January 20


Matthew 6-8

We are reading in the New Living Translation this week. Today we are in the Christ Stream and continue the Sermon on the Mount and more of Jesus’ ministry. What should we do about the kingdom, according to Jesus?

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Lord Jesus, you heal all our diseases and forgive all our sins.  And you fill us with joy as you teach us the right way in following you.  Thank you.  Amen.
We step back in to the world on Galilee’s north shore as Jesus is mid monologue in his sermon that changed the course of preaching history.  Galilee is in full view and tens of thousands had heard of him.  As Matthew lays out the timing, Jesus had just completed a huge healing campaign (forgive the American wording, if you will) and countless souls were touched.  People were traveling 2-3 days and more to see the action and have an encounter with God; this Jesus had to be sent by God for he was healing like Elijah/Elisha did.  Jesus then paused to give his most famous sermon.  It started in Matthew 5 and goes through chapter 7.  We continued with Matthew 6 today.  As for how the sermons compare in the four gospels: Matthew deals with 34 topics in his rendition of the Sermon on the Mount.  Luke touched on 27 of those same topics in his gospel. Mark dealt with 12 of them.  John included 5.
6 – Jesus was concerned that people live their faith, their devotion, their disciplines out of their love for God in heaven.  His first admonition here is in giving to the poor.  Don’t make a show of it.  Do so out of obedience to God and compassion for others.  We see people today who are willing to donate as long as their name goes on a brass plaque somewhere.  This may be charity, but the issue is jaded when self-promotion gets mixed into the motive.  Hypocrites would engage in public prayer for the same reason.  They wanted others to observe and croon, “oh, they are sooo spiritual.”  Jesus gave the perfect model for prayer: honor God, beseech His Kingdom, ask for provision, forgiveness, and godly guidance.  And know that our forgiveness hinges on being forgiving.  As for fasting, do that to better hear God, not for the admiration of others.  God is our core motive or we are running our whole operation for twisted reasons and need to knock it off.  Treasures in heaven should be our objective.  Invest toward this, look toward this, and let the Almighty be your master versus cash.  The final section is Jesus ordering us not to worry, not about food or drink or health or clothes.  Our antidote for this is to seek the Kingdom of God all the time and have all this other ‘stuff’ is simply granted to us v.s. working 60+ hours a week for it all.  He isn’t wanting all Christians to quit their day jobs.  God wants us to do what we do for God and let him cover us when stresses hit.  I.e. declare anxiety over with!
7 – “Judging” is the next topic Jesus gives us eternal truth about.  Understand that judgments must be made for five verses later we are expected to know who the dogs and pigs are in society.  Jesus is not talking about animals here.  He’s talking about people that have very demented outlooks and should be avoided.  If we judge others, we enter an arena where we also will be getting judged.  So if one doesn’t like that, then stay out of the realm of being judgmental.  It’s indicative of someone being critical of others – those same people remind them of themselves, and that is what’s really bothersome.  The solution is to be gracious; not judgmental.  As for life’s needs, ask for help, look for solutions, knock on doors when you need to.  God is watching and knows our needs, yet we are involved in the process.  Acting helpless helps no one.     It’s also important that we know what the narrow and wide gate is about.  The Greek insinuation for “narrow” is “abrasive”.  Stay focused and on task in our pilgrimage.  It’s akin to a balance beam with a penalty of irritation for straying right or left.  The road to destruction is wide open, mindless, simple, agreeable to one’s sense of recklessness.  Don’t think that God is saying that only one at a time can come to God and the road to Hell is a 500 lane wide highway.  That is not what Jesus is saying at all, sadly too many miss the intent of this paragraph.   What do we do about false prophets?  Most of us have encountered a few.  Analyze the fruit of their lives so far before jumping in with their ministry or teaching or their work for God so it seems … because they may not be working for God at all.  What has their outcome been to date?  It’s indicative of their future and you want to perceive this because their future will become yours also.  Following Jesus to the “T” is like building a house on a solid foundation.  Most people’s greatest purchase in life is their residence.  More is expended on residential matters daily in the nation than any other item or commodity.  ‘Have you ever stopped and pondered, “what are we doing all this for? What’s the meaning of all our efforts?  Are we building something stable? Permanent?”  Jesus reminds us that we build upon The Rock or we build something that WILL come crashing down.  And we all know who the The Rock is when Jesus uses this phrase.  It’s Him.  The crowds were amazed that Jesus taught very differently.  He spoke like HE wrote the book he was teaching from.  The local teachers’ traditions were to be always quoting other teachers who were quoting other teachers who were quoting other teachers.  You get the message.
8 – The man healed of leprosy indicates a few things.  A New Testament scholar teaches that Jesus’ 3-year-ministry had a year of obscurity, a year of popular favor, and a year of opposition -by the religious leaders especially.  Jesus asks former leper to be quiet about the healing.  Well the crowds will likely thwart that request.  But is does tell us that the year of obscurity is perhaps nearing an end though Jesus may be attempting to extent it a bit longer.  Don’t let it slip past you today that we have pains and problems and He is willing to cleanse them.  What He tells the leper, He also tells us; “I am willing.”  The Centurion uses his personal context of authority and power to relate this to Jesus.  He has full confidence in Jesus’ power to heal.  We can learn from this and minister Jesus to others with the same confidence.  Keep in mind this centurion has no spiritual training but he knows enough about Jesus.  Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law.  Yes, Peter had a wife.  And the demon-possessed are healed in a Word from Jesus, yes, ALL were healed.  Following Jesus was quite the rage going on here.  When the one guy made his impulsive statement of commitment, he isn’t heard from again after he learns that following Jesus doesn’t include free housing.  The disciples then get a doozy of a lesson as Jesus calms a storm.  They didn’t know even what kind of man Jesus was in His commanding a weather front to stop!  Jesus seemed perfectly human.  He wasn’t an angel mist essence wind god … maybe … he … wow, what is this guy!?  The storm experience was overload to put it lightly.  Jesus’ persona was basically telling them, “stick around, there’s a lot more to go!”    The final story today was the healing of the grotesquely demon possessed men.  The story is also told in Mark 5:1-20 and Luke 8:29-36 though Mk and Lk describe one man.  No discrepancy to fret here.  There were two and Matthew talks about both of them.  Mark and Luke just focus on the one and say more in the aftermath of the miracle.  In short (and Matthew keeps it short; seven verses) Jesus is letting it be known that He has more power than anything hell’s minions can muster.  And as is often seen in healing ministry, some were healed and others were concerned about the economic fallout from the loss of swine.  So they asked Jesus to leave.  Many do that today.  Jesus does good for man, but others see him as someone who upsets their “apple cart”.  Which do we want to be?  Which are we?

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