Here is John the Baptist burst onto the scene. His theme was "Repent!" Repentance means doing an about-face 180 degree turn from the kind of self-centeredness that leads to wrong actions such as lying, cheating, stealing, gossiping, revenge, abuse, and sexual immorality. A person who repents stops rebelling and begins following God's way of living prescribed in his Word. The first step in turning to God is to admit your sin, as John urged. Then God will receive you and help you live the way he wants you to. Remember that only God can get rid of sin. He doesn't expect us to clean up our lives before we come to him.
John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus. People who do not know Jesus need to be prepared to meet him. We can prepare them by explaining their need for forgiveness, demonstrating Christ's teachings by our conduct, and telling them how Christ can give their lives meaning. We can "make his paths straight" by correcting misconceptions that might be hindering them from approaching Christ. Someone you know may be open to a relationship with Christ. What can you do to prepare the way for this person?
John was markedly different from other religious leaders of his day. While many were greedy, selfish, and preoccupied with winning the praise of the people, John was concerned only with the praise of God. Having separated himself from the evil and hypocrisy of his day, he lived differently from other people to show that his massage was new. John not only preached God's Law, he lived it. Do you practice what you preach? Do people know what you believe by the way you live?
When you wash dirty hands, the results are immediately visible. But repentance happens inside with a cleansing that isn't immediately seen. So John used a symbolic action that people could see: baptism. The Jews used baptism to initiate converts, so John's audience was familiar with it. Here baptism was used as a sign of repentance and forgiveness. Repent means "to turn," implying a change in behavior. It is turning from sin toward God. Have you repented of sin in your life? Can others see the difference it makes in you? A changed life with new and different behavior makes your repentance real and visible.
Just as a fruit tree is expected to bear fruit, God's people should produce a crop of good deeds. God has no use for those who call themselves Christians but who live otherwise. Like many people in John's day who were God's people in name only, we are of no value if we are Christians in name only. If others can't see our faith in the way we treat them, we may not be God's people at all.
God's message hasn't changed sine the Old Testament - people will be judged for their unproductive lives. God call us to be active in our obedience. John compared people who say the believe God but don't live for God to unproductive for God, we must obey his teachings, resist temptation, actively serve and help others, and share our faith. How productive are you for God?
John baptized people as a sign that they had asked God to forgive their sins and had decided to live as he wanted them to live. Baptism was an outward sign of commitment. To be effective, it had to be accompanied by an inward change of attitude leading to a changed life- the the work of the Holy Spirit. John said that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Ghost and fire. This looked ahead to Pentecost (Acts 2), when the Holy Spirit would be sent by Jesus in the form of tongues of fire, empowering his followers to preach the Gospel. John's statement also symbolizes the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing God's judgment on those who refuse to repent. Everyone will one day be baptized - either now by God's Holy Spirit, or later by the fire of his judgment.
The wheat is the part of the plant that is useful; the chaff is the worthless outer shell. Because it is useless, chaff is burned: wheat, however, is stored. Unrepentant people will be judged and discarded because they were worthless in God's work; those who repent and believe will be saved and used by God. Repent today and sin no more!
John had been explaining that Jesus' baptism would be much greater than his, when suddenly Jesus came to him and asked to be baptized! John felt unqualified. He wanted Jesus to baptize him. Why did Jesus ask to be baptized? It was not for repentance for sin because Jesus never sinned. "To fulfill all righteousness" means to accomplish God's mission. Jesus saw his baptism as advancing God's work. Jesus was baptized because
1. he was personally confessing the sin of the nation, as Nehemiah, Ezra, Moses, and Daniel had done;
2. he was showing support for what John was doing;
3 he was inaugurating his public ministry;
4 he was identifying with the penitent people of God, not with the critical Pharisees who were only watching.
Jesus, the perfect man, didn't need baptism for sin, but he accepted it in obedient service to the Father, and God showed his approval.
Put yourself in John's shoes. Your work is going well, people are taking notice, everything is growing. But you know that the purpose of your work is to prepare the people for Jesus (John 1:25-37). Now Jesus has arrived, and his coming tests your integrity. Will you be able to turn your followers over to him? John passed the test by publicly baptizing Jesus. Soon he would say, "He must increase, but i must decrease" (John 3:30). Can we, like John, put our egos and profitable work aside in order to point others to Jesus? Are we willing to lose some of our status so that everyone will benefit?
The doctrine of the Trinity means that God is three persons and yet one in essence. In this passage, all three persons of the Trinity are present and active. God the Father speaks; God the Son is baptized; God the Holy Spirit descends on Jesus. God is one, yet in three persons at the same time. This is one of God's incomprehensible mysteries. Other Bible references that speak of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are Matthew 28:19; John 15:26; 1 Corinthians 12:4-13; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Ephesians 2:18; 1 Thessalonians 1:2-5; and Peter 1:2
This time of testing showed that Jesus really was the Son of God, able to over com Satan and his temptations. A person has not shown true obedience if he or she has never had an opportunity to disobey. We read in Deuteronomy 8:2 that God led Isreal into the wilderness to humble and prove them. He wanted to find out whether or not they would really obey him. We, too, will be tested. Because we know that testing will come, we should be alert and ready for it. Remember, your convictions are only strong if they hold up under pressure!
Jesus was hungry and weak after fasting for 40 days, be he chose not to use his divine power to satisfy his natural desire for food. Food, hunger, and eating are good, but the timing was wrong, because Jesus had given up the unlimited, independent use of his divine power in order to experience humanity fully. We also may be tempted to satisfy a perfectly normal desire in a wrong way or at a wrong time. If we indulge in sex before marriage or if we steal to get food, we are trying to satisfy God-given desires in wrong ways. Remember, many of your desires are normal and good, but God wants you to satisfy them in the right way and at the right time.
Jesus was able to resist all of Satan's temptations because he not only knew Scripture, but he also obeyed it. Ephesians 6:17 says that God's Word is a sword to use in spiritual combat. Knowing Bible verses is an important step in helping us resist Satan's attacks, but we must also obey the Bible. Note that Satan had memorized Scripture, but he failed to obey it. Knowing and obeying the Bible helps us follow God's desires rather than Satan's
God is not our magician in the sky. In response to Satan's temptations, Jesus said not to tempt God not to put him to a foolish test (Deuteronomy 6:16). You may want to ask God to do something to prove his existence or his love for you. Jesus once taught through a parable that people who don't believe through what is written in the Bible won't believe even if someone were to come back from the dead to warn them (Luke 16:31)! God wants us to live by faith, not by magic. Don't try to manipulate God by asking for signs.
Satan used Scripture to try to convince Jesus to sin. Sometimes friends or associates will present attractive and convincing reasons why you should try something you know is wrong. They may even find Bible verses that seem to support their viewpoint. Study the Bible carefully, especially the broader context of specific verses, so that you understand God's principles for living and what he wants for your life. Only if you really understand what the whole Bible says, can you recognize errors of interpretation when people take verses out of context and twist them to say what they want them to say.
Satan offered all the world to Jesus if he would only kneel and worship him. Today Satan offers us the world by trying to entice us with materialism and power. We can resist temptations the same way Jesus did. If you find yourself craving something that the world offers, quote Jesus' words to Satan: "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." #Read Matthew 4:8-10 "Get Connected
Jesus started his ministry with the very word people had heard John the Baptist say: "Repent". The message is the same today as when Jesus and John gave it. Becoming a follower of Christ means turning away from our self-centered and "self" control and turning our lives over to Christ's direction and control. #Read Matthew 4:17 "Get Connected"
If a seasoning has no flavor, it has no value. If Christians make no effort to affect the world around them, they are of little value to God. If we are too much like the world we are worthless. Christians should not blend in with everyone else. Instead, we should affect them positively, just as seasoning brings out the best flavor in food. #Read Matthew 5:13 "Get Connected"
Can you hide a city that is sitting on top of a hill? It's light at night can be seen for miles. If we live for Christ, we will glow like lights, showing others what Christ is like. We hide our light by
1. Being quiet when we should speak
2. Going along with the crowd
3. Denying the light
4. letting sin dim our light
5. Not explaining our light to others
6. Ignoring the needs of others.
Be a beacon of truth, don't shut your light off from the rest of the world. #Read Matthew 5:14-16
The pharisees were exacting and scrupulous in their attempts to follow their laws. So how could Jesus reasonably call us to a greater righteousness than theirs? The Pharisees' weakness was that they were content to obey the laws outwardly without allowing God to change their hearts (or attitudes). Jesus was saying, therefore, that the quality of our goodness should be greater than that of the Pharisees. They looked pious, but they were far from the Kingdom of God. God judges our hearts as well as our deeds, for it is in the heart where our real allegiance lies. Be just as concerned about your attitudes, which people don't see, as your actions, which are seen by all. #Read Matthew 5:20 "Get Connected"
Broken relationships can hinder our relationship with God. If we have a problem or grievance with a friend, we should resolve the problem as soon as possible. We are hypocrites if we claim to love God while we hate others. Our attitudes toward others reflect our relationship with God (1 John 4:20). #Read Matthew 5:23,24 "Get Connected"
Oaths, or vows, were common, but Jesus told his followers not to use them - their word alone should be enough (see James 5:12). Are you known as a person of your word? Truthfulness seems so rare that we feel we must end out statements with "I promise." If we tell the truth all the time, we will have less pressure to back up our words with an oath or promise. #Read Matthew 5:33-37 "Get Connected"
When we are wronged, often our first reaction is to get even. Instead, Jesus said we should do good to those who wrong us! Our desire should not be to keep score, but to love and forgive. This is not natural, it is supernatural. Only God can give us the strength to love as he does. Instead of planning vengeance, pray for those who hurt you. #Read Matthew 5:38-42 "Get Connected"
The term hypocrites, as used here, describes people who do good acts for appearances only not out of compassion or other good motives. Their actions may be good, but their motives are hollow. These empty acts are their only reward, while God will reward those who are sincere in their faith. #Read Matthew 6:2 "Get Connected"
Fasting - going without food in order to spend time in prayer - is noble and difficult. It gives us time to pray, teaches self-discipline, reminds us that we can live with a lot less, and helps us appreciate God's gifts. Jesus was not condemning fasting, but hypocrisy - fasting in order to gain public approval. Fasting was mandatory for the Jewish people once a year on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:32). The Pharisees voluntarily fasted twice a week to impress the people with their "holiness." Jesus commended acts of self-sacrifice done quietly and sincerely. He wanted people to adopt spiritual disciplines for the right reasons, not from a selfish desire for praise. #ReadMatthew 6:16 "Get Connected"
Spiritual vision is our capacity to see clearly what God wants us to do and to see the world from his point of view. But this spiritual insight can be easily clouded. Self-serving desires, interests, and goals block that vision. Serving God is the best way to restore it. A "single" eye is one that is fixed on God. #Read Matthew 6:22, 23 "Get Connected"
Jesus says we can have only one master. We live in a materialistic society where many people serve money. They spend all their lives collecting and storing it, only to die and leave it behind. Their desire for money and what it can buy far outweighs their commitment to God and spiritual matters. Whatever you store up, you will spend much of your time and energy thinking about it. Don't fall into the materialistic trap, because "the love of money is the root of all evil" (1 timothy 6:10). Can you honestly say that God, and not money, is your Master? One test is to ask which one occupies more of your thoughts, time, and efforts. #Read Matthew 6:24 "Get Connected"
Jesus contrasted heavenly values with earthly values when he explained that our fist loyalty should be to those things that do not fade, cannot be stolen or used up, and never wear out. We should not be fascinated with our possessions, lest they possess us. This means we may have to do some cutting back if our possessions are becoming too important to us. Jesus is calling for a decision that allows us to live contentedly with whatever we have because we have chosen what is eternal and lasting. #Read Matthew 6:24 "Get Connected"
Because of the ill effects of worry, Jesus tells us to "take no thought" about those needs that God promises to supply. Worry may
1. Damage your health
2. Cause the object of your worry to consume your thoughts
3. Disrupt your productivity
4. Negatively affect the way you treat others
5. Reduce your ability to trust in God
How many ill effects of worry are you experiencing?
Here is the difference between worry and genuine concern worry immobilizes, but concern moves you to action. #Read Matthew 6:25 "Get Connected"
To seek "first the kingdom of God and his righteousness" means to turn to him first for help, to fill your thoughts with his desires, to take his character for your pattern, and to serve and obey him in everything. What is really important to you? People, objects, goals, and other desires all compete for priority. Any of these can quickly bump God out of first place if you don't actively choose to give him first place in every area of your life. #Read Matthew 6:33 "Get Connected"
Planning for tomorrow is time well spent; worrying about tomorrow is time wasted. Sometimes it's difficult to tell the difference. Careful planning is thinking ahead about goals, steps, and schedules, and trusting in God's guidance. When done well, planning can help alleviate worry. The worrier, by contrast is consumed by fear and finds it difficult to trust God. The worrier lets his plans interfere with his relationship with God. Don't let worries about tomorrow affect your relationship with God today. #Read Matthew 6:34 "Get Connected"
Jesus tells us to examine our own motives and conduct instead of judging others. The traits that bother us in others are often the habits we dislike in ourselves. Our unbroken bad habits and behavior patterns are the very ones we most want to change in others. Do you find it easy to magnify others' faults while ignoring your own? If you are ready to criticize someone, check to see if your deserve the same criticism. Judge yourself first, and then lovingly forgive and help your neighbor. #Read Matthew 7:1, 2 "Get Connected"
Jesus' statement "Judge not" is against the kind of hypercritical, judgmental attitude that tears others down in order to build oneself up. It is not a blanket statement against all critical thinking, but a call to be discerning rather than negative. Jesus said to discern false teachers (Matthew 7:15 - 23), and Paul taught that we should exercise church discipline (1 Corinthians 5:1,2), and trust God to be the final judge (1 Corinthians 4:3-5). #Read Matthew 7:1-5 "Get Connected"
Swine were unclean animals according to God's Law (Deuteronomy 14:8). Anyone who touched an unclean animal became "Ceremonially unclean" and could not go to the Temple to worship until the uncleanness was removed. Jesus says that we should not entrust holy teachings to unholy or unclean people. It is futile to try to teach holy concepts to people who don't want to listen and will only tear apart what we say. This does not mean we should stop giving God's Word to unbelievers, but that we should be wise and discerning in our witnessing, so that we will not be wasting our time. #Read Matthew 7:6 "Get Connected"
Jesus tells us to persist in pursuing God. People often give up after a few halfhearted efforts and conclude that God cannot be found. But knowing God takes faith, focus, and follow-through, and Jesus assures us that our efforts will be rewarded. Don't give up in your efforts to seek God. Continue to ask him for more knowledge, patience, wisdom, love, and understanding. He will give them to you. #Read Matthew 7:7,8 "Get Connected"
The child in Jesus' example asked his father for bread and fish - good and necessary items. If the child had asked for a poisonous snake, would the wise father have granted his request? Sometimes God knows we are praying for "snakes" and does not give us what we ask for, even though we persist in our prayers. As we learn to know God better as a loving Father, we learn to ask for what is good for us, and then he grants it. #Read Matthew 7:9, 10 "Get Connected"
The gateway to eternal life (John 10:7-9) is called "strait," an old word for "narrow." This dose not mean it is difficult to become a christian, but that there is only one way to live eternally with God and that only a few decide to walk that road. Believing in Jesus is the only way to heaven, because he alone died for our sins and made us right before God. Living his way may not be popular, but it is true and right. Thank God there is one way! #Read Matthew 7:13, 14 "Get Connected"
False prophets were common in Old Testament times. They prophesied only what the king and the people wanted to hear, claiming it was God's message. False teachers are just as common today. Jesus says to beware of those whose words sound religious but who are motivated by money, fame, or power. You can tell who they are because in their teaching they minimize Christ and glorify themselves.#Read Mathew 7:15 "Get Connected"
We should evaluate teachers' words by examining their lives. Just as trees are consistent in the kind of fruit they produce, good teachers consistently exhibit good behavior and high moral character as they seek to live out the truths of Scripture. This does not mean we should have witch-hunts, throwing out Sunday school teachers, pastors, and others who are less than perfect. Every one of us is subject to sin, and we must show the same mercy to others that we need for ourselves. When Jesus talks about corrupt trees, he means teachers who deliberately teach false doctrine. We must examine the teachers' motives, the direction they are taking, and the results they are seeking. #Read Matthew 7:20 "Get Connected"
Jesus exposed those people who sounded religious but had no personal relationship with him. At "that day" (the day of judgment) only our relationship with Christ - our acceptance of him as Savior and our obedience to him will matter. Many people think that if they are "good" people and say religious things, they will be rewarded with eternal life. In reality, faith in Christ is what will count at the judgment.
"That day" is the final day of reckoning when God will settle all accounts, judging sin and rewarding faith. #Read Matthew 7:21-23 "Get Connected"
To build "upon a rock" means to be a hearing, responding disciple, not a phony, superficial one. Practicing obedience becomes the solid foundation to weather the storms of life. See James 1:22-27 for more on practicing what we hear. #Read Matthew 7:24
Like a house of cards, the fool's life crumbles. Most people do not deliberately seek to build upon a false or inferior foundation: instead, they just don't think about their life's purpose. Many people are headed for destruction, not out of stubbornness, but out of thoughtlessness. Part of our responsibility as believers is to help others stop and think about where their lives are headed and to point out the consequences of ignoring Christ's message. #Read Matthew 7:26 "Get Connected"
Devils were fallen angels who joined Satan in his rebellion against God and are now evil spirits under Satan's control. They help Satan tempt people to sin and have great destructive powers. But whenever they are confronted by Jesus, they lose their power. These devils recognized Jesus as God's Son (Matthew 8:29), but they didn't think they had to obey him. Just believing is not enough (see James 2:19 for a discussion of belief and devils). Faith is more than belief. By faith, you accept what Jesus has done for you, receive him as the only one who can save you from sin, and live out your faith by obeying his Word. #Read Matthew 8:28 "Get Connected"
Why did the people ask Jesus to leave? Unlike their own pagan gods, Jesus could not be contained, controlled, or appeased. They feared Jesus' supernatural power, a power they had never before witnessed. And they were upset about losing a herd of pigs more than they were glad about the deliverance of the devil possessed man. Are you more concerned about property and programs than people? Human beings are created in God's image and have eternal value. How foolish and yet how easy it is to value possessions, investments, and even animals above human life. Would you rather have Jesus leave you than finish his work in you? #Read Matthew 8:34 "Get Connected
It's easy to tell someone his sins are forgiven; it's a lot more difficult to reverse a case of paralysis! Jesus backed up his words by healing the man's legs. His action showed that his words were true; he had the power to forgive as well as to heal. Talk is cheap, bout our words lack meaning if our actions do not back them up. We can say we love God or others, but if we are not taking practical steps to demonstrate that love, our words are empty and meaningless. How well do your actions back up what you say? #Read Matthew 9:5,6 "Get Connected"
When Jesus called Matthew to be one of his disciples, Matthew jumped up and followed, leaving a lucrative career. When God calls you to follow or obey him, do you do it with as much abandon as Matthew? Sometimes the decision to follow Christ requires difficult or painful choices. Like Matthew, we must decide to leave behind those things that would keep us from following Christ. #Read Matthew 9:9 "Get Connected"
The Pharisees constantly tried to trap Jesus, and they thought his association with these "lowlifes" was the perfect opportunity, They were more concerned with their own appearance of holiness than with helping people, with criticism than encouragement, with outward respectability than practical help. But God is concerned for all people, including the sinful and hurting ones. The Christian life is not a popularity contest. Following Jesus' example, we should share the Gospel with the poor, immoral, lonely, and outcast, not just the rich, moral, popular, and powerful. #Read Matthew 9:11, 12 "Get Connected"
Jesus didn't respond immediately to the blind men's pleas. He waited to see if they had faith. Not everyone who says he wants help really believes God can help him. Jesus may have waited and questioned these man to emphasize and increase their faith. If it seems that God is too slow in answering your prayers, maybe he is testing you as he did the blind men, Do you believe God can help you? Do you really want his help? #Read Matthew 9:27-30 "Get Connected"
These blind men were persistent. They went right into the house where Jesus was staying. They knew Jesus could heal them, and they would let nothing stop them from finding him. That's FAITH. If you believe Jesus is the answer to your every need, don't let anything or anyone stop you from reaching him. #Read 9:28 "Get Connected"
Jesus looked at the crowds following him and referred to them as a field ripe for harvest. Many people are ready to give their lives to Christ if someone will show them how. Jesus commands us to pray that people will respond to this need for laborers. Often, when we pray for something, God answers our prayers by using us. Be prepared for God to use you to show another person the way to him.#Read Matthew 9:37, 38 "Get Connected"
The list of Jesus' 12 disciples doesn't give us many detail probably because there weren't many impressive details to tell. Jesus called people from all walks of life - fishermen, political activists, tax collectors. He called common men and leaders, rich and poor, educated and uneducated. Today, many people think only certain people are fit to follow Christ, but this was not the attitude of the Master himself. God can use anyone no matter how insignificant he appears. When you feel small and useless, remember that God uses ordinary people to do his extraordinary work. #Read Matthew 10:2 - 4 "Get Connected"
Jesus gave the disciples a principle to guide their actions as they ministered to others. "Freely ye have received, freely give." Because God has showered us with his blessings, we should give generously to others of our time, love, and possessions. #Read Matthew 10:8 "Get Connected"
Enduring to the end is not a way to be saved but the evidence that you are really committed to Jesus. Persistence is not a means to earn salvation; it is the by-product of a truly devoted life. #Read Matthew 10:22 "Get Connected"
Jesus said that God is aware of everything that happens even to sparrows, and you are far more valuable to him than they are. You are so valuable that God sent his only Son to die for you (John 3:16). Because God places such value on you, you need never fear personal threats or difficult trials. These can't shake God's love or dislodge his Spirit from within you.
But this doesn't mean God will take away all your troubles ( see Matthew 10:16). The real test of value is how well something holds up under the wear, tear, and abuse of everyday life. Those who stand up for Christ in spite of their troubles truly have lasting value and will receive great rewards (See Matthew 5:11, 12). #Read Matthew 10:29-31 "Get Connected"
Christian commitment may separate friends and loved ones. In saying this, Jesus was not encouraging disobedience to parents or conflict at home. Rather, he was showing that his presence demands a decision. Because some will follow Christ and some won't, conflict will inevitably arise. As we take up our cross and follow him, our different values, morals, goals, and purposes will set us apart from others. Don't neglect your family, but remember that your commitment to God is even more important than they are. God should be your first priority. #Read Matthew 10:34-39 "Get Connected"
To take up our cross and follow Jesus means to be willing to publicly identify with him, to face almost certain opposition, and to be willing to face even suffering and death for his sake. #Read Matthew 10:38 "Get Connected
How much we love God can be measured by how well we treat others. Jesus' examples of giving a cup of cold water to a thirsty child is a good model of unselfish service. A child is a good model of unselfish service. A child usually can't or won't return a favor. God notices every good deed we do or don't do as if he were the one receiving it. Is there something unselfish you can do for someone else today? Although no one else may see you, God will notice. #Read Matthew 10:42 "Get Connected"
No man ever fulfilled his God-given purpose better than John. Yet in God's coming Kingdom all members would have a greater spiritual heritage than John because they would have seen and known Christ and his finished work on the cross. #Read Matthew 11:11 "Get Connected"
Jesus condemned the attitude of his generation. No matter what he said or did, they took the opposite view. They were cynical and skeptical because he challenged their comfortable, secure, and self-centered lives. Too often we justify our inconsistencies because listening to God may require us to change the way we live. #Read Matthew 11:16-19 "Get Connected"
Jesus mentions two kinds of people in his prayer: the "wise" arrogant in their own knowledge and the "babes" humble open to receive the truth of God's Word. Are you wise in your own knowledge, or do you seek the truth in childlike faith, realizing that only God holds all the answers? #Read Matthew 11:25 "Get Connected"
A yoke is a heavy wooden harness that fits over the shoulders of an ox or oxen. It is attached to a piece of equipment the oxen are to pull. A "heavy laden" animal has a big load to pull. a "heavy laden" person may be burdened with (1) sin, (2) excessive demands of religious leaders (Matthew 23:4; Acts 15:10), (3) oppression and persecution, or (4) weariness in the search for God.
Jesus frees people from all these burdens. The rest that Jesus promises is love, healing, and peace with God, not the end of all labor. A relationship with God changes meaningless toil into spiritual productivity and purpose. #Read Matthew 11:28-30 "Get Connected"
Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost is denying that the Holy spirit convicts us of sin, Because a person can be saved only through the Holy spirit's work, to refuse to repent or even to acknowledge our sin is to refuse God's forgiveness. Sometimes believers worry that they have accidentally committed this unforgivable sin. But only those who have turned their backs on God and rejected all faith have any need to worry. Jesus said they can't be forgiven not because their sin is worse than any other, but because they will never ask for forgiveness. Whoever rejects the prompting of the Holy Spirit removes himself from the only force that can lead him to repentance and restoration to God. #Read Matthew 12:31, 32 "Get Connected"
Jesus was not denying his responsibility to his earthly family. On the contrary, he had earlier criticized the religious leaders for not following the Old Testament command to honor their parents. He provided for his mother's security as he hung on the cross (John 19:25-27). His mother and brothers ere present in the upper room at Pentecost (Acts 1:14). Instead, Jesus was pointing out that spiritual relationships are as binding as physical ones, and he was paving the way for a new community of believers (the universal church), our spiritual family. #Read Matthew 12:46-50 "Get Connected"
Jesus used many illustrations, or parables, when speaking to the crowds. A parable compares something familiar to something unfamiliar helping us understand spiritual truth by using everyday objects and relationships. Jesus' parables compel the listener to discover truth, while at the same time concealing the truth from those too lazy or too stubborn to see it. To those who are honestly searching, the truth becomes clear. We must be careful not to read too much into parables, forcing them to say what they don't mean. All parables have one meaning unless otherwise specified by Jesus. #Read Matthew 13:2, 3 "Get Connected"
This parable should encourage spiritual "sowers" those who teach, preach, and seek to lead others to the Lord. The man sowed good seed, but not all the seed sprouted, and even the plants that grew had varying yields. Don't be discouraged if you do not always see results as you faithfully teach the Word. Belief cannot be forced to follow a mathematical formula (i.e., a 4:1 ratio of seeds planted to seeds sprouted). Rather, it is a miracle of God's Holy Spirit as he uses your words to lead others to him. #Read Matthew 13:8 "Get Connected"
Human ears hear many sounds, but there is a deeper kind of listening that results in spiritual understanding. If you honestly seek God's will, you have spiritual hearing, and these parables will give you new perspectives. #Read Matthew 13:9 "Get Connected"
When speaking in parables, Jesus was not hiding truth form sincere seekers, because those who were receptive to spiritual truth understood the illustrations. To others they were only stories without meaning. This allowed Jesus to give spiritual food to those who hungered for it while preventing his enemies from trapping him sooner than they might otherwise have done. #Read Matthew 13:10 #GetConnected
This phrase means means we are responsible to use well what we have. When people reject Jesus, their hardness of heart drives away or renders useless even the little understanding they had. #Read Matthew 13:12 #GetConnected
How easy it is to agree with Christ with no intention of obeying. It is easy to denounce cares of this life (anxiety and worry) and the deceitfulness of riches, and still do nothing to change our ways. In light of eternal life with God, are your present worries justified? If you had everything you could want but forfeited eternal life with God, would those things be so desirable? #Read Matthew 13:22 #GetConnected
The four types of soil represent different responses to God's message. People respond differently because they are in different states of readiness. Some are hardened, others are shallow, others are contaminated by distracting cares, and some are receptive. How has God's Word taken root in your life? What kind of soil are you? #Read Matthew 13:23 #GetConnected
Jesus gives the meaning of this parable in verses 36-43. All the parables in this chapter teach us about God and his Kingdom. They explain what the Kingdom is really like as opposed to out expectations of it. The Kingdom of heaven is not a geographic location, but a spiritual realm where God rules and where we share in his eternal life. We join that Kingdom when we trust in Christ as Savior. #Read Matthew 13:24 #GetConnected
The young tares and the young blades of wheat look the same and can't be distinguished until they are grown and ready for harvest. Tares (unbelievers) and wheat (believers) must live side by side in this world. God allows unbelievers to remain for a while just as a farmer allows tares to remain in his field so the surrounding wheat isn't uprooted with them. At the harvest, however, the weeds will be uprooted and thrown away. God's harvest (judgment) of all mankind is comingt. We are to make ourselves ready by making sure our faith is sincere. #Read Matthew 13:30 #GetConnected
At the end of the world, angels will separate the evil from the good. There are true and false believers in churches today, but we should be cautious in our judgments because only Christ is qualified to make the final separation. If you start judging, you may damage some of the good "plants." It's more important to judge your own response to God than to analyze others' responses. #Read Matthew 13:40-43 #GetConnected
Jesus often uses these items to refer to the coming judgment. The wailing indicates sorrow or remorse, and gnashing of teeth shows extreme anxiety or pain. Those who say they don't care what happens to them after they die don't realize what they ar saying. They will be punished for living in selfishness and indifference to God. #Read Matthew 13:42 #GetConnected
Those who receive God's favor stand in bright contrast to those who receive his judgment. A similar illustration is used in Daniel 13:3. #Read Matthew 13:43 #GetConnected
The parable of the fishing net has the same meaning as the parable of the wheat and tares. We are to obey God and tell others about his grace and goodness, but we are not to dictate who is part of the Kingdom of heaven and who is not. This sorting will be done at the last judgment by those infinitely more qualified than we. #Read Matthew 47-49 #GetConnected
There is a double benefit for those who understand and use both Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament points the way to Jesus, the Messiah. Jesus always upheld its authority and relevance. The New Testament reveals Christ himself, who is not available to anyone who accepts his spiritual kingship. Both the old and new teaching give practical guidelines for faith and for living in the world. The religious leaders, however, were trapped in the old and blind to the new. They were looking for a future kingdom preceded by judgment. Jesus, however, taught that the Kingdom was now and the judgment was future. The religious leaders were looking for a physical and temporal kingdom (via military rebellion and physical rule), but were blind to the spiritual significance of the Kingdom that Christ brought. #Read Matthew 13:52 #GetConnected
Jesus did few miracles in his hometown "because of their unbelief." Lack of faith blinds people to the truth and robs them of hope. These people missed the Messiah. How does your faith measure up? If you can't see God's work , perhaps it is because of your unbelief. Believe, ask God for a "mighty work" in your life, and expect him to act. Look with the eyes of faith. #Read Matthew 13:58 #GetConnected
Herod did not wont to kill John the Baptist, but he gave the order so he wouldn't be embarrassed in front of his guest. How easy it is to give in to the crowd and to let ourselves be pressured into doing wrong. Don't get in a situation where it will be too embarrassing to do what is right. Determine to do what is right no matter how embarrassing or painful it may be. #Read Matthew 14:9 #GetConnected
Jesus performed some miracles as signs of his identity. He used other miracles to teach important truths. But here we read that he healed people because he was "moved with compassion toward them." Jesus was and is a loving, caring, and feeling person. When you are suffering, remember that Jesus hurts with you. He is "moved with compassion" for you. #Read Matthew 14:14 #GetConnected
Jesus multiplied five loaves and two fish to feed over 5,000 people. What he was originally given seemed insufficient, but in his hands it became more than enough. We often feel that our contribution to Jesus is meager, but he can use and multiply whatever we give him, whether it is talent, time, or treasure. It is when we give them to Jesus that our resources are multiplied. #Read Matthew 14:19-22 #GetConnected
Seeking solitude was an important priority for Jesus (see also Matthew 14:13). He Made room in his busy schedule to be alone with the Father. Spending time with God in prayer nurtures a vital relationship and equips us to meet life's challenges and struggles. Develop the discipline of spending time alone with God it will help you grow spiritually and become more and more like Christ. #Read Matthew 14:23 #GetConnected
Peter was not testing Jesus, something we are told not to do (Matthew 4:7). Instead he was the only one in the boat to react in faith. His impulsive request led him to experience a rather unusual demonstration of God's power. Peter started to sink because he took his eyes off Jesus and focused on the high waves around him.His faith wavered when he realized what he was doing. We may not walk on water, but we do walk through tough situations. If we focus on the waves of difficult circumstances around us without looking to Christ's power rather than on your inadequacies. #Read Matthew 14:28 #GetConnected
The people recognized Jesus as a great healer, but how many understood who he truly was? They came to Jesus for physical healing, but did they come for spiritual healing? They came to prolong their lives on earth, but did they come to secure their eternal lives? People may seek Jesus to learn valuable lessons from his life or in hopes of finding relief from pain. But we miss Jesus' whole message if we seek him only to heal our bodies but not our souls; if we look to him only to help only in this life, rather than for his eternal plan for us. Only when we understand the real Jesus Christ can we appreciate how he can truly change our life. #Read Matthew 14:35, 36 #GetConnected
Jesus was referring to the Jewish regulations concerning food and drink. This verse could be translated: "You aren't made unholy by eating non-kosher food! It is what you say and think that makes you unclean!" This statement offended the Pharisees who were very concerned about what people ate and drank. #Read Matthew 15:11 #GetConnected
Jesus told his disciples to let the Pharisees alone because they were blind to God's truth. Anyone who listened to their teaching would risk spiritual blindness as well. Not all religious leaders clearly see God's truth. Make sure those you listen to and learn from are those with good spiritual eyesight- those who teach and follow the principles of Scripture. #Read Matthew 15:13, 14 #GetConnected
We work hard to keep our outward appearance attractive, but what is in our hearts is even more important. The way we are deep down (where others can't see) matters much to God. What are you like inside? When people become Christians, God makes them different on the inside. He will continue the process of change inside them if they only ask. God wants us to heave healthy thoughts and motives, not just healthy bodies. #Read Matthew 15:16-20 #GetConnected
The disciples asked Jesus to get rid of the woman because she was bothering them with her begging. They showed no compassion for her or sensitivity to her needs. It is possible to become so occupied with spiritual matters that we miss real are prejudiced against needy people or if they cause us inconvenience. Instead of being annoyed, be aware of the opportunities that surround you. Be open to the beauty of God's message for all people and make an effort not to shut out those who are different from you. #Read Matthew 15:23 #GetConnected
A vast crowd was brought to Jesus to be healed, and he healed them all. Jesus is still able to heal broken lives, and we can be the ones who bring suffering people to him. Who do you know that needs Christ's healing touch? You can bring them to Jesus through prayer or by explaining to them the reason for your faith. Then let Christ do the healing. #Read Matthew 15:29-31 #GetConnected
The rock upon which Jesus would build his church has been identified as: (1) Jesus himself (his work of salvation by dying for us on the cross); (2) Peter (the first leader in the church at Jerusalem); (3) the confession of faith that Peter gave and that all subsequent true believers would give. It seems most likely that the rock refers to Peter as the leader of the church (for his function, not necessarily his character). Just as Peter had revealed the true identity of Christ, so Jesus revealed Peter's identity and role. Later, Peter reminds Christians that they are the church built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone (1 Peter 2:4-6). All believers are joined into this church by faith in Jesus Christ as Savior, the same faith that Peter expressed here ( see also Ephesians 2:20, 21). Jesus praised Peter for his confession of faith. It is faith like Peter's that is the foundation of Christ's Kingdom. #Read Matthew 16:18 #GetConnected
In his wilderness temptations, Jesus heard the message that he could achieve greatness without dying (Matthew 4:6). Now he heard the same message from Peter. Peter had just recognized Jesus as Messiah; now, however, he forsook God's perspective and evaluated the situation from a human one. Satan is always trying to get us to leave God out of the picture. Jesus rebuked Peter for this attitude. #Read Matthew 16:23 #GetConnected
When Jesus used this picture of hes followers taking up their crosses to follow him, the disciples knew what he meant. Crucifixion was a common Roman method of execution, and condemned criminals had to carry their crosses through the streets to the execution site. Following Jesus, therefore, meant a true commitment, the risk of death, and no turning back (see Matthew 10:39). #Read Matthew 16:24 #GetConnected
The possibility of losing their lives was very real for the disciples as well as for Jesus. Real discipleship implies real commitment - pledging our whole existence to his service. If we try to save our physical life from death, pain, or discomfort, we may risk losing our true eternal life. If we protect ourselves from the pain God calls us to suffer, we begin to die spiritually and emotionally. Our lives turn inward, and we lose our intended purpose. When we give our life in service to Christ, however, we discover the real purpose of living. #Read Matthew 16:25 #GetConnected
When we don't know Christ, we make choices as though this life were all we have. In reality, this life is just the introduction to eternity. How we live this brief span, however, determines our eternal state. What we accumulate on earth has no value in purchasing eternal life. Even the highest social or civic honors cannot earn our way to heaven. Evaluate all that happens from an eternal perspective, and you will find your values and decisions changing. #Read Matthew 16:26 #GetConnected
Jesus is more than just a great leader, a good example, a good influence, or a great prophet. He is the Son of God. When you understand this profound truth, the only adequate response is worship. when you have a correct understanding of Christ, you will obey him. #Read Matthew 17:5 #GetConnected
The disciples had been given the authority to so the healing, but they had not yet learned how to appropriate the power of God. Jesus' frustration is with the unbelieving and unresponsive generation. His disciples were merely a reflection of that attitude. In this instance, Jesus' purpose was not to criticize the disciples, but to encourage them to greater faith. #Read Matthew 17:17 #GetConnected
Jesus wasn't condemning the disciples for substandard faith; he was trying to show how important faith would be in their future ministry. If you are facing a problem that seems as big and immovable as a mountain, turn your eyes from the mountain and look to Christ for more faith. Only then will you be able to overcome the obstacles that stand in your way. #Read Matthew 17:20 #GetConnected
Jesus was teaching that some work for God is more difficult than others and requires a greater than usual dependence on God. This verse does not mean that prayer and fasting alone would have accomplished the miracle. Prayer and fasting indicate faith, discipline, and humility before God, without which there can be no hope of success. #Read Matthew 17:21 #GetConnected
As usual , Peter answered a question with out really knowing the answer, putting Jesus and the disciples in an awkward position. Jesus used this situation, however, to emphasize his kingly role. Just as kings pay no taxes and collect none from their family, Jesus, the King, owed no taxes. But Jesus supplied the tax payment for both himself and Peter rather than offend those who didn't understand his kingship. Although Jesus supplied the tax money, Peter had to go and get it. Ultimately all that we have comes to us from God's supply, but he may want us to be active in the process. #Read Matthew 17:24-27 #GetConnected
Jesus used a child to help his self-centered disciples get the point. We are not to be childish (like the disciples, arguing over petty issues), but rather childlike, with humble and sincere hearts. Are you being childlike or childish? #Read Matthew 18:1-4 #GetConnected
The disciples had become so preoccupied with the organization of Jesus' earthly kingdom, they had lost sight of its divine purpose. Instead of seeking a place of service, they had sight of service, they sought positions of advantage. How easy it is to lose our eternal perspective and compete for promotions or status in the church. How hard it is to identify with the "little children" weak and dependent people with no status or influence. #Read Matthew 18:3, 4 #GetConnected
Children are trusting by nature. They trust adults, and through that trust their capacity to trust God grows. Parents and other adults who influence young children are held accountable by God for how they affect these little ones' ability to trust. Jesus warned that anyone who turns little children away from faith will receive sever punishment. #Read Matthew 18:6 #GetConnected
Jesus warned the disciples about three ways to cause "little ones" to lose faith: tempting them (Matthew 18:7-9), neglecting or demeaning them (Matthew 18:10-14). and teaching false doctrine to them (Matthew 18:15-26). As leaders, we are to help young or new believers avoid anything or anyone that could cause them to stumble in their faith and lead them to sin. We must never take lightly the spiritual education and protection of the young in age or in the faith. #Read Matthew 18:7 #GetConnected
We must remove stumbling block that cause us to sin. This does not meant to cut off a part of the body: it means that any person, program, or teaching in the church that threatens the spiritual growth of the body must be removed. Jesus says it would be better to go to heaven with one hand than to hell with both. Sin, or course, affects more than our hands; it affects our minds and hearts. #Read Matthew 18:8, 9 #GetConnected
Our concern for children must parallel God's treatment of them. Certain angels are assigned to watch over children, and they have direct access to God. Theses words ring out sharply in cultures where children are taken lightly, ignored, or aborted. If their angels have constant access to God, the least we can do is to allow children to approach us easily in spite of our far too busy schedules. #Read Matthew 18:10 #GetConnected
These are Jesus' guidelines for dealing with those who sin against us. They were meant for (1) Christians, not unbelievers, (2) sins against you and not others, and (3) conflict resolution in the context of the church, not the community at large. Jesus' words are not a license for a frontal attack on every person who hurts or slights us. They are no a license to start a destructive gossip campaign or to call for a church trial. They are designed to reconcile those who disagree so that all Christians can live in harmony.
When someone wrongs us, we often do the opposite of what Jesus recommends. We turn away in hatred or resentment, seek revenge, or engage in gossip. By contrast, we should go to that person first, as difficult as that may be. Then we should forgive that person as often as he or she needs it (Matthew 18:21, 22). This creates a much better chance of restoring the relationship. #Read Matthew 18:15-17 #GetConnected
This binding and loosing refers to the decisions of the church in conflicts. Among believers, there is no court of appeals beyond the church. Ideally, the church decisions should be God-guided and based on discernment of his Word. Believers have the responsibility, therefore, to bring their problems to the church has the responsibility, therefore, to bring their problems to the church and the church has the responsibility to use God's guidance in seeking to resolve conflicts. Handling problems God's way will have an impact now and for eternity. #Read Matthew 18:18 #GetConnected
Jesus looked ahead to a new day when he would be present with his followers not in body, but through his Holy Spirit. In the body of believers (the church), the sincere agreement of two people is more powerful than the superficial agreement of thousands, because Christ's Holy Spirit is with them. Two or more believers, filled with the Holy Ghost, will pray according to God's will, not their own; and thus their requests will be granted. #Read Matthew 18:19, 20 #GetConnected
The rabbis taught that people should forgive those who offend them three times. Peter, trying to be especially generous, asked Jesus if seven (the "perfect" number) was enough times to forgive someone. But Jesus answered, "Seventy times seven" (the number of eternity), meaning that we shouldn't even keep track of how many times we forgive someone. We should always forgive those who are truly repentant, no matter how many times they ask. #Read Matthew 18:22 #GetConnected
John was put in prison and killed, at least in part for his public opinions on marriage and divorce, and the Pharisees hoped to trap Jesus too. They were trying to trick Jesus by having him choose sides in a theological controversy. Two main groups had two opposing views of divorce. One group supported divorce for almost any reason. The other believed divorce could be allowed only for marital unfaithfulness. This conflict hinged on how each group interpreted Deuteronomy 24:1-4. But in his answer, Jesus focused on marriage rather than divorce. He pointed out that God intended marriage to be permanent, and he gave four reasons for the importance of marriage (19:4-6). #Read Matthew 19:3-12 GetConnected
This law is found in Deuteronomy 24:1-4. In Moses' day, as well as in Jesus' day, the practice of marriage fell far short of God's intention. The same is true today. Jesus said that Moses gave this law only because of the people's hard hearts. Permanent marriage was God's intention, but because sinful human nature made divorce inevitable, Moses instituted some laws to help its victims. These were civil laws designed especially to protect the women who, in that culture, were quite vulnerable when living alone. With Moses' law, a man could no longer just throw his wife out - he had to write a formal letter of dismissal. This was a radical step toward civil rights, for it made men think twice about divorce. God designed marriage to be indissoluble. Instead of looking for reasons to leave each other, married couples should concentrate on how to stay together (Matthew 19:3-9). #Read Matthew 19:7, 8 #GetConnected
Although divorce was relatively easy in Old Testament times (Matthew 19:7), it is not what God originally intended. Couples should decide against divorce from the start and build their marriage on mutual commitment. There are also many good reasons for not marrying, one being to have more time to work for God's Kingdom. Don't assume that God wants everyone to marry. For many it may be better if they don't. Be sure that you prayerfully seek God's will before you plunge into the lifelong commitment of marriage. #Read Matthew 19:10-12 #GetConnected
Some have physical limitations that prevent their marrying, while others choose not to marry because, in their situation, they can serve God better as single people. Jesus was not teaching us to avoid marriage because it is inconvenient or takes away our freedom. That would be selfishness. A good reason to remain single is to use the time and freedom to serve God. Paul elaborates on this in 1 Corinthians 7. #Read Matthew 19:12 #GetConnected
The disciples must have forgotten what Jesus had said about children (Matthew 18:4-6). Jesus wanted little children to come because he loves them and because they have the kind of attitude needed to approach God. He didn't mean that heaven is only for children, but the people need childlike attitudes of trust in God. The receptiveness of little children was a great contrast to the stubbornness of the religious leaders who let their education and sophistication stand in the way of the simple faith needed to believe in Jesus. #Read Matthew 19:13-15 #GetConnected
To this man seeking assurance of eternal life, Jesus pointed out that salvation does not come from good deeds unaccompanied by love for God. The man needed a whole new starting point. Instead of adding another commandment to keep or good deed to perform, he needed to submit humbly to the lordship of Christ. #Read Matthew 19:16 #GetConnected
In response to the young man's question about how to have eternal life, Jesus told him to keep God's Ten Commandments. Jesus then listed six of them, all referring to relationships with others. When the young man replied that he had kept them, Jesus told him that he must do something more - sell everything and give the money to the poor. Jesus' statement exposed the man's weakness. In reality, his wealth was his idol, his "graven image," and he would not give it up. Thus he violated the first and greatest commandment (Exodus 20:3; Matthew 22::36-40). #Read Matthew 19:17 #GetConnected
When Jesus told this young man that he would "be perfect" if he gave everything he had to the poor, he wasn't speaking in the temporal, human sense. Jesus was explaining how to be "justified," made whole or complete, in God's sight. #Read Matthew 19:21 #GetConnected
Should all believers sell everything they own? No. We are responsible to care for our own needs and the needs of our families so as not to be a burden on others. We should, however, be willing to give up anything if God asks us to do so. This kind of attitude allows nothing to come between us and God and keeps us from using our God-given wealth selfishly. If you are comforted by the fact that Christ did not tell all his followers to sell all their possessions, then you may be too attached to what you have. #Matthew 19:21 #GetConnected
We cannot love God with all our heart and keep our money to ourselves. Loving him totally means using our money in ways that please him. #Read Matthew 19:22 #GetConnected
Because it is impossible for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, it appears impossible for a rich person to get into heaven. Jesus explained, however, that "with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26). Even rich men can enter the Kingdom if God brings them in. Faith in Christ, not is self or riches is what counts,. On what are you counting for salvation? #Read Matthew 19:24 #GetConnected
The disciples were confused. They thought that if anyone could be saved it would be the rich, whom their culture considered especially blessed by God. #Read Matthew 19:25, 26 #GetConnected
In the bible, God gives rewards to his people according to his justice. In the Old Testament, obedience often brought reward in this life (Deuteronomy 28), but obedience and immediate reward are not always linked. If they were, good people would always be rich, and suffering would always be a sign of sin. As believers, our true reward is God's presence and power through the Holy Spirit. Later, in eternity, we will be rewarded for our faith and service. If material rewards in this life came to us for every faithful deed, we would be tempted to boast about our achievements and act our of wrong motivations. #Read Matthew 19:27 #GetConnected
Jesus assured the disciples that anyone who gives up something valuable for his sake will be repaid many times over in this life, although not necessarily in the same form. For example, a person my be rejected by his family for accepting Christ, but he will gain the larger family of believers. #Read Matthew 19:29 #GetConnected
Jesus turned the world's values upside down. Consider the most powerful or well-know people in our world - how many got where they are by being mild-tempered, self-effacing, and gentle? Not many! But in the life to come, the last will be first - if they got in last place by choosing to follow Jesus. Don't forfeit eternal rewards for temporary benefits. Be willing to make sacrifices now for greater rewards later. Be wiling to accept man's disapproval for God's approval. #Read Matthew 19:30 #GetConnected
Jesus further clarified the membership rules of the Kingdom of heaven - entrance is by God's grace alone. In this parable, God is the householder, and believers are the laborers. This parable is especially for those who feel superior because of heritage or favored position, for those who feel superior because they have spent so much time with Christ, and for new believers as reassurance of God's grace. #Read Matthew 20:1 #GetConnected
This parable is not about rewards but about salvation. It is a strong teaching about grace, God's generosity. We shouldn't begrudge those who turn to God in the last moments of life, because in reality no one deserves eternal life.
Many people we don't expect to see in the Kingdom will be there. The thief who repented as he was dying (Luke 23:40-43) will be there along with people who have believed and served God for many years. Do you resent God's gracious acceptance of the despised, the outcast, and the sinners who have turned to him for forgiveness? Are you ever jealous of what God has given to another person? Instead, focus on God's gracious benefits to you, and be thankful for what you have. #Read Matthew 20:15 #GetConnected
James' and John's mother came to Jesus "worshiping him, and desiring a certain thing of him." She gave Jesus worship, but her real motive was to get something from him. Too often this happens in our lives. We play religious games, expecting God to give us something in return. True worship, however, adores and praises Christ for who he is and for what he has done. #Read Matthew 20:20 #GetConnected
The mother of James and John asked Jesus to give her sons special positions in his Kingdom. Parents naturally want to see their children promoted and honored, but this desire is dangerous if it causes them to lose sight of God's will for their children. God may have different work for them- not as glamorous, but just as important. Thus, parents' desires for their children's advancement must be held in check as they pray that God's will be done in their children's lives. #Read Matthew 20:20 #GetConnected
James, John, and their mother failed to grasp Jesus' previous teachings on rewards (Matthew 19:16-30) and eternal life (Matthew 20:1-16). They failed to understand the suffering they would face before living in the glory of God's Kingdom. The "cup" was the suffering and crucifixion Christ faced. Both James and John would also face great suffering. James would be put to deathe for his faith, and John would be exiled. #Read Matthew 20:22 #GetConnected
This is the second time Jesus cleared the Temple (see john 2:13-17). Merchants and money hangers set up their booths in the Court of the Gentiles in the Temple, crowding out the Gentiles who come from all over the civilzed world to worship God. The merchants sold sacrificial animals at high distance. The money changers exchanged all international currency for the special Temple coins the only money merchants would accept. They often deceived foreigners who didn't know the exchange rates. Their commercialism in God's house frustrated people's attempts at worship. Any practice that interferes with worshiping God should be stopped. #Read Matthew 21:12 #GetConnected
Many have wondered about Jesus' statement that if we have faith and don't doubt, we can move mountains. Jesus, of course, was not suggesting that his followers use prayer as "magic" and perform capricious mountain-moving acts. Instead, he was making a strong point about the disciples' (and our) lack of faith. What kinds of mountains do you face? Have you talked to God about them? How strong is your faith? #Read Matthew 21:21 #GetConnected
This verse is not a guarantee that we can get anything we want simply by asking Jesus and believing. God does not grant requests that would hurt us or others or that violate his own nature or will. Jesus' statement is not a blank check. To be fulfilled, our requests must be in harmony with the principles of God's Kingdom. The stronger our belief, the more likely our prayers will be in line with God's will, and then God will be happy to grant them. #Read Matthew 21:22 #GetConnected
The son who said he would obey and then didn't represented the people of israel in Jesus' day. They said they wanted to do God's will, but they constantly disobeyed. They were phony, just going through the motions. It is dangerous to pretend to obey God when our hearts are far from him, because God knows our true intentions. Our actions must match our words. #Read Matthew 21:30 #GetConnected
In trying to reach us with his love, God finally sent his own Son. His perfect life, his words, and his sacrifice of love are meant to cause us to listen to Christ and to follow him as Lord. If we ignore God's gracious gift of his Son, we reject God. #Read Matthew 21:37 #GetConnected
Jesus refers to him self as "the stone which the builders rejected." Though rejected by many of his people, he would become the cornerstone of his new building, the church (see Acts 4:11).
Jesus metaphor to show that one stone can affect people different ways, depending on how they relate to it. See Isaiah 8:14, 15; 28:16; Daniel 2:34, 44, 45. Ideally they will build on it; many, however, will trip over it. And at last judgment God's enemies will be crushed by it. Christ, the "building block," will in the end become the "crushing stone." He offers mercy and forgiveness now and promises judgment later. We should not wait to make our choice. #Read Matthew 21:42 -44 #GetConnected
The Pharisees' traditions and their interpretations and applications of the laws had become as important to them as the Law itself. Their laws were not all bad- some were beneficial. The problem arose when the religious leaders (1) took man-made rules as seriously as God's laws, (2) told the people to obey these rules but did not do so themselves, or (3) obeyed the rules, not to honor God, but to make themselves look good. Usually Jesus did not condemn what the Pharisees taught, but what they were- hypocrites. #Read Matthew 23:2, 3 #GetConnected
Jesus again exposed the hypocritical attitudes of the religious leaders. They knew the Scriptures but did not live by them. They didn't care about being holy-just looking holy in order to receive the people's admiration and praise. Today, like the Pharisees, many people say they know the Bible but do not let it change their lives. They say they follow Jesus, but they don't live by his standards of love. People who live this way are hypocrites. We must make sure our actions match our beliefs.
People desire positions of leadership not only in business but also in the church. This becomes dangerous if love for the position grows stronger than loyalty to God. This is what happened to the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus is not against all leadership- we need Christian leaders-but against leadership that serves itself rather than others. #Read Matthew 23:5-7 #GetConnected
Jesus challenged society's norms. To him, greatness comes from serving-giving of yourself to help God and others. Service keeps us aware of others' needs, and it stops us from focusing only on ourselves. Jesus came as a servant. What kind of greatness do you seek? #Read Matthew 23:11, 12 #GetConnected
Jesus condemned the Pharisees and religious leaders leaders for appearing saintly and holy outwardly but inwardly remaining full of corruption and greed. Living our Christianity merely as a show for others is like washing a cup on the outside only. When we are clean on the inside, our cleanliness on the outside won't be a sham. #Read Matthew 23:25-28 #GetConnected
Jesus wanted to gather his people together as a hen protects her chicks under her wings, but they wouldn't let him. Many times we hurt and don't know where to turn. We reject Christ's help because we don't think he can give us what we need. But who knows our needs better than our Creator? Those who turn to Jesus will find that he helps and comforts as no one else can. #Read Matthew 23:37 #GetConnected
They were people who claimed to receive messages from God, but who preached a "health and wealth" message. They told people only what they wanted to hear, even when the nation was not following God as it should. There were false prophets in Jesus' day, and we have them today. They are popular leaders who tell people what they want to hear-such as "God wants you to be rich," "Do whatever your desires tell you," or "There is no such thing as sin or hell." Jesus said false teachers would come, and he warned his disciples, as he warns us, not to listen to their dangerous words. #Read Matthew 24:11 #GetConnected
This parable is about a wedding. On the wedding day the bridegroom went to the bride's house for the ceremony; then the bride and groom, along with a great parade, returned to the groom's house where a feast took place, often lasting a full week. These virgins (bridesmaids) were waiting for the parade, and they hoped to take part in the wedding banquet. But when the groom didn't come at the expected time, five of them were out of lamp oil. By the time they had purchased extra oil, it was too late to join the feast.
When Jesus returns to take his people to heaven, we must be ready. Spiritual preparation cannot be bought or borrowed at the last minute. Our relationship with God must be our own. #Read Matthew 25:1-13 #GetConnected
The master divided the money (talents) among his servants according to their abilities. No one received more or less than he could handle. If he failed in his assignment, his excuse could no be that he was overwhelmed. Failure could come only from laziness or hatred for the master. The talents represent any kind of resource we are given. God gives us time, gifts, and other resources according to our abilities, and he expects us to invest them wisely until he returns. We are responsible to use well what God has given us. The issue is not how much we have but how well we use what we have. #Read Matthew 25:15 #GetConnected
Jesus is coming back - we know this is true. Does this mean we should quit our jobs in order to serve God? No, it means we are to use our time, talents, and treasures diligently in order to serve God completely in whatever we do. For most of us, it means doing our daily work out of love for God. #Read Matthew 25:21 #GetConnected
This last man was thinking only of himself. He hoped to play it safe and protect himself from his hard taskmaster, but he was judged for his self-centeredness. We must not make excuses to avoid doing what God calls us to do. If God truly is our Master, we must obey willingly. Our time, abilities, and money aren't ours in the first place- we are caretakers, not owners. When we ignore, squander, or abuse what we are given, we are rebellious and deserve to be punished. #Read Matthew 25:24-30 #GetConnected
This parable describes the consequences of two attitudes toward Christ's return. The person who diligently prepares for it by investing his time and talents to serve God will be rewarded. The person who has no heart for the work of the kingdom will be punished. God rewards faithfulness. Those who bear no fruit for God's Kingdom cannot expect to be treated the same as those who are faithful. #Read Matthew 25:29, 30 #GetConnected
How does Jesus' blood seal the new covenant (testament)? People under the old covenant (those who lived before Jesus) could approach God only through a priest and an animal sacrifice. Now all people can come directly to God through faith because Jesus' death has made us acceptable in God's eye's (Romans 3:21-24)
The old covenant was a shadow of the new (Jeremiah 31:31), pointing forward to the day when Jesus himself would be the final and ultimate sacrifice for sin. Rather than a lamb without blemish slain on the altar, the perfect Lamb of God was slain on the cross, a sinless sacrifice, so that our sins could be forgiven once and for all. All those who believe in him receive that forgiveness. #Read Matthew 26:28#GetConnected
All the disciples declared that they would die rather than desert Jesus. A few hours later, however, they all scattered. Talk is cheap. It is easy to say we are devoted to Christ, but our claims are meaningful only when they are tested in the crucible of persecution. How strong is your faith? Is it strong enough to stand under intense trial? This was the second time that evening that Jesus predicted that his disciples would desert him (see Luke 22:31-38; John 13:31-38 for first prediction). #Read Matthew 26:35 #GetConnected
Jesus was not rebelling against his Father's will when he asked that the cup of suffering and separation be taken away. In fact, he reaffirmed his desire to do God's will by saying, "Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt>" His prayer reveals to us his terrible suffering. His agony was worse than death as he paid for all sin by being separated from God. The sinless Son of God took our sins upon himself to save us from suffering and separation,
In times of suffering people sometimes wish they knew the future, or they wish they could understand the reason for their anguish. Jesus knew what lay ahead of him, and he knew the reason. Even so, his struggle was intense - more wrenching than any struggle we will ever have to face. What does it take to be able to say "they will be done"? It takes trust in God's plans, prayer, and obedience each step of the way. #Read Matthew 26:39 #GetConnected
The man who cut off the servant's ear was Peter (John 18:10). Peter was trying to prevent what he saw as defeat. He didn't realize that Jesus had to die in order to have victory. But Jesus demonstrated perfect commitment to his Father's will. His Kingdom would not be advanced with swords, but with faith and obedience. #Read Matthew 26:51-52 #GetConnected
The High Priest accused Jesus of blasphemy-calling himself God. To the Jews, this was a great crime, punishable by death. The religious leaders refused even to consider that Jesus' words might be true, They had decided against Jesus, and in so doing they sealed their own fate as well as his. Like the Council members, you must decide whether Jesus' words are blasphemy or truth. Your decision has eternal implications. #Read Matthew 26:65-66 #GetConnected
There were three stages to Peter's denial. First he acted confused and tried to divert attention from himself by changing the subject. Second, he denied Jesus with an oath. Third he began to curse and swear. Believers who deny Christ often begin doing so subtly by pretending not to know him. When opportunities to discuss religious issues come up, they walk away or pretend they don't know the answers. With only a little more pressure, they can be induced to deny flatly their relationship with Christ. If you find yourself subtly avoiding occasions to talk about Christ, watch out. You may be on the road to denying him. #Read Matthew 29:69-74 #GetConnected
Jesus' formal accuser (see 26:48 note) wanted to drop his charges, but the religious leaders refused to halt the trial. When he betrayed Jesus, perhaps Judas was trying to force his hand to get him to lead a revolt against Rome. This did not work, of course. Whatever his reason, Judas changed his mind, but it was too late. Many of the plans we set into motion cannot be reversed. It is best to think of the potential consequences before we launch into an action we may later regret. #Read Matthew 27:3, 4 #GetConnected
In making no decision, Pilate made the decision to let the crowds crucify Jesus. Although he washed his hands, the quilt remained. Washing your hands of a tough situation doesn't cancel your guilt. It merely gives you a false sense of peace. Don't make excuses- take responsibility for the decisions you make. #Read Matthew 27:24 #GetConnected
People often make fun of Christians for their faith, but believers can take courage from the fact that Jesus himself was mocked more than most people. Taunting may hurt our feelings, but we should never let it change our faith (see Matthew 5:11, 12). #Read Matthew 27:29 #GetConnected
Jesus was not questioning God; he was quoting the first line of Psalm 22-a deep expression of the anguish he felt when he took on the sins of the world causing him to be separated from his Father. This was what Jesus dreaded when he prayed to God in the garden to take the cup from him (Matthew 26:39). The physical agony was horrible, but even worse was the period of spiritual separation from God. Jesus suffered this double death so that we would never have to experience eternal separation from God. #Read Matthew 27:46 #GetConnected
The religious leaders took Jesus' resurrection claims more seriously than the disciples did. The disciples didn't remember Jesus' teaching about his resurrection (Matthew 20:17-19), but the religious leaders did. Because of his claims, they were almost as afraid of Jesus after his death as when he was alive. They tried to take every precaution that his body would remain in the tomb. #Read Matthew 27:64#GetConnected
The Pharisees were so afraid of Jesus' prediction about his resurrection that they made sure the tomb was thoroughly sealed and guarded. Because the tomb was hewn out of rock in the side of a hill, there was only one entrance. The tomb was sealed by stringing a cord across the stone that was rolled over the entrance. The cord was sealed at each end with clay. But the religious leaders took a further precaution, asking that guards be placed at the tomb's entrance. With such precautions, the only way the tomb could be empty would be for Jesus to rise from the dead. The Pharisees failed to understand that no rock, seal, guard, or army could prevent the Son of God from rising again. #Read Matthew 27:66 #GetConnected
Jesus' resurrection is the key to the Christian faith. Why?
1. Just as he promised, Jesus rose from the dead. We can be confident, therefore, that he will accomplish all he has promised.
2. Jesus' bodily resurrection shows us that the living Christ is ruler of God's eternal Kingdom, not a false prophet or impost-er.
3. We can be certain of our resurrection because he was resurrected. Death is not the end there is future life.
4. The power that brought Jesus back to life is available to us to bring our spiritually dead selves back to life.
5. The resurrection is the basis for the church's witness to the world. Jesus is more than just a human leader; he is the Son of God.#Read Matthew 28:5-7 #GetConnected