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.