Matthew 19 Part 4–With God All Things Are Possible

It was a hard message that Jesus delivered to the rich young ruler…surrender! The disciples watched Jesus welcome lepers, adulterers, tax collectors and even fishermen as He ministered. It had never dawned upon them that some might not be saved.  The very  thought set them on their heads.  Well, they thought, if this very successful and righteous guy is not good enough; how can someone like me be allowed? Jesus made it clear and simple–this is a process men cannot accomplish, BUT, with God all things are possible.  Jesus explained to the disciples–God will bless those whom have surrendered; beyond their wildest dreams. What’s more, they will have eternal life with Him. But, God does not rank folks the same way that we do! In God’s books the 1st will be last and the last 1st–can one even imagine?  Hasn’t God always said, “Men look at the outside, but God looks at the heart. It is by their fruit that we will know them–not possessions, not awards, not even testimonials–fruit and legacy will be the record.

Do not be afraid, God keeps his word. As Paul said in, Romans 10:9-10, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart you believe and are justified and with your mouth you profess your faith and are saved.” That is God’s requirement, nothing more. But, when you surrender to Christ Jesus, as Lord, you cannot help but be different. It is not a process of earning your salvation; instead, it is simply the process of God transforming you into His image. It is a lifelong process, but–God will complete it! 

God Bless You

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”

28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife[e] or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

Matthew 19 Part 3–He is No Fool…

Jim Elliot, martyred missionary was asked why he would risk his life to witness to the Auca Indians.  His answer captures the essence of Jesus’ response to the rich young ruler, “He is no fool who would trade what he cannot keep; to gain what he cannot lose!”–Jim Elliot 


Jesus truly wanted folks to get it.  The reality that God truly loved them and wanted nothing more than to have a relationship with folks. People, however, wanted to earn their way into relationship with God.  Some did better than others.

The rich young ruler that met Jesus on this day, thought he had the formula all figured out. He asked the question, “What Must I DO to get eternal life?” Jesus seemed saddened, why are you asking ME about what is good–there is only one WHO is good.  Jesus knew this young man didn’t want the truth; he simply wanted a pass, a validation of his great work–Sadly, he came to the wrong guy for validation, but he did come to the right guy for SALVATION. 

Jesus cut to the chase–Sell your stuff and give your riches to the poor. Then come follow me.  In effect, Jesus said lay down your idol–stuff, and follow God–the only eternal thing.  That answer did not fly with the young man. It forced him to give up his self-sufficiency, pride and self-righteousness; for a life of humble submission to the one true God. 

The young man walked away in sadness and anger.  He did not have the formula for spiritual success, after all. It was even sadder for Jesus. He loved the young man, but he could see right through him.  He wanted to grab him up, shake him and scream, “It is not yours anyway!!!!! You are giving up nothing, really!” It would not have mattered.

In our day, the same truth is in play.  God loves us more than anything. If we will trust and follow him, then we can experience true life now, and for eternity. When we approach the Lord, we need ask only one thing, “Will you forgive my sin and be Lord of my life?” It is not what we do that makes us righteous, it is who and whose we are. Had the rich young ruler asked that question, he would have seen everything differently. 

Jim Elliot, martyred missionary was asked why he would risk his life to witness to the Auca Indians.  His answer captures the essence of Jesus’ response to the rich young ruler, “He is no fool who would trade what he cannot keep; to gain what he cannot lose!”–Jim Elliot 

God Bless You

 

Just then a man came up  to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

18 “Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’[c] and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’[d]

20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

Matthew 19 Part 2–Let Those Kids Come!!!

The kids…God has a special place in his heart for Kids. In the story, The disciples meant well.  Jesus had probably faced a host of people with real illness, sadness and defeat. As He did every day, Jesus faithfully and gently healed the folks that had the faith to come and ask. Still, with all the fanfare, a group of mom’s came to Jesus to have their kids blessed.

What a great idea, but a group of men, not really culturally involved with the kids day to day, saw this interruption as a bother, and turned the mom’s away. Jesus was having none of that.  He told the Disciples–Whoaaaaaa–LET THE KIDS COME!!!!! It was the highlight of the Lord’s day.  The Father loves kids. Kid’s are full of hope, they lack skepticism. They have real faith, not just a reasonable facsimile.

The Kids accepted Jesus blessing as a kind gift, not a contract for wealth or promise of immortality. The moms, well they hoped their darlings would now be safe and well–and they probably were. But, as Jesus so rightly said–that is what God’s Kids should come to God like. No agenda, no expectation–just faith in the Lord’s character and His promise.

We are His kids! Jesus beckons us to come to Him. trust Him and allow Him to bless us.  Just this week, God answered so many prayers that if all His kids would simply list them–it would take volumes–Just this week’s prayers. We should approach the Father with an expectant heart–He is going to bless us. It is not our right to know how, it is simply our pleasure to approach His throne knowing God loves to bless his kids!

God Bless You

Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.

14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.

Matthew 19 Part 1–Marriage and Divorce

The Church has struggled to deal with broken lives in so many contexts. One of the most difficult is the break up of families. In a society that sees half of all marriages ending in divorce, the repercussions are devastating. It has grown so confusing, that the Supreme Court has even thrown up their hands, succumbed to political pressure and announced that marriage and family is pretty much what ever you want it to be.

God was not nearly so inclusive. He made marriage a union of one man and one woman for a lifetime. Men have failed that model throughout history. Polygamy, homosexuality extra marital relationships either before marriage, during or after marriage–were  never part of the plan God designed for family.  God allowed men to do as they would–not because he liked it, but, because people are stubborn and sinful.

So when the religious leaders were trying to trip Jesus up with questions on divorce, He was not amused.  He simply stated the facts–painful as they were.  Funny thing is, the facts are more painful today.

I am not here to judge. I am grateful for my marriage and my family. I believe in marriage as set out in the Bible. We have raised our children to know–at our house; that marriage is a covenant! Through good times, tough times and in the dark times when marriage takes all our emotional and spiritual energy to continue; we rest in the same hands that protect, prepare and provide for us in every other way, the Lord’s hands. The strength of a nation is, in major part, tied to the strength of its foundational principles–respect for life, liberty, family and authority. As a church, we must stand strong on these principles so that the next generation can embrace the commitment to life and family that will carry our way of life through trials, wars and tribulation.

Help us Lord, to trust You, and honor the principles for families You have set up for us!

God Bless You

When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.

Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’[a] and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’[b]So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

Matthew 18 Final–How Much Do You Owe?

Sometimes people do stupid things, Things that are not done in a vacuum so they offend and hurt others.  Peter asked Jesus, just how many times believers should forgive those that wrong them.  Jesus told a story about a man that owed his Master Gazilllions of dollars. The Master brought the servant before him and as he was about to have the man and his family sold into slavery; the servant begged for grace and mercy.  The Master then felt pity and completely cancelled the servant’s debt and let him go free.

What happened next was amazing–and not in a good way.  The servant who was freed then marched out and had another person that owed him $20.00 imprisoned and beaten. News of the servant’s behavior got back to the Master.  the Master then hauled the wicked servant back and had him also imprisoned and beaten.

The message is clear. How can those whom have been forgiven so much, not forgive much as well?  Each of us in our own way have hurt and wronged people throughout our lives. Rarely, was it done intentionally, but always it was done with consequence.  Jesus says to check your heart. Before you continue to hold a grudge or decide not to forgive another, please remember the Gazillions of dollars of spiritual debt that you have had cancelled by the sacrifice Jesus made.  

No reasonable person can look in the mirror and not be affected by the stark parallel. If you struggle with bitterness against another, let it go. You owe God so much more.  What’s more, that bitterness does little to the one that wronged you–but it will destroy you or me. We deserve to walk in the freedom that comes when you have no outstanding or unsettled accounts with others.  Jesus will vindicate and repay wrongs to you–you can simply walk away and be released from the destructive feelings and reactions bitterness can bring.  No one owes you more than you and I owe our Lord and Savior for his sacrifice on the cross.

God Bless You

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.[g]

23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold[h] was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[i] He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Matthew 18 Part 2–Stumbling Blocks

Jesus was clear, One needs to be an advocate for the Gospel and not an adversary.  As the Lord talked to his men, He let them know that men will be judged if they lead others away from God. He spoke about the importance of raising and training children; how people’s actions–where they go and what they see can have much greater consequences than literally being physically maimed.  In short, Jesus emphasized that God counts each life precious, and each child a treasure.  Jesus and the Father would hold accountable anyone that pulled the people away from God. He was especially concerned about the religious leadership, and their constant double standard for those they led.

In our lives, God wants us to understand that what we say and do, does impact others.  We need to lead a life of humble surrender, and not be overly proud or self-righteous. We should remember that what we say or do does impact others.  Our desire should be to impact them for Christ–not against Him.  We also must remember that we do not live in a vacuum. Our actions will affect those around us.  So follow Paul’s lead and live our lives in a manner worthy of the Gospel.  We are to set our hearts and minds on things above–not on earthly things.  

God Bless You

If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.

The Parable of the Wandering Sheep

10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.[11] [a]

12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.

Dealing With Sin in the Church

15 “If your brother or sister[b] sins,[c] go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’[d]17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

Matthew 18 Part 1–Being the Greatest

With all the flurry of action going on, Jesus’ men wanted some clarity on how to get ahead in this new Kingdom. So they asked. They did not get the answer they expected, however, instead, they received the answer that they needed to hear. Jesus told them quite simply if you want to be the greatest, you need to come in like a little child! It is very probable that the disciples’ faces turned from looks of confidence to looks of utter confusion.  What could that possibly mean to a bunch of men? In fact, it was the most comprehensive description there could have been.

Children are pure of heart. they still have faith that is real, undamaged by life’s disappointments and circumstance. Children see everything as ahead of them, not behind them. Children are still teachable and unassuming. Children still want and expect to be loved and valued.  In the Kingdom of God–that is what we should be like.

Our faith needs to be complete. We simply need to grab and hold on to the fact that, though the world has failed us time and again–God will not. We need to trust him, meet the Lord with expectant hearts and simply follow His lead.  If we will–then in God’s kingdom, we will be great!!!

God Bless You

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

Matthew 17 Final–Death and Taxes

The old saying goes, the only thing one can be sure of is death and taxes.  As Jesus and the guys came into Galilee, they discussed both.  Jesus was now on mission.  He was preparing the men he had chosen to build the church.  As they came into town, Jesus flat-out told them, “I am going to be delivered into the enemies hands, killed, but, then will be resurrected.” The guys understood delivered, and they understood killed–resurrected, not so much.  The very thought of losing the Master was devastating to the disciples–they were truly filled with grief.

Next, Peter was approached by tax collectors–they wanted the temple tax. Peter asked Jesus, “Do we pay that?” Jesus asked the right question, “Do the King’s kids get taxed?” Peter thought–well no! Exactly, but, just to keep Peter’s word, Jesus showed how dad’s care for their kids–He sent Peter out to fish. Peter catches a fish and behold, in the fish is enough money to pay Jesus’ and Peter’s temple tax.  Jesus saw life as it was, and knew that God prepared, protected and provided for His own. He simply had to ingrain that into the disciples…So, He did!

In our lives, death and taxes are still real and still sure things.  As we travel through, we, like Jesus, need to understand that neither surprise God.  He promised and does prepare us, protect us, and provides for us just as He did with Peter.  If we can stay focused upon God, and don’t get swallowed up by the minutia of the world, then we will be able to look back at a life of meaning and purpose. We may not have all the bells and whistles–but, we will have eternal security in Him, and the Spirit to comfort and guide us while on the journey.  We must not be overwhelmed by the inevitable.  We must instead heed Paul’s words, “Do not be anxious about anything! But, in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, bring your requests to God! Then, the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

While life happens, Jesus came that we might have life and have it to the fullest measure!!!–Despite, death and taxes!

God Bless You

 When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. 23 They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief.

The Temple Tax

24 After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”

25 “Yes, he does,” he replied.

When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?”

26 “From others,” Peter answered.

“Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. 27 “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”

Matthew 17 Part 2–Then Reality Set In

After such a mountain top experience, Jesus and his disciples hit reality again.  Just as Jesus hit the base of the mountain, a father came pleading for Jesus to heal his demon-possessed son. Problem was, the disciples  were trying to do it, but failing miserably.  Jesus healed the boy and sent father and son on their way.  Exasperated, Jesus continued–but, then, the disciples asked the question, “Why couldn’t we heal the boy?”

“Because you have so little faith.” The words had to have stung like whips. While it was true, Jesus had not uttered the words as a rebuke.It was simply that Jesus wanted His guys to understand that they had not yet arrived–they were still in process. If they would just have the faith the size of a mustard seed; they could literally move mountains. It was Jesus job to teach them about faith, but, it was their job to start walking in that faith.  Certainly, they had attempted to heal the boy while Jesus was on the mountain; that itself was a sign that they had grown in their faith .  Knowing what lay ahead for these men, however,  Jesus needed them to have more faith.

Like the disciples, our relationship with God is also a journey. We continue to be transformed into His image, as we continue forward. In Philippians 1:6, Paul reminds us that Christ, who began this great work in us–will carry it to completion until His return. Still, He offers us the guidance that we are to be transformed by the renewing of of our minds. (Romans 12:2). Paul also tells us to set our hearts and minds on the things above, not on earthly things.  If we will, we will see our faith grow into the size of that mustard seed! Then we can move mountains.  It is a progression, but, one with guidance, comfort and help from our Lord’s Spirit! 

God Bless You

When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 16 I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”

17 “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” 18 Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.

19 Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” [21] [a]

Matthew 17 Part 1–The Mountain top Experience

One of the great stories in the Gospels is the story of Jesus, Peter, James and John on the mountain.  For those needing a sign, It simply does not get any clearer. The group is standing on a mountain; when out of nowhere, Jesus is transformed into his heavenly body. Then Moses and Elijah appear and are talking to Jesus. I am sure Peter, James and John were mystified and completely overwhelmed.  Peter says, “Jesus, this is pretty great–can I build you three a shelter and stay up here for a while?”  Then, if that was not sign enough–God, the Father appears in a cloud and says, “This is my Son–WHOM I LOVE AND AM WELL PLEASED!!!, listen to Him!” Just in case they were wondering, as they stood with Jesus, Elijah and Moses!

Funny thing about signs, Jesus allowed Peter, James and John to witness his transfiguration–but no one else. Truth was, they did not need convincing that Jesus was God. What they saw only confirmed what they already knew.  Jesus made them promise not to share the experience until after his resurrection, they agreed.  These guys were his inner circle, and they would always remember when they stood with these amazing men of God and saw the master transformed. It would be a light in the dark days of persecution.  

It would also answer the age old question, How did these guys, who were just average fishermen, actually know they were following God’s Son?–BECAUSE GOD TOLD THEM!!!

Faith is a great gift, one of the three big ones–Faith, Hope and Love.  We have to accept the gift and trust God, or no matter how many signs and wonders, we will remain skeptical and self-reliant.  If we do walk by faith, however, all the things God does in our lives will be noticeable and amazing. If we do not walk by faith, even a “Mount of Transfiguration” experience will not be sufficient. 

It really comes down to the challenge Joshua made so many years before–“Choose this day whom you will serve, the gods of the Canaanites or Adonai. As for me and my house, we will serve Adonai!”  I am with Joshua–Me and my house will serve Adonai!!!

God Bless You

After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

10 The disciples asked him, “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”

11 Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things.12 But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.