60 Thoughts from the Gospel of Matthew

60 Thoughts from the Gospel of Matthew

I don’t usually post stuff like this, but since I’m convinced that you haven’t really learned something until you’ve shared it with others, I might as well share what I’ve been thinking about over the last few days as I have been reading through the Gospel of Matthew.

Here are 60 points that I thought were important, either to comment on or to think about.

    Matthew 1-4

  1. Joseph was a pretty good candidate to be Jesus’ earthly father. He obeyed the angel. He didn’t want to disgrace Mary. He gave the baby the name Jesus. He obeyed and went to Egypt. He did everything that God asked him to do.
  2. The magi had their eyes open and were in tune with God. The king didn’t have a clue that Jesus had been born until they told him, even though the news had to have reached Jerusalem by the time they got there.
  3. Imagine the grief caused by one man’s fear of being overturned politically. All the babies 2 and under murdered because of Herod’s insecurity – Your sin or even your pride can cause problems for so many other people. Be careful to not let your insecurities affect others. Deal with them so you don’t ruin everyone else’s life.
  4. John the Baptist’s words in 3:8 are interesting: produce fruit in keeping with repentance. Your repentance brings fruit. What you do is an outward sign of your repentance. The actions you take show the world if you truly have repented or if you are just playing a game.
  5. John always made it about Jesus and not about himself. He was always pointing to heaven.
  6. Jesus’ ministry exploded. His marketing strategy wasn’t even a marketing strategy. He did what He had come to do and the crowds followed. (4:23-25)
  7. Matthew 5-7

  8. It is not just wrong to break the law, it is wrong to teach about breaking the law. You will be called the LEAST in the Kingdom. Or you can be called the greatest by obeying and teaching to obey (19-20).
  9. Be reconciled with people before you bring your offering to be reconciled to God – it is as important as not murdering. (21-25)
  10. Be overly cautious in avoiding adultery. It is a snare that will destroy you. It is like a spider waiting to devour you. Get rid of anything that might cause you to fall into sin. (27-30)
  11. Be honest always…you don’t need an oath for people to KNOW that you are telling the truth. Simply, tell the truth. (33-37)
  12. Give to the one who asks you. The other day we were at Publix and the girl looked like she was scamming people asking for money for diapers. But we gave anyway. Why? Because we should help people who are in need. (42)
  13. If men recognize your ministry or your service, you have received your reward (6:2, 16). The reward that your heavenly father will give you (who sees what is done in secret – 6:4, 18 and Proverbs 5) is much better than the reward you receive from men.
  14. We know how to take care of our children. God knows how to take care of His children (7:9-12). Why do I think that God will not take care of me? Why do I forget that He is in control?

  15. Matthew 8-11

  16. Follow Christ at all cost (18-22): am I willing to give up everything to follow Jesus? What do I have in my life that would be difficult to give up in order to follow Jesus? What excuses do I make for not following like I should?
  17. Jesus is so powerful that His power scares some people. The people of the city asked Him to leave (8:34) I wonder how many people are afraid of what He will do in their lives? Do we like to stay the way we are? Are we content with the relationship we have with Jesus?
  18. Jesus and Matthew and his friends ate together. Jesus didn’t ask Matthew to leave his friends when He asked him to follow Him. He simply asked him to follow (9:10-12)
  19. Jesus didn’t seek publicity. His actions spoke for Him (9:26) people He touched couldn’t help but spread the news about Him. – Today it seems like we manufacture evangelism. We try to force people to share their faith. Jesus asked some people to NOT speak about what He had done for them (9:30) It seems opposite today.
  20. The workers are few: let His compassion fill me enough to pray for more workers (9:35-38) there is enough work to do that we need more workers for the Kingdom.
  21. Persecution will come. They will flog you in the synagogues. Jesus was telling them this not long after they decided I follow Him. I wonder how many wanted to re-think it – Jesus reassured them though with the words in verses 29-31.
  22. Anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (10:38) lose your life for the sake of Jesus. He is worth it all. He is worthy of all. He is everything.
  23. Would Jesus say,”Woe to you” to us? We have been blessed beyond measure and seen first hand what He can do. Yet we still doubt.
  24. I love Matthew 11:28-30. Jesus is making am invitation to the weary (which I am after a long workday). He will give rest. He says,”you will find rest for your souls.”. It is a guarantee.

  25. Matthew 12-13

  26. THE NATIONS put their hope in His name – 21. He is a global God. We serve a missions minded God. It has been His plan from the beginning.
  27. The religious people of the day tried everything to explain the unexplainable. (24). They could not accept that He was the Messiah because it didn’t fit in their plans. Don’t get so wrapped up in my goals and plans that I don’t have time to see what God is doing in the world.
  28. You talk about what is in your heart (34). Fill your heart with good so that the good will come out of your mouth. Fill your heart with God so that God comes out of your mouth. (Also in 15:18-20)
  29. Many people only dreamed to live in the times the disciples were living. The prophets would have loved to have walked with Jesus (13:17). The same us true if the time I am living in. Make the most of the time in which I am living. I need to use every means necessary to follow Christ. I am privileged to live in this time period.
  30. The kingdom of heaven is so precious that it is worth everything. Be busy in Kingdom work, because it is the most valuable endeavor on earth (12:44-45) – Sacrifice everything for the Kingdom. Nothing else matters. Everything else is worthless compared to the Kingdom. Serve God with reckless abandon. Lay it all on the line for His Kingdom.
  31. Matthew 14-15

  32. Doing what is right might cost you your life. John the Baptist was beheaded basically for saying the truth. But will I let the danger of telling the truth hinder me from obeying what God says? (1-12)
  33. Jesus withdrew to a solitary place. It seems that this renewed Him. Sometimes, when the pressures of life are almost overwhelming, it is necessary to be alone. The great thing about Jesus was that He withdrew, and then He saw the large crowd and ministered to them. (13-14). Then, after He ministered to the crowd…He went up to the mountainside to pray (23)…by Himself…again.
  34. Don’t nullify the Word of God for sake of tradition (15:7) – Jesus came down hard on the religious people of the day for following traditions made by men more than the Word of God. He knew that they were doing many things in the name of religion although their hearts were far from Him. They were not trying to FOLLOW Him. They were trying to give the APPEARANCE of following Him.

    This has a lot to do with what I was reading in Spiritual Leadership by Oswald Sanders this morning. He talks about people wanting positions of leadership to be seen by others or for all the wrong reasons. The aspiration to leadership is a noble thing, but only if it has the noble reasons behind it.

  35. Matthew 16-17

  36. Guard against false doctrine (5-12). Be like the Bereans (Acts 17:11) and constantly search the Scriptures to see if the doctrine you are hearing is true.
  37. What is your personal confession of Jesus? Who do you say He is? Peter answered, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (16-20). The keys to the Kingdom of heaven come with the declaration that Jesus is the Messiah. He is the Christ. This truth is powerful. It changes lives. It changes families. It changes everything.
  38. We always quote Matthew 16:24-28 as the cost of being a disciple of Christ. If we want to follow Him, we must take up our cross and follow Him. Don’t strive to save your own life. Lose it on purpose, but lose it purposefully. He will give us life. There is so much in this quote from Jesus. Give away your life. Do what He wants with reckless abandon. Don’t try to spare anything. Give Him everything. This will be the way to save your life. This will allow you to find LIFE. Real life comes when we give it away for Him.
  39. Faith of a mustard seed (17:20). Imagine the exhaustion of this Father. He must have been so disappointed when the disciples couldn’t drive out the demon. Jesus, on the other hand, was worried about the disciples’ faith. Nothing will be impossible for you. What a promise. Do I really BELIEVE that Jesus can do anything I ask Him to do? How big is my faith?
  40. Matthew 18-19

  41. What does it mean to become like little children? Humble yourself and be like children. (1-5) observe children and see how they are. Then you will understand what Jesus is saying here.
  42. It is a big deal to cause someone else to sin – 5-7. AVOID SIN. Stay pure. Put away everything that causes you to sin (8-9). And don’t cause others to sin. If they are copying me, let them copy something good and not sin.
  43. Biblical conflict resolution – go to the person who sins against you and show him his fault. It is really pretty simple (in theory).
  44. Live a life characterized by forgiveness. Why do we treat people differently than the way in which God treats us? If He can forgive us, treat us with respect, and love us unconditionally, why can’t we do the same for others? (18:21-35)
  45. Salvation is impossible to attain through human effort (19:26). But thanks be to God who has given us the gift of salvation. It is all because of Him.
  46. God will reward your sacrifice for Him (29-30)
  47. Matthew 20-21

  48. Don’t compare yourself with others. Be content with what you have been given. It is the prerogative of the one who hires to give to all. It is unhealthy to compare what you have received to what others have received (20:1-16).
  49. Be a servant. Be humble. Jesus continues the themes of servanthood and humility. He has emphasized it over and over in the book of Matthew. I imagine that Jesus was constantly demonstrating humility and was constantly serving. The more I read of Matthew, the more I see that this was a major theme in His teaching. I must be a servant first. In Oswald Sanders’ book Spiritual Leadership, he says that your leadership is not measured by the amount of servants you have but the amount of people you serve.
  50. Jesus repeats His teaching on faith (21:21-22). How big is your faith? I bet your faith can be measured by your prayer life. The more you pray, the bigger your faith, because the more you realize that God can do the impossible.
  51. Jesus is seeking obedience, not lip service (21:28-32); the story of the two sons – one who said he wasn’t going to work in the field but finally did and one who said he would but never went – obey even when you don’t feel like it. Don’t say you will obey and then conveniently not do anything. Don’t say you will serve and not serve (see point 2). Don’t say you have faith and not pray (see above point).
  52. Matthew 22-23

  53. People were too busy to go to the feast. Are we too busy to sit at the table with Jesus? (5-6)
  54. People were constantly trying to trick Jesus. If they were trying to trap Him in His teachings, how much more will they try to trap us?
  55. Wow. Jesus preaches hard against those who put lots of rules on others and then do not practice what they preach (23:1-7). They do everything in order to be seen by men.
  56. Once again He teaches that the greatest will be the servant (23:11-12). The humble one will be exalted. Don’t puff yourself up. Keep a correct idea of who you really are. Don’t be proud. Let God exalted you.
  57. The 7 woes in chapter 23 would make an excellent study. Why did Jesus preach against them so harshly? Probably because they had positions of authority and misused it. They wants to appear to be spiritual but didn’t do the things to make themselves spiritual.
  58. Matthew 24-25

  59. Chapter 24 is hard to understand – You may not understand it all, but for sure you can do what verse 44 says – be ready. Let Him find you faithful when the day comes.
  60. What are you doing with what He gave you? Parable of the talents – 25:14-30. He has entrusted me with things. Be sure to be faithful to Him and invest what He has given me wisely so when He returns He will say,”Well done, good and faithful servant.”
  61. Take care of the least of the brothers – you are taking care of Christ Himself (25:40)
  62. Matthew 26-28

  63. We often think way too much of ourselves and our faith, just like Peter in 26:33. He thought that he would stand with Christ even if everyone else fell away. He wanted to believe that he would die with Christ, but he was wrong. Don’t overestimate your faith or ability to stand
  64. Jesus did the will of the Father, as difficult as that was for Him (39). “Not as I will, but as you will” is a phrase that often we must pray. We don’t always WANT to do what God has for us. Doing right isn’t always easy, but it is always necessary.
  65. I can’t imagine how Peter must have felt in verse 75. He wept bitterly, having denied His Lord. What a feeling that must have been. But despite his failure, I know that in the future God used him mightily. God uses us despite our failures and weaknesses.
  66. Interesting that all of a sudden the chief priests are interested in the law (27:6). They won’t take the money and put it back into the treasury, even though all night they were breaking the law. We are experts at using things to our convenience. We will even use the Bible conveniently. Don’t twist religion to be used in your favor. Honor God at all times.
  67. Pilate often gets looked at bad. Really, though, we are no different than he is. Looking at the situation, we let the pressures of people and family tell us how to react. You can tell that Pilate really thought Jesus was innocent, but he was pressured into taking the actions that he took. How different is that from us? Not very different. (27:11-26)
  68. In 27:42 – they said, “He saved others.” That was precisely what He was doing on the cross…dying to save them and the whole world. Yet they were too busy mocking Him to understand that.
  69. Imagine how the disciples reacted to the women when they went and told them about the resurrection of Jesus. I’m guessing they didn’t believe them completely. That would have been hard to believe.
  70. I love how Matthew begins with “and they will call him Immanuel — which means, ‘God with us'” (1:23) and ends with, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Immanuel – God with us – from the beginning to the end of Matthew.

(Photo by: Geowombats on Flickr)

You are Setting an Example

You are Setting an Example

This morning something happened in our house that left me both scared and excited at the same time.

Nathan usually wakes up early, so I get him his breakfast and milk, then I make myself some coffee and sit down to read my Bible.

For Christmas, Nathan got his own little children’s Bible. We’ve been reading stories to him every night before he goes to bed so that he can become acquainted with Jesus and the Bible.

This morning, I was sitting at the dining room table, drinking my coffee, and reading Matthew 26-28. Nathan noticed what I was doing and ran upstairs to get his Bible, too. I realized then something that I already knew, but this morning it hit me harder than ever.

I am an example for my children. They are watching everything I am doing. That’s why I say that it scared me and at the same time excited me. It scared me because I know I’m not perfect. It excited me because today, at least, Nathan copied me in doing something that I pray becomes a lifelong habit for him.

Anyway, I share this experience to remind you to be careful. You are setting an example. What kind of example are you setting?

A Sure Fire, Undeniable Way to Get Noticed

A Sure Fire, Undeniable Way to Get Noticed

Saturday, in a youth leaders’ network meeting, one of the girls who was there was telling of her experience in the treatment center earlier this year when her mom was being treated for cancer.

She said that, although it was a trying time for her (her mom died this year), she had the chance to spend more time with God.

She mentioned that the other people in the treatment center noticed something different about her and her mom. They noticed something unexplainable. They recognized that they had faith and that their faith influenced their attitude and actions.

I thought of the story in Acts 4, and especially verse 13. People notice a difference when you have been with Jesus. Although you may not be the smartest or most beautiful person, being around Jesus changes you. It makes you better. And it’s noticeable.

Using My iPhone to Improve My Spiritual Life

Using My iPhone to Improve My Spiritual Life

I recently purchased a used 1st generation iPhone, and since then it has become an extension of my arm. In fact, I think I might be addicted. But I could stop using it anytime I want. Really, I could. I’m not addicted.

Seriously, though, I have learned to use my iPhone to help me in my spiritual life. Here are 5 ways I’m using it to improve my walk with God:

  1. Note taking: I take notes in church and in chapel on my iPhone. Everyone thinks I’m just text messaging someone (or twittering), but the truth is I really have been taking notes. Then I email my notes to myself and file them in a folder listed “sermon notes” in my gmail. Since gmail is easily searchable, I can always look for a certain topic or passage.

    I also use it to take notes in my personal Bible study time. Then I email it and file it away.

  2. Devotion alarm: The Calendar application is set to remind me everyday that it is time to do my devotions. That’s pretty easy to do on any cell phone, but it helps me to actually DO IT if I schedule it.

    I’m also thinking about setting an alarm to beep every hour to remember to pray for certain missionaries. I haven’t done this yet, but it might help me specifically pray for certain friends of mine who are serving in other countries.

  3. Praying for my contacts: I’ve begun to go through the contact list that is in my iphone (synced with my google contacts with nuevasync). I pray for a letter a day, and by the end of the month, I’ve prayed for everyone that is in my contact list.

    I also use the facebook app to pray for my facebook friends alphabetically.

  4. Youversion: I read and bookmark Bible verses in Youversion. Although I like to use the full Youversion website even more than the mobile version, it helps me as I can scroll through various versions of the Bible.
  5. Worship: The iphone is also an iPod, so I use it to listen to worship music during my time with God. Mark Batterson talks about having a worship playlist to help you wake up. It’s a great idea.

Bonus: You can also listen to podcasts and view sermons on the iphone. I haven’t tried this yet due to lack of time to actually listen to or watch anything, but I can see how this would help improve your spiritual life.

Any other ideas for using your iPhone or iPod touch to improve your spiritual health?

Oh…by the way, you can get a free iPhone here. My friend has signed up and gotten TONS of free stuff from this site. Check it out.

Hope for the Hopeless

“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope” (NIV – emphasis mine).” – 1 Thessalonians 4:13

Jesus wept. – John 11:35

John 11:35 is the shortest verse in the Bible, but the story it tells is one of the greatest stories about Jesus.

Three times in John 11, Jesus was grieved. Some say He was thinking about His upcoming crucifixion, but I doubt He was that selfish.

The Jews noticed his weeping, and they siad, “Look how much He loved him.” I think Jesus was weeping because He was genuinely grieving the loss of a loved one. It’s natural. It hurts to grieve and to see those around you grieve. But it’s necessary.

Tomorrow I go to New Hampshire both to grieve the loss of my Meme (grandma in French) and to help my family understand that there is hope.

Just a few paragraphs before Jesus weeps in John, He says, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” Then He asks the question, “Do you believe this?”

As I grieve, I am reminded that I DO believe that. Jesus IS the resurrection and the life. There IS life after death. There is HOPE.

The following song by Jars of Clay talks about going home when we die. I know that Meme is home.