Matthew 13

Vs. 3, “Then he told them many things in parables…”  Parables were a very exciting and wonderful way to share a story!  The Greek meaning behind parable is to “throw alongside”…so technically, Jesus is throwing along a very important truth in a story.  This is a very important chapter because of the truth that is “hidden” in these parables, in part because of the hardened hearts.  We are reminded of the great parable of the sower that really challenges the consideration of our hearts.  In the parable of the weeds, we see us as the fields and Jesus as the sower.  Jesus will one day seperate those who are true and those who are false.  In the parable of the mustard seed and yeast, we see the mustard seed (the church) grow exponentially…but some of that growth isn’t necessarily good.  And the yeast parable speaks of false teaching within the church  The parable of the hiiden treasure and pearls speaks of the value that we have in our salvation, though some will not realize this.  And lastly, the parable of the net is laid out quite clearly, God will seperate the good fish from the bad.

 

Regarding application…Not Accepted.  Vs. 57, “…But Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor.”  Question: How does this apply to us?  While we think only those from Nazareth are at fault here, but I believe we are told this because we are in danger of the same thing.  So often, the world thinks it knows who Jesus is.  Even those who grow up in the church think we know who Jesus is.  And as we grow and begin to understand all that encompasses Jesus, God, & Holy Spirit…we begin to question things.  We begin to pick and choose that which we want to believe.  That is exactly what was happening to those in Nazareth.  Jesus was “not accepted” when they only wanted to believe him in their terms.  Brothers & sisters…we must put all of our chips in for this thing called faith.  Turn to the Lord and let’s make this day His!

Matthew 12

Vs. 12, “How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”  In yesterday’s reading, we were reminded how Jesus would tell us that we could find rest in Him.  Now on the Jewish day of rest (Sabbath)…they challenge Jesus because they believe they already have their rest day.  But over the centuries, their version of rest added so many man-made regulations and rules, they make a mockery of it.  Instead of being joyous of Jesus healing a person, they used this to accuse Jesus of being in the league of Satan.  Through all these miracles and signs, this still wasn’t enough for them.  Jesus would remind them of Jonah’s 3 days in the whale and compare his evemtual death on the cross.

 

Regarding application…Recognizing Fruit.  Vs. 33, “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.”  Often when we go to the grocery store to buy fruit.  We will take a bit of extra time picking out our fruit.  Those of us who are seasoned will be able to tell the good fruit vs. the bad fruit.  Sadly, many people would reject the truth of the Gospel and live out their own righteousness.  In USA Today article this past week, the Barna Research did a survey on American faith.  While people were confessing their faith in Christ, many people stopped going to church.  As we start out a new week, let’s be ready to bear good fruit.  Not out of obligation or attaining a righteousness by works…but let’s do it out of faith and love.

Matthew 11

Vs. 11, “I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”  Okay…let me try to explain what’s going on here.  Jesus is talking about John the Baptist because John had sent him a message (vs. 2).  That message was an “honest” question like we talked about yesterday at church.  Basically, John was asking…”Uhhhh…Jesus, I thought you were the Messiah.”  John had been in prison now for months by Herod.  John also misunderstood how the coming Messiah would respond in this world.  Yes, Jesus will come in power, but first He had to come with mercy.  Notice, after gently reminding John’s messenger’s and then they left, Jesus would go on to tell the crowds how legit John the Baptist is!  They would reject John and now they would reject Jesus (vs. 18-19).  And speaking of rejection, Jesus would essentially curse the cities that outright rejected His works and message (vs. 20-24).

 

Regarding application…Find Rest.  Vs. 28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  Definitely one of my favorite all-time passages!  When I think about the storms of our lives and the weariness of living in this sinful world…it’s amazing comfort to know Jesus is there.  We don’t have to be perfect.  We even can be the chief of sinners, but Jesus still tells us to put our trust in Him and find rest!  The Lord knew I needed it these days and I’m sure there are you who are so busy you don’t even have time to breathe.  Slow down and just spend time rejuvenating your heart in the prescense of our Lord!  Be honest with Jesus about your feelings.  Open His word and pray that you would hear the Holy Spirit speak to your mind and heart.  So rest up this weekend and be ready to start a new week on our blessed Sunday at church!

Matthew 10

Vs. 7, “As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.”  In our previous chapter, Jesus would remind them the harvest is plentiful and the workers are few.  Now we see Jesus take action and send out the twelve apostles (sent out ones) into the kingdom.  The Lord would first send them out to the Jews and then to the Gentiles, this was a different calling than Jesus would give to the church in Matthew 28.  I’m sure there was much hesitation, but Jesus would remind them that they would be provided all things.  In fact, they were not to bring anything with them!  It would not be easy, but it would be a ministry of faith.  Jesus would exhort them to be both wise and innocent (vs. 16).

 

Regarding application…Finding Our Life.  Vs. 39, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”  Jesus is reminding his apostles as well as us that to follow him is going to mean we must die to ourselves.  Remember the beatitudes in chapter 5?  We are blessed when we go through persecution, we are blessed when we are poor, when we are meek, when we mourn.  When we find our lives in Christ, Jesus would tell us don’t be surprised if not only the world hates us…but our own families turn against us.  We cannot love our family more than we love God (vs. 37).  Once you venture forth into being a young adult, YOU must choose your path.  I see the pressures so many of you have to fulfill the dreams of your family and friends.  They want you to be a Doctor, Engineer, etc.  Brothers and sisters…the life you have belongs to God!  Lose YOUR life and God will help you find the life HE has for you!

Matthew 9

Vs. 6, “But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.”  As Jesus continues his ministry, we see the power that he has over this dark world of sin and Satan.  The paralyed man in Matthew is the same one that was lowered from the roof from Mark’s account.  Matthew goes on to talk about his own first interaction with Jesus.  Remember that tax collector’s were despised because often they were corrupt and collected more than they needed.  It’s interesting to note that Jesus came to where the sinner’s were, not the sinner’s to the temple.  When Jesus was challenged on the topic of fasting, Jesus explain that a new time is coming that is entirely different than the old…of course, there is still importance in fasting (vs. 15).  We then read on about more miracles Jesus would perform.  Raising the twelve year old girl, healing the woman who suffered for twelve years and healing the blind and mute.  While all these miracles are wonderful, Jesus would remind us of an even more important task: To go out into the harvest field.  Question: Why?  To seek and save the lost.  We may not have physical miraculous healing gifts, but we have a spiritual ability to heal through the Gospel!  There is always work to be done and we have the priviledge of being a part of that!  Jesus doesn’t need you, but he sure would love to have you be a part of this!

 

Regarding application…You Are Forgiven.  Vs. 2, “…Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”  When this paralyzed man came to Jesus, I don’t think anyone expected to hear that Jesus would say, “You’re sins are forgiven”.  They hoped that he would be healed, but forgiveness is reserved for God.  Question: Who does this Jesus think he is?  The Phariesee’s would accuse Jesus of blaspheming.  But Jesus was no ordinary man, He was the God-man!  Because of this type of example, the Pharisee’s would find a way to ensure they would exact revenge on such a person claiming that He was God.  Question: How does this apply for us?  In all of our lives…we walk with wounds and scars that need healing.  A broken relationship, addiction, low self-esteem, etc.  But Jesus has come to tell us that He has the power to forgive us and make us healed.  There is power in forgiveness because Jesus takes all that heavy sin and bears it on the cross for us.  Put a smile on your face because, YOU are forgiven today!  PTL!  Turn to Jesus and pour out your heart to the Lord!

Matthew 8

Vs. 1, “When he came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him.”  There is a time for everything, and now Jesus would backup his words with action!  Here we are given snippets of Jesus’ ministry.  Don’t forget, it was John would tell us that there would not be enough books to record everything Jesus did (John 21:25).  But, here we can take comfort because Jesus in the midst of the large crowds, still payed attention to the individuals.  It’s notable the first thing Matthew recorded was Jesus healing a leper.  Leprosy was a sign for sin, and Jesus came to forgive sins.  The faith of the Roman Centurion is also notable, because Jesus came not just for the Jew but also for the Gentile (us).  The healing of Peter’s mother-in-law shows you nothing is to small to bring to the Lord, even a everyday fever.  We see the first incident of Jesus calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee.  For this storm to scare even the fisherman, it must have been pretty big!  But Jesus would show that He can even control the elements and it amazed the apostles.  We also come across demon possession…not a nice topic to think about.  But of course, the reality is, we live in a spiritual unseen world.  Notice how the demon’s even knew who Jesus was.

 

Regarding application…Cost of Following Jesus.  Vs. 19, “Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”  Really now???  What a stark lesson for us today.  We want our cake and eat it too.  While the grace of God paid for our debts…to be a disciple of Jesus means that we voluntarily live a life that does not conform to this world.  And brothers and sisters….easier said than done.  I want Jesus and I want my boyfriend/girlfriend.  I want Jesus and I want to listen to secular music.  I want Jesus and I want to cuss all the time.  I want Jesus and I want to drink and party.  Initially people respond pretty well to things Jesus offers…but, then the realization of the cost makes them reconsider.  Jesus was never about popularity.  He made it very clear that if you truly want to follow Him, you must deny yourself.  Question: Have you counted the cost recently?  Are you willing to let go of things in your life?  It’s hard isn’t it?  I’m praying today that you would let go of your fears and trust in the Lord!

Matthew 7

Vs. 28-29, “When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.”  Jesus continues to teach in this chapter on how to live a righteous life.  The section on judging others (vs. 1-5) has been miunderstood by many.  In other areas of scripture, we are taught to judge the actions of other Christians and speak truth in love, but in this teaching…Jesus is exhorting us not to judge the inward motive.  In other words, it is not our place to condemn someone, that is only reserved to God.  Vs. 6, may be confusing, but it is just referring to our relationship with enemies of the Gospel.  We are not even to waste our time judging or rebuking such people.  Jesus also reminds us in the midst of all these things we must keep in mind, we must never forget to pray with faith (vs. 7-12).  Jesus continues on to give us further understanding of where we are at when it comes to true Godliness.  The narrow gate/wide gate (vs. 13-14), Good fruit/bad fruit (vs. 15-23) and wise/foolish builders (vs. 24-27)…these are all examples of true vs. false ways of living.  Take time to ask yourself which of these are you?

 

Regarding application…Are You Wise?  Vs. 26, “But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.”  We are constantly bombarded with knowledge everyday.  We go to work, we go to school, we watch T.V., read the news, etc.  Many people have their opinions on how we should react to life and what decisions we are to make.  Question: Who are you listening to?  While there are a great many wise people by the standards of this world…Obama or Oprah may come to mind, even Gordon Ramsey could be considered wise.  Yet, they are fools compared to the words Jesus has to share.  Exercise, eat healthy, study well, be successful financially…all good endeavors in this life.  But, most importantly, make sure you are wise enough to put God first.  There is no substitute and there is no other way.  Build this life on the rock of Christ!  AMEN?!?!  Have a blessed Tuesday!  This week is flying by!

Matthew 6

Vs. 33, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  Yesterday’s chapter, Jesus focused on inward attitudes toward’s outward actions.  As we continue the “Sermon on the Mount”, we see Jesus address the outward actions of giving, prayer and fasting.  Don’t misunderstand…Jesus is not saying that we must not do these things.  Rather, it is the motive of our heart.  We are also taught by Jesus the model outline of prayer.  We are not to pray as other religions do with repetitious and fancy words.  In essense, prayer is just having that relationship with the Father.  We also see Jesus address the topic of how we are to look at worldy possessions.  There is always the danger of loving them too much and worrying about them in our life.

 

Regarding application…Worrying.  Vs. 27, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”  Question: Is there something in your life that you are worrying about?  If so, allow the words of Jesus to bring comfort in your heart.  When we worry, we get anxious and we can’t think straight.  It takes it toll doesn’t it?  But God is our biggest peace of mind.  When buy something large in value, we generally will get insurance.  That insurance gives us peace of mind that if something happens to our house, car, and even life…the insurance will pay the value of what we lost.  If insurance can give us peace of mind, how much can our Heavenly Father do?  He is our biggest insurance policy when it comes to our lives.  Don’t allow the events of our lives to bring worry that debilitates us.  God is bigger!

Matthew 5

Vs. 1, “Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him.”  What a wonderful picture of our Lord as He begins His teachings on the Sermon on the Mount.  Notice, even in our first verse what kind of posture Jesus takes.  He sits down.  This was significant because when a teacher sat down, you knew that they wanted to teach something very important and intimate.  What we see in Jesus’ teachings is a big focus on the practical ways of living this life.  Remember, when Jesus came…the Jews adhered or at least tried to adhere to over 600 laws.  Of course, the law’s intent was to point them to Jesus and also there was always the “heart” matter for these laws.  We are reminded of the Beattitudes (Blessings) (vs. 3-11) and how we are so very blessed and what that looks like.  To be the salt (inner character) and the light (outward character) to this world (vs. 13-16).  When we start looking at the rest of this chapter and so on….one might get confused.  Question: Is Jesus saying they no longer needed to live out every law?  Yes and No.  Yes, because the intent of the law has never changed…God wants us to be holy.  We cannot achieve holiness by following the standard of the law.  Jesus did and died for us so that we could become His righteousness.  I’ll expound a bit during the application…We also are see the practical ways of addressing murder, aldutry, divorce, oaths, payback, and love for enemies.

 

Regarding application…True Righteousness.  Vs. 20, “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”  Question: The Pharisee’s were one of the most “holy” people in the law!  How could someone have a better righteousness?  Even if we never broke a law on the outward, there are plenty of us that have sinned inwardly.  Jesus is saying that righteousness therefore is something that is based first inwardly.  Just because I don’t kill someone I hate…doesn’t make me any more righteous.  But true rigtheousness is found first in the heart.  As we start this new week, let us be every thoughtful and prayerful about our actions towards other, but more importantly the intent of our heart.  And don’t ever forget what happened on 911!

Matthew 4

Vs. 4, “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devill.”  While Moses and Elijah also fasted for forty days, there was a reason God would have Jesus do this.  As we begin too see start of Jesus’ ministry, we get to see who Jesus really is!  Jesus shows us that He is able to overcome the very tempter that decieved Adam & Eve.  He also did this because He wanted to show us that He knows what our physical, spiritual and emotional struggles are.  God already acknowledged that He was pleased with His son.  But, Jesus did this for our sake!  Soon after, Jesus goes and begins His ministry in Galiliee to fulfill what the Prophet Isaiah said (vs. 15-16).  Jesus also calls Andrew, Peter, James and John!

 

Regarding application…Fisher’s of Men.  Vs. 19, “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”  The four apostles chosen in this chapter were all fisherman by trade.  There was a reason Jesus called these men…Jesus often chose the lowly of this world.  Whether we have ever fished before, we are able to comprehend this wonderful analogy.  It takes patience and hard work to fish.  But God has called all of us to throw out the nets of the Gospel to the world!  While we may have other vocations in the life, our realy job is to go and be fisher’s of men…go and make disciples.  Don’t ever forget this and pray that God would give you His heart to be ready to serve all the days of your life.  Have a blessed weekend and go to God’s house tomorrow!