Category Archives: Matthew

Matthew 21-22 

I am not too sure I clearly understand what actually took place in the arena of Jesus dialoguing with the Pharisees. I see the argument and I can see why apologetics gets so much interest these days as I see Jesus winning the argument. Something tells me that He did more than just win the argument.

When the Pharisees heard how he had bested the Sadducees, they gathered their forces for an assault. One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show him up: “Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?” – Matthew 22:34-36 MSG

The Pharisees decided to get together, choose their champion, and find a way to challenge Jesus’ honour, Actually, I believe they wanted to do more than that – they wanted to shame Him.

I am amazed that the Pharisees would ask this question in a public setting, among people where honour and shame were a part of everyday life. Everyone there understood that this question was asked in the context of an honour-shame challenge. The Pharisees must of thought the possibility of winning was very high. I hope it is not too funny, but I like Westerns, and it reminds me of a gun fight with four or five against one.

In a more religious context, it was probably more like an inquisition of sorts where a trap was laid out for public viewing, and the thought was that the audience would see Jesus stripped of His honour.

As the Pharisees were regrouping, Jesus caught them off balance with his own test question: “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said, “David’s son.”

Jesus replied, “Well, if the Christ is David’s son, how do you explain that David, under inspiration, named Christ his ‘Master’?

God said to my Master,
    “Sit here at my right hand
    until I make your enemies your footstool.”

“Now if David calls him ‘Master,’ how can he at the same time be his son?”

That stumped them, literalists that they were. Unwilling to risk losing face again in one of these public verbal exchanges, they quit asking questions for good. – Matthew 22:41-46 MSG

I love how the Message translation calls this – “As the Pharisees were regrouping, Jesus caught them off balance with His own test question.” Jesus is saying that if you want to play the game, let’s play. In doing so, Jesus is elevated to a place of honour and He shames the Pharisees, by winning the challenge.

Great story, with a great ending. I am not an apologetics person and I do not want to be. I will be in situations where there will be those who want to shame me – what do I do? I trust the Holy Spirit to give me the words, the prayer, the faith and boldness, even the courage just to stand. Is that enough? It will have to be.

Father, I do not doubt the work of the Holy Spirit – He is enough. Thank you for sending Him to walk with me.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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Matthew 10:16-12:21

What is the price of two sparrows-one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31 NLT

The sparrow is a small, seemingly insignificant bird. If God cares about them, how much more does he care about me? It reminds me of these lyrics by Casting Crowns, “Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth would care to know my name. Would care to feel my hurt?”

The Pharisees asked Jesus, “Does the law permit a person to work by healing on the Sabbath?” (They were hoping he would say yes, so they could bring charges against him.) And he answered, “If you had a sheep that fell into a well on the Sabbath, wouldn’t you work to pull it out? Of course you would. And how much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Yes, the law permits a person to do good on the Sabbath.” Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored, just like the other one!” Matthew 12:10-13 NLT

The Pharisees placed their law above human need. But, Jesus cared more about the person he was healing, than that it was on the Sabbath.

This fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah concerning him: “Look at my Servant, whom I have chosen. He is my Beloved, who pleases me. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations…And his name will be the hope of all the world.” Matthew 12:17-21 NLT

Dear Father, thank you that your spirit is resting inside of me. When I’m worried, I will remember your constant care for me. Thank you for your provision. Nothing is too hard for You. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Matthew 1-4 

I am not too sure where to begin – this is the first glimpse into the New Testament! Since I have been focusing on honour-shame, I think I will take a look at the power of water baptism. I remember my baptism when I was fourteen, I remember my wife’s baptism and I remember my two children and their baptism. Each of us had powerful connections with God as we obediently followed Jesus’ example.

Jesus then appeared, arriving at the Jordan River from Galilee. He wanted John to baptize him. John objected, “I’m the one who needs to be baptized, not you!”

But Jesus insisted. “Do it. God’s work, putting things right all these centuries, is coming together right now in this baptism.” So John did it.

The moment Jesus came up out of the baptismal waters, the skies opened up and he saw God’s Spirit—it looked like a dove—descending and landing on him. And along with the Spirit, a voice: “This is my Son, chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life.” – Matthew 3:13-17 MSG

I look at the ascribed honour that came from the Father and what a powerful example of the work of the Trinity, of the family of God. Jesus did nothing to earn honour, it was given to Him solely because He was God’s Son.

I find that Jesus strength comes from Him being completely secure in who He was. It is how He was so meek. Jesus did not have an honour-deficit, there was no competition to gain glory. So I find myself being challenged as I see Jesus confronting the devil in the desert. Jesus is courageous in His resistance, He understands God’s Word and obeys the principle of who God is – all throughout maintaining His integrity, holiness and honour. He actually wins the honour competition with the devil.

As a follower of Jesus, this is what it means to me.

  • I experience God’s honour and love as as valuable prerequisite to ministry
  • I embrace the honour and power of the Kingdom of God with absolute humility
  • I identify rivalry as sin for there should be no honour competition in my faith community. I have experienced my shame covered and my honour restored just like the Prodigal son. This story, when I read about it here – The Father’s Love Gospel Booklet – reminded me to offer the same to my brother and sister in Christ

Thank You Father for water baptism – I went down with shame and came up with honour – such a powerful demonstration of Your love.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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2 Kings 4:29-8:15

One of my challenges to understanding the Old Testament is reading about war, yet there are many stories of interest in God’s narrative other than just who wins or loses the battles. The first several short stories in this Scripture focus describe God confirming His prophet, Elisha through signs and miracles. I especially was struck by an incident when Elisha prayed that God would feed a hundred men where there were only 20 loaves of barley bread in one man’s knapsack. His servant broke bread until all were fed and some food was left over (reminds me of the miracles through the Lord Jesus yet to come). Elisha also instructed an enemy captain, Naaman, what to do to receive healing from leprosy (doing good to his enemy, again is messianic). We also learn that Elisha, who spoke not of his own will, but what he heard from God, was completely confident in what he was to say. Even when he knew the outcome would not be favorable, he did not hold back speaking the word of God. It is one such story that drew me in for a closer look.

When Elisha met with the king of Aram’s messenger regarding Aram’s failing health, Elisha said this to the man, “Go and say to him, ‘You will certainly recover.’ Nevertheless, the Lord has revealed to me that he will in fact die.” But Elisha could not stop staring at the messenger, Hazael, who became embarrassed under Elisha’s gaze. In this eerie moment, Elisha was given a horrifying vision of what was to come at the hand of Hazael. He wept as he prophesied to Hazael what he would do to the Israelites, saying, “You will set fire to their fortified places, kill their young men with the sword, dash their little children to the ground, and rip open their pregnant women.” Elisha knew he was helpless to do anything about this but weep; yet he was tasked with knowing and prophesying the tragedy.

I do not seek that kind of relationship with God, our Father. Still, there have been times when I feared for a person’s future without really knowing why. And when some disaster shortly befell that person, I went to my knees in fear and in prayer for mercy. On another occasion, when this foreboding overtook me concerning what a person said, I prayed for God to forgive her. I still pray that His mercy was shown to her in her last moments of life. I am no prophet, and frankly I do not want to be the harbinger of destruction. It weighs down my soul.

Yet, there are many even today who are called prophets, and who are sounding the alarm about the times we are living in. How can I discern when God is speaking through them? When I hear of destruction, is my fear of what is to come causing me to tremble? Or am I fearful for the words of those who pray for this destruction, not just to destroy the enemy armies but to cut off their descendants? Are we to pray for our enemies and ask God to destroy them at the same time? This, too, weighs down my soul.

My writer friends and I have been discussing the ‘divided heart.’ Loving two things at the same time. I thought about Jesus’ commandment, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?” (Matthew 5:43-48). If we are to obey Christ, therefore, we must love our enemies even knowing their intent to do us or others harm. How do we do that?

Look up to heaven. Look into the face of Jesus Christ. Let His words, His Spirit, and His will be alive in our prayers. For the only way a soul is lifted up is to give God glory. He alone knows the end of all life; I am not the one who has understanding. And that is okay. My prayer is that God be with us all, protecting our hearts from becoming embittered, unforgiving, or vindictive. What we may see in a vision or otherwise, we must submit to a good God who is Lord over all the earth. Let us start by dropping to our knees in prayer for mercy. Then pray that God will increase our faith in the sovereignty of His will.

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Micah 1-4; Psalm 10; Matthew 24

What a terrible place for me to be in that would cause God to show up and judge me for the evil I have done.

Look, the Lord is leaving His place
and coming down to trample
the heights[b] of the earth.
The mountains will melt beneath Him,
and the valleys will split apart,
like wax near a fire,
like water cascading down a mountainside.
All this will happen because of Jacob’s rebellion
and the sins of the house of Israel.
What is the rebellion of Jacob?
Isn’t it Samaria?
And what is the high place of Judah?
Isn’t it Jerusalem? – Micah 1:3-5 HCSB

What is this evil I have done? I think it is as simple as loving my self and this world more than Him. I find myself contrary to His love and my stepping away from Him, I am contrary to the truth of faith.

I cannot lose sight of this fact – that justice is a fundamental part of God’s character.

But You Yourself have seen trouble and grief,
observing it in order to take the matter into Your hands.
The helpless entrusts himself to You;
You are a helper of the fatherless. – Psalm 10:14 HCSB

He steps in and promises protection and help for those who cannot protect themselves and He redeems injustice through His unfailing love – He invites me to participate with Him in making that happen.

What will happen if I choose not to and decide to remain in my selfish love?

Then many will take offense, betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold. – Matthew 24:10-12 HCSB

Jesus foretold that love and truth could one day lose their true meaning and force in this world. I pray that I am not one who be among those who have.

Father, how I trust the Holy Spirit to not leave me in a place that would be contrary to the character of God. I want to be like Jesus in every facet of my life. I do not want to see my love for You grow cold, or even lukewarm for that matter. I know I need to step out of myself and give myself to You in my community. I know You are inviting me to participate. Forgive my cowardly fear, I pray that Your love will cast that fear out of my life. Thank You.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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