Saturday, December 31, 2011

Marriage And Divorce


Matthew 19:1-10

There were conflicting views concerning marriage and divorce in New Testament times.

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There were two opposing schools of thought among the scribes and Pharisees in understanding Deuteronomy 24:1.

Some believed it taught that divorce was only permissible when there was adultery.

Others gave a man the most flimsy excuse to divorce his wife.

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The Pharisees wanted to trap the Lord Jesus into taking sides.

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Why did Moses permit divorce?

It was because of the hardness of men’s hearts!

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The provision of Moses was to protect a wife who could be left destitute by divorce, with no means of support.

The certificate meant that she was free to remarry (Deuteronomy 24:1-4).

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The certificate was also meant to make people think very seriously before embarking upon divorce.

Once a couple had remarried, there was no way that they could later marry their former partners again.

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The Lord Jesus took His hearers back to the institution of marriage in Genesis 2:24.

God means marriage to be permanent!

“Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate (Matthew 19:6).”

If marriage was seen to be a Divine institution, people would not rush in and out of it!

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A marriage involves two sinners, not two angels!

Christian couples must recognize that their spouse is not perfect and that it takes much hard work, patience and self-giving love to make a happy marriage.

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But divorce is not the unforgivable sin.

There is forgiveness and a place in the church for those who have suffered the trauma of marriage break-up.

They need understanding and help, not self-righteous condemnation.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Forgiving Spirit


Matthew 18:21-35

Apostle Peter understood that he must not shun a brother who had sinned against him.

But this prompted him to ask a question, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me?”

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The answer of the Lord Jesus Christ and the parable that followed show that every Christian must be merciful and have a forgiving spirit.

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The cruel behavior of the man, who had been forgiven the massive debt which he had no hope of repaying, rightly fills us with indignation.

He had owed a huge fortune, but his fellow servant owed him just a hundred denarii or a hundred days’ wages.

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The message of this parable is that God has graciously forgiven the Christian.

We could never have saved ourselves.

How can we possibly refuse to forgive anyone who has sinned against us when they have repented and sought our forgiveness?

How dare we be so eaten up by anger, like the man in the parable, who refused to forgive?

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But if those who have sinned against us refuse to repent, we are not expected to forgive them.

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God only forgives those who repent of their sins and any forgiveness which does not lead to reconciliation falls short of the biblical ideal.

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We must, however, pray for our enemies, desire their salvation and be prepared to forgive them.

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Are we refusing to forgive someone who has sinned against us and has repented of that sin?

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Forgiveness must be whole-hearted.

If our attitude is, “I’ll forgive but I will never forget,” we have not really forgiven or been reconciled.

We are still harboring a bitter and a resentful spirit.

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How is our heart before God?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Church Discipline


Matthew 18:15-20

Church discipline is important.

It is essential for the sinning believer.

It is essential for the church itself.

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Church discipline is a collective decision.

It involves the initiative of those who want to put things right for the good of the church.

It involves the collective decision of all the church members.

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Church discipline must be done with discretion.

It must be done with great wisdom; eternal issues are at stake.

We must pray to God to help us at such a time.

It must be exercised in love, with the intense desire to restore the offender.

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Church discipline must be done according to the book.

There can be no forgiveness for the offender until he repents of his sin.

Reconciliation between the aggrieved parties must be done upon forgiveness.

Restoration of fellowship must be followed upon reconciliation.

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Church discipline must be done with proper guidelines.

We must go and tell the offender privately and seek to win him over by his repentance and reconciliation to us.

If he refuses to listen to us, we must then take with us one or two witnesses. We must make sure that the witnesses are godly and not seen as our closest friends.

If he still refuses to listen to us, the matter must be taken to the church. The witnesses are then to confirm our complaint.

If he refuses to listen to the church and fails to repent, he must be excommunicated from the church and be considered as someone who is not Christian.

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It is never easy to carry out church discipline.

But it must be done for the sake of the purity and prosperity of the church.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Guardian Angels


Matthew 18:10-14

The Lord Jesus warned, “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones”.

‘These little ones’ are believers.

We must not despise any of God’s children.

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The sin of pride often raises its ugly head among us.

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Let us not despise another believer because he is not of our social class, intellectual ability, or race.

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Let us take the warning of the Lord Jesus to heart!

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It is no small matter to despise those who have the guardian angels as their friends!

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The Lord Jesus said that “in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.”

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Angels do watch over us and minister to us.

God uses His mighty angels to protect us!

Angels will deliver us in times of need.

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We see many examples of this truth in the Bible.

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An angel fed and encouraged the prophet Elijah when he fled from wicked Jezebel.

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Daniel was protected from the lions surrounding him in the den.

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Peter was protected from prison by an angel.

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Let us think about the ministry of angels who work silently and invisibly on our behalf.

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The parable of the lost sheep illustrates God’s concern for His people when they go astray.

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“It is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish”.

Oh! What an encouragement this is for the weak and despairing believers!

Oh! What an encouragement this is for those to persevere in prayer for the backslider!

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Have we been straying from the Lord?

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The Good Shepherd loves His sheep.

Let us call upon Him and ask Him to restore our soul.

He will then rejoice over us.

He will then restore to us the joy of our salvation.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Who Is The Greatest


Matthew 18:1-9

The disciples asked, “Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

The Lord Jesus called a little child to Himself.

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He told the disciples that no one entered the kingdom of heaven without childlike trust and humility.

True greatest lies in humility.

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The Lord Jesus went on to give some stern warnings.

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Woe to those who causes a Christian to sin.

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Those who would seek to entice us into sin will face a dreadful judgment.

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We must be prepared to give up anything that stands between us and the salvation of our souls.

Things that are dear to us like our hands, feet, or eyes must be given up if they cause us to sin.

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This does not mean that we literally cut them off.

But we must put fleshly passions to death.

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It is better to put sin to death now, than to suffer eternal pains of hell.

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The Greek word used here for ‘hell fire’ is ‘Gehenna.’

It was also the name of a valley to the south of Jerusalem which became known as ‘the place of fire’.

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During the reigns of the wicked kings, Ahaz and Manasseh, children were roasted to death as sacrifices to the god Molech.

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‘Gehenna’ became the word used to describe hell where the fire is eternal.

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The truth about hell should cause us to be urgent in making the gospel known to sinners.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Lest We Offend Them


Matthew 17:22-27

The Lord Jesus again taught the disciples that He would be killed and that he would rise again the third day.

But they just could not take it all in and were bewildered and exceedingly sorrowful.

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The Lord Jesus and the disciples had been absent from Capernaum for some time.

On their return, Peter had a tax demand.

The collectors of the temple tax asked Peter if the Lord Jesus paid the temple tax.

This was the ransom price of a half-shekel paid by every Jew of 20 years and above for the maintenance of the sanctuary.

Peter answered, “Yes.”

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Peter was amazed to find the Lord Jesus opened a conversation on this subject as soon as he returned to the house.

Through His question to Peter, the Lord Jesus showed that just as king’s sons are exempt from paying taxes, so He was also exempt from paying the double-drachma (half-shekel) temple tax.

He is the Lord who is greater than the temple, which is His Father’s house.

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The Lord Jesus told Peter that the tax should be paid, “Lest we offend them”.

Peter was told to cast a line and hook into the sea.

The first fish to be taken would have in its mouth a piece of money.

It was a coin sufficient to pay exactly the temple tax for two.

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This miracle and His knowledge of the incident in which Peter was questioned about the temple tax, again demonstrates that the Lord Jesus is the almighty Son of God.

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The Lord Jesus was careful not to give offence by asserting His rights over a trivial matter.

The message of the gospel offends many but we must be careful not to give offence by our attitude to those who are not believers.

Let us seek to be sensitive to others.

Let us also be encouraged that the Lord knows all of our needs and is able to meet them.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Faith As Small As A Mustard Seed


Matthew 17:14-21

When the Lord Jesus Christ came down from the mountain with Peter, James and John, He found the other disciples surrounded by a crowd.

They were disputing with the scribes after failing to exorcise a demon from a boy.

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This failure brought much scorn from the enemies of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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The distraught father of the boy pleaded with the Lord Jesus Christ to deliver his son from the demon which had rendered him deaf and dumb and caused him to throw fits.

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The Lord Jesus Christ rebuked those around Him, “You unbelieving and perverse generation”.

The disciples and the boy’s father were lacking in faith.

The perverse scribes were gloating at the failure of the disciples to help the man and his son.

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The Lord Jesus Christ graciously answered the man’s prayer.

The boy was delivered from the demon that had so tormented him.

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The disciples had known success on other occasions.

They were very concerned at their failure to help the boy.

The Lord Jesus Christ told them that they were lacking in prayer, in fasting, and in faith.

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We cannot live on past successes.

If we neglect our communion with God, we will become weak and impotent in our work for God.

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The Lord Jesus Christ promised, “if you have faith as small as a mustard seed …. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

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A mustard seed was very small and yet grew into a tree which was large enough to shelter birds.

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“Faith as small as a mustard seed” is a trust in God which does not give way to despair when prayer is not immediately answered.

It continues to maintain fellowship with God and to pray fervently.

It is not motivated by sinful desires when it prays.

It expects great things from God and attempts great things for God.

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Is our faith very small, just like a mustard seed?

Do not be discouraged.

Exercise that faith and discover what God is able to do!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Transfiguration of Jesus


(Matthew 17:1-13)

The transfiguration of the Lord Jesus Christ was to have a lasting impression upon the 3 disciples who were with Him.

Apostle John wrote, “We beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Apostle Peter recorded, “We... were eye-witnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16-17)

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Luke told us in his gospel that at His transfiguration, the Lord Jesus Christ spoke with Moses and Elijah about His death (Luke 9:31).

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Moses represents the Law, and Elijah the Prophets.

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The Lord Jesus Christ has fulfilled the Law and the Prophets through His life and death.

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Moses had seen the majesty of God on Mount Sinai, and later, his face shone, reflecting the glory of God.

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The Lord Jesus did not merely reflect the glory of God – He is God!

The brilliance and the majesty seen by the 3 disciples was that of God Himself!

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A bright cloud overshadowed the Lord Jesus Christ and His disciples.

The voice of God was heard coming from the cloud, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”

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On hearing this, the disciples were filled with fear and fell on their faces.

The Lord Jesus Christ then came and touched them, telling them to get up and not be afraid.

The Lord Jesus Christ then told them not to tell anyone about the vision until He had risen from the dead.

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The Lord Jesus Christ told His disciples that just as John the Baptist suffered, so He too would suffer.

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The words of the Lord Jesus Christ did not seem to register with the disciples.

They could not take in that their beloved Master had to die and that He would rise from the dead.

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When the Lord Jesus Christ was betrayed and arrested, they were scattered in helpless confusion.

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We will be spared of much confusion and trouble if we do all that we can to know and understand God’s word.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Take Up The Cross And Follow Me


Matthew 16:20-28

The Lord Jesus Christ commanded His disciples not to reveal His identity as the Messiah.

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From then on, He began to teach them that He must go to Jerusalem, where He would suffer at the hands of the Jewish leadership, be killed, and raised the 3rd day.

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If we are to know God, we must be sure of who the Lord Jesus is, and why He came to this earth.

We must know the Person and the Work of Christ.

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Peter confessed that Jesus is ‘the Christ, the Son of the living God'.

But he could not accept that the Lord Jesus had to suffer and to die.

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He rebuked the Lord Jesus for saying these things.

But the Saviour rebuked him with the words, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an offence to me.”

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Peter wanted to turn the Lord Jesus away from His mission of suffering and death.

Such thoughts could only come from the devil!

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The Lord Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me”.

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Discipleship is a costly business.

But the alternative to following Christ is too dreadful to contemplate.

“For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

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To prefer the world and its passing pleasures to the Lord Jesus Christ is the height of folly!

To lose one’s soul is to suffer eternal loss.

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Have we taken up our cross to follow Christ?

Are we denying ourselves to please Him?

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The Lord Jesus went on to speak of His coming again.

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He promised that some of those present would not die until they had seen Him coming in His kingdom.

This probably refers to His resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.

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The gospel had a tremendous impact upon the Roman world which the apostles were accused of turning upside down.

Monday, November 7, 2011

I Will Build My Church


Matthew 16:13-20

The Lord Jesus Christ told Peter that he was blessed to receive the revelation from God the Father that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God”.

He then went on to say to him, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it.”

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Does this support the claim of the Roman Catholic Church that Peter was the first pope?

Not at all! The golden rule we must always apply when seeking to find the meaning of obscure or difficult verses is to bring the rest of the Bible to bear on our interpretation of such verses.

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There is a play on the Greek words ‘Petros’ (Peter) and ‘petra’ (stone or rock) on this verse.

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It is important to see that Christ has built His church on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner-stone (Ephesians 2:20).

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The ‘keys of the kingdom of heaven’ speak of authority and Peter’s authority in the early church is not disputed.

He preached the sermon on the Day of Pentecost and was prominent in the leadership of the Jerusalem church.

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The ‘binding and loosing’ spoken of in verse 19 is also shown to be the prerogative of the local church.

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Those who trust in ‘apostolic succession’ for church authority deny many essential Christian doctrines and contradict the plain teaching of the Bible.

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Their spiritual successors are those who submit to the whole counsel of God as it is taught in the Bible, embracing the doctrine of the apostles.

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The word of the Lord Jesus Christ, “I will build my church, and the gates of the hades shall not prevail against it” are very encouraging.

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The church is constantly under satanic attack but she will never be destroyed.

We are assured of the triumph of the gospel!

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Let us be encouraged and persevere in our work for the Lord.

He will build His church!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

But Who Do You Say That I Am?


Matthew 16:13-20

The Lord Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”

The disciples replied that some thought Him to be John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.

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People until today continue to have different opinions about the Lord Jesus:
• He is the founder of Christianity.
• He is a great religious teacher.
• He is a good person.
• He is a prophet.

But all these answers are inadequate.

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The Lord Jesus then asked the disciples their opinions concerning Himself.

Peter’s confessed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

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Peter acknowledged the Lord Jesus Christ as
  1. The Christ, the Messiah promised through the prophets of the Old Testament.
  2. The Son of God. This is a title of deity! The Lord Jesus is God. Any religion that denies that the Lord Christ is God is a false religion.

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Peter was blessed because God had revealed these things to him.

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It is important to know God’s revelation that the Lord Jesus is the almighty, holy, sinless, perfect Son of God.

It is also important to know that He came into the world to die on the cross to save sinners.

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The Lord Jesus Christ had told the Pharisees after they rejected His claim to be the Son of God that they would die in their sins (John 8:24).

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If we remain mistaken about the identity of the Lord Jesus, we cannot have eternal life.

We will die in our sins.

We will be lost forever.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Beware Of The Leaven Of The Pharisees And The Sadducees


Matthew 16:1-12

The Pharisees and the Sadducees had seen enough evidence of the mighty power of the Lord Jesus Christ.

But they came again to ask for more miraculous sign from heaven.

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The Lord Jesus Christ condemned them for their willful unbelief.

He repeated His assertion that the only sign that would be given them was the sign of the prophet Jonah.

They were again promised the greatest sign of all – the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead.

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The disciples had forgotten to take bread with them.

They were puzzled when the Lord Jesus Christ warned them, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

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They might have thought that the Lord Jesus Christ was forbidding them to accept bread from these people.

But the Lord Jesus Christ was actually warning them against their doctrine.

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The Pharisees were proud and lacking in compassion.

They were more concerned for their man-made tradition than for loving God and obeying His word.

Their religion was loveless and lifeless.

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The high priests and most of the priests were Sadducees.

They did not believe in the resurrection of the body, in angles or demons, in judgment, or in heaven or hell.

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We must beware of teaching which adds to the Scripture with unbiblical traditions.

We must also beware of teaching which takes away from the Scripture, like denying the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ for sinners, or of judgment and hell.

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Maybe we feel that we are sound in doctrine and that we do not need to be warned about these things.

There are many Christians who are sound in doctrine but who are puffed up.

God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

Let us be careful of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hunger


Matthew 15:32-39

Some people claim that there are contradictions in the Bible.

They say that in one place of the Bible records the feeding of the 5000, but here it is 4000 who were fed.

There is no contradiction.

They are 2 distinct miracles (Matthew 16:9-10).

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The Lord Jesus Christ was still in Decapolis on the eastern side of the sea of Galilee.

He told the disciples that He had compassion for the people who had been with Him for 3 days and were hungry.

Some of them were far from their homes.

He said, “I do not want to send them away hungry”.

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The disciples had not learned the lesson of the feeding of the 5000.

They thought it impossible that the crowd could be fed with just 7 loaves and some small fish.

They asked, “Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a multitude?”

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The Lord Jesus Christ then miraculously fed 4000 men, besides women and children, and 7 large baskets were filled with the remains of the meal.

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There is always a famine of hearing the words of the LORD.

Religion without true godliness and power cannot satisfy spiritual hunger.

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Like the Lord Jesus Christ, we must have compassion for those who are lost.

We must be concerned with those who will spend eternity in hell unless they are saved through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Are we sharing our spiritual food with those around us?

Let this be our concern.

We must not send anyone away who still have unsatisfied spiritual hunger.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Great Is Your Faith


Matthew 15:21-31

The Lord Jesus Christ left the Gennesaret area of Galilee to go to the region of Tyre and Sidon.

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A Gentile woman of Canaan came to Him.

She pleaded that he cast a demon out of her daughter.

But the Lord Jesus Christ answered her not a word.

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The woman was not put off by the Lord’s silence or the unfriendly attitude of the disciples.

She persisted in her request even though the Lord Jesus Christ said that the children’s bread was not for the little dogs.

In other words, the Lord Jesus Christ had come to minister to the Jews.

But the woman pointed out that the little dogs ate the crumbs which fell from their masters’ table.

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The woman asked for some crumbs and her faith pleased the Lord.

The Lord Jesus Christ said to her, “O woman, great is your faith!”

Then He delivered her daughter from the demon.

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Faith is important.

Without faith, we cannot please God.

Without faith, we cannot be a Christian.

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Those who have great faith, focus their trust in God.

Great faith also perseveres in the face of discouragement.

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The Canaanite woman persisted in seeking the Lord’s help until her prayer was answered.

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God sometimes delays answering our prayers.

But we must not stop praying.

Like the Canaanite woman, we must persevere in our prayers.

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The Lord tests our faith in order to strengthen us.

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The Lord Jesus Christ then traveled to Decapolis (SE of the Sea of Galilee).

Many were healed of serious, incurable ailments.

God was glorified.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Their Heart Is Far From Me


Matthew 15:1-20 (NKJV)

In NT times, Jewish religious life was marked by many traditions and ceremonies which have no biblical basis.

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The scribes and Pharisees meticulously observed the tradition of the elders.

They were quick to condemn those who did not share their scruples.

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They censured the disciples who had not performed the ritual washing of hands before eating a meal.

In this ritual, hands were washed in a special manner to cleanse them of any religious defilement caused by contact with Gentiles in the market-place.

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The Pharisees had plenty of religion.

But the Lord Jesus Christ applied to them the words of the prophet Isaiah, “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me”.

They made a great show of religious tradition but they set aside obedience to the commandment of God.

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The Lord Jesus Christ reminded them how they used tradition to disobey the 5th commandment.

They would claim that money that could be used for the support of their elderly and needy parents had been dedicated as a gift for the work of God.

They thus avoided honoring them by providing for them.

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If we do not provide for our own family, we deny the faith and are worse than an unbeliever.

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The disciples were concerned that the Lord Jesus Christ had offended the Pharisees by His reply to their question.

The Lord Jesus Christ pointed out that they were not plants which his Father had planted and that they would be uprooted.

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The Pharisees were blind leaders of the blind.

We should not be surprised when the plain teaching of the word of God offends many religious people who are blinded by their own traditions.

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The Lord Jesus Christ stressed the importance of heart righteousness rather than ritual.

Food eaten with unwashed hands has no effect on the state of a man’s heart (his soul, character, mind and will).

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The human heart is a breeding ground for all kinds of sin.

We may be very religious and yet have a heart which is far from God.

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How real is our Christianity?


Sunday, October 2, 2011

It Is I; Do Not Be Afraid


Matthew 14:22-36 (NIV)

The Lord Jesus Christ sent the disciples ahead of Him to cross the Sea of Galilee to Gennesaret.

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He spent time alone in prayer before walking on a wind-tossed sea to the disciples’ boat.

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They were terrified when they saw Him, believing that they had seen a ghost.

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The Lord Jesus Christ calmed them with the words, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”

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The Greek for “It is I” is literally ‘I am’, the covenant name of God (Exodus 3:14).

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The Jews recognized this when the Lord Jesus Christ used the expression on another occasion (John 8:58-59), and they attempted to stone Him for blasphemy.

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The Lord Jesus Christ is God!

His enemies understood this.

But they rejected His claims.

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Peter’s entry into the stormy sea was no foolhardy venture of faith.

He was beckoned by the Lord Jesus Christ to walk on the water.

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All was well until he saw the storm around him.

Perhaps the reason his faith failed him was that he took his eyes off the Lord.

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The Lord Jesus Christ heard his cry for help.

He took him by the hand.

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As they got into the boat, the storm abated.

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The amazing disciples knew that their Master was no ordinary man.

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He is the Son of God who is worthy of our worship.

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The disciples had no need to fear when their Lord was with them.

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They were greatly amazed at the demonstration of the Lord’s power over the sea.

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They had seen His divine power in multiplying the loaves and fish.

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Why should they fear when they had such a Savior, such a Friend?

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Why should they fear?

“Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”

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When the Lord Jesus Christ and the disciples landed on the shore of Gennesaret, they were soon surrounded by huge crowds seeking healing.

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Everyone who touched the hem of the Lord Jesus Christ’s garment was healed.

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They too recognized that the Lord Jesus Christ was no ordinary man.

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Have we come to faith in the Son of God?

Have we experienced His power in our lives, saving us from our sins and transforming us?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

He Was Moved With Compassion For Them


Matthew 14 : 12-21

The feeding of the 5000 is the only miracle recorded in each of the gospels, except for the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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We learn 2 wonderful things about the Lord Jesus Christ from this miracle.

It reveals His great love and compassion.

It reveals His great power.

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The 12 disciples had returned from their preaching mission.

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The Lord Jesus Christ had heard the dreadful news of the murder of John the Baptist.

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The Lord Jesus Christ and His disciples had been so busy that they had not had any time to eat.

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They also needed rest and refreshment.

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They went by boat along the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee to a deserted place.

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But there was no escape from the huge crowds.

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They went by foot around the shore to await the arrival of the Lord.

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When the Lord Jesus Christ saw the huge multitude, He was moved with compassion for them.

He healed the sick and taught them.

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When evening came, the weary and hungry disciples wanted the Lord Jesus Christ to send away the multitude.

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But He miraculously fed them from just 5 loaves and 2 fish.

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5000 men, besides women and children had more than enough to eat.

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12 baskets were filled with the remains of the meal.

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We must never let weariness or other personal needs shut off our compassion for needy souls!

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God had given the Israelites manna when they were led by Moses.

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After seeing this miracle, the crowd recognized that the Lord Jesus Christ was the promised Messiah.

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The Lord Jesus Christ is wonderful in His power and compassion.

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He became man, knowing grief, hunger, and weariness.

But He would not send away the needy crowd until they had been fed.

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The Lord Jesus Christ knows about us and about all our needs and burdens.

He is full of compassion and love for us.

Let us come to Him and cast all our care upon Him.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The King Was Sorry


Matthew 14:1-12

Herod the Great, the tyrant who had sought to kill the infant Jesus, had 10 wives.

He bequeathed his kingdom to three of his sons.

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Herod Antipas ruled over Galilee and Perea.

Philip ruled over the north eastern territories of the kingdom.

Archelaus ruled over Judea and Samaria.

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Archelaus was deposed by the Romans who then imposed direct rule over Judea and Samaria in AD 6.

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Pontius Pilate became governor of their territories in AD 26.

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The fame of the Lord Jesus Christ reached Herod Antipas who was living in adultery with Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife.

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John the Baptist had fearlessly denounced Herod Antipas for his sin.

*******

The enraged king had him thrown into the dungeon at his palace.

*******

The evil scheming Herodias wanted to kill John the Baptist.

She was unable to do so because Herod Antipas respected John the Baptist.

*******

Herod Antipas feared the reaction of the people who counted John the Baptist as a prophet.

*******

He also feared John the Baptist.

He heard him gladly.

But he did not repent of his sin.

*******

Herodias had her revenge when Herod Antipas made a rash promise to her daughter.

*******

She had pleased the king while dancing before him and his guests at his birthday party.

*******

Herod Antipas solemnly promised to give her whatever she desired.

*******

Herodias prompted her daughter to ask for the head of John the Baptist on a platter.

*******

The macabre request was granted.

John the Baptist was executed.

*******

Herod Antipas was sorry.

*******

But he did not have a godly sorrow which produces repentance.

*******

Herod Antipas had silenced John the Baptist.

But he was unable to silence his own conscience.

*******

When Herod Antipas heard about the Lord Jesus Christ, he thought that John the Baptist had risen from the dead.

*******

It is just not enough to feel sorry for our sin.

We must forsake it and obey God.

Friday, September 23, 2011

They Were Offended At Him


Matthew 13:53-58

The people of Nazareth were astonished at the wisdom of the Lord Jesus Christ when He taught in their synagogue.

They had heard of His mighty works but they despised Him.

*******

They asked, “Is not this carpenter’s son?”

*******

They did not understand how someone from a humble family could have such wisdom and power.

*******

He had lived a sinless and perfect life among them for 30 years, but they still rejected Him.

*******

Jesus reminded them that a prophet is not accepted in his own country or by his own relatives.

*******

The same mistake is made by many today who see the Lord Jesus Christ as just a man.

*******

They refuse to accept the teaching of the Word of God that He was not Joseph’s son in a literal sense but was conceived through the Holy Spirit.

They do not believe that He is the Almighty Son of God, co-equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit and that in Him dwells al the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

*******

They were offended at Him.

*******

The Lord Jesus Christ did some mighty works at Nazareth, but not many, because of their unbelief.

*******

Satan blinds sinful men to the greatness of the Lord Jesus Christ.

People are still offended by our message that the Lord Jesus Christ humbled Himself and died on the cross to save sinners.

The preaching of ‘Christ crucified’ is a ‘stumbling-block’.

*******

We too were blind in our minds, but the Lord Jesus Christ has enlightened us.

We should be eternally grateful for all that He has done for us!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Is The Lord Jesus Precious To You?


Matthew 13: 44-52 (NIV)

In the next two parables, the Lord Jesus Christ likens the kingdom of heaven to treasure hidden in a field and to a very precious pearl (44-45).

Both parables are similar in that both men find something of immense value that they must have, whatever the cost.

*******

In the first case, the man was not seeking treasure, but stumbled upon it.

*******

In the second case, the man was a seeker after beautiful pearls.

*******

The first man went and sold all that he had to purchase the field and so gain the treasure.

*******

The second man did likewise to obtain his precious pearl.

*******

The point of both parables is that the Lord Jesus Christ is wonderful and precious in His person.

He gives such priceless blessings, that no price is too great to pay to gain Him.

*******

We cannot purchase salvation.

But there is a price to pay for discipleship.

We have to deny ourselves and take up our cross to follow Christ.

*******

Is the Lord Jesus precious to you?

*******

The parable of the dragnet is similar to that of the tares sown among the wheat in its meaning.

At the end of the age, the wicked will be separated from the righteous and cast into hell.

There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

*******

Jesus asked his disciples, “Have you understood all these things?”

They needed to be sure that the warning of their Master had sunk in.

It would affect the way they lived and preached.

*******

If we do not understand that not everyone will go to heaven and that many will go to hell, we are in great peril, for we will be complacent about our own spiritual state!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Three More Parables


Matthew 13:24-43 (NKJV)

The parable of the tares among the wheat (24-30), like that of the sower, concerns a field, seed and a crop.

In the parable of the sower, the seed was all good.

Here there is an evil sower who sows tares among the wheat.

*******

Jesus explained the parable, saying that He is the One who sows the good seed, which represents those belonging to His kingdom (36-43).

The field is the world and the enemy who sows the tares is the devil.

The tares must be allowed to grow because God has those among them who are really wheat and have yet to come to faith in Christ (29-30).

*******

We must be patient and wait for harvest time, the end of the age, when Jesus comes again (39).

He will then purge His kingdom of all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness and cast them into hell (40-42).

That will be a terrible day for those who are lost, but a glorious day for every true Christian.

“Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (43).

********

The parable of the mustard seed (31-32) illustrates ‘the progress of the gospel in the world’.

The mustard seed is very small, but it grows into a tree which is 10-15 feet high and which could shelter birds in the shade of its branches (30-32).

From small beginnings and in spite of intense opposition, the kingdom of God is now established in the lives of people throughout the world.

Let us be encouraged!

*******

The parable of the leaven (33) shows ‘the progress of the gospel in the heart of a believer’.

When a work of grace begins in the human heart, it is never static.

Little by little, it influences all aspects of the believer’s life as he grows in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Is this apparent in our live?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Parable Of The Sower


Matthew 13:1-23 (NKJV)

This chapter contains 7 parables about the kingdom of God.

*******

After the Lord Jesus Christ had told the parable of the sower, He told the 12 and a wider group of disciples the reason that He spoke in parables.

*******

He told these stories not with the intention to make His message clearer to the hearers.

It was to conceal the meaning of His message from them as a judgment from God.

*******

The Lord Jesus Christ explained the meaning of the parables to His disciples, but not to the crowds.

*******

In the parable of the sower, the crucial factor is not the seed.

It is the ground in which the seed is sown.

The state of the ground determines the fate of the seed.

*******

In this parable, the seed is the word of God.

*******

The preaching and teaching of God's word must take first place in the work of the kingdom.

*******

If we neglect our private reading and meditation of God's word, or if we attend a church where the Bible is not faithfully taught, we will be weak and unstable in our Christian life.

*******

The word of God falls on different types of heart.

*******

The 'wayside' hearers does not understand God's word and Satan snatches it away from his heart.

*******

The 'stony places' hearer has a shallow heart.

Though there is an appearance of new life in Christ, there is no depth and his profession of faith soon evaporates when trouble comes.

*******

The 'thorns' hearer has a worldly heart that chokes the word of God so that it becomes unfruitful.

*******

The 'good ground' hearer is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces.

*******

What kind of ground do your heart provide for the word of God as you hear it taught week by week?

Do you seek to understand it?

Are you shallow or worldly?

*******

If we want to bear precious spiritual fruit in our lives, we must make every effort to prepare ourselves to hear God's word each Lord' Day.

*******

To obtain the best from preaching, we must come to services fresh in body and in mind.

We must come with a prayerful and submissive heart.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

My Mother And Brothers


Matthew 12:43-50 (NKJV)

A Spiritual Vacuum (43-45)

The Lord Jesus Christ likened the wicked generation of His day to a man who had been delivered from an unclean spirit.

The man had a new start and the 'house' of his life was in order.

*******

The spirit found seven other spirits more wicked than himself and they returned to enter the man making his last state worse than ever.

*******

The Jews had been privileged to hear from John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus Christ.

But a religious interest was not good enough.

*******

Many aim to live out the ideals of Christ's teaching.

But a form of morality without repentance and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ to save from sin falls far short of what God requires.

*******

A spiritual vacuum in our lives may lead to a form of reformation or taking up of religion which lacks transformation through the power of our risen Lord!

We must be born again if we are to see and enter the kingdom of God.

*******

My Mother and My Brothers (46-50)

The mother and brothers of the Lord Jesus Christ came to speak to Him.

*******

The Lord Jesus Christ indicated that His disciples were His "mother and brothers".

*******

He was not despising His mother and brothers.

He was teaching that a spiritual relationship to Him was far more important than natural relationships.

*******

Those who do the will of God are those who belong to Him!

*******

Do we seek to please God?

Do we do His will?

*******

Be encouraged that however weak our faith, we are precious to the Lord Jesus Christ.

He will lead us and bless us throughout our lives.

And He will reward us in heaven.

Friday, August 19, 2011

An Evil And Adulterous Generation


Matthew 12:38-42 (NKJV)

The scribes and Pharisees were so blinded by their tradition, and so hardened in their unbelief, that they refused to accept the claims of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Lord Jesus Christ described them as 'an evil and adulterous generation'.

*******

Why did the Lord Jesus Christ use this term to describe them?

Their religion was a sham and a cloak for wickedness.

They came to Him appearing to be so polite.

But their request for a sign was perverse and wicked.

They had seen many miracles.

But when they were unable to speak against the evidence, they accused the Lord Jesus Christ of being in league with the devil.

*******

The Lord Jesus Christ responded to their request by saying that 'An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign'.

In calling them 'adulterous,' the Lord Jesus Christ was indicating that they were unfaithful to the God they professed to serve.

*******

Many professing Christians are addicted to seeking after signs and wonders.

This is not an evidence of faith, but of weakness and immaturity.

*******

Jesus did promise a sign - that of the prophet Jonah.

Jesus was here prophesying of His own resurrection from the dead.

But even that failed to convince His enemies.

*******

The heathen of Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah who performed no miracles.

The Queen of Sheba had traveled far to hear the wisdom of Solomon.

They would be called to witness against the scribes and Pharisees on the day of judgment because a greater than Jonah or Solomon was among them, but they rejected Him!

*******

Many unbelievers pretend to have intellectual difficulties in believing in the gospel, but the problem is not one of intellect, but of a sinful heart.

And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil (John 3:19).

There are none as blind and stubborn as those who refuse to see!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Beware Of Foolish Or Idle Talk


Matthew 12:33-37 (NIV)

The Lord Jesus Christ knew the thoughts of the Pharisees.

And He again warned them concerning their wicked words.

*******

Our words reveal the state of our hearts.

Just as a tree is known by its fruit, our spiritual state is revealed by the words that come from our lips.

*******

Evil words are the natural product of an evil heart.

The evil man brings forth evil things from his evil treasury.

*******

Let us be sure that we are like the good man who brings out good things from his good treasury.

*******

Our words are important.

The Lord Jesus Christ warned that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.

We must beware of foolish or idle talk.

*******

The Lord Jesus Christ knows every word that we utter and all will be recalled on the day of judgment.

Let us take great care and think before we speak.

*******

Before speaking about others, we should ask ourselves, "Is it true?", "Is it kind?", "Is it necessary?" etc.

*******

Coarse joking and filthy talk should be unthinkable for any Christian.

*******

If we don't bridle our tongues, we will be ashamed on the day of judgment.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Blaspheming The Holy Spirit


Matthew 12:22-32

The Lord Jesus Christ delivered and healed a man who was demon-possessed, blind and mute.

The crowds were amazed, wondering whether He could be the promised Messiah.

*******

The Pharisees reacted to this by saying that the Lord Jesus Christ cast out demons by the power of Satan.

*******

The Lord Jesus Christ responded to this by showing that such an accusation was foolish.

Satan cannot cast out Satan!

Just as a kingdom or a house divided against itself cannot stand, Satan would be powerless if he was divided against himself.

*******

The Lord Jesus Christ is stronger than the devil.

He has bound him, to plunder his house and to bring deliverance to the captives.

*******

The Lord Jesus Christ gave a very stern warning:

If you are not with Him, you are against Him.

*******

We may feel satisfied that we are not as bad as many other people.

But the crucial issue is the way we respond to the claims of the Lord Jesus Christ.

*******

Those who persist in opposing the Lord Jesus Christ or in rejecting Him, refusing to repent of their sin are in danger of blaspheming the Spirit.

*******

What is blasphemy?

It is to slander, to defame, to speak evil of someone or something that is good.

*******

There will come a time when the Holy Spirit will no longer strive with them.

*******

God will give them up to their own sin.

Their heart will become hardened, so that they will never repent.

*******

The blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men (Matthew 12:31).

*******

Some very sensitive Chrstians endure much misery and torment wondering whether or not they have blasphemed the Holy Spirit.

*******

The person who has blasphemed the Holy Spirit is not troubled in such a way.

*******

When a person is worried or anxious about committing the unpardonable sin, it is extremely unlikely that he or she is guilty of such a thing,

*******

If we are troubled about this question, let us come to the Lord Jesus Christ and commit our cause to Him.

The Lord Jesus Christ is kind and just.

He will give us rest for our soul.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Compassionate Lord Jesus


Matthew 12: 14-21

Story & Lessons

The Lord Jesus Christ was aware of the murderous intention of His enemies.

So He departed from that place.

Great crowds continued to follow Him and He healed them all.

The Lord Jesus Christ warned them not to make Him known.

This was in fulfilment of what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah.

God the Father had chosen the Lord Jesus Christ to come to the earth as a servant.

Why did the Lord Jesus Christ humble Himself and come to the earth as a servant?

It was because man is a rebel and our disobedience to God calls for a Saviour who is perfectly obedient to God.

The Lord Jesus Christ came as a servant to do His Father's will in order to save us from our sins.

God the Father delights in Him.

The Holy Spirit is upon Him.

He has come to save Gentiles as well as Jews.

He does not not quarrel or rave like His enemies who stirred up the mob to cry out for His crucifixion.

He is gentle in His dealings with us.

Though the world may despise us, our gracious Saviour does not cast us off.

He patiently and tenderly works in our lives, healing and restoring.

The scribes and Pharisees were callous and indifferent to human need. They asked "Is it lawful?" but never "Is it kind?"

When religion makes men callous, something is terribly wrong!

There is all the difference in the world between having a cloak of religion and having a heart of compassion that comes from knowing the love of Chrst in our lives!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Lord's Day


Matthew 12: 1-14

Story & Lessons

The scribes and Pharisees made Sabbath keeping a great burden and misery with all their petty rules and regulations.

*******

They were very quick to criticize the disciples for plucking ears of corn on the Sabbath in order to feed themselves.

*******

The Lord Jesus Christ showed their blindness to the teaching of the Scriptures when He asked them twice, "Have you not read?" (3, 5).

*******

He reminded their critics that David had done an unlawful thing by eating the showbread.

Sabbath laws must be overruled when there is a need to be met.

*******

The Lord Jesus Christ pointed out that the Jewish priests were obliged to desecrate the Sabbath because of their necessary duties.

*******

The Lord Jesus Christ taught that human need must be met on the Sabbath just as it is on any other day.

*******

The Sabbath was made for man, not to be a burden but a blessing.

*******

Mercy is far more important than outward religious observance.

*******

The Lord Jesus Christ reminded them, "The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath".

*******

The Pharisees tried to make the Lord Jesus Christ say that He would break the law when they saw a man in the synagogue with a withered hand.

They asked him, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?"

*******

The Lord Jesus Christ pointed out that if they had a sheep which is trapped in a pit on the Sabbath, they would certainly rescue it.

A man is more important than a sheep!

Jesus said, "Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath" and He healed the man.

*******

The churlish Pharisees had no compassion for the handicapped man.

They were annoyed to see him healed on the Sabbath.

*******

They were so rigid in their interpretation of the law.

Yet they plotted to murder the Lord Jesus Christ on the Sabbath!

*******

Is Jesus the Lord of our Sabbaths?

If He is, the Lord's Day should be the highlight of our week.

We are able to worship God with His people.

We are to do good.

And we are to show compassion to those in need.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Rest For Your Souls


Matthew 11: 25-30

Story & Lessons

The invitation of the Lord Jesus Christ to sinners is preceded by a prayer of thanksgiving to God the Father.

*******

The Lord Jesus Christ addressed God the Father as the "Lord of heaven and earth".

God is absolutely sovereign over the universe.

He cannot be toppled from His throne!

*******

The Lord Jesus Christ thanked God the Father for His sovereignty in revealing the gospel to sinners.

He hides the gospel truth from those like the Pharisees who considered themselves to be wise and prudent.

He reveals it to babes, who have a childlike trust in Him.

*******

God the Father has given His Son all authority and the Lord Jesus is sovereign in revealing Him.

He is the only Mediator between God the Father and men.

*******

Though the Lord Jesus Christ is sovereign in bringing salvation, He invites sinners to come to Him:

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

*******

The word 'labor' means to toil and be exhausted in that toil.

There are many who have labored to find happiness, satisfaction and meaning to their lives, but have not been able to obtain these things.

*******

If we are to have rest:

  • We must come to the Lord Jesus Christ. He alone is able to take the burden of sin from us. There is no other person who is able to save us.

  • We must take His yoke. The yoke speaks of submission and service under the Lordship of Christ. The religion of the scribes and Pharisees with its man-made regulations was a heavy and burdensome yoke. The yoke of the Lord Jesus Christ is easy and His burden is light.

  • We must learn from the Lord Jesus Christ by following His example. He is gentle and humble.

*******

There is a wonderful promise here for all who respond to the invitation of the Lord Jesus Christ:

"You will find rest for your souls."

*******

We live in a troubled and restless world but the Lord Jesus Christ gives rest of soul which we can never obtain from this world.

This rest comes as a result of forgiveness of sin and flows from the enjoyment of peace with God and His love in our lives.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Call To Repent And Trust In Christ


Matthew 11: 16-24

Story & Lessons

The Lord Jesus Christ compared His generation to children playing in the market places.

*******

One group wanted to play weddings.

Some pretended to be flute players, obliged with merry music.

But there was no dancing because others would not join them.

The 'flute players' then pretended to be mourners wailing their laments.

But that also still did not suit them.

*******

The Lord Jesus Christ likened this childish behavior to the petty attitude of those who opposed both John the Baptist and He Himself.

*******

They opposed John the Baptist because His ministry was too severe.

*******

They condemned the Lord Jesus Christ because He attended feasts.

They falsely accused Him of being a glutton and a drunkard.

*******

The Lord Jesus Christ also befriended those who were considered to be the dregs of society when they turned from their sin to follow Him.

He was called "A friend of tax collectors and sinners"

*******

The enemies of the Lord Jesus Christ were implying that the Lord Jesus Christ was condoning sin, but that was not true.

He offers forgiveness to the worst of sinners if they will repent and trust in Him.

*******

The wisdom of John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus Christ was justified by the changed lives of those who followed them.

*******

The Lord Jesus Christ reproached the cities which had been privileged to witness most of His mighty works.

*******

They would face greater punishment on the day of judgment than the wicked cities of Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom.

*******

The people of Tyre and Sidon would have repented had they seen the mighty works of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The city of Sodom would have remained until this day if the mighty works of the Lord Jesus Christ had been done there.

*******

If we are Christians, let us rejoice and give thanks to God for His sovereign grace and mercy.

*******

If we are not Christians, let us repent of our sin and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The consequences of rejecting Him are too dreadful to contemplate!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Beset By Doubts


Matthew 11: 1-15

Story & Lessons

John the Baptist had condemned Herod Antipas for his adultery and was thrown into prison.

He began to have doubts about who Jesus was.

He sent two of his disciples to Jesus to ask, "Are you the Coming One, or do we look for another?"

John had affirmed the greatest of the Lord Jesus and had heard the voice from heaven saying, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased".

He had also heard about the wonderful works of Jesus.

Why was he beset by doubt?

Perhaps he was expecting Jesus to purge the nation of wickedness and hypocrisy?

He may have wondered why the Lord allowed him to languish in prison.

*******

The two disciples saw for themselves the mighty power of Christ over sickness and demons.

The Lord Jesus Christ told them to tell John about the things that they heard and saw.

He said to them, "Blessed is he who is not offended because of me".

Jesus was very kind and tender in His assessment of His disheartened servant.

John was greater than all the OT prophets and yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than him.

This does not mean that John was not a saved man, but that the least in the kingdom were more privileged because they were seeing the wonderful effects of the Messiah's ministry.

Verse 14 does not mean that John was Elijah returned to earth; he had denied this (John 1:21).

His ministry was in the spirit and power of Elijah fulfilling the prophecy that Elijah would come again.

*******

Are we beset by doubts or despair because of some perplexing trial?

Do not be offended (stumble) at the Lord for His dealings with us.

He promises, "Blessed is he who is not offended because of me".

We may not be able to trace the ways of God, but do trust Him.

He is wise and kind and he will never fail us!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Worthy Of The Name


Matthew 10: 34-42

Story & Lessons

You may be puzzled by the statement of the Lord Jesus recorded in verse 34: How could the Prince of Peace who blesses peacemakers bring division rather than peace?

It is because many people hate Christ and His gospel.

A Christian may find that his own family members become his greatest enemies as long as he remains faithful to Christ.

When faced with such pressure, should a believer turn back from following Christ?

No! Our supreme allegiance must be to our Savior who loves us and who gave Himself for us!

Some Christians alienate their families through lack of wisdom and a neglect of duties at home. This should not be!

When a person becomes a Christian, they should become a better husband, better wife, better son or daughter than they were before their conversion.

Jesus said,"He who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me."

Taking up the cross means making difficult choices which may lead to suffering, shame and persecution for Christ and His kingdom.

It means letting go of pride so that we are not ashamed of Jesus.

It means denying ourselves and submitting to the Lordship of Christ.

If Jesus is not Lord of all in our life, He is not Lord at all!

It may appear that we are losing our life with all its freedom and joys, but this is not true.

Self-denial does not bring misery, but great liberation and joy as we follow the Lord.

The world may despise us and any work that we do in Christ's name but the Lord never forgets what we do for Him.

He sees us and He will reward us for seemingly insignificant acts of love and service.

Have we taken up our cross to follow Christ?

If we have not, we are not worthy of the name Christian!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Do Not Fear


Matthew 10: 27-33

Story & Lessons

The Lord Jesus Christ encouraged the disciples to preach openly the things that they had heard from Him.

*******

The Lord Jesus Christ also warned them that they would face fierce opposition.

*******

Three times He reassured them with the words, "Do not fear" (26,28, 31).

*******

It is only natural that we should be afraid when we are confronted with hatred and persecution.

Those who hate the gospel may take our lives!

*******

But we must not fear the wicked men.

They are not able to harm our souls!

*******

We must rather fear God who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell.

A Christless eternity is truly dreadful!

*******

Our fear of God is not one of craven dread.

It is an attitude of reverence, awe, and love towards Him.

*******

We should not fear men when our heavenly Father lovingly cares for us.

He is sovereign over all people including the wicked and also over all of our circumstances.

No sparrow can fall to the ground apart from God's sovereign will.

*******

We are much more precious to God.

Sparrows are purchased with very little money (29).

We were brought at tremendous cost, even the precious blood of Christ.

Reflections

The fear of men keeps us from confessing the Lord Jesus Christ.

Would we remain silent when the ungodly blaspheme His name?

Would we be ashamed of our precious Savior who loves us?

Do we confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Persecution and Perseverance


Matthew 10: 16-26

Story & Lessons

The Lord Jesus left His disciples under no illusion about the cost of following Him.

There were weak and frail, but He chooses to use those whom the world considers weak.

"Behold, I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves." (16)

********

Like the disciples, we too go as sheep among wolves.

We too face opposition and all kinds of danger.

*******

We need plenty of wisdom, discernment, common sense and gentleness.

"Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves" (16).

*******

Jesus warns us that we will be hated by all kinds of people for His sake.

Persecution will come from those who are religious, from the state, and even more hurtful and distressing, from within our own families.

*******

The Holy Spirit is with us and will help us and we do not need to fear those who hate us.

*******

Christ's disciples must follow His example and live out His teaching; like Him they will be accused of belonging to Satan.

*******

We must not be daunted by persecution and our Master encourages us not to fear the enemies of the gospel.

*******

When early Christians were forced to flee from one city, they went to another and spread the gospel.

*******

If Christians were attacked and imprisoned where you live, would you stand up and be counted?

Would you refuse to deny the Lord Jesus who died to save you from your sins?

*******

The gospel must first be preached in all the world before the end comes.

*******

Persecution will come in every age.

But we must continue to follow him and persevere in our work for Him.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Preach The Word


Matthew 10: 1-15

Story & Lessons

The disciples had spent much time learning from the Lord Jesus.

They had seen all that He had done.

The Lord Jesus had urged them to pray that God would send out laborers into His harvest.

He now sends them out to preach, to heal the sick, and to cast out demons.

*******

The names of the disciples are given.

The last being Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him.

*******

The disciples were sent out in pairs.

They were to restrict their ministry to the Jews.

Their message was to be the same as the message of Jesus.

*******

The Lord Jesus said, "Freely you have received, freely give."

We too have received salvation with all its blessings.

We owed it to God to freely give ourselves in His service.

*******

The disciples were to have a simple and sacrificial lifestyle.

There were to look to traditional hospitality for their provision.

*******

The Lord Jesus told the disciples that when a house or city rejected them and their message, they should shake off the dust from their feet.

This refers to the Jewish custom of shaking the dust from their sandals and clothes before re-entering the Holy Land after passing through Gentile territory.

This was to avoid ceremonial uncleanness.

*******

By shaking the dust from their feet, the disciples were giving a symbolic warning that God would surely punish those Jews who rejected the gospel.

They were unclean and were no better than Gentiles.

*******

Are you rejecting Christ?

Beware!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Labor For The Lord


Matthew 9: 35-38

Story & Lessons

The fame of the Lord Jesus Christ spread because of His teaching and His miracles and He continued to heal every kind of sickness and disease.

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The Lord Jesus Christ looked on the multitudes with great compassion.

They were like scattered sheep without a shepherd.

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The problem was that their teachers were blind leaders of the blind.

The hungry sheep were not being fed!

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Reflections

The situation is the same today.

How do we look at the challenge that faces us?

Do we despair at the confusion around us and the indifference to the gospel?

Or do we see a plentiful harvest?

Do we feel compassion for the lost?

Do we long for them to know our precious Saviour?

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Jesus said, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few".

Are we praying that the Lord of the harvest will send out laborers into His harvest?

Are we prepared to labor for God?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

According To Your Faith


Matthew 9: 27-34

Story & Lessons

The need of faith is again emphasized!

This time it was in the healing of the blind men.

The blind men didn't have physical sight, but the eyes of their understanding were enlightened.

They were able to see that Jesus was not just a prophet.

They recognized Him as the promised Messiah when they addressed Him, "Son of David."

They were persuaded that He was able to heal them and they called on Him to have mercy on them.

Jesus didn't at first respond to their call.

But they followed Him to the house where He was staying.

Jesus challenged them, asking them if they really believe that He was able to heal them.

They said that they did.

Jesus touched their eyes and said, "According to your faith let it be to you".

The men were instantly healed.

*******

A demon-possessed man was brought to Jesus.

The demon had rendered him dumb.

The crowd marveled when Jesus cast out the evil spirit and the man began to speak.

But miracles don't convince those who hate Jesus.

The Pharisees responded by blasphemously asserting that Jesus cast out demons through the power of Satan.

Reflections

The Pharisees had physical sight but they were spiritually blinded by their own sin and prejudice.

There are none as blind as those who don't want t see!

*******

How is our faith?

Do we believe that the Lord Jesus is able to meet our needs when we come to Him in prayer?

"According to your faith let it be to you."

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Your faith Has Made You Well


Matthew 9: 18-26

Story & Lessons

The ruler of the synagogue was Jairus.

His daughter was 12 years old.

Jairus asked the Lord Jesus to heal his daughter.

But then, a message came, informing him that his daughter was dead.

Jesus encouraged him not to despair, but to believe.

Jairus expressed his trust in the Lord Jesus to raise his daughter from the dead.

*******

Jesus was on the way to the house of Jairus.

He was interrupted by a woman.

The poor woman had suffered 12 years of misery through continuous hemorrhages.

She had spent all that she had in search of a cure.

But her condition had grown worse.

She had suffered repeated disappointments in the past.

But she was confident that the Lord Jesus could heal her.

She touched the Lord Jesus' garment.

The Lord Jesus turned and said to her, "Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well."

*******

God is pleased when we really trust Him in all circumstances.

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Jesus affirmed that the girl was not dead but sleeping.

Th professional mourners at Jairus' housed laughed Him to scorn.

They misunderstood Him.

What the Lord Jesus was saying was that death would not have the last word.

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Jesus put them out of the house.

He raised the child from the dead.

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Reflections

The Lord Jesus was very tender in His dealings with the woman and with Jairus.

We have a wonderful Saviour!

Let us worship Him!

Let us trust in Him at all times!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The New Wine Of Salvation


Matthew 9: 14-17

Story & Lessons

Some of the disciples of John the Baptist and of the Pharisees saw the happiness and feasting at the house of Matthew.

They were puzzled that the disciples of Jesus did not fast.

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They asked Him, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?"

He replied that fasting was inappropriate for His disciples, comparing His presence on earth with a wedding feast.

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A Jewish wedding in Bible times was a very festive time.

The couple who were married did not go away for a honeymoon but stayed at home.

An open house was kept and the bridegroom and his bride were treated like royalty as their closest friends shared all the joy and feasting of the week.

*******

The Lord Jesus was comparing Himself to the bridegroom and His disciples to the bridegroom's closest friends.

How could they fast and mourn?

They were with the Almighty Son of God.

... They were seeing corrupt tax officials like Matthew coming to faith in Christ and their lives completely transformed.

... There was daily rejoicing over sinners repenting.

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The Lord Jesus went on to speak of the bridegroom being taken away (15).

He was speaking of His death on the cross.

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Jesus said that a new cloth patch would soon pull away from an old garment as it shrunk in the wash.

New wine would burst an old wineskin as it fermented because the old wineskin could not stretch like a new one.

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We are not saved by patching up our lives with good works.

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When a man or woman is saved by grace, they are a new creation in Christ and the old things have passed away.

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The garments of the old life are replaced with the garments of salvation.

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The new wine of salvation must be poured into the new strong wineskins of joyful thanksgiving and sacrificial service which glorifies God.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Matthew Arose And Followed Jesus


Matthew 9: 9-13

Story & Lessons

Matthew gave an account of his own conversion.

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He was a tax collector.

The tax collectors were hated and despised by the people because they worked for the Romans who occupied their country.

Some tax collectors also had a reputation for being dishonest and corrupt.

As long as they collected an agreed amount of tax for the Roman authorities, they could overcharge and keep the surplus for themselves. The tax payer had no right of appeal.

The scribes and Pharisees put them on the same level as the worst of sinners and wrote them off as far as salvation was concerned.

*******

The Lord Jesus called Matthew, one of these social outcasts, to follow Him and to be one of those most closely associated with Him.

Matthew was amazed to hear the Lord Jesus saying to him, "Follow me."

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Matthew arose and followed the Lord Jesus.

He gave up a comfortable living to become attached to the Lord Jesus.

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He did not become a secret believer.

He made a great feast to which he invited many other tax collectors.

They too followed the Lord Jesus (Mark 2:15).

Reflections

Are you glad to own Jesus as your Lord before your friends and colleagues at work?

Do you earnestly desire and pray for their salvation?

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No one is beyond the reach of God's mercy!

Christianity is for sinners.

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But the churlish, self righteous Pharisees did not recognize their own spiritual need.

Jesus told them, "I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.

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The Lord Jesus does not call the righteous because there are no righteous people (Romans 3:10)!

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We are all sinners.

The Lord Jesus calls us to repentance.

Will you come?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Faith Sees The Way


Matthew 9: 1-8

Story & Lessons

The Lord Jesus crossed the sea of Galilee and came to His own city, Capernaum.

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4 men brought a paralyzed man to Him for healing. But they could not get near to Him because of the crowd around the house.

They took the man up an outside stairway to the roof of the house.

They opened up the roof and lowered him on his mattress.

Jesus, seeing their faith spoke kindly to the man, forgave his sins and healed him.

*******

The scribes rightly recognized that the Lord Jesus was claiming to be God when He told the man that his sins were forgiven.

They thought that Jesus was blaspheming because only God alone can forgive sins.

Jesus knew what they were thinking and he rebuked them.

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The Bible plainly teaches that the Lord Jesus is God.

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Reflections

The 4 men recognized that their paralyzed friend had a great physical need.

When they brought him to Jesus, an even greater need was met -- his sins were forgiven!

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Jesus, seeing their faith, which was not put off by seeming obstacles (the crowd thronging the house), honored that faith.

It was a faith that persevered!

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Without faith, it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11: 6)

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What kind of fath does God see in us?

Do we have the faith that perseveres in prayer for our loved ones and friends who do not know the Lord?

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Let us look on obstacles as an opportunity to prove the faithfulness of God!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

They Rejected Jesus


Matthew 8: 28-34

Story & Lessons

The disciples marveled when they saw the power of the Lord Jesus over the storm on the sea of Galilee.

They were now reminded of His power over demons.

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When Jesus and His disciples came ashore in the Gergesenes, they were met by two demon-possessed men who were wild and fierce through demonic power.

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Demons are terrified of the Lord Jesus Christ and He is sovereign over them.

They know that everlasting torment awaits them and they asked Jesus if He had come to torment them before that time.

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It is a frightening thought to know that all who die without Christ will go to that place prepared for the devil and his angels.

Is our heart right with God?

Are we sure that we will spend eternity in heaven with Christ?

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At the command of Jesus, the demons left the men and entered a herd of pigs which ran over the cliffs to perish in the sea.

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The terrified swineherds fled to the city to tell their story.

All the people of the city went to meet Jesus, but they didn't welcome Him.

They didn't bring their sick for healing, but begged Him to depart from their region.

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It is tragic that men and women, blinded by Satan, enslaved in sin and loving it, refuse God's offer of mercy.

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Jesus said to those who rejected Him, "You are not willing to come to me that you may have life."

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Are you uncomfortable with Jesus, or do you welcome Him?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Storms Of Life


Matthew 8: 23-27

Story

The Sea of Galilee is about 13 miles long and 7 miles wide.

It lies about 700 feet below the level of the Mediterranean.

When cool currents of air sweep down from the surrounding hills, they collide with the warm air above the sea, whipping up fierce winds.

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As Christ and His disciples crossed the sea, a furious storm arose.

It threatened to capsize their boat.

They were terrified and woke up their sleeping Master.

He said to them, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?"

He then rebuked the winds and the sea.

And there was a great calm.

Lessons

The disciples had already seen Him perform astounding miracles.

They had experienced His care for them.

How could they imagine He would fail them now?

The Lord Jesus is not just a man.

He is almighty God who will never fail us nor forsake us!

The disciples' fear of the storm turned to a fear inspired by awe

--- "Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey him?"

*******

If we know the Lord, we have experienced His goodness to us and His power in our lives.

However we soon forget these things when the storms of the Christian life disturb us.

"Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?"

Friday, April 22, 2011

Discipleship


Matthew 8: 18-22

Story & Lessons

Before Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee, two men came to Him and both were challenged concerning discipleship.

One appeared to be eager to follow Him, the other hesitant.

The first man, a scribe, had been moved by His teaching and His miracles; he wanted to follow Him.

How does Jesus deal with this man who was enthusiastic to follow Him?

The Lord Jesus cautioned him and told him that discipleship demands sacrifice.

— "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head" (20).

It is very easy to say to Jesus, "I will follow you wherever you go." (19)

But the way of Christ involves hardship and self-denial.

We are not told how the scribe responded to this challenge.

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The next man is described as 'another of his disciples'.

He had begun to follow Jesus, but he wanted to wait until his father died before giving himself to Christ in full commitment.

Jesus would not allow his excuse and demanded that he follow Him there and then.

Reflection...

The Lord Jesus never gave the impression that the Christian life is easy and He encourages us to count the cost of discipleship before following Him.

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The devil is not too concerned about your good intentions but he will try to make things uncomfortable for you when you really begin to put God first in your life!

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How about you?

Is any person or anything coming between you and the Lord?

Are you following Christ and enjoying His peace in your life?

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If you are putting off your commitment to follow Him, do not delay any longer!

Now is the day of salvation.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

He Himself Took Our Infirmities...


Matthew 8: 14-17

Story & Lessons

After leaving the synagogue, Jesus went to Peter’s home and healed his mother-in-law who was ill.

At the end of the Sabbath at sunset, a great crowd gathered outside the house.

Jesus cast out demons with just a word and healed all who were sick.

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The subject of demon-possession is quite controversial.

There are modernists who deny the reality of such a thing, ascribing it to primitive superstition.

On the other hand, there are extreme charismatics who teach that most of the problems in the lives of Christians are caused by demons and spend much time casting out these imaginary demons.

We must beware of both extremes.

*******

Verse 17 is often quoted by modern ‘healers’ to prove that the atonement provides healing of the body as well as of the soul.

They reason that just as God would never turn away the repentant sinner, neither would He turn away the prayers of His people for physical healing if they have sufficient faith.

Their understanding of Scripture is very muddled, but it allows them to blame the sick for their lack of faith when they are not healed.

But the Lord Jesus had a 100% success rate (16) — He healed all who were sick.

Reflection...

Sickness and death came into the world through sin.

The Lord Jesus died to deal with sin and its terrible effects.

His death is for the redemption of our body as well as our soul.

The redemption of the body will take place when He returns.

Though the Christian is forgiven and cleansed from sin, he will not be free from sin or sickness until he reaches heaven.

We still have our weaknesses and infirmities here on earth which God may not choose to heal.

God does heal today, according to His own will.

How blessed is the believer who has learned to trust God in sickness and in health!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

As You Have Believed, So Let It Be Done For You


Matthew 8: 5-13

Story & Lessons

When Jesus came to Capernaum, He was met with a desperate and urgent request from a Roman centurion.

His servant-boy was paralyzed and in great torment.

This centurion was a kind man who was distraught to see his servant so ill.

He was not only a man with compassion but he was also humble.

He felt too unworthy for Jesus to come under his roof.

As a man under authority, he recognized the greatness and the authority of Christ.

He believed that just a word from Jesus was sufficient for his servant to be healed.

The Lord Jesus commended the centurion’s faith and said that he had not found such great faith, not even in Israel.

Reflection...

The faithless Israelites would be cast out into outer darkness of hell on the Day of Judgment.

What a fearful prospect awaits those who do not know Christ!

We really need to be sure that we belong to the Lord!

We must pray with humility, recognizing that we are unworthy before God.

We must trust in Jesus as the almighty God and take Him at His word.

Jesus said to the centurion, "As you have believed, so let it be done for you", and the servant was healed that very hour.

Do you pray with real faith?

Do you really believe in the promises of God that are found in His word?

"As you have believed, so let it be done for you."

Monday, April 4, 2011

I Am Willing; Be Cleansed


Matthew 8: 1-4

Story & Lessons

The leper confessed his confidence in Christ’s ability to heal him.

But he wondered if He was willing to do so.

He asked, “Lord if you are willing, you can make me clean” (2).

Leprosy was once much feared because it was incurable.

Lepers were shunned lest anyone touching them contracted the dread disease.

Jesus was moved with compassion for the leper and touched him.

That touch would have meant so much to a man who had not been touched for years, except by fellow-lepers.

As soon as Jesus said, "I am willing; be cleansed," he was healed.

Jesus warned him not to tell of this miracle but to show himself to the priest, for ritual cleansing and confirmation that the disease had been cured so that he could return to normal life.

In his zeal, the man disobeyed the Lord and spread the news of his healing.

As a result the Lord Jesus was restricted in His ministry by huge crowds and for a time was unable to go into cities.

Reflection...

We often suffer from the opposite problem – we are silent when we should be witnessing.

Let us have compassion on needy sinners, but beware of an uncontrolled zeal which hinders rather than advances the work of the gospel.

Every person born into this world is afflicted by a plague far worse than leprosy.

The most developed psychology and all manner of theories and therapies have failed to cure it.

I refer to the plague of sin which will, if not cured, lead to eternal separation from God.

The Lord Jesus died on the cross and shed His precious blood so that sinners could be cleansed and made whole.

If we are not a Christian, perhaps we may wonder if he is willing to forgive us.

But if we come to him, He will never turn us away (John 6:37). He still says, "I am willing; be cleansed."

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Do What You Are Told!


Matthew 7: 24-29

Story & Lessons

We may profess the name of Christ and yet be lost.

Prophesying in the name of Jesus will not save us.

Neither will the ability to perform miracles in His name.

What is important is obedience to the word of God.

Reflection...

The parable of the two builders challenges us to consider the kind of foundation on which we are building our lives.

The houses in the parable may have been constructed with the same materials and appeared similar, but their foundations were different!

When the floods came and the storms battered the house built on the sand, it collapsed but the house built on the rock stood firm.

What is the point of this parable?

The Lord Jesus warns us that hearing His sayings but failing to obey them will prove disastrous for us.

It is not enough to say that we believe the Bible from cover to cover, or to listen to good preaching.

We must obey His word.

We must beware of deceiving ourselves.

There is an easy type of Christianity which makes no demands for commitment to a life of discipleship though it pays lip service to the teaching of Scripture.

It attracts many but it leads to hell and not to heaven.

The people who heard the Sermon on the Mount were astonished at the teaching of Jesus, but we are not told that they obeyed His words (28-29).

Let us take God’s word seriously and obey it!

If we do not, our religion will not stand the test in difficult times!

We will be like the foolish man who build on the wrong foundation and lost everything when the storms came.

Jesus said, “Whoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them” is like a wise man (24).

Are we building our life on the solid foundation of love and obedience to Christ?