Tag Archives: Matthew

Think About It—-


2Corinthians 13 “Do I Have to?”

When children are being disciplined they are often sent to their rooms to “think about it.” Paul is saying to his beloved Corinthian children to think about their faith and their character as a child of God. A child is still a parent’s child but they are to think about their actions as related to their status. The Corinthians were to examine themselves, not for their salvation, for Paul had affirmed that over and over. They were to be fruit inspectors and examine or test themselves ‘in the faith.’

So how does one test to see if you are in the faith?

This is not a list of “do’s and don’ts’. Instead Paul infers that one must check one’s lifestyle that is apparent to all. We could begin in Matthew 5 with the “Be-Attitudes.” As kingdom people we are to demonstrate kingdom character qualities: poor in spirit, mourning over personal sin, meekness under pressure, hungering and thirsting for righteousness. These character qualities are observable in kingdom people’s conduct: merciful to others, pure in heart; and being a peacemaker. As others observe our character and our conduct they can see that we are God’s child because we have been anointed by the Holy Spirit with His fruit:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Beloved, you are not being “sent to your room” because you need to check your status as God’s child, but you are being asked to examine your life according to the character of God. How do you stack up?



What Does It Mean to Follow Jesus?

Follow Me Joshua Earle Unsplash2If Jesus could come to you and say “follow me” what do you think it would entail? Would it mean liking Him like we do on Twitter or Facebook? Is this all Discipleship is,  “liking and following Jesus?” Down through history, many have chosen to follow men who have risen to power. Michael H. Hart wrote a book “The 100: A Ranking of the Most influential Persons in History.” Jesus was number three on his list with Muhammed first and Sir Isaac Newton second. He said he would have put Christ first if his ideas were “widely followed.”

That is our challenge; to follow Jesus simply as he asked.

What happens to us when we choose to take that step of following Him?  He called 12 men to follow him with this promise: “you will be catching people.”  They had watched and helped him for three years but still were like ships wandering in the desert. When Jesus was crucified their hopes were dashed until Resurrection Morning. Then He told them to wait. But, like Peter, we find waiting is very hard to do. That is why Peter being the person of action, told the men who had accompanied him back to Galilee, “I am going fishing.” Unlike Matthew, who having left his tax collector’s office, Peter could return to fishing but Matthew? He had burned his bridges behind him and now what was he to do? No tax collector who left his booth could return as it was immediately snatched up by others just waiting for that opportune moment. That may be where you are, having left something  to “follow him.” Let’s clear up some notions of what it does mean and what it does not mean.

We sing: “I have decided to follow Jesus” and we quote Prove 3:5-6 with the promise that he will make our paths straight. But our paths are not always straight  for Jesus may have lessons for us to learn along that path. It does mean obeying and trusting Him even if our understanding is clouded. We must hunger and thirst for the truth which means we choose to spend time with Him in his Word, not occasionally but every day. We must yearn to learn from Him and that takes discipline.  It will change the way we think and act. As His apprentice, we will learn humility, compassion, and forgiveness for others. To know is to study and to keep asking, seeking and knocking and yes, sometimes even wait.

Many of us have “me-first-I-tis” disease. That must be changed to asking who is first in your life. Do we have the J-O-Y principle: Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last? Our love for Jesus must supersede the love we have for the most precious of loved ones and even our own life. It does not mean abandoning your loved ones and never your parents. Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites because they did just that calling what they could use to care for their aging parents corban (that is a gift for God), no longer to be used for them but only for God alone. That is what we call cult sacrifice and that is not what Jesus meant. He meant you must honor your parents as that is a Commandment given by God and is irrevocable and we are to manage our own household as a measure of faith and obedience.

It means turning over ownership of our life as well as our possessions to him. It does not mean giving up our possessions but giving Christ ownership of them to be used for His purpose. When we allow Jesus permission to use our possessions, our time, and our talents, our fishing rod is poised to catch people who are living apart from God. Our bait is the Word and our life.

It means understanding the truth of Galatians 2:20, you are crucified with Christ and now you are spiritually alive because Christ lives within you. It does not mean actual crucifixion but it does mean being a living sacrifice as your reasonable service of worship to Him.  It means He is Lord of our life and a desire to please Him. [Heb 11].

Hart did not believe Christians are true followers. Are you ready to prove him wrong?



What is True Compassion?

MaTTHew 15 compassion2

The Apostle Matthew, the tax collector, knows true versus false compassion.If there was on Apostle that truly understood rejection by the religious establishment, it is Matthew. That is why it is important that we see this chapter through his eyes and why he intertwines the religious leader’s false faith and the Canaanite woman’s true faith so we might have a heart for those who are seeking mercy and healing.

Do we recognize true faith as Jesus did or are we like the religious leaders who were guided solely by their traditional faith path which says: “Truth is what you’ve always been taught.” (Mark Mittelberg). This is where we all need to learn compassion and Jesus used this lesson to bring that home to their and our consciences.

The disciples were only concerned that Jesus had offended the religious leaders but Jesus wanted them to learn a higher lesson: prejudices and hypocrisy rule those who are blind. To further teach this lesson Jesus takes the disciples to the area of the Gentiles,to the Canaanite area that the Jews so despised. The disciples were concerned that Jesus had offended them but Jesus will teach them that those who are truly seeking will come and not be offended when the truth is revealed. This Gentile Canaanite woman clearly understood one truth that we all need to know:

Jesus is not only the Son of David but He is Lord and He is merciful.

He wanted the disciples to see themselves for who they really were: hypocrites no better than the religious leaders because they allowed prejudice to rule their compassion meter.

How often are we dependent upon our traditions or are ruled by our prejudices? True compassion sees the crack in the heart which needs healing. He who “knows what is good to do and does not do it is guilty of sin.”[James 4]

Me n’ Jesus makes a Majority…Matthew 10

ImageDid you ever see the Apostle Matthew as humble and unassuming? Yep, he was and in chapter 9 we see a short snippet of his calling. Here he was minding his own business…the tax business that is and along comes this radical preacher dude and says “Follow Me.”. Hmmmm Choices! Choices! Yet, this humble man who was wealthy beyond all the others around him not only followed him but had a banquet to celebrate his new “calling.” No longer would he catch tax evaders but he would catch men to do the same thing as he did. No longer would he gather $$ to fill his coffers but he would gather souls for the kingdom.

So what has he been doing in these past few months or even short years? He has been listening and watching, observing and memorizing passages of scripture, been eating with the other dudes who were also called. Let’s see, there were fishermen, and zealots. There was the sweet Andrew who loved kids and his brother Peter the big and burly guy who thought he knew better but often had “foot in mouth disease.” Yet all had heard the call “Follow Me ” and they had made the choice. And now? Now the mentor who has lived shoulder to shoulder, life on life, in close proximity with them moment by moment has chosen to challenge them in the only way He knew they would know the way of the Master. He chose to send them out two by two. And look at who his partner is going to be…Thomas. Yep the one and only: Doubting Thomas. Wonder what their diary read after being together for a week or more? But, then the greatest diary read had to be Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot. Wonder what their time as a team was like.

So into this motley mix of “dudes” Jesus summons them and says I am sending you on a mission. And this is what he said and how he prepared them:

I am giving you My authority…heavenly authority. As such you will now bear the emblem of the heavenly to do heavenly work. You now will have power over the unclean spirits, power to heal and to touch the lepers and make them clean. You will have the anointing power of the Spirit to preach the word to Israel that were like sheep without a shepherd. You have the good news and My authority to share it with all of Israel.

Then Jesus  instructed them prior to their being sent out. He said: stay in Israel, preach the message that the kingdom is at hand, heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Trust God for all of your daily provisions just as you have seen me do with you. Even though I have had no place to lay my head, my Father has provided for my every meal, my place of rest when I am weary, my every need and He shall do the same for you.

And lastly, Jesus also warned them of what lay ahead for discipleship is costly. You will  meet unsavory characters, the enemy’s servants, and those who will persecute you for your message and lifestyle. So you must be as wise as a serpent…that is prudent and shrewd, and yet innocent or inoffensive as a dove. Your character must have both sides of the coin to meet all and any situation you will meet. Three times he told them “do not fear” thus reminding them that although they were men the enemy is the fallen archangel, Satan, and he will set traps to cause even grown men to become fearful.

But the chapter does not end there. Tucked at the end is this verse: Matt 10:42 “whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple, I tell you the truth, he will never lose his reward.” I wonder if they remembered that as they walked the dusty roads of Israel? I wonder if they talked about the authority, the instructions, the warnings or concentrated on this verse? It is at times like this I want to be a fly on the wall and see and hear and experience what they did…but *sigh* that was then and this is now. It is really up to “Me n’ Jesus” to get this job done. Will you join us? Where two or three are gathered in His name we are truly a majority. Come join me on this journey!


I Would See Jesus…..Matthew 9

ImageMatthew has us walk with him as the “Son of Man” encounters those who are in need of healing (disease-death-demon possession). Not only does the “Son of Man” encounter those who need physical healing but those who are in need of spiritual healing. One of the keys that is noted in this chapter is the word “faith.” We read in Luke: “Your faith has saved you;” It is this faith that God sees as He observes our actions, our countenance and our words. This brings us to the first of the healing miracles in Matt 9.

Having been sent from the presence of the Gadarenes, Jesus returns to Capernaum. It is there that we are brought face to face with the first of many healings. Note the circumstance: a paralytic lying on a stretcher. We know from the other gospels that 4 friends of his have taken it upon themselves to bring him to Jesus. This is a first important lesson for us. We too have “paralyzed” friends and we must bring them to Jesus who is the great healer. Secondly, Jesus “saw their faith.” Question to ask: Does Jesus see my faith?

In contrast the experts in the law who came as observers saw not with eyes of faith but eyes of criticism. We too will face those who will say we do not need to bring our paralyzed friends to Jesus. Satan would have us leave them paralyzed and destitute of their needs. But, James notes that we prove our faith by what we do and these 5 men stood apart from the religious leaders bound by legalism.   Note the words of Jesus: have courage. The paralyzed friend needed words to persevere in times when he stepped out in the arena of living faith in the sight of the religious leaders. They took a step of faith towards the Master.  Question to ask: Are we willing to stand apart from those who do not think we need to speak or do? Jesus added that his sins were forgiven. Jesus sees our hearts and needs and this man had a sin problem along with his physical problem.

Jesus noted the reaction of the experts in the law, these who knew the jots and tittles of each and every verse. What they said in their hearts, “he is blaspheming” registered upon their countenance. Again Jesus “saw” their lack of faith; in fact it  was null and void.

The crowd of observers “saw” and were afraid, amazed, and honored God unlike the experts in the law. When we “see” the transformation of a life are we amazed? Do we honor God?

Lastly the Master told the paralytic to take up his bed and walk as a testimony to all that the “Son of Man” has authority. He is the True Messiah. When we meet the Messiah, do we then take up our bed and walk? Matthew now has provided concrete evidence that Jesus is the promised Messiah, he is the
Son of Man and he is the Son of David. Will you accept Him?

Revenge or Forgiveness ..Your Choice

ImagePsalm 69 is one of the three most quoted psalms in the NT in reference to “The Messiah.”  (e.g. Those who hate me without cause [Jn 15:25], vinegar to drink [Matt 17:48]. Thus it is fitting that we walk through this psalm as part of our study in the book of Matthew about our True Messiah. This psalm and the life of Christ will teach us the two paths before us and our choices when we too face times of despair.  

David begins his psalm with an analogy of physical drowning using it to show God how he is coping with the enemies that are about him. David compares his drowning to Jeremiah or Joseph in a pit with no way out. In vs 5 to 12 we feel his pang of loneliness and as we read the story of Joseph we recall the brothers as they stood before Joseph: “we saw how distressed he was when he cried to us for mercy, but we refused to listen.”

In vs 13 to 15 we see a change in David’s tone as he reminds himself of God’s lovingkindness and compassion, his saving truth, the fact that he alone is one’s redeemer. But even as he recalls this he also seeks revenge for what these enemies of his soul have done. From David: [vs 24-28] from God upon his enemies [pour out your judgment upon them, do not vindicate them, may their names be deleted from the scroll of the living].  In contrast to David’s outburst we move to the NT and see the higher way to seek justice. Jesus becomes our example as on the cross he cried out “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” [Luke 23:34]

Today may we choose the higher path, the path of our Savior, our True Messiah.

Authentication and Proving Required

ImageSo far in the book of Matthew, we have walked through the first three chapters and seen that as a superior researcher and writer, Matthew has given us three areas to prove that Jesus was the Messiah. First was the genealogical record, second his birth, thirdly, the world’s reception, and now in chapter 4 we will see his power over temptation.

 Job may have been God’s “s”ervant  who proved to be blameless but Jesus is the “S”ervant who not only proved blameless but left us with the truth of how to face the arch enemy of our souls.

The Holy Spirit anointed Jesus and led him into the wilderness. The Israelites were proven to be faithless but Jesus will prove His faithfulness. Sometimes we too are led into the wilderness to be proven. It is in these times of barrenness that we either rely upon God and His trustworthiness or succumb to the enemy’s bait.

We say Satan doesn’t get it, but in reality he does get it. He is persistent and his one aim is to destroy and change the plans of God. Allen Ross wrote: The temptation episode was God’s way of showing that Jesus was the perfect man, that He could resist sin, that he could defeat Satan.  He has conquered and therefore can intercede for us. [Heb 4:14-16].

And so the temptations begin with Satan dangling his bait just as he did in the garden, in the wilderness, did with Peter and does with us today. Jesus was discerning and so we should be as well. Hebrews reminds us to be feeding upon the meat of the Word, memorizing it so when he comes calling, disguised as an angel of light or otherwise, we can discern him for what he is: a liar and a thief. We are told by Paul to put on our armor for we will be wrestling not against flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces of darkness.

 A truth we can count on: Satan sees only one side of God’s coin, he is not omniscient! Satan saw a garden destroyed but Jesus saw a wilderness–that is you and I, ready to be redeemed. Satan saw an earthly pinnacle but Jesus saw heaven’s portal – I am the Way, the Truth, the Life [ John 14:6]. Satan sought temporary worship of warring conflicting kingdoms but Jesus sought to bring men into God’s eternal kingdom exhibiting peace.  Through it all, Jesus proved He was Conqueror and Victor, because He knew the right choice of scripture better than his tempter and He would not be deterred to be removed from God’s eternal plan for mankind. He was steadfast and immoveable [1Cor 15:58].

ImageUpon the completion of the temptation angels came and ministered to Jesus. So when we have found our way of escape from the tempter’s grasp [ICor 10:13], we will be fed the manna of heaven or angel’s food as Irving Jensen called it.

While I or you face these temptations how will we be sustained? By the Word or by the flesh? Do we face the path of least resistance or are we ready with our sword and shield of faith etc. When the storm is passed how do we revel, in God’s glory or our own? Thoughts to consider.

But while we face these proving trials we must ask: What is it that sustains us in these times? When tempted and tried are we joyful and seek wisdom? [James 1]. Can we resist with scripture so the enemy must flee? [James 4:7]. Do we give God the glory when the storm has passed and we see His rainbow calling us to His work?



Hail King Jesus…Worship or Ignore…how say you?

ImageThe Apostle Matthew introduced us to the genealogical record of our Messiah in chapter 1. At the end of that chapter we know that two times the angel of the Lord came to righteous Joseph to lead and protect the divine conceived Messiah in Mary’s womb. In chapter 2 we see once again his immediate obedience. Joseph is a role model for all of us who seek to be obedient to Messiah.

Matthew wants us to focus in on one thing: the OT prophecies were inspired, true, and fulfilled “right on schedule.”  First note the timing—King Herod is the ruler of Palestine from 37BC to when he died 4BC. Also, it was at this time that the census was ordered according to Dr. Luke in chapter 2. Secondly, note the  geographical location, Bethlehem of Judea or Judah. Thus Christ, as we noted in chapter 1, had not only the legal right of inheritance to the throne of David but he was born in that province to therefore claim it.  Thirdly Matthew as a master researcher listed three sets of people and their reactions.

The Magi. Coming to Jerusalem from the east, which would thus give us the clue as to their ethnicity: Gentiles. Gentiles were “dogs” to the Jews, if we remember from our study of Jewish history. Thus the populace were alarmed.

“King” Herod, thus noted here but after this never noted as “king.” He ruled by fear and brutality. He was a half-Jew, Idumean or Edomite by birth. His ancestry line was from Esau who hated Jacob. Just as Pharaoh sought to eradicate the Jews through infanticide, so did Herod.  Our newspapers and blogs are filled with the numbers of abortions. Infanticide has been the enemy’s tool and is even today.

The religious leaders were apathetic even with the scriptures before them. They knew the scriptures  to the last detail about the birth of the Christ but beyond this did nothing. Matthew is showing us that to just know the scriptures is not enough, we must act upon them.

What are the lessons Matthew wants us to glean?

  1. God’s ways are not man’s ways. [Is 55:8] He orders and brings about His plan for His glory. Both in 2Kings and Isaiah we read: In ancient times I planned it; and now I am bringing it to pass.
  2. Jesus is the King of the Jews no matter the response made by men. He was so noted by the Magi who worshiped him. He was ironically noted the same by the ones who crucified him and the title over His cross was God’s testimony.
  3. Jesus’ kingdom includes all men regardless of their lineage. Jesus told the disciples to go and make disciples of all nations thus fulfilling the blessing given to Abraham.
  4. Men are held accountable for the knowledge they are given. The Magi had the stars and perhaps the writings of Daniel and pursued it. The religious leaders had the OT with the revelation of prophecy and rejected it. [Job 21:14 21:14 “So they say to God, ‘Turn away from us! We do not want to know your ways.’”
  5. The OT prophets sought to understand and put the puzzle together. In the end they noted: 1Pet They were shown that they were serving not themselves but you… Even though we sometimes find ourselves in the same frame of reference we can be certain of this: 1 Cor 13:12 “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then we will see face to face.”

Today the question is before us: how have you responded to the evidence before you? Is Jesus the Messiah and if yes, are you following Him?

The Man Matthew

ImageIt has been intriguing to study the man called Matthew and to dig beneath the surface. He probably never thought anyone might be so interested but here I am on the quest. Just who was he and why did the Holy Spirit inspire him to write such a lengthy book filled with so many details?

This is what I found out so far: Matthew was not just a tax collector for Rome but he was a tax collector extraordinaire and gained great wealth from this less than desirable occupation it seems. In fact he was so wealthy that Luke tells us he threw a great banquet after deciding to follow Jesus. 

But digging further. He knew the who’s who because he was not only innately endowed with observation skills to know who is real and who is a fraud but his skill is shown in his writing. As we wander through this marvelous book we will be given insights that only a man who had been educated, was fluent in two languages (Aramaic and Greek), had mastery of the monetary system of the  Roman government, was an observer of men, and lastly one who moved amongst those in power as well as the poor who came by his tax booth in Capernaum could know. Yes, he had compromised his Jewishness by working for the Romans and thus was castigated by the populace that he extorted. But one day the Master happened by his way and called him to leave all and follow Him. From that point on we see the most radical change of all of the apostles, leaving all and willing to face the scorn of the Romans as well as the religious leaders of his time. He was fully committed to the very end. This is the man who will introduce us to the ways of Jewish society and ultimately the Messiah Himself.

He was also a researcher as we see by the first chapter in which he introduces us to the lineage of Jesus. He traces the OT line to the monarchy and exile and back to present time. He is bold in including five women! Women were never included in the lines of descent in any rabbinical genealogical records but Matthew would have none of this exclusion. He noted prostitutes, would be prostitutes, Moabites who were idolators, women who were used for sexual favor that we may see God’s love and tenderness for the most vulnerable.  Matthew wanted his audience to know that no matter your history God has a plan for you and He will use you in that plan.

Matthew is a master story teller as we see in just the first chapter. “and this is how it all began” he might say today. Sit with me and I will share with you my journey with the man I call the Messiah, the man who called me from the tax booth to follow Him. What an adventure!

Now I have to ask myself, what gifts has the Lord given to me that He wants me to use to challenge others to follow Him? Am I using them as Matthew used his ? How about you?