believe there is no God. If they believe in God then, by faith, they choose what kind of God or gods they believe in. Having made their choices, they then interpret the world around them by what they have already chosen to believe. This is why Creationists and Evolutionists can look at the same facts and come up with different conclusions. Obviously, someone is right and someone is wrong. It is vital that our presuppositions be correct. If the foundation is wrong, the entire building is in danger. We must build our presuppositions on the Rock of the Word of God or we are lost.
Nov. 6/07 - Matt. 6:21
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
If our heart is in this world, then we are very short-sighted. We focus on immediate satisfaction, not on long-term benefits. If anything - family, friends, position, possessions - in this world is more important that our love of Jesus and our commitment to His Lordship then we are in long-term trouble. Our commitment of the Lordship of Jesus is evidenced by our willingness to obey His Laws from Genesis to Revelation. A lawless Christianity is an impossibility.
Nov. 5/07 - Matt. 6:19-20
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
We are on this earth for a maximum of 120 years. The vast majority of people die before 90. If you take 120 years and compare that to eternity it is such a small amount that it doesn't even register. Yet, God has designed it that what we do with our allotted time on earth - great or small - will impact both the lives of future generations on earth and our own position in eternity. This is not talking about heaven or hell. For true Christians that question was settled by Jesus Christ. All true believers are going to heaven [and later on back to a renewed earth], but our actions now somehow impact our eternal position. Martyr's have this vision as do others.
Jesus wants us to focus on what is eternally important. It is so easy to get caught up in success in this world and forget about the eternal impact. Those with a vision for eternity can make sacrifices now knowing there will be a great return on investment later. This is not to say God does not want us to be successful now. His plan is to bless His people now and in eternity. The question is: Do we love Jesus enough to enact His Law in our lives, families, churches, and nations now regardless of the immediate consequences. Do we love our lives and our comfort more than we love Jesus? Obedience to the Law of God is the only way to lay up treasures in heaven, and it only works after a person has experienced the unearned grace of God in salvation through faith in the Blood of Jesus Christ.
Nov. 2/07 - Matt. 6:16-18
Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
We are not to do things to impress people. We are to be focused on God. Even if others never know the good things we are going, it doesn't matter. If our actions are misunderstood, we keep on being obedient to God. Our motives must be pure. God knows our heart and He will reward us.
Too much of Christianity in North America is for the "show." We have a Hollywood mentality. Our reward is then in this world only and God is not amused.
Nov. 1/07 - Matt. 6:14-15
For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Not only did Jesus give this principle in the Lord's Prayer. but also He took time to restate it after He finished praying. It must be important.
Our forgiveness from God is linked to our forgiving others. We want God to be merciful to us but we don't want to be merciful to others. We want justice when we are hurt but mercy when we doing the hurting. God says no.
Sometimes we may have been hurt so badly that it is humanly impossible to forgive. We are not left hopeless because we can yield the person and situation to God and He can forgive through us. Nothing is impossible with God...but are we willing?
We also need to understand what forgiveness actually is. There are many misconceptions out there. We must see what the Biblical definition of forgiveness is. Maybe in the future I will be able to write a report on it.
Oct. 31/07 - Matt. 6:13
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
We need the protection of God. The powers of satan are far greater than we can withstand. Without the power of God surrounding us we would be blasted into eternity. We need to be humble before God and continually seek His protection and submit to His authority. Independence from God is fatal.
God is the center of all things. The kingdom, the power, and the glory are His forever. No one is ever going to take it from Him. If we are seeking any of these things for ourselves we are committing the same sin as satan. We need to seek God's kingdom with God's power and for God's glory. That means we have to do things God's way and not our way. If we think we are achieving Godly goals by using our own methods we are only deceiving ourselves.
Oct. 30/07 - Matt. 6:12
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
We all want God to forgive us for our sins. We all owe God far more than we could ever pay. If He does not forgive our debts we are doomed. We thank God for His mercy and grace.
However, something that we like to ignore is that God links His forgiveness to us with our willingness to forgive people who have hurt us. If we refuse to forgive others, we close the door on forgiveness on ourselves. No matter how much people have hurt us, we have hurt God far more. Forgiveness then becomes a two way street. We give and receive forgiveness. If one side of the street is blocked traffic will not run on either side.
We need to realize that forgiveness is refusing to hold the other person's action against them. It is not pretending that they did not hurt us nor is it allowing ourselves to be taken advantage of again and again.
Oct. 29/07 - Matt. 6:11
Give us this day our daily bread.
While we are to be wise and plan ahead, we are to focus on today. As each day is lived for God, we end up with a life that is lived for God. In the same way, we ask God for what we need daily.
Bread can be our physical food but in a broader sense it can be any necessity in life. We ask God first, then with confidence we go out into our world to see how God is going to work it out. For example, we don't have to go to work afraid that we are going to be fired. We go to work, we do our best, and if we are fired or laid off then we know God will provide in another way. Of course, if we are being lazy or doing something that justifies our firing then we may have to suffer things in order to learn how to be diligent in all that we do.
Oct. 27/07 - Matt. 6:10
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Jesus won the war on Calvary. His kingdom is a present reality. It is not something that is coming in the future. It is here...now! However, Satan is desperately fighting. It is our job, through the power and direction of the Holy Spirit, to bring the Kingdom into visible manifestation on earth. We are to see that God's will is done on earth. Jesus is King and we live His laws in our own lives and then implement them in our sphere of influence. We are not to allow the devil to retain ANY possession of this earth. We are the make the victory of Jesus practical on earth. God's will is done perfectly in heaven and we are to see that it is so on earth.
Oct. 26/07 - Matt. 6:9
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Jesus gave us an example of how to pray. This does not mean we have to repeat the Lord's prayer exactly. It is a pattern. There is, of course, nothing wrong with repeating it exactly as long as it is expressing our heart is not a "vain repetition."
In praying we acknowledge that we have a personal relationship with God. He is our Father. He is the perfect Father. We need to be careful not to view our imperfect fathers and put that image on God. No, the opposite is true. When we look at God we see what father's should be like. No matter what kind of earthly father we have, we can come to God as the perfect Father Who will never hurt us, put us down, or reject us. Even the fatherless or those with bad fathers can come to God for a needed Father/son[daughter] relationship.
God is in heaven. Yes, He is our Father. We never need to fear coming into His presence at any time or for any reason. However, He is also the King of kings, Almighty God. We need to maintain a proper respect. We are not to be careless or disrespectful in our relationship.
God's Name is the greatest Name. We are to honour it and seek its glory at all times. Our lives and our actions should always reflect our honour of God's Name.
Oct. 25/07 - Matt. 6:8
Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
If God already knows what we need, why do we have to ask Him for anything? Why doesn't He automatically just give us everything? God honours us by giving us the privilege of asking. We are not animals - no matter what the evolutionists and "progressive" creationists say. If you have a pet dog or cat, you know what they need and you provide it for them. There may be a minor form of communication just as barking when it is time for food, but it is not true asking. As human beings, created in God's image, we develop genuine relationship with Him by communication. Part of this is bringing our needs, desires, and dreams to God and talking to Him about it. We wait on Him and seek His answers. This is actually what we were created for. If you remember way by in Genesis before the Fall, God gave mankind dominion over the earth. We were to care for and develop this planet under and with God for His glory and our fulfillment. Asking God for what we need to fulfill this commandment is a honour given only to humans. If we are too lazy or doubtful to ask, God will let us go without until we become desperate enough to seek Him. Of course, as a Father, God loves to surprise and delight His children. I am amazed sometimes with the many blessings God has given me that I did not ask for! At times I had not even thought about it - it was a total surprise.
Oct. 23/07 - Matt. 6:7
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
Prayers can be as long or short as the situation requires. Sometimes, in a immediate disaster, all we have time for is, "Jesus!" The cry of our heart and the emergency of the situation fill in the rest. Other times we have the leisure to be more detailed. In any case we do not chant mantras or keep repeating ourselves. If we really believe God is listening to us we frame our words carefully and put thought into our prayers. Mindless prayers - such as many mealtime or nighttime prayers - are useless. In fact, they may reveal a lack of faith. If we really believed God was listening we would put some thought into it. This does not mean that we can never repeat prayers but that each time it must be an expression of the heart not simply a ritual.
Oct. 22/07 - Matt. 6:5-6
And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
Like the previous verses, Jesus is using a figure of speech for effect. He does mean that we have to be in a closet to pray - if that was the case how could we pray without ceasing? The principle is that we are praying to God, not to impress others. Prayer is an intimate conversation with the Almighty Creator of the Universe Who is also our Father [if Jesus is our Lord and Saviour]. There is time for public prayer but again its objective is God not what others will think. When our heart is right God will hear and reward.
Oct. 19/07 - Matt. 6:1-4
Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
We are not to be men pleasers. That does not mean we are to be men irritators either! Our goal and our main desire is to please God. We obey the Laws of God and give our tithes and offerings to please God. If it also pleases man that is a side benefit. If it doesn't...oh well.
The above Scripture is talking specifically about financial giving. Some use their giving to get fame or self-satisfaction. Other use their giving as a method of control or manipulation. God is not pleased and they have all the reward they are going to get. God wants our giving to be from a grateful and generous heart. He is generous with us and in appreciation we respond generously. When God sees our heart is right He rewards in many different ways.
Oct. 17/07 - Matt: 5:48
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
The command to be perfect is not an impossible call to sinless perfection. It is the call to maturity. We are not to respond with childish jealousy, envy, selfishness, vindictiveness, etc. We are to be mature in our actions, attitudes, and responses. All sin is immaturity (as well as rebellion). We are to grow into maturity and so show ourselves to be true sons and daughters of God.
Oct. 16/07 - Matt: 5:46-47
For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
We are to live to a higher standard. Anyone can be nice to their friends and those who can benefit them in some way. As Christ's ambassadors, we are to extend the love of God to everyone without consideration of friendship or personal benefit. We are to treat everyone the way we would like to be treated. This does not mean placing ourselves in dangerous situations but working with the leading of the Holy Spirit and common sense.
Oct. 15/07 - Matt: 5:45
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
God operates in special grace and common grace. Special grace is the way God acts toward His own children to redeem and sanctify them. Common grace is the grace of God on all humanity. Every single person on the face of the earth lives either under the common or special grace of God. Without that grace they would cease to exist. Even the most hardened God-hater owes his continued existence to the common grace of God. At death common grace is removed and those without special grace go forever to the agonies of Hell.
Because God treats the wicked with common grace until the day of judgment, we are also to treat them with grace. This does not mean condoning evil actions but treating them with kindness and consideration. We keep the law in regard to them and their possessions even if they do not acknowledge the Law of God.
Oct. 13/07 - Matt: 5:43-44
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
We demonstrate the work of God in our life when we react to difficult situations in a supernatural way. Loving and blessing our enemies is a testimony to them of the love of God Who loves us even though we do not deserve it.
We must realize that loving our enemies does not mean having warm, fuzzy feelings for them. That is a worldly definition of love. God's love is keeping the Law toward our enemies. It is treating them the way we want others to treat us. Love is action not emotion. Emotion can be a part of love but it is not a requirement.
Oct. 12/07 - Matt: 5:38-42
Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
We know, as stated last time, that Jesus never broke the Law or overruled it, yet the Law definitely did have the "eye for eye" principle. How do we justify this?
We must realize that the Bible was written as God's authoritative Word for every situation, but not every situation requires the same action. In the Law God was setting out a principle of justice by which nations should govern. A Biblical justice system does not over or under punish people. A modern way of saying this is: Let the punishment fit the crime.
Jesus; however, was not talking to government leaders or to people living under a godly justice system. They were oppressed religiously by the unjust Pharisees and religious rules and they were oppressed nationally by the Roman Empire. Both these forces were anti-God. So Jesus is giving instructions on how to live under oppressive government, not how to operate a Godly government.
The key is "resist not evil" and then Jesus gives several specific examples. Resistance in an evil society often leads to worse punishment. For example, if a Roman soldier hit you on one cheek, wisdom says don't hit him back! We may have to allow our goods to be unjustly plundered. It is not easy - talk about an understatement! In fact, Jesus says we should voluntarily give more than is expected. This shows respect even for ungodly authority and may win favour with them.
Jesus spoke from experience. Somewhere in His "silent years" He had experienced and done the things He instructs us to do.
Notice: The examples Jesus gave involved giving up personal rights but did not involve compromise on moral issues. We may not compromise the Word of God. We cannot sin in our effort to "resist not evil." If we are being required to do a sinful action, then we must resist.
Oct. 10/07 - Matt: 5:33-37
Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
Jesus never broke or overruled the Law of God; therefore, Jesus could not be criticizing the legitimate use of oaths in court. Instead, He is referring to careless use of oaths. Our word should always be truthful and honest. We should not have to use oaths to show the truthfulness or sincerity of what we say. In all normal circumstances, our communication is to be honest and straightforward.
Oct. 9/07 - Matt: 5:31-32
It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.
In the days of Jesus, just as today, divorce was an easy way out. A Jewish man could divorce his wife for burning his food. A Rabbi once married a woman and divorced her the next day just to prove his rights of divorce. Immorality is rampart in our world today but there are times in history when it has been worse.
Jesus stood firmly against "no fault" and easy divorce. Marriage is a living covenant institution before God. Only certain, Biblically defined actions can kill it making divorce an option. Notice Jesus said "fornication" was the reason for divorce not adultery. They are different words. If Jesus had meant to restrict divorce to adultery alone, He would have used that word. He did not. Fornication is a more general word and must include all the Biblically defined reasons for divorce. We have written an entire report on this topic: 406 Divorce: God's Protection For The Innocent.
Oct. 04/07 - Matt: 5:29-30
And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
Foxes Book of Martyrs, I believe, tells the story of a man who under pressure recanted his faith and signed a document to that effect. Like Peter, he later repented with tears. To demonstrate the sincerity of his repentance he voluntarily and publicly cut off the hand that had signed the document. No one could doubt the genuineness of his repentance.
Nevertheless, Jesus' words above are not intended as literal instruction since a body part only does what the mind or heart instructs it to do. What Jesus is doing is dramatically telling us that no cost is too great in following Him. There is no price that we should not be willing to pay in order to win the war against sin in our lives and our world. He paid the ultimate price and we are to follow in His footsteps. As we saw below, compromise in even the smallest area of the Law is not allowed. We maintain and follow the entire Word of God. We are to be teachable in order to discover if we have misunderstood or misapplied the Word of God but we never compromise the principle that the Word of God is the ultimate authority in our lives.
Oct. 2/07 - Matt: 5:27-28
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
As we noted earlier, the New Testament standard is higher than the Old Testament standard. The New Testament includes everything that was in the Old Testament and takes it to its highest and true meaning.
We are to have pure eyes. Sometimes we are deceived into thinking that there is nothing wrong with "looking" as long as we don't do anything wrong. Jesus says that even entertaining the thought is sin. It is not that we should avoid the thought because it might lead to the action [which is also true - no actions happen without thoughts], but dwelling on the thought is sin itself even if no action follows. It is out of the heart that sin bursts forth so we must be so careful what we put into our hearts. Once we have allowed immoral sexual thoughts into our hearts they are very hard to get rid of. Nevertheless, with Jesus all things are possible and there are Christian organizations specifically set up to help people caught in this sin.
Oct. 1/07 - Matt: 5:25-26
Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.
When we live under an ungodly court system - as all countries are today - it is best, if possible, to avoid going to court. You cannot trust that you will get a fair verdict. Many times "technicalities" can go against us and, even through we are the offended or innocent party, we can find ourselves punished. Much better, if possible, to settle out of court. Sometimes we have to surrender our legitimate rights in order to avoid a worse evil. This is the "turn the other cheek" strategy which often works in hostile situations where we cannot defend ourselves legally.
Of course, when the offense is between to committed Christians, they should be able to submit it to a church court and received genuine justice.
Sept. 29/07 - Matt: 5:23-24
Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
God puts a high priority on keeping our relationships pure and clear. He does not want gifts from people who have things against each other. In order to have real relationship with God we must have things clear with each other. Jesus commanded us to love each other. If we are operating in disobedience to that primary command, then there is no point in coming to God. People can come to church and sing, dance, tithe, have emotional experiences but if they have known sin between themselves and another, it is all pointless.
The instruction of Jesus is clear. If you know of a problem between yourself and someone else, then - whether you are the offended or the offender - you have to obligation to go and make it right. Don't let pride stand in your way. Do your best to make it right before coming to God. If the other person refuses to listen to you then you take the steps listed in Matt. 18. If you have done all that God requires, you can worship with a clear heart before God.
Sept. 28/07 - Matt: 5:21-22
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
There are those who whine that the Old Testament laws are harsh and legalistic. They claim we live in the New Testament age of grace. They ignore the fact that the New Testament is more demanding that the Old Testament! In the Old Testament a murderer was judged, in the New Testament unjust anger is judged like murder. Suddenly the Old Testament doesn't seem so harsh. The New Testament - far from removing the Law - adds new layers to the law. As we saw below, Jesus came to complete the Law, not do away with it.
Notice that, while Jesus says unjust anger can bring judgment, Jesus does not say it is the civil government's job to judge anger. The civil government is to enforce God's law when a crime has been committed. It cannot judge the thoughts and intents of the heart - only God can and will do that.
Sept. 26/07 - Matt: 5:20
For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Keeping the Law will never save us. The Law has a legitimate place, but not in salvation [justification] except as the exposer of sin in our lives. We will never enter the Kingdom of heaven due to our own works. We must come through Jesus Christ or we are self-deceived.
Sept. 24/07 - Matt: 5:19
Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
There are a lot of teachers who people greatly admire who are actually least in the Kingdom of heaven. We immaturely become wrapped up with a person's personality or natural talents. If someone impresses us, we become 'fans' and believe everything they say. Others, whose personality doesn't personally appeal to us, we reject on that basis alone. Nonsense. Are we only childish idol worshipers? The words of every teacher - whether we like them or not - must be judged by the Word of God alone. A big "name" or a Bible School education does not necessarily mean the person is teaching truth. The Word of God, in context, is the only standard.
Sept. 22/07 - Matt: 5:18
For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
In case we missed the point, Jesus emphasizes the continuing authority of the Law. It will be in force until the Second Coming. People who do not want to line up their lives with the righteousness of Christ object by saying that we now live under grace not law. They display their ignorance. EVERY work of God since the fall of Adam has been on the basis of grace. The Old Testament is just as much a story of grace as the New Testament! The Law - even in the Old Testament - was never given as a method of salvation or maintaining salvation. Law and Grace work together and have done so every since the Fall of Adam. They will continue to do so until the Second Coming. If you have questions about this then you need to take the Life Line e-mail course.
Sept. 21/07 - Matt: 5:17
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
Wow! There is so much teaching in so-called Christianity today that states that Jesus did away with the Law in New Testament times. I don't know how Jesus could be any more blunt - it is almost as if He anticipated what people would say. Of course, people who hate the Law cling to the statement that Jesus fulfilled the Law. They yell loudly, "Jesus fulfilled the Law so that it is finished!" If that were true then Jesus contradicted Himself in the same sentence, because He clearly said He did not come to destroy the Law. Playing word games will not change His statement. If you look up the Greek word for "fulfill" in your Strong's Concordance and look at other verses where the same Greek word is used, you will see that forcing "fulfill" to mean "finished" makes the verse say the opposite to what was intended. Fulfill simply means to complete. Jesus completed the law. We cannot add to it. In Christ it is complete - now our obedience must be complete!
Sept. 20/07 - Matt: 5:14-16
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
God's purpose for His people is that they would be a light. A light sets a clear definition between light and dark, good and evil. The church cannot be a light if its eyes are on pleasing the world. We don't want to offend anyone [except God] so we compromise the straightforward, literal account of creation in Genesis with heathen evolutionists. Maybe God really meant millions of years when He said days - after all He is only God, He might not know what He really did! We compromise with socialism because we reject Biblical Law. God can't really mean us to live according to His word. We have to be flexible. God could not have seen our needs in the modern world! In many ways we compromise until we become gray and the light no longer means anything. God's judgment will come on gray Christians and His blessing will flow to Light Christians.
The ultimate purpose of being light is that God would be glorified. It's all about God not us anyway.
Sept. 19/07 - Matt: 5:13
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
Salt is many things. It preserves. It flavours. It cleanses. It irritates. Likewise, as Christians, we are many things.
The only thing that holds back the judgment of God on the ungodly is God looking with grace and mercy on His own people. The godly people in a nation preserve it. God withholds, delays, or decreases His judgment out of love for His people. Also, God's people introduce and live by God's laws within a nation, thereby bringing principles that work for the success and prosperity of everyone. The ungodly who try to destroy Christians and Christianity in a society are suicidal. If they are successful, they have destroyed themselves as well.
Christians bring the laws and principles of the Kingdom of Heaven to earth flavouring earth with the sweetness of heaven. The closer we live to the ways of God the more people will either desire what we have or hate us. Either way - like yeast in bread - all society should be changed because of our presence. This is why Western civilization has been so successful in the past and it is why, with the vicious attacks on Christianity, Western civilization is on the brink of destruction. This is also why things like Free Enterprise, Representative Government, etc. cannot be successfully imported into nations which reject Christian foundations. All things fail if not built on the foundation of true Christianity.
The more Christians there are in nation living totally for God the more the nation is cleansed of evil and evil people. Low taxes, low crime, small government, great personal freedom, etc. are all a result of obedience to Biblical law.
Christians are irritating. A lot of people probably agree with that statement! We are not to be irritating because we are rude or thoughtless. Nevertheless, if we are living a life of discipleship, we will irritate the ungody and Christians who do not what to change their lives to reflect the righteousness of Christ.
If we are not doing the above, Jesus says we are useless. If we are not making a difference then we have no point in living. This does not mean that we have to be doing something dramatic. Even a quiet life lived for God makes a difference. Isaac never did anything dramatic but he was the vital link between Abraham and Jacob.
If we will not live for God we will be trodden down by the world. This is what much of Western church is experiencing today. Having compromised the gospel with evolution, socialism, New Age, etc., they are being cast out and trodden down by the world. And they wonder why! The only solution is a life sold out to God with no compromise regardless of the cost.
Sept. 18/07 - Matt: 5:11-12
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
This is such an important point that Jesus spends more time on this point that any other point in His "Blessed" sermon. It is hard for us to believe that when we are suffering for Christ that we are actually being blessed. When things like this happens we tend to think that we are doing something wrong or that God is suddenly against us. No, we are actually on the front lines of a war. God will reward His front line soldiers. The reward will be so must greater than the pain we suffer that we will not even be able to compare it. Don't give up in the battle. It will be worth it in the end.
Persecution is a sign that we are on the right side! Satan doesn't attack his own. If we are under Satanic attack at least we know which side we are on. And we are in good company, all the people of God are persecuted to some extend. It is not always physical persecution, sometimes it is emotional or mental but it will be there at different times.
Those who God can trust, like Job, can go through greater troubles and earn greater rewards. If you feel the intense heat, it is because God has confidence that you, through the Holy Spirit, will be able to come through victorious.
How are we to respond to persecution? Rejoice. That takes faith. It means that we can look beyond the present circumstances and see the future benefits.
Sept. 17/07 - Matt: 5:10
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
We don't like to think of persecution as a blessing. We want everything to be smooth and prosperous. Jesus was persecuted. As His children we will face the same thing. We are at war. Persecution is Satan's way of trying to attack God and destroy God's plan for planet earth. He uses different methods and levels of persecution but he is in an all-out war. The tragedy is that many Christians do not realize they are in total warfare. They wander over the battlefield with their eyes shut unaware that the war is raging all around them. Then they are shocked when they hurt!
God is just. He has determined to reward us far more than we suffer. The Kingdom of heaven is inhabited by people who will not be turned from the ways of God no matter what.
Notice, the kingdom of God is for those who have been persecuted for righteousness sake. If we are persecuted for doing something wrong, we are only getting what we deserve - no reward in that.
Sept. 15/07 - Matt: 5:9
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Jesus is the Prince of Peace. It is natural that His children will be peacemakers. Of course, we must understand what we mean by peace. We are in a war and being at peace with one party automatically makes us at war with the other party. We are called to bring people into peace with God.
Jesus made peace with God possible and as His children we introduce people to the fantastic reality of being at peace with God. But the other side of the coin, is that we are now at war with Satan and his children.
Too often people takes verses like this and use it to compromise the Gospel because we don't want to offend anyone. We want to negotiate, we want to work out a deal. Sorry, we present the terms of God. God's terms are simple: unconditional surrender. We are not God's peacemakers if we compromise His terms. We must faithfully represent the demands of our King. No compromise. But peace is offered to anyone who will submit to His demands. Peace and war will continue to the Second Coming, the only question is with whom are we going to be at peace and with whom are we going to be at war.
Sept. 14/07 - Matt: 5:8
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Sin cannot enter God's presence. If we choose to live a sinful lifestyle - even as Christians - we cut ourselves off from God. Being pure in heart does not mean we are sinless. We stand in the righteousness of Christ and our own righteousness will never be good enough to earn God's pleasure. It is Christ or nothing. But we must have a heart that hates sin and seeks after God. We must to willing and quick to respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. If we follow after sin, we will not see God. But those who seek after God with their whole heart will find Him.
Sept. 13/07 - Matt: 5:7
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
As you read through Scripture you see that God has irony in His sense of humour. For example, Pharaoh tried to destroy Israel so God assigned him the job of training their deliverer. God tends to treat people the way they treat Him - except for in the grace of salvation. This can work for our earthly benefit or destruction.
Here Jesus promises if we act with mercy toward others, God will act with mercy toward us. It is an illustration of that saying: "What goes around, comes around," We need to treat others the same way we want to be treated. God watches our actions.
Sept. 12/07 - Matt: 5:6
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
True Christians have a passionate desire for righteousness in their own lives and in the world around them. They are not comfortable or compromising with sin in their lives or anywhere. This does not make them legalists - a legalist looks to the law for salvation. They want to be made like Jesus. They will pay any price and do anything thing to be like Jesus. That is their heart's desire. And God promises that He will met their desires. If you look at the lives of truly great men and woman of God you will see the righteousness of God being worked into their lives although they themselves were often unaware of it. In fact, many times they were painfully aware of their human weaknesses, but they knew to stand in the righteousness of Christ alone. As we live in Christ, obeying His commands, His righteousness automatically begins to be seen in our lives.
Sept. 11/07 - Matt: 5:5
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
We sometimes think of meek people as being spineless wimps. That is a coward, not a meek person. Moses was considered a meek man, yet he stood up to the most powerful man in the world and he led 3 million + rebellious people for 40 years. A coward doesn't do that.
To be truly meek a person must be in humble submission to Jesus Christ. That submission to Jesus will often require courageous actions and attitudes to the world around. A meek person is strong in God.
The reward for the meek is that God will give them the earth. God owns the earth and is able and willing to give it to whomever He pleases. If the wicked seem to control things it is only because God's people are not meek toward Him. They are busy running their own programs, living their own way, and doing their own thing in God's name. God's meek people live and die according to His orders, they have no program of their own.
Sept. 10/07 - Matt: 5:4
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
We don't like to think of mourning. It doesn't fit in with our "fun" lifestyles. Mourning is a part of the Christian life. Our heart should break with the things that break God's heart. We should mourn over the destructiveness of sin in the lives of people and even in the creation itself. We should mourn when people are deceived by false doctrine. We should mourn over the state of our nations and - in many cases - the state of our churches. We should mourn over the attacks on the family....
But as we come to God we are comforted. He realize that He is still in control. The war has already been won and one day we will see the Kingdom of God established on earth. This will happen BEFORE the Second Coming. We have a reason to work and live for righteousness now because it will have an impact on future generations.
Sept. 08/07 - Matt: 5:3
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Those who are confident in their own actions or knowledge are - in their opinion - "rich" in spirit. They think they have it altogether. They walk proudly but without God. God spends time with the humble, with those who are poor in spirit, with those who recognize their total dependance on God. These people know that of themselves that have nothing good. Everything good - even to personality and character - is a gift from God. They acknowledge Jesus as Lord. They are obedient.
God Himself rewards these people. They are the people who will live in the Kingdom of God. They are the people for whom God designed the Kingdom of God. They are His subjects and they work to expand the Kingdom here and now on earth. Many times they work quietly behind the scenes and no one knows of their work, but God. He will reward them.
Sept. 7/07 - Matt: 5:1-2
And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
When Jesus saw the multitudes He taught them first. We become what we really believe. That is why teaching the Word of God in truth is so foundational to every area of life. If we don't know the truth, we can't act on it. We all - to varying degrees - act on a lie. It is only as we study the Word of God - listen to and apply the words of Jesus - that we can expose the lies in our own lives and change to live the truth.
Jesus is in the next verses going to be laying down His law. He went up into a mountain. This is a Divine comparison with Moses who went up into a mountain to receive the law. The law of Jesus does not replace the law of Moses but it applies it in New Testament times. The law of Moses was, in fact, not the law of Moses but the law of Jesus given in Old Testament times. Now, the King is continuing on, building on what He has already said - not replacing it.
Jesus started by going to His disciples to call them. After they were called, they came to Him. As Christians we have accepted the call of God. Now we have the responsibility to go to Jesus. Jesus came to us in all our sin and foolishness. Now that we are disciples, we have the responsiblity to come up to His standard through the power of the Holy Spirit. Yes, I know we will never perfectly met the standard in this life, but we should be deliberately moving in that direction. Sin and failure now bring us sorrow not delight.
Sept. 06/07 - Matt: 4:25
And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.
Whenever you have healing and miracles, you will have a crowd. This is not wrong as long we do not compromise the Word of God in order the maintain the crowd. This is a major temptation. Jesus depended totally on the Father, sometimes this led to a great following, sometimes it led to people abandoning Him. The key is keeping our eyes on Jesus, not on the crowd. Leaders get in trouble when they come to depend on the crowd either emotionally or financially. Our dependance must always be on God. Crowds will come and go.
Sept. 05/07 - Matt: 4:24
And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.
Just because Jesus focused on teaching does not mean He ignored the needs of the people. Real teaching is practical, not just information. Jesus cared for the needs of those around Him. The fact that He cared and had the ability to help brought all sorts of people to him. Often we allow ourselves to be driven to extremes. Sometimes we are so involved in teaching that we ignore people's needs. This leads to hard, cold legalism. On the other hand, sometimes we become involved so meeting peoples needs that we forget to found our lives on the Word of God. This has led to churches that can not longer discern right from wrong even in such obvious areas such homosexuality, abortion, and creation.
Sept. 04/07 - Matt: 4:23
And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
Jesus travelled to where the people were. He met them where they were. Even in the calling of the disciples - although they were not confirmed until later - He walked into their lives. He did not expect them to come to Him.
In this time of "instant" everything, emotionalism, and thrill-seeking we often neglect teaching. We want to feel good though singing, miracles, or sensationalism. Very few Christians seem to have the commitment to study the Word of God unless it is on a topic of personal interest. In other words, even in Bible Study we are often seeking only what we want, not trying to lay a solid and well-balanced foundation on the Rock. Notice, teaching and preaching were the main thrust of the work of Christ. Healing and miracles worked along with it or followed after it. If we are going to be firm in our faith and expand the Kingdom of God we must have a good knowledge of the doctrines of the Bible. Even the word "doctrine" sounds boring to the majority of people. They seek only entertainment and are clueless as to why their lives are a disaster. Yes, sometimes it is boring, but God rewards those who keep at it. A few hundred years ago people would sit for hours listening to a preacher and then discuss all the points during the week. Today, in the West, many have a problem with an 1/2 sermon and they couldn't give you a outline of it two hours later. Of course, I realize in many of the so-called third world countries today people will walk for miles and sit for hours to learn of God. We have lost this in the West and we are dying because of it.
Sept. 3/07 - Matt: 4:22
And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.
Again we see immediate obedience. This quality is essential for a disciple. Jesus said to count the cost before starting out. If we are not willing to pay the price then all we will do is play in the shadowlands. We deceive ourselves but not God. Jesus is looking for those that are sold out. He wants faithful people of all ages who will obey. The spirit of independence does not come from the One Who subjected His will to Someone else even to death.
James and John gave Jesus priority over their business [professional fishermen] and over their family. This does not mean they were irresponsible to either. Their father had other workers in the family fishing business. It does point to the fact that Jesus must be number one in our lives. We are all to be full time disciples whether we earn our income from the gospel or from another source.
Sept. 01/07 - Matt: 4:21
And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.
With James and John we see the same thing we did the Peter and Andrew. They were busy going about their daily lives when Jesus called them, but they were not so busy they could not hear the voice of Jesus. Sometimes we crowd our lives so full that there is never a spare moment. Noise surrounds us - even at home we must have the TV or the radio or the CD player on. The art of silence is being lost. We need to find quiet times to calm our spirits and open our ears.
Aug 31/07 - Matt: 4:20
And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.
Immediate obedience. God is looking for those who will obey Him without questioning His decisions. A soldier in the army does not question his commanding officer, he obeys. In the Christian army it somethings seems as if everyone wants to be the General. The position is already taken! Our responsibility is to follow orders - the Word of God - where we like it or not. Christianity is losing the war in the West because we demand to have things our way instead of ordering our lives according to God's way.
Aug 30/07 - Matt: 4:19
And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
The call of Jesus was simple and uncompromising. He only made one promise - an expansion of responsibility. They had been faithful in little - fishing for fish - now they were given more - fishing for men. This is a fundamental principle of the Kingdom of God. We must be faithful in the small things before God will trust us with the big things. It is easy to be discouraged, disappointed, or impatient with the small things of life but that is where we develop, prove, and display our character. Anyone in leadership should watch how someone handles the small things before considering any kind of promotion.
Jesus also related to them on the level of their understanding. They knew fish, so Jesus started there and took them to the next level. Always start where people are - not where you wish they were or where they should be - and lead them one step at a time.
Aug 29/07 - Matt: 4:18
And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
Peter and Andrew were just going about their daily tasks when Jesus called them. They were not fasting and praying and seeking the will of God for their lives. They were doing what their hands found to do. I am not saying the fasting, praying, and seeking God's will is wrong, but sometimes we miss God's call because we are not doing what He has already put before us. Fishing was hard - often disappointing - work; however, they needed to provide for their families. God doesn't call lazy people. If you want to hear the call of God, work hard at whatever He places before you...and keep your ears open! Peter and Andrew were not so absorbed in their work that they did not hear Jesus calling. In all things there is balance.
Aug 28/07 - Matt: 4:17
From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
When John the Baptist's voice was stilled, Jesus began to preach the same message. Sometimes we think that the remove of one person will destroy the purpose of God. We have our eyes on focused on one person. But God has something greater on the horizon. Everything depends on God, not on His instruments. Instruments may be removed or may fail but the plan of God marches on.
Jesus said the kingdom of God was at hand when He was preaching. Some say that the kingdom has come yet! Either Jesus told the truth or He lied. No other choice.
Repentance is essential to enter the kingdom of God. There is no other way.
Aug 27/07 - Matt: 4:13-16
And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
Sometimes we get discouraged because things look so bad in the world. The darkness seems overwhelming. However, the greater the darkness, the brighter the light will shine. It is easier to focus on the light in great darkness than at dusk. No matter what is happening around us, let us let God's light shine through us. It will attract others and and the Light will grow. This is one reason for the saying, "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the gospel." And remember, there is not enough darkness in the entire universe to put out the light of one candle.
Aug 25/07 - Matt: 4:12
Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee;
Jesus did not operate in fear or foolishness. When Herod arrested John, Jesus left. Jesus was not afraid of Herod, but He knew it was not His time to confront. Sometimes we feel we have to fight every battle. No. God has a time for everything. We need to know the will of Father and walk in it. It is pride that drives us to fight every battle. The Father is the General. He has commissioned every one to fight in some area at some times, but no one will fight in every area or at all times. We need to walk in our calling and trust God to meet other needs with other people.
Aug 24/07 - Matt: 4:11
Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.
Temptations and troubles do not last forever. There are seasons. There are mountains and valleys. There are times of discouragement and times of encouragement. We need to remain faithful through it all. God is looking for faithfulness above talent. Many talented people fail because they give up in the tough times.
Aug 23/07 - Matt: 4:10
Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
Only God is worthy of worship. Satan just isn't God no matter how much he wants the position. Our focus must be on worshipping and serving God.
When we resist satan in the Spirit of God, he will flee. He will try to trick us into submission, arguing, or acknowledging him. When we remain steadfast to God, he must lose and he will go. Reportedly Martin Luther once saw satan standing at the end of his bed. He said, "Oh, it's you." rolled over and went back to sleep. We are not to be careless but as we live in Christ there is nothing to fear either.
How could Jesus withstand these tremendous temptations? He had already decided to follow the Father with His whole heart. When tempted to sin, He could fall back on the previous decision. Likewise, we must have a total commitment to following God. When strong temptation comes and we are drawn toward sin, we can say,"I have already made my decision and this is not it." This doesn't make handling temptation easy but it helps to give us the strength to go through it.
Aug 22/07 - Matt: 4:8-9
Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
Satan doesn't give up easy. He presses his attack while he thinks he has an opportunity to win. We must never let down our guard. It is easy when we are weary to give in. Jesus was physically and emotionally tired and hungry yet He maintained the Father's will above His own.
Interestingly, Jesus never disputed satan's statement that the kingdoms of the world belonged to him. Adam had given satan the right to rule over the earth. God was still the owner but satan was the legal manager. It would not have been a temptation if satan was offering something he did not have. He might have deceived Eve with a false promise but he could not have fooled Jesus.
Satan was offering Jesus the easy way out. Jesus had come to retake everything Adam had lost. He intended to win the managership of the earth back. Jesus knew this involved the incredible suffering of the cross. Satan was offering to give it to Him at no cost except a little bit of worship. Jesus could have it all with no suffering or pain. Major temptation. If you achieve the goal, do the means really matter?
Worshipping satan would have acknowledged him as the rightful owner of the earth. It would have been to say that satan was right in his rebellion against God. Yes, Jesus could have had all the kingdoms of the world painlessly, but He would have ruled under satan and humanity would have been forever lost. Every time we knowingly sin, every time we place our will above God's will, we worship satan. How many times do we yield to this temptation?
Aug 21/07 - Matt: 4:7
Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
Again Jesus answered by quoting Scripture in context. Jesus must have spent intensive times studying the Old Testament Scriptures during His teenage years and twenties. Even as a pre-teen He had an amazing knowledge. He gained this as a true human not with a Divine advantage. If it was so important for Jesus to infuse Himself with the Scripture, how much more so for us. Yet often during our pre-teen, teenage, twenties, and thirties we are so caught up with having "fun," doing our own thing, establishing our life that we rarely have time to read the Bible let alone study it. I'm not saying that we can't have good, clean fun times - I'm sure Jesus did - but we cannot lose our focus. During theses times we will be making decisions which will impact the rest of our lives. We need to know God's will. We need to walk in obedience. We need to please the Father in thought, word, and deed.
Tempting God is trying to force Him to prove Himself. It is putting our will above His will. It is having a careless attitude to sin - I can sin and God will forgive me. It is putting ourselves in unnecessary danger - refusing to take medicine in "faith" that God will heal us. Let us not tempt God. We are disciples, not masters. It is up to the Father to led.
Aug 20/07 - Matt: 4:6
And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
This time satan quoted Scripture. Satan has been around since creation. He knows the Bible very well - he watched it being lived and written. Just because someone quotes scripture doesn't mean they are a Christian. A person can "prove" anything they want to from the Bible by taking it out of context. We must study to know the context in which verses are given. We need both the big picture and the small picture. This is one reason why a course like Covenants is so essential to a balanced understanding of Scripture.
Again satan is tempting Jesus to doubt who He is. "IF you really are God's Son prove it. You know He won't let anything happen to You. Show Your faith or don't You really believe it?" When we know who we are, we don't have to prove anything. Satan uses taunts and teasing to motivate us do foolish things sometimes.
Aug 18/07 - Matt: 4:5
Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,
Satan does not give up, nor does he allow any places of neutrality. He can and will appear anywhere. Here he is not only in holy city but also at the temple itself. The only place of shelter from satan is in God. Hope in anyone or anything else will be shattered. Neither wooden crosses or silver bullets are any help. We must shelter in God Himself.
Aug 17/07 - Matt: 4:4
But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Unlike many of us, Jesus did not waste time arguing or reasoning with the devil. He quoted the Word of God and that was it. In order to be able to quote the Word of God we must know and memorize it. In the middle of battle you don't have time to grab a concordance and try and find a verse. Study and memorization must be a daily routine. Two of the best chapters to memorize for resisting temptation are Romans 6 and 8. How do you memorize a chapter? One verse at a time and daily repeat the verses learned previously. Sometimes after we have memorized Scripture it leaves conscious memory. We become discouraged because we don't seem to retain it long term. However, everything we learn goes into our subconscious and the Holy Spirit will be able to draw it out as He needs it, but He can't draw out what was never there.
Spiritual food is more important than physical food. Our bodies will sooner or later die. Our spirits will live forever. Let's build our spirits!
Aug 16/07 - Matt: 4:3
And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
Satan is not stupid. He knows to attack us at our weakest moment. It may be a time of emotional stress, it may be a time when we are physically tired, it may be during a time of discouragement or depression. He watches, he waits, he attacks. In this case Jesus had been fasting for forty days. His body craved food. Satan came with a simple suggestion. There was no food immediately available, if You are the Son of God You have the power to turn these rocks to bread and satisfy to physical needs. Powerful temptations are often simple and seem so small that they would hardly matter. In the great scheme of things what would turning a rock into bread to fulfill a natural need really matter?
In the case of Jesus, even one small sin would have been enough to doom humanity to hell forever. In our case, every sin is an offense to God and leads to separation and hardness of heart. Jesus was being tempted to prove Who He was and to misuse His power. We often fall for the same temptation in different disguises.
How do we become victorious when we are tempted at our weak points? First, realize that God has promised that He will never allow us to be tempted beyond what we can stand. Second, realize that we have the Person of the Holy Spirit living in us no matter how low we feel. Third, determine beforehand that we are going to follow Christ no matter what, then we have no decision to make when we are tempted. Our course is already laid out. Fourth, look for a way of escape. Rarely is direct confrontation the right answer. If you try to argue or reason with Satan you have already lost. Respond only with the Word of God and remove yourself from the situation as soon as possible.
Aug 15/07 - Matt: 4:2
And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
Fasting is a way of focusing on God. It is telling Him that He is more important than physical necessities like food. It is a way of reminding our "flesh" that it does not control us but we are controlled by the Spirit of God.
Forty in Scripture often represents a time of probation. Before beginning His ministry Jesus was put on probation. The devil was allowed to tempt Him to see if He would remain faithful and obedient. Would Jesus succeed where Adam had failed? Looking back, we know the answer.
Sometimes we get strange images of Jesus. He was a genuine human being with all the normal desires and needs. After 40 days without food, He was hungry! Who would not be?
Aug 14/07 - Matt: 4:1
Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
After anointing comes testing. Anything we get from God must be tested to see if it is real or just a theory or emotion. Notice that Jesus was led by the Spirit to be tested. God will never allow us to be tempted beyond what we can handle through the Holy Spirit, but He will allow us to be tempted and tested. It is a necessary part of Christian growth, training for ministry, and preparation for what God has for us in eternity. Let us not be afraid of temptation or testing [let's not be pridefully over-confident either].
Satan is not omnipresent. Very few of us are likely to meet him directly, but we will face the opposition of his forces. It may not be obvious like portrayed in Hollywood movies. It can be in the subtle thoughts to turn aside from God - to compromise...just a little.
Aug 13/07 - Matt: 3:17
And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
By faith Jesus went into the waters of baptism. By faith the Holy Spirit had revealed to Jesus Who He was as He was growing up. It was study of the Word and faith all the way. Jesus did not have divine knowledge of Who He was. He had to learn it and believe it. Now, after being baptized, the Father confirmed what had been growing in His heart all the time. Sometimes we forget that Jesus operated in this world the same way we do - by believing and acting on the Word of God empowered by the Holy Spirit.
That fact that the Father could refer to Jesus as "beloved Son" and say He was "well pleased", means that Jesus had successfully completed the first 30 years of His life without sin. He had lived a perfect life. It had not been an easy life - we get glimpses of it through some of His later teaching - but it had been perfectly lived.
Aug 10/07 - Matt: 3:16
And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
The Spirit of God took the form of a dove and came upon Jesus. That is not to say the Holy Spirit had not been with Jesus before. We all need the Holy Spirit working in our everyday lives. But when Jesus embarked on His public ministry He needed a special anointing. All those called to ministry need to know they are there because God called them there. They need the anointing of the Holy Spirit to accomplish what God has assigned them to do.
Aug 9/07 - Matt: 3:15
And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
Jesus convinced John that what they were doing was the right thing. Jesus, even though He was the Son of God, never grasped at position. He was a humble Man. It did not hurt His pride to submit to baptism by John even though as a perfect Person He did not need a baptism to repentance. Sometimes we are too insecure in our position to do the humble task. A store manager may not sweep the floor because his time is better spent on other things, but if he will not sweep the floor because he considers it beneath his dignity then there is a pride problem.
Notice that John did not fight in a false humility to have his own way. When he received instruction from Jesus, he obeyed. True humility can follow instructions. It does not whine about not being worthy, etc. It does it's job quickly and efficiently.
Aug 8/07 - Matt: 3:14
But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
John the Baptist, recognizing Who Jesus was, did not want to baptize Him. He knew that the lessor generally received blessing from the greater. He did not want to be in a position where people would think he was greater than Christ because he had baptized Him. It is important that we not only do the right things but also that we are aware of how our actions could be perceived by others. We should never push ourselves forward to gain a position that is not ours.
Aug 7/07 - Matt: 3:13
Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.
For 30 years Jesus lived a normal life. He experienced childhood, being a teenager, a small town businessman, the death of his human adopted father, caring for his mother, brothers, and sisters, and much more. Through it all He did not sin at all. When the time was right, when He had done what Adam failed to do - lived a life of obedience to God, He came to the Jordan to begin His ministry. He waited for the timing of His Father. He did not rush into ministry, nor did He hold back and make excuses. He walked ahead in the faith that the Father knew what He was doing and would provide everything He needed when He needed it. We need to have the same faith, because we have the same Holy Spirit living in us.
Aug 4/07 - Matt: 3:12
Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
The coming of Jesus [and there are about 7 different ways Jesus comes - only two being physical] are always double-sided. They are a blessing and comfort to His own and judgment on those who oppose Him. The coming of Jesus in the book of Acts via the Holy Spirit brought tremendous power to the disciples but it also brought death to Ananias and Sapphira.
As a nation, if we want the presence and protection of Jesus we must war against evil in midst - abortion, sexual sin, injustice, etc. As an individual, if we would walk close to the Lord we must purge our lives of all conscious sin. If we would see God on any level, we must walk in holiness. We cannot flirt with the world and hope to escape the judgment of Jesus.
Aug 3/07 - Matt: 3:11
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
John the Baptist had an important job to do but he knew he was only the introduction. He was a humble man and did not try to seize a position that was not his. How many ministries are destroyed or churches split because people are striving for positions God has not given them. We are called to be servants, not masters. If God places us in a position of leadership, we are still servants - servants of God and of those we lead.
The baptism with water is like when Israel passed through the Red Sea. They were being taken out of bondage and led to a new land. Even so, the people were being turned from their sin to be prepared to hear the Word of God.
The promise of the Holy Spirit was about to become a reality. In the New Testament age, God actually lives in us! How amazing is that? The Almighty God dwells in human tents. Perhaps we would live our lives differently if we remembered that God actually lives in our bodies, our mind, and our spirit. Everyday we choose to honour His presence in us or to grieve Him.
Aug 2/07 - Matt: 3:10
And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
God walks through His orchard. He wants to see which trees are bearing good fruit. He does not look with human eyes. Outward, visible success is not what He is looking for. Good fruit springs from a good heart. A good heart is one which is humble and yielded before Him. Hearts full of pride, self-ambition, and legalism will feel His axe as they are removed.
In looking at the historical application, John the Baptist was warning the Pharisees and others that if they rejected Christ they would be permanently removed from God. When the nation of Israel rejected Jesus, they were cast into the fire of AD 70 - not to mention the eternal fire of all those who reject Jesus. Never again would the people of God be linked to a physical nation, now it is a spiritual Kingdom for all nations to come into.
Aug 1/07 - Matt: 3:9
And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
Confidence in religion is a false confidence. Some people think they are going to heaven because they go to church, or read their BIble, or pray, or do good things. Jesus even states that some will do great miracles and works and yet still hear those terrible words, "I never knew you." It is not what we do that will save us. It is only faith in the Blood and perfect work of Christ on the cross that we will save us. Confidence in anything else will end up being shattered in the end.
The Jewish leaders of Jesus' day had confidence that they were God's people because they were the physical descendants of Abraham, the Friend of God. Even some Christians today fall from the same deceit by thinking that the Jews of today are God's special people because of their natural heritage. John the Baptist [as well as Jesus, Paul, and others] firmly declares that this is not the case. The only way - now and forever - to join the people of God is through the Blood of Christ. Anything else is a false way which leads to death.
July 31/07 - Matt: 3:8
Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
This is the step we often forget in modern Christianity. We want people to say a simple prayer, ask Jesus into their hearts, and walk away with the confidence that they are going to heaven. Is that really true?
Certainly simple prayers are great. They do not have to be long and complicated to be effective. In fact, Jesus recommended simple prayers. The big problem comes when we present Jesus as the Saviour Who is going to solve all your problems and forget to present Him as the Lord Who must be obeyed. The New Testament presents Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Without one you cannot have the other. Conversion means something has changed. If a person can "ask Jesus into their heart" and then walk away with no change in their life, something is wrong. Evidence for true salvation is shown in the desire and increasing ability to live a life pleasing to God. Yes, it is a process. Yes, we fall and stumble. But we move on. We are not content wallowing in a sinful lifestyle. Our heart is to know, love, and serve God. We love His Word, we love His people.
July 30/07 - Matt: 3:7
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
John the Baptist was not one to sugar-coat his words when dealing with hard-hearted legalists. Sometimes we think we have to be nice to everybody. Certainly we are not to be offensive to the average person - sinners loved to be around Jesus - but there are some who need harsh words of rebuke. This serves two purposes: 1. It is a sharp wake-up call to get their attention and let them know the danger they are in. 2. It warns others that they are dangerous people who are not to be trusted or followed.
July 28/07 - Matt: 3:5-6
Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.
John the Baptist's simple message was effective. Many people came to hear him. But they were not hearers only. They acted and showed their repentance by being baptized. True repentance always brings about a change of actions. People who "repent" but do not change their lifestyle are only deceiving themselves. They may feel sorry or they may be afraid of certain consequences but they have no intention of changing.
July 27/07 - Matt: 3:4
And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.
In appearance and surface lifestyle, John the Baptist was the exact opposite of Jesus. He looked almost like a wild man, wore rough clothing, and lived on survival food. Jesus was friend of publicans and sinners, comfortable in town and country, dressing in the ordinary style of the day, could fast or feast. Different people have different styles and, as long as the style itself isn't sinful, we should not be judging those who are different. God loves variety. And different styles are needed for different missions.
July 25/07 - Matt: 3:3
For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
John the Baptist was the man with the mission of breaking up the hard ground so the rain of the Messiah could bring new life. It is never an easy mission to be the first in. Christians in Islamic, communistic, and some other countries face the same type of thing. They minister in hard ground and sometimes see very little results in their lifetime. But the work they do will bear much fruit later when the time is ripe. Our job is not to worry about the results - although we like to see them! - but to be obedient where God has placed us.
July 24/07 - Matt: 3:2
And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
John the Baptist had a simple, yet powerful message. Sometimes we think complicated is better. We are overawed by complex reasoning and presentation. Many times - and this is a popular trick among humanists - complex and high sounding words are simply a mask to cover up poor or faulty logic and beliefs. It is thought that if sounds too complicated for the average person to understand it must be right, after all such intelligent people couldn't be wrong. Try again! God presents the truth of salvation so plainly that even the fool can understand it, and yet His ways are so deep that a life time of study cannot understand them all. If you can't understand something because it presented with big words and complex statements you are either dealing with a poor communicator or a person with a hidden agenda.
John call the people of God to repentance. For 400 years the voice of God had not been heard in the nation. It was dry ground, hardened with legalism and oppression. The solution was to repent - to change direction. They need to get back on track with God before they were ready to hear the words of the Messiah.
Notice that John the Baptist said the Kingdom of heaven[God] is at hand. Jesus was later to say the same thing. At hand means close by. There are those today who claim that the kingdom of heaven has not yet come. In effect they are calling John the Baptist and Jesus liars. We have to choose who we will believe.
July 24/07 - Matt: 3:1
In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
John the Baptist was the last of the Old Testament prophets. His was the honour of preparing the hearts of the people to receive the message of the Messiah. He knew and accepted the fact that he wasn't the "star." He was content in his support role. And he did his best. How many of us grab for the spotlight? We want to be the center attraction. How prideful. We should simply do our best where God has placed us and trust Him the put us where He wants us. We should seek first the Kingdom of God, not our own kingdom.
July 23/07 - Matt: 2:23
And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.
There is a difference between a Nazarite and Nazarene. The Nazarite was a person who took a special vow, usually for a short period of time, to separate himself to God. Occasionally there were life-long Nazarites like Samson. John the Baptist may have been a Nazarite.
Jesus, on the other hand, did not take the vow of the Nazarite, but He was a Nazarene because He came from Nazareth. We don't know if Joseph was aware of this prophecy or not. As a dedicated Jewish man, he may have been. Or it may have been totally the direction of the Holy Spirit.
July 21/07 - Matt: 2:22
But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:
God doesn't expect us to throw our brains out the window. Logic told Joseph that it would still be dangerous to return to Judaea. God confirmed his suspicions with another dream and he took his young family to Galilee.
Our mind and our spirit need to work together although the spirit is to have control over the mind. Sometimes we have to do things we "know" are right by the Word of God even through our mind tells us it is crazy.
July 20/07 - Matt: 2:21
And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.
As we have seen before, Joseph was obedient. That is probably one reason why God assigned him the privilege and responsibility of caring for Jesus in Childhood. God knew Joseph would obey orders. How much do we miss because we question orders or make our own judgments?
July 19/07 - Matt: 2:19-20
But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life.
God has His timing for everything. When Herod was dead, Christ returned. Our time is always now. We are in a rush for everything. God patiently waits for the perfect time to accomplish His will.
Direct confrontation is not always God's way, although it sometimes is. God has many ways to deal with situations. Sometimes it is to hide until the time is right. When Jesus was full grown and anointed with the Holy Ghost He did directly confront the evil men of His day. As Child, the time was not right. This one reason why I believe parents who send their children into the ungodly, anti-Christian public school system to be witnesses are wrong. God wants children protected and trained, not exposed to the wickedness of the world. Yes, some children make it through with their faith in tact but the majority are lost.
July 17/07 - Matt: 2:17-18
Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.
Not all prophecy is positive. Scripture also foretold the great mourning that would take place as a result of Herod's murderous action.
July 14/07 - Matt: 2:16
Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.
When Herod figured out the wise men had fooled him he went into a rage. He ordered his soldiers to murder all the children 2 years old and under in and around Bethlehem. This brutality was so characteristic of Herod that historians around his time do not even take note of it.
When the wise men visited Jesus He was probably about a year and a half. We know this because Herod killed the children based on the information he had gotten from the wise men and he probably allowed some margin for error. Jesus certianly wasn't the Babe in the manger we see at Christmas when the wise men came.
Evil men don't give up just because they have had a set back. They don't stop to consider that they may be wrong. Instead they often increase the intensity of the attack. If you have had a major victory, don't relax... watch.
July 13/07 - Matt: 2:15
And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.
The Holy Spirit, as the master Director, saw to it that every prophecy concerning Jesus was fulfilled. Some fools claim that Jesus, knowing the prophecies, manipulated events in His life to fulfill them. In this case it is clearly impossible for Jesus was only a Child at the time. Yes, Someone did arrange the life of Jesus, but that Person was the Holy Spirit carrying out what was planned before time began [see Covenants course].
July 12/07 - Matt: 2:14
When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:
Joseph was an obedient man. In fact, he didn't even wait for daylight. Immediately they packed and left. God is looking for people who will obey without question. A soldier in the army doesn't ask why. Yet God's soldiers seem to feel that they have the right to make the decisions. If we evaluate God's commands, as to whether we are going to obey them or not, we are placing ourselves above God. Maybe that is why God defends the humble.
July 11/07 - Matt: 2:13
And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.
Joseph received further instruction from God through a dream. It is amazing how many times during the birth of Jesus story that God spoke through dreams. The Jews of Jesus' day had a saying, "If a man goes seven days without dreaming call him cursed of God." They expected God to speak via dreams. Maybe that is why He did. Of course, in New Testament times we have the added advantage of having the Holy Spirit Himself living in us to direct us.
This message was vital. The life of Jesus was at stake. If Satan could destroy Jesus the promise of God would fail and mankind would be doomed. Joseph had to be a man of obedience. We are all to follow his example and be people of obedience. In this war half-hearted or independent ways lead to destruction.
Interesting that Egypt, the land of slavery, became the land of protection. God has an ironical sense of humor that can reach over thousands of years. Pharaoh had decided to destroy the Israelites by killing their male children. God had him train the man, Moses, who would deliver them. Now the nation of oppression was assigned the job of protecting the new and greater "Moses."
July 10/07 - Matt: 2:12
And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
Herod may have laid his plans and fooled the wise men, but he could not fool God. The wicked are stupid. They think they can outsmart God. They think God does not see their actions or else that He does not care. He cares enough that every thought is going to come under judgment. No one escapes with anything. And so the plans of man are turned to bring about God's plan and give Him glory.
July 09/07 - Matt: 2:11
And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
These were wise man, yet they were also humble men. A man infected with pride does not fall down before a Baby in worship. The truly great people of God throughout history have always been humble people. They have learned the joy of servanthood. It would destroy the self-image of a proud person to serve, not to mention bowing before a Baby. Let pride go or you will never be able to truly worship.
The only thing we can really give God is ourselves. Anything else He could make for Himself. He only made one you. If you are lost, you are lost forever.
July 07/07 - Matt: 2:10
When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
What joy to know that God does not leave us. He will guide us when we come back to Him. God desires restoration. He wants His children back in the family.
July 06/07 - Matt: 2:9
When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
As soon as the wise men stopped using their own wisdom - which took them to the royal city - God began to lead them again. We can get distracted by what we think is the logical thing to do, but it may not be what God wants for us. This does not mean that God expects us to throw our brains out. He gave them to us for a good reason. It does mean that even our intellect is to be submitted to Him. He may, at times, choose to lead us in ways we do not understand.
We also see that if we stray from God's purpose, we can come back and He will continue leading us. There may be consequences - Herod became aware of the existence of Jesus - but God will not abandon us.
July 05/07 - Matt: 2:8
And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
So Herod laid his trap. Let the wise men lead him to this king. We have to look beyond a man's words to see his heart. Words can be deceptive. They can hide hidden agendas. We need to examine a person's character. If they suddenly act out of character, caution is needed.
July 03/07 - Matt: 2:7
Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
I imagine Herod got ahold of the wise men as soon as he heard what was going on. No way would he want them spreading rumors of a new king. On the other hand, he had to be wise to get the information he wanted from them without alerting them to his true intentions. Of course, for Herod that was not a problem. He was the kind of man who would choose the wrong side in Roman civil wars but still end up in favor with the victor!
Herod knew that if he could find out when the star appeared he would have an idea how old this rival king was. He would then have a better chance of destroying him.
Our enemies are sometimes vicious, cruel, and deceptive. We need to walk in the wisdom of God. It seems that many times Christian are easily fooled. We need to be men and women of the Word and prayer.
July 02/07 - Matt: 2:6
And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
God delights in taking what man thinks is small and turning it into something great. Little, forgotten Bethlehem was destined to be the birth place of the Messiah. Think that nothing great can come out of your life? Give it to God and see what He will do. Maybe the greatness will only be revealed in eternity. But one thing is for sure, no life given to God is ever wasted.
Jesus was born to rule, but He had to die first. We think of death as the end, it is only the beginning. This life sets the tone for the next. We may not now see the connection, but there is a connection - a vital connection. Don't think of this life as an end in itself. This life is an investment into the next [and final] one. Death is not the end, only the beginning of forever. That can be good or bad depending on your relationship to Jesus Christ.
June 30/07 - Matt: 2:4-5
And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,
Herod was not the kind of man you wanted to disappoint, at least, not if you wanted to live. These people were highly motivated to find the answer. DId any of the Old Testament prophecies indicate where the Messiah would be born? After studying and considering they came up with Bethlehem of Judea...their heads were saved for another day!
June 29/07 - Matt: 2:3
When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
The insanely jealous and cruel Herod [see Workbook 1 in Life of the Messiah, coming soon] heard there was a rival for his throne. He was troubled. All his life he had schemed, betrayed, and murdered for the throne, now some foreigners were claiming another king was coming.
Interestingly, Jerusalem was troubled as well. As much as they hated Herod - except for the Herodians - they wanted a new king even less. Or perhaps they were worried about what Herod's violent reaction against them might be when he heard the rumours.
June 28/07 - Matt: 2:2
Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
The wise men did the logical thing. Where would the king of the Jews be born except for in the royal city of Jerusalem? Such an important event would surely be well-known and celebrated! No one seemed to know that they were talking about. They knew they couldn't be wrong - stars don't appear every day. Talk about confusing. The plans and ways of God are past finding out by natural man. They don't make sense until our minds are enlightened by the Holy Spirit.
The wise men came to worship [wise men still do]. They were not there to ask for favors, gain political advantage, or satisfy their curiosity. They were they to worship. When we come before God, our first priority is to worship.
June 27/07 - Matt: 2:1
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
It is very important in studying some of the prophecies of Daniel to know that Herod was a Jewish King. Some people become confused with some of the prophecies because they can't figure out who the king referred to is. Scripture will always explain Scripture. In other words, God has give us everything within the Bible to understand what the Bible is saying.
We are not told how many wise men came. It has been assumed there were three because there were three different types of gifts offered.
June 25/07 - Matt: 1:25
And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
Joseph was faithful to do what God had instructed Him to do. History would have been changed - prophecy would have been broken - if Joseph has been disobedient. God has an important task for each of us. It may not seem important to us, it may not be earth shaking, but it is important to God. He specifically designed us for it.
Joseph also refrained from sex with his wife until after Jesus was born. There was to be no doubt as to the origin of Jesus. This also implies that they had normal marriage relationships after Jesus was born. The idea that Mary remained a virgin all her life is not Biblical.
June 22/07 - Matt: 1:24
Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
Joseph was obedient. It was not an easy decision to make. Yes, he loved Mary but now to everyone else it would look like he was the father. He would be humiliated and rejected. There would be many in the town who would refuse to do business with such an immoral man. He may have been cast out of the synagogue. No, it was not an easy choice; nevertheless, he made it. Even in our lives, making the right choice can cost us family, friends, jobs, and more but that does not excuse us. We must do the right and leave the results in God's hands. He will defend us in His time.
June 21/07 - Matt: 1:22-23
Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
God fulfills His Word. He had promised that a virgin would bring forth the Messiah. Now it had happened! Liberals and other fools try to explain the virgin birth away; however, the virgin birth is absolutely essential to the Christian faith. Without the virgin birth, Jesus would have inherited Adam's sin nature [original sin] and therefore would have had to die for His own sin instead of ours. He had to be a perfect sacrifice or He was no sacrifice at all.
Jesus is also called Emmanuel. God now lives with us! He is not some distant Being beyond the farthest reaches of time and space. He walked with us. He talked with us. He experienced our joys and sorrows. We no longer have to wonder what God is like. We can look at Jesus who is the perfect representation of God - Hebrews 1:1. Jesus expresses God perfectly.
June 20/07 - Matt: 1:21
And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Joseph was instructed on what to name Jesus. In Bible times, names were chosen based on character or characteristics. Sometimes the parents would wait to name the child until they could see a good name or sometimes names were changed when character changed. In the case of Jesus, the Holy Spirit was declaring Who He was and what He would do before He was born. Joseph could trust the name given by the Holy Spirit.
Jesus had one main mission in life, to save His people from their sins. Who were His people? The Jews only? His people are all the people in all of time that the Father has given Him. Here we have a indication of the doctrine of Limited Atonement and Irresistible Grace. Jesus died for all that the Father gave Him and not one person from whom Jesus died can miss salvation. Somehow this is true without compromising human responsibility.
June 19/07 - Matt: 1:20
But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
Joseph was not acting in haste or in anger. He was taking time to think things out and decide on the best course of action. It was then God was able to appear to him and set the record straight. Too often, I fear, we miss hearing from God because we act impulsively or out of hurt. We need to take time to think.
So that which had never happened before, and would never happen again, happened. A virgin conceived by the special working of the Holy Spirit. It had to happen that way because the sin nature is passed down through Adam. Christ had to be born without a sin nature; therefore, a man could have nothing to do with His birth.
June 18/07 - Matt: 1:19
Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
Mary was hurt because Joseph didn't believe her, but Joseph was just as hurt. The woman he loved had betrayed him in the most intimate way. His hopes and dreams for the future came crashing down too. Who would have thought it of Mary? How could she? What kind of a fool did she think he was to present a story like that?
Joseph loved God more than he loved Mary. If Mary was going to follow a path away from God, he would have to let her go. This is the exact opposite of what Adam had done in the Garden of Eden. Adam had followed his wife to destruction. This is, of course, an example for us. Nothing or no one should have a higher priority than God. No matter how dear and close - if they walk away from God, they walk away from us.
Notice, Joseph still loved Mary and treated her with mercy. He could have been vengeful and tried to destroy her. Mercy and forgiveness was in his heart so he wanted to do things as quietly as possible. Forgiveness did not change what he had to do, however.
June 16/07 - Matt: 1:18
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
Mary was a young girl about to be married to the man of her dreams. Everything was going along smoothly until God came and history was changed. Mary never thought she would be the one to give birth to the Messiah. That had been the hope of every Jewish girl. What excitement! What joy! Being an honest lady she probably never suspected that anyone would doubt her word as to how she got pregnant. Sure, it had never happened before, but the Messiah had never come before either. What conflicting emotions must have tore at her heart as she had the joy of the being the Messiah's mother and the heartache of seeing the man she loved disbelieve and reject her.
I am sure that many of us can identify with the feelings of Mary. God has showed us something or given us a dream but it is rejected or mocked by those close to us. They don't believe we can achieve it. They know us better than that! But God knows us even better than family and friends - and He still believes in us. Let us not give in to discouragement and disappointment. We need to press on in Godly confidence and see what God will do.
June 15/07 - Matt: 1:2-17
All the begats. This shows that we are not dealing with legend or myth. These were real people with real lives and real weaknesses. Just as Jesus did not choose high position for His humanity, neither did He choose a spotless family line. Rahab the harlot [not mentioned in this list], Ruth the Moabites, David the murderer and adulterer, plus, I'm sure, some other colourful characters. Jesus certainly did not come to impress us in the natural realm.
June 14/07 - Matt: 1:1
The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
God became a real human being. He entered our time/space/history. He had real parents and a real family line. Jesus wasn't a fake human. It wasn't some Divine trick. God actually put on human flesh. Amazing! Especially when we consider what an humiliation that was for Him. From God to Man. And not just any man, He was born in stable to a hated race under subjection to the cruel Romans. He didn't select a good position for Himself. Why did He do it? He loved us and it was the only way to save us.
In this first verse two people are singled out in the line of Christ. David, the great worshipper, who was Prophet, Priest, and King in one person. That had never happened before and would not happen again until Jesus came. David was a man after God's own heart. And Abraham, the father of the faithful. The only man to specifically be called the Friend of God. The man with whom God Himself entered into a blood covenant.