Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Matthew, Chapter 12 part 1

Chapter 12 of Matthew is another chapter that is very large, so I have decided to break it into two parts. Today we will be discussing the first 21 verses, while I will reserve verses 22 through 43 for tomorrow. In today's lesson, we will see Jesus establish Himself as Lord of the Sabbath. We will also see how he fulfills more of the prophesies found in the book of Isaiah. In all this, we will also see how the rift between Jesus and the Pharisees began to grow because of His ministry.

Why is it important that Jesus proclaim Himself Lord of the Sabbath? This first section seems asinine in our 21st century view, but in the first century the Sabbath was incredibly sacred to the people of Israel. Absolutely no work was done on the Sabbath, so when Jesus and His disciples merely plucked some grain to feed themselves the Pharisees freaked out. To them this was a great blasphemy, especially coming from someone who proclaimed to be the Son of God. This shows the short-sightedness of man, and why Jesus needed to proclaim Himself Lord of the Sabbath. The Pharisees could not see past the law that man had been given. Even though this was God Incarnate telling them that the law was no longer valid, they were still hung up on the law.

5Or haven't you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent? 6I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. 7If you had known what these words mean, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent. 8For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." – Matthew 12:5-8

Jesus is much like a lawyer citing precedent here. At the same time, He also states that He is greater than the Temple. What the Pharisees feared in this is the loss of their power. The Temple was the source of the Pharisees earthly power. As men, they had become blinded by this power. By Jesus saying that He was higher than the Temple he also presented a threat to that power. Instead of seeing Jesus for the blessing that He was they saw him as a threat to the status quo.

11He said to them, "If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath." – Matthew 12:11-12

I love how Jesus illustrates a higher purpose here. Instead of being restricted by the law, He expands it by doing good. Still, the Pharisees continued to be shortsighted, as we see them plot to kill Jesus for doing good. To me, this is one of the most absurd parts of Scripture. I cannot understand why they would want to kill someone who was clearly performing miracles just because it was a minor violation of their law. As we know, however, it was prophesied.

18"Here is my servant whom I have chosen,
      the one I love, in whom I delight;
   I will put my Spirit on him,
      and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
19He will not quarrel or cry out;
      no one will hear his voice in the streets.
20A bruised reed he will not break,
      and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,
   till he leads justice to victory.
21In his name the nations will put their hope." – Matthew 12:18-21

We have seen this before in Isaiah 42. Jesus keeping his anonymity here is an important part of Scripture because it shows His humble nature. Jesus came to serve, not to draw attention to Himself. That is why we are told He would not quarrel or cry out. During His ministry Jesus never went out of His way to draw attention to Himself. Instead, He let His actions speak for themselves. From a completely secular perspective we can see this humble nature grew to the point where He is the most influential being in Human history. Even the most self-aggrandizing person does not have the world's system of dating based on the year of His birth. Jesus accomplished this with a public ministry that last barely three years and had only a small, local following.


  1. Why were the Pharisees so legalistic about work on the Sabbath?
  2. How would Jesus performing these miracles be viewed today with our current views of the Sabbath?
  3. What do you think of Jesus' humble nature?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Matthew, Chapter 11

There is nothing that can stop the advancement of the kingdom of God. As we study the life of Jesus this becomes more and more apparent. If there was any moment in history that the church could have been stopped it would have been right after the Crucifixion when it was in the most disarray. Instead, God used that moment for the church's greatest triumph. From that point on, there was almost a literal explosion of the faith as they disciples spread the word throughout the known world. In chapter 11 of Matthew we see the faint stirrings of that explosion through the relationship of Jesus and John the Baptist.

John the Baptist had a very special calling. He was sent forth to prepare the way for Christ. He too would suffer for his faith and devotion at the hands of the martyr's blade, but he never faltered. We see here that he is in prison at this time, yet Jesus lauds him for his devotion to the mission of preparing the world for Christ. Jesus also presents an interesting paradox, calling John the Baptist the greatest amongst all men, yet the least in the kingdom of heaven.

11I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. 13For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. 15He who has ears, let him hear. – Matthew 11:11-15

What honor to be called the greatest among men by Jesus. We also see here another bit of praise meant for all men who forcefully help advance the kingdom of heaven. This is reserved for those who, without fear, boldly proclaim the gospel of Christ. My friends, this is you and I! These words of praise are meant for us. When we advance the kingdom through living the life Christ has planned for us we are forcefully laying hold of the kingdom. Even in this, we see that those already in the kingdom of heaven are greater than men.

So how do we achieve this greater accolade? When we accept Christ into our hearts we become part of the kingdom of heaven. What Jesus is saying here is that John the Baptist accomplished great things in this earthly realm, yet without Jesus he is not fit for even entering the kingdom of heaven. Think about that for moment. Though John the Baptist had accomplished great works, it was his faith alone in Christ that put him in the kingdom of heaven. This is further proof that it is not works, but grace by faith that we are saved.

28"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." – Matthew 11:28-30

I wanted to include these words of Christ simply as a measure of encouragement today. As I continue to struggle through a very rough month of my life I see these words merely as a promise. There may be times in my greatest frustrations where I have trouble seeing these words as more than some hollow platitude, but they are still there. I see these words and I am reminded of times when my life was much worse. I am reminded of times where I did not know where I would be living within a week or if I would have a job or not, yet Christ still provided. Last night in the dark of night God granted me rest when I needed it most. Sometimes it is physical rest, while other times rest can come in the form of quiet reassurance from the Father that everything will be okay. It is my prayer that these words will give you comfort, if not now then somewhere down the line simply because the living Word of God is always there.


  1. What does being the greatest amongst men gain us?
  2. Did John the Baptist truly enter the kingdom of heaven through faith?
  3. How do you see the rest that Jesus promises here?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Matthew, Chapter 10

In my church's sermon yesterday we were encouraged to become evangelists regardless of where our strengths lie in the church. This means that we must actively and boldly proclaim the gospel in every aspect of our lives. Today in chapter 10 of Matthew we see this taken to a much larger extent. Chapter 10 features the first time that Jesus' 12 disciples are sent out to spread the message of His gospel. The entire chapter is essentially an extended pep talk before they are sent into the world to spread the good news. At this juncture they are given a priority to spread the Message to the Jews first, but later on we will see this restriction taken off. These twelve men would change the world, as they were given the task of essentially starting the modern church.

5These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' 8Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy,
drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.
9Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; 10take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep. – Matthew 10:5-10

In the book of Matthew we see very little of the training the apostles were given before this point. The first disciples were called in chapter four, while Matthew himself was not called until the previous chapter. We don't know how much time had passed or how much "on the job" training the Twelve had received to this point, but it is obvious that Jesus felt they were ready to begin their mission.

We also see that Jesus has several priorities for them that can be carried over to our own lives. In chapter 8 they are asked to freely give as they have freely received everything they had gotten from Christ. Jesus gave them the ability to perform miracles, so He asked them to perform them. The Twelve were also told in the final two verses here to trust in God to provide for all their physical needs. This is a test of faith for the twelve. Life in the first century was much more difficult than it is today. If they were hungry they couldn't pull over to the side of the road and find a McDonald's. When they needed rest there wasn't exactly a Holiday Inn to stay at. Jesus was telling them to take nothing to cover their physical needs because they needed to exercise faith that God would provide for them.

17"Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. 18On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. – Matthew 10:17-20

Once again, this is a test of faith for the disciples. We have seen in previous chapters what the cost is in following Christ. This is foreshadowing for the Twelve, as all but one of them, John, would suffer and die for the faith. This is nothing less than a personal challenge from Christ to these twelve ordinary men. This also applies to our own lives. We may not face persecution like the disciples did, but following the path that Christ has set before is not an easy one. We are asked merely to testify for Christ. Only He can do the rest when it comes to changing hearts and minds. We must trust that when we represent Him, He will give us the words we need to say through the Holy Spirit.


  1. How difficult was this initial challenge for the 12?
  2. Why would Jesus ask them not to take anything if they already trusted God?
  3. Why would the Twelve suffer such persecution?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Matthew, Chapter 9

In today’s reading we come of the first opposition to Jesus’ public ministry. Jesus was beginning to amass quite a following based on the miracles He was performing, but there were some who didn’t like the fact that He did not come to them first. We see the Pharisees begin to oppose Him here. I have always liked to refer to their attitude towards Christ one of, “You’re not quite what we’re looking for in a Messiah.” When you think about it, it is true. Jesus did not meet their preconceived notions of what the Messiah was supposed to be, so they opposed Him to the point of death. Instead of changing their view to what the Son of God really was, they expected Jesus to conform to their views. That becomes evident in chapter 9.

1Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. 2Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven."
3At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, "This fellow is blaspheming!"
4Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, "Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? 5Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? – Matthew 9:1-6

It is interesting to see the growing dynamic of faith at this point in Jesus’ ministry. Faith is the purpose of His ministry. We are saved only by grace through faith. I cannot imagine living in Jesus’ time and seeing even one of these miracles in person. In most cases, the news of His ministry was spread only by word of mouth, yet by faith others sought Him out for healing. There are five such instances in this chapter alone, and each time it someone coming by faith, having not personally witnessed Christ’s power, and being rewarded for that faith. This is the basis of our own faith as well, because we do not witness the power of Christ to forgive and cleanse us until we approach Him ourselves.

10While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. 11When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"
12On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." – Matthew 9:10-13

As mentioned above, we begin to see opposition to Jesus’ ministry in this chapter. Clearly the Pharisees were not happy because He was not spending time with them. I love this section of Matthew perhaps above all other parts of Jesus’ ministry because it illustrates so much of His nature. It clearly illustrates that He came to forgive us of our sin, not to pander to those who thought they were already righteous. Jesus was not afraid to get His hands dirty and work with the people that needed Him the most. If He had gone to the Pharisees, Jesus knew His message would not reach the ears that needed to hear it. Only by going to the sinners and showing them their need for redemption, as well as the path to it, would He fulfill His mission. To me, that is what makes His ministry even more powerful.

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

This final section is a call to all of us. We all must be workers, seeking to spread the message of Christ as long as we can in order to continue His mission. It is my prayer that I do this, and that those I touch do this as well.


1. Why is it so hard on human terms to forgive sin?
2. Why didn’t Jesus work on both sides, with the Pharisees and the sinners?
3. How are you a shepherd?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Matthew, Chapter 8

Yesterday we saw Jesus wrap up his famous Sermon on the Mount. Today, in Matthew 8, we see Him begin a series of miracles during His ministry. Chapter 8 of Matthew features four miracles as well as several acts of faith that stand out. We see Jesus fulfilling more prophesy by healing the sick and those with leprosy. While this was not Jesus' primary goal in coming to earth, it was still work that He viewed as important. In healing the leper He also showed that He was more important than the law. Jewish law stated that one couldn't touch someone or something that was ceremonially unclean. The leper fell into this category, yet Jesus saw it was more important to help Him then obey the law.

8The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."

 10When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." – Matthew 8:8-11

There are very few times in Scripture where Jesus was amazed or surprised, but this is one of them. That alone makes this passage noteworthy. It is very difficult to surprise and impress someone who is already omnipotent and omniscient, so the Centurion did not accomplish a small task here. What surprised Jesus the most was that the Centurion, a gentile, seemed to be more spiritually aware than most Jews. Here was someone who had very limited knowledge of the law, but he already had faith and understood the power of Christ. This is an incredible lesson, and further shows that Christ came ot serve all mankind, especially since the Centurion was a symbol of the Roman oppression of Israel.

30Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. 31The demons begged Jesus, "If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs."

 32He said to them, "Go!" So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. 33Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region. – Matthew 8:30-34

I wanted to focus on this passage because it is almost diametrically opposite of the situation with the Centurion. In the previous verses, the Centurion had the faith to simply ask Jesus to heal his servant. In these verses, Jesus performed a miracle without being asked, yet He was asked to leave the region because the people could not see past the loss of their pigs. This also relates to verses 18 through 22 of this chapter in the cost of following Christ. In both cases, Christ was asking people to give something up for Him, but they were unable to do so. This shows the unfortunate side of human nature in how we hang on to things, material or otherwise, instead of following God's plan. In both cases Jesus was asking people to be different, but they could not accept that for His sake. We face a similar situation in our lives, and this illustration relates to people who continue to reject Him even in the face of overwhelming evidence.


  1. Do you have the faith of the Centurion?
  2. How would you react to a miracle like Jesus performed with the demon-possessed men?
  3. Why would the people ask Jesus to leave?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Matthew, Chapter 7

Today we see the conclusion of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount as far as the book of Matthew is concerned. We will revisit this sermon in the gospel of Luke, but today is Matthew's conclusion. The first passage of chapter 7 felt like a slap across the face this morning. This dealt with judging others and being held to the same standards we used to judge others. This is something I have been guilty of most of my life, and it seems as if it especially true of late. I have always been very exacting in my expectations of both myself and others. When I am working one of my character flaws is that I expect others I interact with to have the same work ethic and ability to follow directions that I have. I have little patience for those that don't read the directions or pay attention, but the unfortunate thing is that I am just as guilty as everyone else at times.

1"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. – Matthew 7:1-2

It is a terrible attitude to have. Matthew's words this morning in chapter 7 are like a wakeup call, but unfortunately I have had that call before and have not learned the lesson. I see these words this morning and wonder what needs to be changed in me to finally understand this lesson. Since I am currently in a period of deep frustration in my life my old confrontational and uncompromising ways are starting to come out. In that, I am not heeding Matthew's words. Right now I feel as if that judgment is being measured out to me, and that I am powerless to change the course of this.

7"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. – Matthew 7:7-8

This does not mean we will be given everything we want if we merely ask for it in prayer. If that were so, cash would be raining down upon me or I would magically know the numbers that will come up in tonight's Powerball drawing. What this is, is a promise guidance from the Holy Spirit. That guidance can take many forms, from subtle insights and nudges in the right direction on decision to just a general sense of peace. Jesus has promised that the Holy Spirit will always be with us, and if we allow it to affect our lives we will be guided toward the proper insight and direction it has for us.

28When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law. – Matthew 7:28-29

In the culture that Israel was during the first century, a statement like this was quite revolutionary. At the time the Pharisees held most of the power in Jewish society. To say that Jesus, who to them was nothing more than a simple carpenter from one of the lowliest parts of the country, spoke with authority that no one else had is a testament to the power of Christ's words. This sermon, which was the beginning of Jesus' public ministry, had to have blown people away. Think of the reaction like it was the mayor of a small, backwater town in the middle of nowhere running for President of the United States and captivating a crowd with his first speech. This was merely the beginning of Jesus changing the entire world.


  1. How do you judge others?
  2. How do you view the Holy Spirit's hand on your life?
  3. Why did Jesus gain the people's attention in this way?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Matthew, Chapter 6

We continue Jesus' Sermon on the Mount today, and the underlying message is one of glorifying God. Jesus makes several points here that are all important, and in each one He emphasizes the importance of glorifying God in our actions. In giving to the Needy He stresses how we should do so to glorify God, not ourselves. In prayer He speaks of nurturing our relationship with God, not on glorifying ourselves through prayer. In fasting we see again that the glory should be directed at God instead of attention drawn to ourselves. Jesus' nature was that He was absolutely selfless. Considering that he came to sacrifice Himself for our benefit it is hard not to see this. Since we are asked to emulate Christ in all we do, we must take this posture as well.

14For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. – Matthew 6:14-15

We see this continued deflection of glory right here. I also see where this is another area of my life that has been a long personal struggle. It is easy to ask God for forgiveness of our sins because we know that God is forgiving. It is more difficult to ask for forgiveness from others. It is human nature to be offended and angry when we are wronged. When we don't forgive, however, we are not taking the attitude that Christ took when He went to the cross. It takes strength to forgive others and allow them to repent of their sins against you. This strength can come from Christ if we let it come.

The last part of this chapter deals with worry. I must admit that today, with everything I am facing in my life, Jesus' words feel more like the cover of the infamous Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. In that book, the cover of the guide simply reads: "Don't Panic" without any further explanation. Here in Matthew 6 we get a further explanation of why we shouldn't worry, but it still does not make life any easier when we try to apply it.

25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? – Matthew 6:25-27

Jesus plainly states here that worry is pointless. Unfortunately, we are human, and that means it is very difficult for us to apply this lesson. When we get slammed with the circumstances of life it is very easy to be overcome. Right now in my life is one of those times, and I often find myself wanting to scream at God. I want to tell Him that it is His mess, and it is His problem to clean it up. there is truth in that simply because there is nothing else I can do. I cannot fix my wife's health issues. I cannot solve my employment issues if no one will hire me. I cannot take care of my mother's mental state or help my grandmother. When I see something like this it almost makes me angry because it is easy for God not to worry, He is God and can do anything.

Still, God is in control. It may be hard for me to see at this point, but I am forced to resign myself to the fact that I cannot take control myself, no matter how much I want to. I have to trust that He knows what He is doing, and according to the above verses that is exactly what is going on. I am glad that He is all-powerful and able to take care of my entire situation while running the universe at the same time. That makes His majesty much more glorious when He finally does fix things.


  1. How do you hold others' sins against them?
  2. How is this damaging?
  3. How does worry control your life at the moment?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Matthew, Chapter 5 (part 2)

Jesus was an incredible revolutionary in His day. We see evidence of that today as He continues His Sermon on the Mount. Through His teachings that we will see today, the concept that stands out is that Jesus wants all of us, not just part of us. This was revolutionary because the leadership of the day wanted Him to speak of how easy it would be to gain salvation. They wanted to know if His coming would lower the standards. Instead, it rasied the standards. Instead of needing to merely commit some sort of sacrifice in the temple of an innocent animal, people now had to give their entire lives over to Christ.

In this section of chapter 5 in Matthew Jesus touches on some very serious subjects. We see His take on murder, adultery, divorce, revenge, and our enemies. The underlying message in each, however, is that love conquers all. Jesus came to this earth not because He had to, but because He chose to out of love. In the warning against murder we see the importance of how love can allow reconciliation before hate turns to murderous rage. In the section on both adultery and divorce we see how love can heal even the most broken of relationships. We are even told to love our enemies, something that can be difficult even for those that are the most caring of individuals.

23"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. – Matthew 5:23-24

Part of repentance is changing one’s own actions. Repentance means absolutely nothing if change does not come with it. Here Jesus is asking us to settle our wrongs between each other as we come to Him to repent of our sin. Hate accomplishes nothing, and can indeed be as dangerous as an act of hatred itself. This is a lesson I have learned from personal experience, as I let my hatred of those who had wronged me control me for a long time. It wasn’t until I faced that hatred and got past it that I began to feel clean in my heart. My hatred accomplished absolutely nothing, and now that it is gone I feel like I can breathe again.

43"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? – Matthew 5:43-47

This is one of the most often repeated pieces of Scripture, but it also incredibly revolutionary and powerful. I have heard of a stress relief practice where people are told to do the exact opposite of the reaction they want to give. If someone wants to scream, they are told to whisper. If they want to curse, they are told to bless someone. Jesus introduces this concept here by saying that it is easy to hate our enemies and love our neighbors. What do we gain by this? Jesus asks us what our reward is for loving only those who love us. By loving our enemies, we show the same type of love that Christ shoes us. If we are all dead in our sin, then we have turned against the one, God, who loves us. Christ sees past this, however, and showed His love for us by dying on the Christ. He is merely asking for the same love in return here since we are supposed to be like Christ in our actions.


1. What gifts do we offer God when we haven’t reconciled with others?
2. How have you loved your enemies recently?
3. How much is your own anger choking your life?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Matthew, Chapter 5 (Part 1)

Since Matthew 5 is a very large chapter with a lot of topics I have decided to break it into two sections for better study. What we see here is Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, which is one of His more famous messages. In it, He outlines much of his ministry and values. In this political season, we can think of this as essentially a grand campaign speech, or even a "State of the Union" type of address. Some of Jesus' most famous teachings are mentioned in this sermon, and today we will discuss verses 1 through 20 as the first part of it.

The first part of this chapter concerns the Beatitudes. My study Bible calls this list "the constitution for citizens of God's kingdom." That is a pretty powerful statement. At the time Jesus made it, it was flying in the face of everything the people of Israel believed. At the time, they believed that those who were wealthy and influential enjoyed God's blessing, not those who were poor, mourning, etc. The fallacy in this that the wealthy believed their blessing was based on their own accomplishments. The Beatitudes illustrate the need for reliance on God for blessing. They are high standards, but God knows we are unable to live up to them. Therefore, the message in it is that our righteousness is based only on the grace of God. Not every statement begins with a positive note, but it ends with one. The underlying message is this: if we trust in God, He can overcome our own shortcomings. The point is not to try and live up to the standards that are set here. There is no way that we as human beings can do that. The closer we do identify with them, however, the better position we can be in to receive God's blessing.

14"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:14-16

These verses remind me of the song "This little light of mine", which is probably sung in thousands of Sunday school classes across the country. As a kid, I remember singing it in my Sunday school classes growing up. Back then it was an innocent verse that I didn't really understand. As I have grown up, however, and expanded my walk with Christ I see that it is so much more. I have mentioned it countless times in this blog, but it bears repeating. The salvation that Christ offers through His death on the cross is an immeasurable gift. The best way I can describe is an injection of pure joy directly into one's heart. Here Christ is asking us to share that joy. He is imploring us to not try and do the impossible, which is hide that joy from others. We are the light of the world only because Christ lives inside our hearts. We cannot hide this light no matter what we do, so we might as well let it shine.

19Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 5:19-20

These last verses can be a little confusing, especially considering the reputation the Pharisees set up for themselves when they sentenced Christ to death. It was that sentence; however, that brings truth to these verses. Their fallacy was that they never looked inward to see the spiritual condition of their hearts. They thought they were above reproach, when in actuality they couldn't be more wrong. We become more righteous than the Pharisees when we recognize how spiritually bankrupt we are and ask Christ to forgive us.


  1. What do the Beatitudes mean to you?
  2. How do we hide our light?
  3. Why would the Pharisees be offended by such a message?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Matthew, Chapter 4

Yesterday we saw the beginning of Jesus' public ministry with his baptism by John the Baptist. Today we see that ministry begin in earnest through chapter four of Matthew. There is a lot going on in this chapter. We have four different subheadings over the course of just 22 verses. Each sub-heading is critically important as well, as they each carry out an important part of Jesus' ministry. We see temptation, preaching, calling of disciples, and healing over the course of this chapter.

Perhaps the most important point illustrated here is that of temptation. Yes, Jesus was divine, but He was still also fully human. Because He was human, he had to face temptation like the rest of us. Because of His divinity, however, He had to face the greatest temptation. Satan knew what Jesus' mission was. Satan also knew that if He could get Jesus to fall, he would counter God's plan for humanity. What he presented to Jesus were some of the strongest temptations known. When told to turn stones into bread He tempted Jesus to rely on Himself and not God. When asked to jump from the temple he tested Jesus to put God Himself to the test, as if God wouldn't come through. Finally, he temepted Jesus with power. In that, however, Jesus knew He would already be promised the nations. In essence, He won by resisting this power.

8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9"All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me."

 10Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'" – Matthew 4:8-10

How would you react if someone were to give you the kingdoms of the world? Power is a great tempter. Still, as mentioned above, Jesus knew that He would already be given the kingdoms of the world by His Father. By giving in to Satan, he would have not only showed a lake of patience, He would have betrayed His Father. One of the greatest character traits that Jesus has is His patience. He shows this infinitely when He deals with each and every human being on the planet. Jesus had to face this temptation because of His humanity, but in conquering them it made Him stronger. We also become stronger when we face and conquer temptation, especially when the strength to conquer that temptation comes from God.

18As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19"Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." 20At once they left their nets and followed him. – Matthew 4:18-20

Not everyone has this dramatic calling when they choose to follow Jesus. It seems that for every person that reacts to Jesus' first call in their lives there are dozens that have to hear the message time and time again before they get it. Peter and Andrew may have known of Jesus' power and stature before this, but it is important to remember that they were not scholars or religious leaders. They were ordinary men. They had nothing special about them, but when called, Jesus knew they would accomplish great things for the Kingdom. This is what Jesus wants to do in every single person's life. We all face a similar calling in our lives. This is also where Jesus' patience comes into play because He continues to knock until we answer Him.


  1. Why did Jesus have to face this temptation?
  2. What can we learn from Jesus having to face temptation?
  3. How do you hear the calling to be fishers' of men?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Matthew, Chapter 3

Chapter 3 of Matthew takes quite a leap forward from the previous two chapters. It also deals heavily with prophesy, specifically with Isaiah chapter 40. This chapter is a leap forward from the previous two chapters because Jesus is now an adult ready to begin His public ministry. Most scholars agree that He was roughly 30 years old at this time, so we have quite a gap in his early life between chapters 2 and 3. Chapter 3 deals almost exclusively with the role John the Baptist played in the early ministry of Christ.

We know from Isaiah 40 that John the Baptist was prophesied to prepare the way for the Lord. He was a bit of an iconoclast, as he was very outspoken and preached a radical message of the coming kingdom of God. We know of John the Baptist’s early life from the first chapters of Luke. He was a relative of Jesus since Mary and his mother, Elizabeth, were relatives of each other. John knew he had a calling to preach the true word of God in order to prepare the way for Jesus. His message was simple: he urged people to repent of their sins and be baptized. He also knew that he was merely a placeholder. John the Baptist was humble in knowing that Jesus would soon supersede his ministry in every way, and worked hard to deflect all the glory on to God.

7But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9And do not think you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
11"I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. – Matthew 3:7-11

This is a powerful message that John preaches. In this message he states that it is not important who your ancestors are, because that has nothing to do with your salvation. Only your repentance and the fruit that you produce with it. There are two things in this. First, mentioning that being a child of Abraham has no bearing, and that God can raise stones as children of Abraham implies that Christ’s message of salvation for all. Second, the fruit produced with your repentance is just as important. It is not enough that we simply accept this gift, we also must transmit it on to others as well. This is another instance of our mandate once we accept the gift of salvation.

13Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?"
15Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented.
16As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. 17And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." – Matthew 3:13-17

This paints a great picture of Christ’s humility. He had absolutely no reason to be humble, yet he bestowed a great honor on John the Baptist during His own baptism. This was yet another fulfillment of prophesy, but it is here that Christ’s message becomes clear from the Father. It is in this moment that Christ’s public ministry begins, and that ministry would change the world.


1. How would John the Baptist have been received today?
2. Why did Christ wait so long to begin His ministry?
3. Why was it important for John to prepare the way?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Matthew, Chapter2

One of the things that stands out about the book of Matthew is how the author links Jesus' life to the prophecies he was supposed to fulfill. In yesterday's chapter, we saw two instances of this. We saw that He was to come from the line of Abraham and David, so Matthew proved this by listing His genealogy. We also saw that He was to be born of a virgin, so Matthew lists this as well. We have seen that prophesy plays a major role throughout the Bible because of what we read in Isaiah. Many of those prophecies come true here in the book of Matthew

In chapter we see three more major prophesies fulfilled. We see that He would be born in Bethlehem, be called out of Egypt, and be called a Nazarene. In these prophesies we see a larger view of how Jesus' gift of salvation was meant for the whole world. Yes He was born a Jew, but a Gentile king in Herod influenced His early life. It was also the Gentile Magi that came and worshipped Him after His birth. When Joseph was forced to flee Israel it was Egypt, a nation that had long been an enemy of Israel, that provided a safe haven.

10When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. 12And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. – Matthew 2:10-12

The background of the Magi is quite diverse. In that day, they were astrologers and seekers of wisdom. They looked for signs in the heavens that would lead them to a greater understanding of the world. This is a representation of the Gentile view, as they were not Jewish. Upon finding Christ they knew that they had found something special, even though they were sent by Herod who was a very evil man. The magi represent those in the non-Jewish world that still seek the ultimate truth. In this story they see that Christ's salvation is meant for both Jew and Gentile alike, as they saw the majesty of God in the Christ child.

13When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him." 14So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son." – Matthew 2:13-15

The evil of Herod is shown here through the innocents that were forced to suffer under his rule. This was an established king, backed by the strongest power in the world at the time in Rome. Despite all this, Herod was so afraid of a mere child that he ordered the execution of every male child under the age of two. This is clearly a lust for power that could not be quenched. Herod probably didn't even believe in the prophesies of Christ, yet he still feared them so much He tried to make sure they did not come to pass. God, as usual had other plans. By sending Christ to Egypt He fulfilled another prophesy and made sure that His plans would come to pass.


  1. Why did Christ have such humble beginnings?
  2. Why would the Magi fear returning to Herod?
  3. Why did God choose Egypt as a place of refuge?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Matthew, Chapter 1

I have never done an in depth study of the four gospels. When considering what I was going to write about next here I was considering sticking with the Old Testament and focusing on the life of David. I believe that is where I will go next, but I feel more led to focus on Jesus' life for the next several weeks. Jesus was, after all, the most important person who has ever lived. We have seen many of His teachings through Paul's work, but we have yet to focus on the gospels themselves. It is my hope that we both come away more enlightened after taking a closer look at the gospels.

We begin in Matthew 1. Matthew starts off the New Testament, and it is the first work in the Bible after about a 460 year gap between it and the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi. The book serves as a connection between the Old and New Testaments. As we know from reading Isaiah, there were still several misconceptions within the Israelite culture. By this point in history Rome was the dominant force in the world. They controlled Jerusalem, but still allowed the Jews to worship. They, in turn were searching the prophecies about the Messiah, and Matthew begins his book with Christ's genealogy to show that He fulfilled some of the prophesies based on His ancestry.

When looking at this genealogy we see Christ's human element before he was born. We those that were righteous and blessed, like Abraham and David, listed alongside those that were corrupted by sin, like Uriah. Even though Christ was not born of a man because of the virgin birth, Matthew wanted to show that Jesus had traceable roots throughout humanity. Even though this line was steeped in sin because it was from man, Christ was above all that.

18This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

 20But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." – Matthew 1:18-21

God has not yet chosen to bless my wife and I with children yet. Still, I have been around enough parents to know that what Matthew writes of here is not a normal occurrence when the impending birth of a child is announced. Most of the time it is simply a strip turning blue and not some angelic host with a proclamation. Needless to say, this was a pretty big deal in the time of Christ's birth. We already see that His birth will be special simply because of the way it is supernaturally announced.

Now imagine being Joseph or Mary for a moment. If you are Joseph, you have no choice but to believe that Mary was guilty of adultery, which carried severe penalties in that society. The idea of a virgin birth was (and still is somewhat) ludicrous. Joseph simply wanted to save Mary the shame of bearing a child that was not his by sheltering her and divorcing her quietly. Mary, on the other hand, had to be confused as well. She obviously knew she had never had sex, but now she was pregnant? She also had been visited by an angel, as we see in the other gospels. They told her of her special calling in life and how she would be another fulfillment of prophesy. It is important to remember here that Mary and Joseph were likely no different than many people of the day, yet God chose them as the parents to the greatest gift He would ever give humanity.


  1. How would you react if visited by an angel as Mary and Joseph were?
  2. What is the importance of a virgin birth?
  3. Why did God choose two normal people as opposed to royalty?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Isaiah, Chapter 66

It has been a long journey, but today we finally reach the end of Isaiah. I have been told that the book of Isaiah is the Cliff’s Notes version of the Bible. It contains 66 chapters, just like the Bible itself contains 66 books. Some chapters make more sense than others, just as some books of the Bible make more sense than others. One could chalk this up to mere coincidence. Still, God does have a sense of humor. Sense many of the topics in Isaiah relate to the past, present, and future of God’s people it is easy to come to the conclusion that the book is a digest of the Bible.

Just as the book of Revelation deals with judgment and hope at the end of the Bible, so does chapter 66. We first begin with a warning about sacrifices. It wasn’t that God felt sacrifices were wrong. The Israelites were still 800 years away from Christ negating the need for the system of sacrifices. What Isaiah warns of here is doing something without your heart being in it. Basically, this is a warning against upholding rituals while changing nothing morally. This carries over to today because we still can pay lip service to Christ. If He is not truly in our hearts, however, and nothing changes we get nothing out of our service to Him.

19 "I will set a sign among them, and I will send some of those who survive to the nations—to Tarshish, to the Libyans and Lydians (famous as archers), to Tubal and Greece, and to the distant islands that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory among the nations. 20 And they will bring all your brothers, from all the nations, to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the LORD -on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels," says the LORD. "They will bring them, as the Israelites bring their grain offerings, to the temple of the LORD in ceremonially clean vessels. 21 And I will select some of them also to be priests and Levites," says the LORD. – Isaiah 66:19-21

We see the judgment of the Lord in the previous verses on those who do not accept Christ into their hearts. In this final section, however, we end this book with the promised hope. It is appropriate that a book filled with so much prophecy ends with one final prophecy of hope. These three verses above clearly show the coming ministry of the apostles after Jesus was crucified. They were called to spread the Message to the ends of the earth, and that calling is shown in verse 19. In verse 20 we see that this Message will bear fruit, as many will come to the holy mountain because of it. In turn, they become priests and Levites because they believed.

Do you see how this applies today? We are all priests responsible for spreading the gospel if we are believers in Christ. My pastor often speaks of how the gospel comes to us on its way to someone else. In that vein, it becomes our utmost responsibility to further it beyond us. That is one of my goals in writing this blog. Whether one person hears this message or a thousand I am here to proclaim it. I refuse to let it stop with me, and I am encouraged today by Isaiah’s closing words.

For those of you who have been with me since I began writing about Isaiah I want to thank you. The commenting forum has remained silent, but personally this has been a thoroughly enjoyable read for the past two months. Up next I am debating heading into the gospels themselves or beginning a writing on the life of King David. Stay tuned on Monday.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Isaiah, Chapter 65

The Word of God this morning is like an oasis in the desert. Vacations are supposed to be a relaxing time, but this one was a disaster on top of everything else that has happened recently. Still, in the middle of it all, God provided. When we checked into a hotel room that was far from what the ad promised and wasn’t even a safe place to stay, God provided with temporary lodging from a great friend. When one of our travel companions got sick in Key West, God provided with a safe journey back to Miami. When our rental car became damaged in a hit and run, God is currently working on providing for that unexpected expense. When our return flight got delayed and caused us to miss a connection, God provided with safe travel home.

What does all this have to do with Chapter 65 of Isaiah? Well, as I got back into the Word for the first time in a week I saw that today’s message was on judgment and salvation. To me, the trials of the past three weeks have almost been like a judgment. They have been a test to see if I can remain faithful as everything else falls apart around me. Last night as we were in the Detroit airport and we received yet another piece of bad news, our luggage would not be returning with us, I had to burst out laughing. Even then, God still provided, and that is where the salvation aspect comes in. Last night, my salvation was a McDonald’s double cheeseburger. I sat on the plane and enjoyed it simply because it was a small, perfect provision from God.

13 Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says:
"My servants will eat,
but you will go hungry;
my servants will drink,
but you will go thirsty;
my servants will rejoice,
but you will be put to shame.

14 My servants will sing

out of the joy of their hearts,
but you will cry out
from anguish of heart
and wail in brokenness of spirit. – Isaiah 65:13-14

Ultimately, this is what it comes down to when we face judgment. Those that have accepted Christ will receive these blessings, while those that haven’t do not. When we face judgment and can still praise God for even small positives, it means we are far from being broken in spirit. This applies to me right now because I am so broken physically, emotionally, and mentally, but I am still strong in spirit. Even now that I am home I am far from having all the answers, but God has never disappointed me in the past. This period will end, hopefully sooner rather than later.

17 "Behold, I will create
new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
nor will they come to mind.

18 But be glad and rejoice forever
in what I will create,
for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight
and its people a joy.

19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem
and take delight in my people;
the sound of weeping and of crying
will be heard in it no more. – Isaiah 65:17-19

As a Christian, the final result of all of this judgment and the ultimate salvation is, of course, heaven. Here we see Isaiah’s vision of heaven in the penultimate chapter of his book. It is very similar to John the Revelator’s version seen in the book of Revelation. It is generally regarded as a place where even the little worries of life that bog us down and stress us out are washed away easily by our loving creator. Here, heaven is a remade earth wiped clean of sin. It is a place where we will be so separated from our sin that God will hear and answer our prayers before we are done praying them. I recognize that what I have been through has been taxing, but it is minor compared to what others struggle through daily, with no end in sight. For them, this promise is even larger. It is something even more to hope for.


1. Why would those without Christ see judgment differently?
2. Why are we still judged even after accepting Christ?
3. How different is the new earth that Isaiah speaks of late in this chapter compared to our current earth?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Isaiah, Chapter 64

Today’s chapter in Isaiah is a continuation of yesterday’s message on praise and prayer. Yesterday, the first half of chapter 63 was about redemption and vengeance, while the second half was about praise and prayer. Ultimately, in prayer we are asking for God to intervene on our behalf. In prayer we seek God for the things that are far beyond our control. In that is an act of faith. It is faith because we must wait on God and trust He will come through. Sometimes He does quickly, while other answers to prayer take time. In both, we must remember to praise God at all times.

Praising God is not always easy. Though this is being published on a Wednesday morning, I am writing this on a Tuesday where I am having difficulty immersing myself in prayer. I am also struggling to praise God today because one thing after another continues to go wrong. I still do not have the answers that I am seeking. Even in that, new events come up such as some bad news my wife received today, or an unexpected expensive repair job on my car. I am left wondering what is going to happen next, and I am concerned that all the joy will be sucked out of a trip that is normally nothing but a joy.

1 Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
that the mountains would tremble before you!

2 As when fire sets twigs ablaze

and causes water to boil,
come down to make your name known to your enemies
and cause the nations to quake before you!

3 For when you did awesome things that we did not expect,

you came down, and the mountains trembled before you.

4 Since ancient times no one has heard,

no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. – Isaiah 64:1-4

This is where I am at the moment, as I am waiting on the Lord. It is an act of faith to wait on the Lord, because he does not always answer immediately when we are in trouble. Right now it can be a struggle to wait, especially since things continue to go badly, but I have faith. I know that He has delivered in the past. I must continue to take this posture in my prayer life, as well as my regular life.


1. Why does Isaiah continue to repeat himself concerning sin in the later verses?
2. How do you wait on the Lord?
3. How can we find victory and overcome the stain of our sin mentally?

Programming note: Because I will be out of state, chapters 65 and 66 of Isaiah will be finished up on April 10th and 11th after I return.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Isaiah, Chapter 63

I find it interesting that both redemption and vengeance come at the same time in this chapter. It makes sense when you think about it. In completely black and white terms, you are either for God, or against Him. Either you have asked God into your heart, or you have not. If you haven’t, you are going against His will. There is no middle ground here. That is why both redemption and vengeance come at the same time. When that time comes, you will be on one side or the other. That is why it is the most important decision you can make.

2 Why are your garments red,
like those of one treading the winepress?
3 "I have trodden the winepress alone;

from the nations no one was with me.
I trampled them in my anger
and trod them down in my wrath;
their blood spattered my garments,
and I stained all my clothing.
4 For the day of vengeance was in my heart,

and the year of my redemption has come.
5 I looked, but there was no one to help,

I was appalled that no one gave support;
so my own arm worked salvation for me,
and my own wrath sustained me.
6 I trampled the nations in my anger;

in my wrath I made them drunk
and poured their blood on the ground." – Isaiah 63:2-6

I hate to belabor the point, but God is clearly stating here once again that we cannot save ourselves. He did not say that we worked salvation for ourselves. He did not say that it was ours to judge the other nations, either. Ultimately, the power to do so lies in the hands of God and God alone. This not some Jonathan Edwards commentary about sinners being in the hands of an angry God. It is quite the opposite. God despises our sin, but as we have seen through previous chapters and as is outlined in previous promises, we know that God loves us. He provides a way to avoid this anger through the death and resurrection of His son Jesus Christ.

8 He said, "Surely they are my people,
sons who will not be false to me";
and so he became their Savior.
9 In all their distress he too was distressed,

and the angel of his presence saved them.
In his love and mercy he redeemed them;
he lifted them up and carried them
all the days of old.
10 Yet they rebelled

and grieved his Holy Spirit.
So he turned and became their enemy
and he himself fought against them. – Isaiah 63:8-10

I love this picture of both God’s love and his grief during judgment. When we rebelled against God it hurts Him simply because of His deep, abiding love. He wants everyone to come through that open door of salvation, but He is at the same time saddened because there will always be those who rebel against Him. To me, this makes God more personal because He is such an emotional God. He is not impartial, just toying with at a whim. His nature is to love and He illustrates that love throughout the Bible. He also illustrates that love throughout our lives when He continually welcomes us back even though our nature is to screw things up. His grace is infinite, and His love is ultimately patient.


1. How do you illustrate God’s love?
2. Why is it our nature to fail?
3. Is it possible to deny God until it is too late, yet still live?