Tag Archives: Gospel of Matthew

A21 Prayer Guide – Day Six


PRAY FOR THE CHURCH

For the church to awaken to the issue

Isiah 60:1-2, Matthew 5:13-14, Matthew 16:18

ISA 60:1-2 NIV “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.   See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.

MAT 5:13-14 NIV – “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.     “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.

MAT 16:18 NIV – And I tell you that you are Peter,  and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades  will not overcome it.

For advocates and laborers to emerge

Psalm 94:16, Proverbs 31:8, Matthew 9:37-38

PSA 94:16 NIV – Who will rise up for me against the wicked? Who will take a stand for me against evildoers?

PRO 31:8 NIV – Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.

MAT 9:37-38 NIV – Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

To unite against injustice

Psalm 133, John 17:23, Romans 15:5

PSA 133:1-3 NIV How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.

JHN 17:23 NIV – I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

ROM 15:5 NIV May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had,

Sunday School Discussion Guide – October 20th


TEXT: Matthew 7:13-29 (NKJV)
    • Do not live in the world’s way (vs. 13,14)

The two ways (vv. 13-14). These are, of course, the way to heaven and the way to hell. The broad way is the easy way; it is the popular way. But we must not judge spiritual profession by statistics; the majority is not always right. The fact that “everybody does it” is no proof that what they are doing is right. Quite the contrary is true: God’s people have always been a remnant, a small minority in this world. The reason is not difficult to discover: The way of life is narrow, lonely, and costly. We can walk on the broad way and keep our “baggage” of sin and worldliness. But if we enter the narrow way, we must give up those things. Here, then, is the first test: Did your profession of faith in Christ cost you anything? If not, then it was not a true profession. Many people who “trust” Jesus Christ never leave the broad road with its appetites and associations. They have an easy Christianity that makes no demands on them. Yet Jesus said that the narrow way was hard. We cannot walk on two roads, in two different directions, at the same time.

• Yuck, bad fruit reveals how one lives (vs. 15-20)

The two trees (vv. 15-20). These show that true faith in Christ changes the life and produces fruit for God’s glory. Everything in nature reproduces after its kind, and this is also true in the spiritual realm. Good fruit comes from a good tree, but bad fruit comes from a bad tree. The tree that produces rotten fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. “Wherefore, by their fruits you shall know them” (Matt. 7:20). The second test is this: Did my decision for Christ change my life? False prophets who teach false doctrine can produce only a false righteousness (see Acts 20:29). Their fruit (the results of their ministry) is false and cannot last. The prophets themselves are false; the closer we get to them, the more we see the falsity of their lives and doctrines. They magnify themselves, not Jesus Christ; and their purpose is to exploit people, not to edify them. The person who believes false doctrine, or who follows a false prophet, will never experience a changed life. Unfortunately, some people do not realize this until it is too late.

The basis for judging (vv. 13-20). Since there are false prophets in the world, we must be careful of deception. But the greatest danger is self-deception. The scribes and Pharisees had fooled themselves into believing that they were righteous and others were sinful. It is possible for people to know the right language, believe intellectually the right doctrines, obey the right rules, and still not be saved. Jesus used two pictures to help us judge ourselves and others.

  • Live in a love relationship with God, not for spiritual works (vs. 21-23)

From picturing two ways and two trees, our Lord closed His message by picturing two builders and their houses. The two ways illustrate the start of the life of faith; the two trees illustrate the growth and results of the life of faith here and now; and the two houses illustrate the end of this life of faith, when God shall call everything to judgment. There are false prophets at the gate that leads to the broad way, making it easy for people to enter. But at the end of the way, there is destruction. The final test is not what we think of ourselves, or what others may think. The final test is: What will God say?

How can we prepare for this judgment? By doing God’s will. Obedience to His will is the* test of true faith in Christ. The test is not words, not saying “Lord, Lord,” and not obeying His commands. How easy it is to learn a religious vocabulary, and even memorize Bible verses and religious songs, and yet not obey God’s will. When a person is truly born again, he has the Spirit of God living within (Rom. 8:9); and the Spirit enables him to know and do the Father’s will. God’s love in his heart (Rom. 5:5) motivates him to obey God and serve others. Words are not a substitute for obedience, and neither are religious works. Preaching, casting out demons, and performing miracles can be divinely inspired, but they give no assurance of salvation. It is likely that even Judas participated in some or all of these activities, and yet he was not a true believer. In the last days, Satan will use “lying wonders” to deceive people (2 Thes. 2:7-12).

  • Wisdom living is in hearing and following Jesus (vs. 24-27)

We are to hear God’s words and do them (see James 1:22-25). We must not stop with only hearing (or studying) His words. Our hearing must result in doing. This is what it means to build on the rock foundation. We should not confuse this symbol with the “rock” in 1 Corinthians 3:9ff. Paul founded the local church in Corinth on Jesus Christ when he preached the Gospel and won people to Christ. This is the only foundation for a local church. The foundation in this parable is obedience to God’s Word—obedience that is an evidence of true faith (James 2:14ff). The two men in this story had much in common. Both had desires to build a house. Both built houses that looked good and sturdy. But when the judgment came (the storm), one of the houses collapsed. What was the difference? Not the mere external looks, to be sure. The difference was in the foundation: The successful builder “dug deep” (Luke 6:48) and set his house on a solid foundation.

A false profession will last until judgment comes. Sometimes this judgment is in the form of the trials of life. Like the person who received the seed of God’s Word into a shallow heart (Matt. 13:4-9), the commitment fails when the testing comes. Many people have professed faith in Christ, only to deny their faith when life becomes spiritually costly and difficult. But the judgment illustrated here probably refers to the final judgment before God. We must not read into this parable all the doctrine that we are taught in the Epistles; for the Lord was illustrating one main point: profession will ultimately be tested before God. Those who have trusted Christ, and have proved their faith by their obedience will have nothing to fear. Their house is founded on the Rock, and it will stand. But those who have professed to trust Christ, yet who have not obeyed God’s will, will be condemned. How shall we test our profession of faith? By popularity? No, for there are many on the broad road to destruction. And there are many who are depending on words, saying “Lord, Lord”—but this is no assurance of salvation. Even religious activities in a church organization are no assurance. How then shall we judge ourselves and others who profess Christ as Saviour?

The two ways tell us to examine the cost of our profession. Have we paid a price to profess faith in Christ? The two trees tell us to investigate whether our lives have really changed. Are there godly fruits from our lives? And the two houses remind us that true faith in Christ will last, not only in the storms of life, but also in the final judgment.

  • Live under Jesus’ authority (vs. 28, 29)

The congregation was astonished at this sermon. Why? Because Jesus spoke with divine authority. The scribes and Pharisees spoke “from authorities,” always quoting the various rabbis and experts of the Law. Jesus needed no human teacher to add authority to His words; for He spoke as the Son of God. We cannot lightly dismiss this sermon, for it is God who gave it to us! We must either bow before Him and submit to His authority, or we will be condemned.

Bible Exposition Commentary (BE Series) – New Testament – The Bible Exposition Commentary – New Testament, Volume 1.

Sunday School Discussion Guide – October 13th


Part Two of Two (Part One was last week)

Matthew 7:13-29 (MSG)
“Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.  “Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character.
Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned. “Knowing the correct password—saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance—isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.’
“These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock. “But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.” When Jesus concluded his address, the crowd burst into applause. They had never heard teaching like this. It was apparent that he was living everything he was saying—quite a contrast to their religion teachers! This was the best teaching they had ever heard.

• Live in a love relationship with God, not for spiritual works (vs. 21-23)

• Wisdom living is in hearing and following Jesus (vs. 24-27)

• Live under Jesus’ authority (vs. 28, 29)

God’s Judgment of Us (Matt. 7:21-29)

From picturing two ways and two trees, our Lord closed His message by picturing two builders and their houses. The two ways illustrate the start of the life of faith; the two trees illustrate the growth and results of the life of faith here and now; and the two houses illustrate the end of this life of faith, when God shall call everything to judgment. There are false prophets at the gate that leads to the broad way, making it easy for people to enter. But at the end of the way, there is destruction. The final test is not what we think of ourselves, or what others may think. The final test is: What will God say?

How can we prepare for this judgment? By doing God’s will. Obedience to His will is the* test of true faith in Christ. The test is not words, not saying “Lord, Lord,” and not obeying His commands. How easy it is to learn a religious vocabulary, and even memorize Bible verses and religious songs, and yet not obey God’s will. When a person is truly born again, he has the Spirit of God living within (Rom. 8:9); and the Spirit enables him to know and do the Father’s will. God’s love in his heart (Rom. 5:5) motivates him to obey God and serve others.

Words are not a substitute for obedience, and neither are religious works. Preaching, casting out demons, and performing miracles can be divinely inspired, but they give no assurance of salvation. It is likely that even Judas participated in some or all of these activities, and yet he was not a true believer. In the last days, Satan will use “lying wonders” to deceive people (2 Thes. 2:7-12).

We are to hear God’s words and do them (see James 1:22-25). We must not stop with only hearing (or studying) His words. Our hearing must result in doing. This is what it means to build on the rock foundation. We should not confuse this symbol with the “rock” in 1 Corinthians 3:9ff. Paul founded the local church in Corinth on Jesus Christ when he preached the Gospel and won people to Christ. This is the only foundation for a local church.

The foundation in this parable is obedience to God’s Word—obedience that is an evidence of true faith (James 2:14ff). The two men in this story had much in common. Both had desires to build a house. Both built houses that looked good and sturdy. But when the judgment came (the storm), one of the houses collapsed. What was the difference? Not the mere external looks, to be sure. The difference was in the foundation: The successful builder “dug deep” (Luke 6:48) and set his house on a solid foundation.

A false profession will last until judgment comes. Sometimes this judgment is in the form of the trials of life. Like the person who received the seed of God’s Word into a shallow heart (Matt. 13:4-9), the commitment fails when the testing comes. Many people have professed faith in Christ, only to deny their faith when life becomes spiritually costly and difficult.

But the judgment illustrated here probably refers to the final judgment before God. We must not read into this parable all the doctrine that we are taught in the Epistles; for the Lord was illustrating one main point: profession will ultimately be tested before God. Those who have trusted Christ, and have proved their faith by their obedience will have nothing to fear. Their house is founded on the Rock, and it will stand. But those who have professed to trust Christ, yet who have not obeyed God’s will, will be condemned.

How shall we test our profession of faith? By popularity? No, for there are many on the broad road to destruction. And there are many who are depending on words, saying “Lord, Lord”—but this is no assurance of salvation. Even religious activities in a church organization are no assurance. How then shall we judge ourselves and others who profess Christ as Saviour?

The two ways tell us to examine the cost of our profession. Have we paid a price to profess faith in Christ? The two trees tell us to investigate whether our lives have really changed. Are there godly fruits from our lives? And the two houses remind us that true faith in Christ will last, not only in the storms of life, but also in the final judgment.

The congregation was astonished at this sermon. Why? Because Jesus spoke with divine authority. The scribes and Pharisees spoke “from authorities,” always quoting the various rabbis and experts of the Law. Jesus needed no human teacher to add authority to His words; for He spoke as the Son of God. We cannot lightly dismiss this sermon, for it is God who gave it to us! We must either bow before Him and submit to His authority, or we will be condemned.

Bible Exposition Commentary (BE Series) – New Testament – The Bible Exposition Commentary – New Testament, Volume 1.

Hunger and Thirst


Righteousness
Righteousness (Photo credit: sonson)

Hunger and Thirst

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

because they will be filled.—Matthew 5:6

Hunger and thirst are the body’s way of telling us that we are “empty.” Our natural response to physical hunger and thirst is to seek food and water to satisfy our need. Each Christian has an inner longing that only Christ’s righteousness can satisfy. But we cannot be filled with righteousness if we are filled with self. Throughout the Scriptures God emphasizes that the one who longs for Him with all his heart will find Him (Jer. 29:13). As we crave righteousness, we will repent of our sin, and God will remove it from us. Our selfishness will be replaced by the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22–23). The Spirit will make us to be like Christ.

Righteousness is not to be taken lightly, nor is it easily attained. Holy God does not give His righteousness to people indiscriminately. He gives it to those who know they cannot live without it. Our desire for personal righteousness must be powerful, all-consuming, dominating everything we do. Pursuing righteousness means that we value the opinion of God far more than we treasure the opinions of people.

Righteousness is not merely an absence of sin. It is allowing God to fill us with His holiness (Rom. 6:11). It is being like Christ. Jesus is our model of One who sought God’s righteousness first, and then the Father glorified Him. We are not only to seek the kingdom of God, but we are also to pursue His righteousness (Matt. 6:33). If we will hunger and thirst for righteousness, we will be satisfied!

Experiencing God Day by Day: A Devotional and Journal.

Sixteen Reasons Why I Love You*


*with apologies to Connie Francis for taking her song title.

Jesus taught us through the Gospel to love one another in many ways. Following are some of them. We love one another because God loves us and because of the benefits of love over indifference.

Matthew 22:39 (KJV)

39  … Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Matthew 5:44 (NAB)

44  But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you,

Matthew 22:37 (NLT)

37  Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’

Matthew 3:17 (MSG)

17  And along with the Spirit, a voice: “This is my Son, chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life.”

Matthew 5:46 (MSG)

46  If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that.

Matthew 6:4 (MSG)

4  Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.

Matthew 18:17 (MSG)

17  If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.

Luke 6:36 (ETRV)

36 Give love and mercy the same as your Father gives love and mercy. (Mt. 7:1-5)

Mark 12:33 (GW)

33  To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as you love yourself is more important than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

John 8:42 (ASV)

42  Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I came forth and am come from God; for neither have I come of myself, but he sent me.

John 10:17 (ASV)

17  Therefore doth the Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again.

John 13:34 (ASV)

34  A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

John 13:35 (ASV)

35  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

John 15:13 (ASV)

13  Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Acts 15:14 (ETRV)

14 Simon Peter has told us how God showed his love for the non-Jewish people. For the first time, God accepted them and made them his people.

Acts 20:24 (TLB)

24  But life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about God’s mighty kindness and love.

Which are your favorites? And which ones do you need to work on?

June 23rd Entry – Devotional


I thought you might enjoy this take on Peter walking on the water, from the best-selling devotional, Streams in the Desert.

“When Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked, on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.” (Matt. 14:29, 30*.)

PETER had a little faith in the midst of his doubts, says Bunyan; and so with crying and coming he was brought to Christ.

But here you see that sight was a hindrance; the waves were none of his business when once he had set out; all Peter had any concern with, was the pathway of light that came gleaming across the darkness from where Christ stood. If it was tenfold Egypt beyond that, Peter had no call to look and see.

When the Lord shall call to you over the waters, “Come,” step gladly forth. Look not for a moment away from Him.

Not by measuring the waves can you prevail; not by gauging the wind will you grow strong; to scan the danger may be to fall before it; to pause at the difficulties, is to have them break above your head. Lift up your eyes unto the hills, and go forward—there is no other way.

“Dost thou fear to launch away?

Faith lets go to swim!

Never will He let thee go;

‘Tis by trusting thou shalt know

Fellowship with Him.”


Streams in the Desert.

  • Matthew 14:29-30 (NKJV)
    29  So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.
    30  But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”