Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Matthew – the Gospel of Fulfillment  Chapter 19     Obtaining Eternal Life

This chapter contains the account of a sincere person who came to Jesus and asked, “What shall I do to obtain eternal life.”  Knowing the sincerity of this person, Jesus responded, “Keep the commandments.”  Now the person responded to Jesus that he had, but Jesus knew that not one of us could perfectly keep all the commandments for our entire life, so He responded where the person did not keep the law – in the manner of coveting.   Jesus told the man to go and sell all that he had, to give it to the poor and then to follow Him.  As we’re told, “the man went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.”

Jesus told his followers, “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter then kingdom of God.”    His disciples in astonishment asked, “Then who can be saved?”   You can’t get a camel through a needle (a great illustration of extremes!).  Jesus responded, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”   The moral of this account:   We have no possibility of getting to heaven based on our own efforts or intentions.  Only God can make it possible and He did through His Son as the rest of Matthews Gospel will demonstrate.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Matthew – the Gospel of Fulfillment  Chapter 18     Forgiveness Extremes

This chapter tells the story of a Master who had a servant that had a debt that he couldn’t possibly pay.  This Master had compassion for the servant and forgave what could not be repaid.   Then this servant went to someone who owed him pennies by comparison and threw him into prison because he couldn’t pay.   Well, word got back to the Master and his servant was called back to him and the Master responded, “You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.  Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way I had mercy on you?  And his Master, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him.”

This parable tells us of the great forgiveness of our sins that God makes available to us through Jesus.  It is a debt we cannot repay but salvation and forgiveness are offered freely to us as a gift.   By comparison how forgiving are we to those who have wronged us?   Notice that the wicked slave would be tortured until he repaid what he could not repay.   This is a subtle indication that hell will be eternal for those who do you accept God’s gift of forgiveness.  But the challenge remains to strive to forgive as we have been forgiven.   Makes more sense instead of options like, “Not forgiving is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Matthew – the Gospel of Fulfillment  Chapter 17     Listen or Little?

There are some great happenings in this chapter, especially for Peter, James and John as they witness Jesus in His glory.  There’s even a great “fish” story at the end.

There isn’t that many times when we get to hear God the Father speaking, so when He does we need to pay attention.   In v5, He says, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!”   So what’s the response we should make?

Unfortunately, just a little later at v20, Jesus comments on the “littleness” of their faith.

Those who live large in this world have little faith in Jesus.   But those who listen to Jesus will live large for eternity.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Matthew – the Gospel of Fulfillment – Chapter 16   Following Jesus

 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.   For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.   For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?  (verses 24-26)

The world sends messages like, “he who dies with the most toys wins,” but Jesus tells us that winning for eternity requires a different approach:

1.       Deny self – we need to decide if, “Thy will or mine will be done.”    Remember Jesus knows best.
2.       Take up our cross – the follower of Jesus is told to expect suffering, persecution and trials, but at the same time we’re also told, that the sufferings of this life are not worthy to be compared to the glories of eternity.
3.       Follow Jesus – only He knows the way and will not disappoint you.

So decide if a little short term pain is worth an eternity of gain?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Matthew – the Gospel of Fulfillment – Chapter 15   Signs

“Departing from there, Jesus went along by the Sea of Galilee, and having gone up on the mountain, He was sitting there.  And large crowds came to Him, bringing with them those who were lame, crippled, blind, mute, and many others, and they laid them down at His feet; and He healed them.  So the crowd marveled as they saw the mute speaking, the crippled restored, and the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.”  (verses 29-31)

Jesus came and performed the miracles that the Old Testament had foretold the Messiah would do, the greatest authenticating miracle being the blind being given their sight.  Why?   Because this miracle had never been performed before.   So do you respond like the religious leaders did because Jesus did not fit their man-made rules and regulations (see verses 1-7) and remain spiritually blind?   Or do you accept the authentication provided and ask Jesus to help you see?  

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Matthew – the Gospel of Fulfillment –Chapter 14   Perfect Provision or Impossible?

This chapter records how a large group of people (between 5,000-15,000) were gathered to be fed and all the food that was available was 5 loaves of bread and two fish.   Jesus told His disciples to feed the people, knowing that they could not.   He wanted them and us to understand what is impossible for us to accomplish is very easy (possible) for Him.  We’re told Jesus blessed the food and had it distributed and when what remained was gathered, there was just enough left to feed the disciples too.   As Jesus can satisfy hunger in the physical sense, He can also satisfy the hunger and thirsting of your soul.  

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Matthew – the Gospel of Fulfillment – Chapter 13  Why Parables?

You will keep on hearing, but will not understand;
You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;
For the heart of this people has become dull,
With their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes,
Otherwise they would see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart and return,
And I would heal them.’    (verses 14-15 quoting from Isaiah chapter 6)

Where do you stand with Jesus?  He told parables to draw the listener in to understand greater truths and also to hide them from those who would not believe.   So are you spiritually deaf, blind and indifferent, or have you been cured?    He is the great Healer.