Matthew 19

Vs. 1, “When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan.”  Jesus’ ministry in Galilee has ended and He now begins his journey to cross in Jerusalem.  It would take Jesus about six months to complete this journey.  They now find themselves in the region of Perea (east of the Jordan) administering to the large crowds.  But, where God is working the enemy is too (vs. 3); the Pharisees come to test Jesus (vs. 3-12).  Interestingly, the topic they bring to Jesus is still a very hotly debated one in the church today: divorce.  Jesus addressed this before on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:31-32) and now we see Jesus respond again.  God’s gift of marriage and plan (Genesis 2:24) was always for it to remain.  Unfortunately, under the Mosaic Law, the hardening of hearts would lead to a loophole.  However, there is a caveat to divorce (vs. 9) which is sexual immorality.  God’s plan is to have husband and wife together, but there are situations where it is literally unsafe and a spiritual scam among others for a couple to stay married for some sins (adultery, incest, molesting, etc.).  Once again, we are reminded how important children are to the Lord and the lessons behind being like children (vs. 13-15).  We then come to an event recorded in all three Synoptic Gospels; the rich young man (vs. 16-22).  The rich young man was so close to understanding.  He followed the law strictly and faithfully, but sensed something was missing (vs. 20).  Jesus then shocks everyone by sharing the image of a camel going through the eye of the needle (vs. 24) being just as impossible as a rich man entering heaven.  Riches and wealth were a sign of God’s blessing in the past.  The lesson here is challenging us how much we love our possessions (vs. 23-30).  We may have possessions, but God must be first.

Regarding application…Unwilling Heart.  Vs. 22, “When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.”  Jesus went straight to the heart of the matter.  The rich young man did everything that a perfect Jew would do in his day.  But, Jesus knew what he truly loved; his possessions and pride.  No matter how disciplined we are in living a righteous life, it will never bring salvation.  There must be a moment of crisis in our hearts where we must choose to follow Jesus.  This was that moment for the rich young man, but his heart was unwilling.  It is an incredibly sad story; but one that is often repeated today.  I give credit to him for he realized that he couldn’t fake it.  Jesus drew the line and the rich young man didn’t try to do both.  But take heart, because there are people who are presented this reality and they do give up all their dreams and goals for Jesus.  Lord, I pray with willing hearts that you would lead us to the cross.

I Timothy 6

Vs. 7, “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.”  A timely reminder to put things into perspective.  Paul continues the exhortation for the Ephesians to respond in a godly way.  First he addresses how slaves should treat their masters (vs. 1-2), how one should regard those who are false teachers (vs. 3-5), and the danger of loving money (vs. 6-10).  And in the last half of our chapter, Paul takes the time to address Timothy directly (vs. 11-21).   He reminds Timothy to flee from these bad influences which reminds me of I Corinthians 10:13 where God always provides a way out.  It would be wise for us to not engage in godless chatter (vs. 20) where it is not going to benefit continued dialogue with false teachers.

Regarding application…A Good Fight?  Vs. 12, “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”  We tend to think fighting is always a bad thing.  But, here we are reminded that life in many ways is a battlefield.  There are fighting words to encourage Timothy to persevere and not give up.  This fight is not with other believers, but with the enemy who is out to hurt us.  I encourage you to listen to the sermon podcasts in our current series “Armor Up.”  Let’s be prepared each day to put on the full armor of God and make our stand!

Luke 16

Vs. 1,Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions.”  The rock band ACDC coined the phrase, “Money talks”.  Did you know that Jesus talked about money more than any other topic?  Scholars break it down to 1/6 of the time!  Having worked in the banking world for many years, I concur that money has been a very hot topic.  Having just finished the story of the prodigal son wasting away his father’s inheritance, we see Jesus give another parable on money (vs. 1-15).  Why would Jesus comment a dishonest money man?  Because this man realized the prospect of a bad future and acted shrewdly (wisely) to ensure he would be treated fairly later on.  If Christians would do likewise with our faith, we would be better of as well.  We then move on to the Rich man and Lazarus (notice how Luke did not address this as an actual parable).  When death came knocking at the rich man’s door, it was then that he realized the folly of his ways (vs. 19-31).

Regarding application…What Do You Value?  Vs. 15, “He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.”  Question: What was it that is detestable in God’s sight?  The love of money.  We cannot love both God and money.  Yet, many foolishly think both can be achieved in this life.  I confess, there was a time that the allurement of financial success fell upon my heart.  I was working at a bank and moving up in the ranks.  I owned my own house and could see a very comfortable life.  I justified the success with the fact that I was still serving God in the local church in part-time ministry.  However, God knew my heart and by His grace he drew back to Him.  Perhaps my heart was a bit like Jonah’s who wanted to flee from obeying God’s will in my life.  It’s always a wise think to ask ourselves what do we value in this life?  Because as Jesus so aptly told us, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21.