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August 2015

Matthew 16



  • Matthew 16:5-11 (NIV) 5  When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. 6  "Be careful," Jesus said to them. "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees." 7  They discussed this among themselves and said, "It is because we didn't bring any bread." 8  Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, "You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? 9  Do you still not understand? Don't you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 10  Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 11  How is it you don't understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

Jesus' work is a spiritual one.  He is concerned with our spiritual condition.  The disciples underscore what happens with most of us in our dealing with Jesus though, we tend to think in the physical and interpret what He says in physical terms rather than spiritual things.  In this interchange with the disciples Jesus tells them that when it comes to physical provision they need not worry because Jesus has proven that He can more than care for their needs, it should not even be a concern, after all, even the leftovers in the feeding of the thousands were more than they needed.  It is reminicent of Jesus' words in the sermon on the mount, don't worry about clothes and food, God will take care of those things, instead spend time pursuing God and His will for our lives.

Listening to popular Christian culture today you realize that we have become more preoccupied with the material blessings that we believe is our God-given right.  We focus on believing that God wants us to be healthy and wealthy.  Jesus tells the disciples, "Wrong focus!"  I provide for your material needs so don't even focus on it - be more focused on the needs of your soul.  Later on in the chapter Jesus says to His disciples, "What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?"  

What is our focus in our walk with God - the provision of physical needs or His provision for our spiritual condition? 

Matthew 15

  • Matthew 15:7-9 (NIV) 7  You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: 8  "'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 9  They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'"

What Isaiah said of the people of his own day applied to the hypocrites of Jesus' day as well, and to those of our own.

An ancient rabbi said, "There are ten parts of hypocrisy in the world, nine at Jerusalem and one everywhere else." The same might be said of much of the church. Satan has no greater allies than hypocrites who go under the guise of God's people. And hypocrites have no greater ally than tradition, because tradition can be followed mechanically and thoughtlessly, without conviction, sincerity, or purity of heart. Because traditions are made by men, they can be accomplished by men. They require no faith, no trust, no dependence on God. Not only that, but they appeal to the flesh by feeding pride and self-righteousness. Often, as in this case, they also serve self-interest.
Because traditions require no integrity of heart, they are easily substituted for true worship and obedience. That is why it is easy for people to honor God with their lips while their heart is far away from Him. And that is why ritual, ceremony, and other religious traditions are more likely to take worshipers further from God than bring them closer. And the further a person is from God, the more vain his worship becomes.

The only heart that can worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24) is the heart that belongs to Him; and the only heart that belongs to Him is the heart cleansed from sin and made righteous by Him. It is this divine cleansing that God has always offered to those who trust in Him. "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you," He said through Ezekiel, "and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances" (Ezek. 36:26-27). Unless that transformation happens within a person, his righteousness cannot exceed the hypocritical and superficial righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees—in which case he can never enter the kingdom of God (Matt. 5:20).

Jesus was condemned and crucified because He exposed the vileness of religious hypocrites who rejected God's grace in favor of their own sinful precepts of self-righteous works.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with tradition as such. Many traditions help us to remember, cherish, and honor things that are noble and beautiful. But when traditions are substituted for, or in any way distort or distract from God's Word, they are an offense against God and a barrier to right worship and living. When the precepts of men are taught as doctrines, man's wisdom is elevated above God's—which is the very root of all sin. It was Satan's inducing Eve to trust her own wisdom above God's that led to the Fall and to every subsequent sin and evil in the world.

MacArthur New Testament Commentary

Matthew 14


  • Matthew 14:3-5 (NASB) 3  For when Herod had John arrested, he bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. 4  For John had been saying to him, "It is not lawful for you to have her." 5  Although Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded John as a prophet. 

I was watching christian TV yesterday and as I listened I heard two different preachers (who are great speakers) preach about how we can use God to be happy, blessed and get out of trouble in life.  I know that I only heard a piece of what could be a much more rounded ministry but it bothered me that we seem to have this idea that when we serve God He is “supposed” to protect us from all hurt, pain, hardships etc.  I don’t know if John the Baptist got the memo.  For that matter the OT prophets and the apostles seem to have lost this teaching as well.  Not to mention the modern day martyrs who are suffering for the cause of Christ and being killed daily.

As disciples of Christ the better approach would be to deny self, take up our cross daily and follow Jesus.  We must be willing to be like John who put speaking God’s truth as more important than freedom, popularity and life itself.  I suppose John could have said nothing about Herod’s sin, reasoning that he was doing more for God’s kingdom preaching to the masses, but somewhere in there the Spirit of God prompted John to speak up about sin and unrighteousness even when it was unpopular and dangerous…so he obeyed and paid for it with his freedom and ultimately with his life.

Not the way I want to go but I guess the question is am I willing to die to self and live for Christ?

Let’s start with baby steps…
Say yes to the Holy Spirit in the little moments He directs us.  

  • To stop and pray.
  • To write a note of encouragement to someone.
  • To give a gentle answer instead of flying off the handle.
  • To share the Good News with people who need to know (after all our life is not on the line).
  • To allow the Holy Spirit to empower us to say no to sin and yes to righteousness.

Matthew 13


  • Matthew 13:52 (NASB) 52 And Jesus said to them, "Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old."


After taking time to explain the parables to His disciples Jesus asked them if they understood them, to which they confidently replied , “Yes.”  Jesus needed them to go one step further, they needed to realize that understanding involves responsibility, so He gives them one more parable to explain this and to remind them of their responsibilities.

He likened them to scribes who must discover the truth.

The scribes began as a group under the leadership of Ezra. Their purpose was to preserve the Law, study it, and apply its truths to daily life. Over the years, their cause degenerated into a routine task of preserving traditions and man-made interpretations, and adding burdens to the lives of the people. They were so wrapped up in the past that they ignored the present! Instead of sharing living truth from God's Word, they peddled dead doctrines and traditions that could not help the people.

As believers we are scribes who are privy to the Truth.  We have Jesus the Truth, we have God’s Word which is Truth and we have the Holy Spirit who leads and guides us into all truth.  

Having truth at our disposal is not enough we must do the truth.

Matthew says that every scribe who becomes a disciple.  Scribes emphasize learning but disciples emphasize living.  We are not just to be learners of the truth we are to be doers of the truth.

And we must be willing to not only discover the truth and do it we must pass it on to others.  A head of a household takes responsibility for those in his household to teach and train them up.  He gives them treasures old and new.  We are called to share the truths we have discovered; the ones we discovered a  long time ago and the ones we are newly discovering; with those around us.

If we truly are disciples of God then we will be allowing God to reveal His truth to us and then we will be living it out and passing it on to others.  

Matthew 12


  • Matthew 12:3-8 (NIV) 3 He answered, "Haven't you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread--which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. 5 Or haven't you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent? 6 I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. 7 If you had known what these words mean, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." 

Jesus, Lord of the Sabbath.

Jesus deliberately violated the Sabbath laws on a few occasions.  He was making a point.  He wanted them to break out of this mode they had gotten into were they believed that external laws could save them and make them holy.  True righteousness comes from God and following God's laws must be motivated by our heart’s desire to love and please Him.  Playing off of the last chapter Matthew wants us to understand that Jesus offers rest from the jumping through hoops and external laws that we think lead to holiness.  There is no rest to be gotten from just religious hoop jumping.  It is not that observance of the Law is not needed but it is a matter of which comes first - relationship before rule keeping.  I follow His Law out of my love for Him as I am in relationship with Him.

Today we are just as guilty as the Pharisees and other religious leaders who believed that the observance of the Law made them holy.  Too many people are basing their holiness on what they do rather than what He has done.  We check off a list and none of it ever touches our heart.  Jesus desires a heart of desire for Him first.  And on the opposite side there are many who say that they love God and are in relationship with Him and yet it never impacts the way that they live - their passion and priorities all seem to point to things other than pursuing a deep and abiding relationship with God through His Son.  

The order matters.  

Matthew 11


  • Matthew 11:25-30 (NIV) 25  At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26  Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. 27  "All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28  "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." 

Why did the religious leaders rebel against John and Jesus? Because they (the leaders) were intellectually and spiritually proud and would not become little babes in humility and honesty. There is a vast difference between the spoiled children of the parable (vs 16-19) and the submissive children of this statement of praise. The Father reveals Himself to the Son, and the Son reveals Himself and the Father to those who are willing to come to the Son in faith. These verses indicate both the sovereignty of the Father and the responsibility of the sinner.

Three commands summarize this invitation.

The Pharisees all said "Do!" and tried to make the people follow Moses and the traditions. But true salvation is found only in a Person, Jesus Christ. To come to Him means to trust Him. This invitation is open to those who are exhausted and burdened down. That is exactly how the people felt under the yoke of Pharisaical legalism.

This is a deeper experience. When we come to Christ by faith, He gives us rest. When we take His yoke and learn, we find rest, that deeper rest of surrender and obedience. The first is "peace with God" (Romans 5:1); the second is "the peace of God" (Phil. 4:6-8). To "take a yoke" in that day meant to become a disciple. When we submit to Christ, we are yoked to Him. The word "easy" means "well-fitting"; He has just the yoke that is tailor-made for our lives and needs. The burden of doing His will is not a heavy one.

The first two commands represent a crisis as we come and yield to Christ; but this step is into a process. As we learn more about Him, we find a deeper peace, because we trust Him more. Life is simplified and unified around the person of Christ. This invitation is for everyone not just the people of Israel.


Bible Exposition Commentary 

Matthew 10


  • Matthew 10:37-39 (NIV) 37 "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 


One of the decisions that Jesus demands of us daily is that our highest priority would be loving Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.  We are to love Him above everything and everyone else, making the decision to please Him even if it comes at great “perceived” personal sacrifice.  He uses the phrase “taking up the cross” which does not mean wearing cross jewelry or having a sticker on our car.  It means choosing to die to my desires when they are in conflict to God’s.  It means putting His commands and calling before ours.  Too often what we are guilty of is getting our stuff done first and then fitting God in.  It is only after we have decided on job, possessions, entertainment etc. that we say, “And what should I “do” for my God requirement?”

Jesus presents us with two alternatives - spare your life or sacrifice your life.  There is really no middle ground.  If we protect our own interests and desires, in the end we will be losers.  BUT if we die to self and live for His interests we will be winners.  Don’t give in to the age old trick of the enemy who tells us that we must seek first our interests because we are the masters of our destiny, choose to believe God who says that if we seek Him first and His ways the He will give us all that we will need and more.

And one final note…

Let this all be driven by love.  Our love for God is the motivation for our obedience and giving Him the highest priority of our lives.

Matthew 9


  • Matthew 9:35-38 (NIV) 35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."

Jesus looked up and saw the crowds, harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd and He had compassion on them.

Lord I ask that you will give me eyes to see people the way that you do.  Let my heart break for them.  Help me see beyond their faults and see their need for you.  Break my heart for people just like your heart is broken for them.  

And Jesus I pray that through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in me I will have wisdom and insight into how to share your love with those people.  Help me to be bold, courageous, sensitive and willing to be a worker in your harvest.  And Lord I pray that you will send out more and more workers into the harvest field.  I pray that the family at DSC will be a harvesting family. 

Matthew 8


Faith.  I think people make it more complicated than it really is.  The leper and the centurion both had faith.  In this case their faith was based on a belief that Jesus was powerful enough to heal the sickness.  Faith is a a belief not in my abilities but in God’s power.   

But I also believe that it was the will of God to heal the leper and the Centurion’s servant.  Jesus says to the leper that He was willing.  There are times when I believe fully in God’s ability to change my situation and He does not - so what then?  Is it because I don’t have enough faith?  Should my faith in God’s ability waver?   I don’t think so.  God’s power is immeasurable and nothing is impossible for Him, but sometimes His plan involves not answering my request no matter how great my belief is in His ability.  So what should my response to Him be?  A loss of faith?  No I think I must then have a greater faith in His love for me and stand firm in knowing that whatever happens, as I continue to walk in submission and intimacy, He will be with me and it will work for my good.  

Faith is grounded even more when we have a promise from God - so if God says something in His Word then I can believe that He will accomplish it and I can take it to the bank.  Beyond a shadow of a doubt I know that I am forgiven and set free from the chains of sin.  I can live with the assurance that God does not hold my sin against me because I have confessed them and asked for forgiveness.  I can believe that one day Jesus will return for His people and that He is preparing a place for me in heaven so that I can be with Him.  I can believe what Jesus said on the Sermon on the Mount regarding not worrying about tomorrow because He will take care of our needs.  The list goes on.  I suppose the end result of all this faith talk is that it should be a faith walk.  Like Abraham I must live as though I truly believe God’s  Word.  I must walk as a freed and forgiven man.  I must live with the expectation of His return.  I should not worry and fret about provision of my needs.  

Matthew 7


Matthew 7:24-25 (NIV) 24  "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

One of the things that is evident from the Sermon on the Mount is that the life of a Christ-follower (disciple) is founded on faith in God and His Word.

Jesus ends the discourse by saying those who hear the words of God and put them into practice is wise and secure.  To hear something and put it into practice requires that we believe that it is true.  We must have confidence in it.  If we don't believe it then we won't do it.  I think I understand the mustard seed illustration of faith a little bit more today because Jesus tells us that it does not require that we totally and completely embrace it all at the onset but that if you can believe in Him just a little then He would fill in the rest.  

 I believe that I am prideful and self-centered.  I have come to realize that my strength comes not from me but from God.  I cannot fix my sin but Jesus fixed it for me. 
I believe that because of Jesus' work I have been pardoned of sin and adopted into the family of God. 
I believe that God does not hide Himself from me but desires to be in intimate relationship with me but He calls me to come, to take a baby step of faith and accept His gift of restoration.  But He wants more than me standing on the outskirts of His presence, He desires me to run to Him and when I do He opens up His arms and welcomes me into His embrace. He desires to pour out His gifts freely into my life if I would ask Him to.  
Yet I find myself like the father who came to Jesus on behalf of his son, asking for healing, and said to Jesus, "I believe that you can heal him but help my unbelief."  In other words, "My faith in you is there but wavering, I cannot do it on my own.  Help me."  And Jesus did.

I want to continue to live by faith in God and His word and I want my life to reflect my ever increasing faith in Him.