Archive for December, 2011

Matthew 18:22 (19–35) “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

I know Peter has been criticized for the question, but it’s really not that bad a question, because what about those that abuse the privilege? There are people like that who aren’t really sincere about repenting (changing direction).

But, Jesus doesn’t want us to focus on having to forgive another as much as what we have been forgiven, 18:32. Remember the speck in your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:1–5)? Before you can help your brother with his problem you need to fix yours. When you notice your brother’s problem it is an indication of a problem you may have.

So who is really having the repentance problem (repentance is not just saying your sorry, it’s making the change)? In the same way forgiving is remembering how many times the Lord has forgiven us, how sincere (about changing) were we when we begged forgiveness? So, how sincere has our brother to be? How would I like to be forgiven?

Humility involves recognizing the mercy and grace of God in our election.

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Matthew 18:17 (12–20) “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church;

This is not the first time Jesus used the word church (Matthew 16:18), it is the first time it is defined, 18:20. Wherever a group of believers gets together under Jesus name (to do His will) they are church.

Jesus continuing the thought about His concern for the lost (the ones who seem to have gone off on their own), talks about one of the reasons we tend to go off, 18:15. We need to stay together not because there is strength in numbers, but because when we stay together we tend to sin less.

Just because we’re saved (from eternal judgment) doesn’t mean that we’re no longer capable of sinning (going against the will of God). When that happens the church needs to take action, individually and corporately, 18:15–17. The church has much more power than it realizes and needs to stay as close to the will (the Bible) of its Founder as possible on this earth, 18:18–20.

Humility involves recognizing the mercy and grace of God in our election.

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December 28.11 ethot

Matthew 18:13 (10–14) “If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety nine which have not gone astray.

Remember that at the beginning of Jesus conversation, in chapter 18, he was comparing believers in Him with little children. That is to say completely trusting and dependant on Him. And, who ever harm’s His children (His followers) will suffer the consequences.

In today’s passage He compares Himself to a shepherd who looses a sheep and goes looking for it. When He finds it he is so overjoyed, that it seems that he’s ignoring the others who didn’t go off. But that is not the case.

See the only way His will get hurt is if they are hurt by some one (18:6–7), or they go off on there own and get hurt (18:8–9, 12). The point is that our God doesn’t want any of us hurt and will go out of His way to prevent it. But if it happens He will be there to rescue that one from further hurt. We should all rejoice that He cares for us so much.

Gratefulness involves understanding that God will handle everything with my best interest in mind.

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December 27.11 ethot

Matthew 18:3 (1–11) “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus says that one must be converted. Where you are now, without Jesus, is not a good place. Each of us must realize our need to be converted from where we are to where we should be.

The change is supposed to be so evident in the life of the convert that everyone should know who we are. The difference between a child and an adult is very different and obvious. Each of us has an angel assigned to report regularly to Him on our state of being, 18:10. They report to our Heavenly Father.

These angels are not reporting if we are good or bad, they are reporting on how we are being treated by others. This means I don’t have to waste time thinking about how I will avenge myself of those who treat me poorly because of my converted life, God is handling that in His own way.

Deference involves putting a hold on my freedom in order not to hurt God and those He has called me to serve.

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December 26.11 ethot

Matthew 18:8 (1–9) “If your hand or foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you;

Obviously Jesus is not talking about self-mutilation. What we should see by His illustration is how we see things in our lives. We get into our heads a desire for something that will do us no good. We think it to be absolutely important when the fact is it will only hurt us.

It is just like a drug addict. To them it is an essential they can’t live without. To get it out of that life will be like cutting off a limb. But we have to weigh the consequences of holding onto the things that will do us no good with our place in eternity.

People are not just addicted to drugs or alcohol. People can just as easily be addicted to traditions, schedules, another person, a way of life and so on. Whatever the case we need to get rid of those things that take the place of and keep us from growing in our relationship with our Lord, Jesus Christ the only begotten Son of the heavenly Father.

Loyalty involves making my goals and my desires His.

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Matthew 18:4 (1–6) “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

I’m guessing that as Jesus was talking about the kingdom of heaven and their citizenship in it, they, like children started to argue about which of them was more important.

Jesus uses a child to explain that just as a child is under authority in the home so they had to place themselves under authority in heaven, 18:3. I don’t think Jesus was talking about becoming innocent like children or inexperienced. And, I don’t think He was talking about a child like trust, openness or eagerness to learn.

Yet, as we make the decision to follow Jesus we are placing our trust in Him and Him alone. Anyone who tries to make us trust anything else will suffer the consequences, because Jesus sees us as His children.

In the next couple of days we’ll all be celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior. Let’s try to remember that He is our Lord because of a decision we made to follow Him, so let’s follow Him.

Loyalty involves not hiding my commitment to God, but using difficult situations to let others see how much I trust Him to run my life.

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Matthew 17:25 (22–27) “Jesus spoke to him first,

I thought it was kind of strange that Peter would react with such concern about the Temple tax when Jesus had just told them He was going to be killed. I assume Jesus had paid the tax in previous occasions, but now where would the money come from. Notice that those issues were never a concern for Him.

Jesus, being aware of the conversation Peter just had, takes advantage of the moment to teach an important lesson. It’s probable that the others were in the room as well. So they all heard this important message about avoiding conflict when ever possible. Almost anything that can get in the way of communicating the Gospel should be avoided.

This alertness should help us to be ready at any moment to take advantage of the situation and teach the Gospel and it’s implications to whoever would hear.

Discretion involves recognizing the effect your words and actions will have on the people around you both now and in the future.

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Matthew 17:23 (1–23) “and they will kill Him,

Maybe they were so sad because this time Jesus hadn’t spoken in a parable, but plainly. Had they forgotten that just a few days ago He had been transfigured before their very eyes? Or, were they sad because Jesus was sad?

Remember that they had been going around healing and casting out demons and maybe Jesus wanted them to come back to earth, to the reality that things were about to get very confusing. That reality was that in spite of all the power demonstrated few had accepted the gospel message.

Without the death, burial and resurrection of the Messiah, besides that all the prophecies would be voided; there would be no hope for man on Judgment Day. Now that would truly be sad. When we share the Gospel with others we can’t forget to present the whole picture and not just the pretty or happy parts.

Truthfulness involves earning the approval of others without misrepresenting the truth.

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Matthew 17:20 (14–21) “Because of the littleness of your faith;

I wondered if in this story we see a father persisting where the disciples had not. Did Jesus mean by, little faith, that they had not given God time to do the work? But wouldn’t that mean that the father didn’t either?

Jesus didn’t mean that they were a few pounds short of enough faith, but that their faith lacked the quality of assurance. That they really didn’t believe this man’s son could be healed. Even after all they had seen and done themselves. Maybe they were fooled by the demon.

The problem wasn’t that there is a kind of demon that only respond to prayer. The problem is that we forget the kind of commitment we have to make to do the work of the Lord, Mark 9:14–29. Our faith doesn’t rest in us, but in the Lord in whom we trust. In every difficulty we face there is a lesson to learn or be remembered.

Faith involves remembering all the things God has done for you already and ensuring that He has no reason not to continue.

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December 19.11 ethot

Matthew 17:12 (1–13) “but I say to you that Elijah already came,

John the Baptist was kind of an echo in time that showed them, and us, that the scriptures will be finally fulfilled.

When Jesus told the three not to tell anyone about what they had just seen there thinking had taken a step back from being in time to being outside of time, in a way. They were now looking from a different vantage point. They had seen what was going to happen, that Jesus would be transformed.

In that thinking mode they asked about Elijah, because he was to come before, sort of announcing, the coming of the Messiah. So Jesus explains how in the same way that John was a reflection or type of Elijah (Malachi 4:5), Jesus now was just a reflection of what He would be when He comes in His full glory.

But now in history we know that the effort by Jesus and John to bring the people of God (Israel) back to Him failed. Now God has opened His salvation plan up to every and anyone that is willing to make the sacrifice and follow Jesus, no matter what it may cost.

Faith involves resting all my hopes for tomorrow on God’s proven promises rather than on man’s faltering word.

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