BIBLE READING; MATTHEW 11
11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
Jesus certainly loved and thought highly of “John the Baptist”. John must have been a very interesting person. From all accounts, John was not your normal preacher, even during Jesus’ day. I have often wondered how you and I would feel about John the Baptist if we were to meet him today. I’ve often wondered if the average Bible believing church would even have John in to preach. He looked different, dressed different, ate different, and did not care what people thought. Preaching and projecting Christ was the sole focus of his life. Now some would take this too far and say, “if John did everything he wanted to do and it didn’t matter, then I’m going to dress and act the way I want to and I don’t care what people think.” Well, that would only make sense if Jesus Christ was the only focus of your life, and everything you did you did it to please Jesus Christ. I guess then that would be acceptable. But most people want to act or dress or do what they want because they want it. That is a totally different thing. Jesus is not the focus of any of that.
All I know is that Jesus knew John’s heart, and Jesus said, “Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist”. That is a wonderful complement. And yet in this verse, there is also an encouraging principle given. Jesus also said, “notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he”. Did you hear that? Despite the spiritual and historical accomplishments of a man like John the Baptist, Jesus said that in Heaven, we will not be loved or esteemed according to what we did. We will be loved and accepted according to who we are. And who are we? We are sinners who have been redeemed through the blood of Jesus Christ, and now the children of God. You and I may not be a John the Baptist, but we are a child of God just like John is, and God loves us just the same. That was encouraging to me!
BIBLE READING: MATTHEW 10
16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
17 But beware of men:
What a piece of advice! We are supposed to be “wise”, “harmless”, and cautious. I must be honest, that does not describe your average, every day Christian. It should, but unfortunately it doesn’t.
“WISE AS SERPENTS”
The idea that is presented here is of being able to accomplish things without brute force. He does not tell us to be bulls in a china shop. He says to be “wise as serpents”. A snake is one that quietly, discreetly goes about his business. He knows when to act and when not to act. A snake does not make a lot of noise. The snake does not talk. Isn’t that interesting! A snake is powerful because you never know where the snake is. There is not a lot of noise associated with a snake.
“HARMLESS AS DOVES”
This word harmless means “simple, innocent, or unmixed”. Doves do not get burdened down with many things. In fact, doves are a sign of peace in the Word of God. Their life is simple. Every day they focus on what needs to be done and they do it. Doves are not arguing with anybody, hurting anyone, or fighting others. Doves do not create problems. I would assume you have not heard in the news lately of a person being attacked and mauled by a dove. It is just not in their nature. That is something to think about.
“BEWARE OF MEN”
This word beware means to constantly keep in your mind. It means to always be mindful that we human beings have faults. We are sinners. God says to “put no confidence in the flesh,” even your own. This is an encouragement not to be gullible, blindly trusting, or to put more stock in what the person says, than what the Word of God says. Our instruction, guidance, and truth should never come from an individual, but should always come from the Lord. You just can’t fully trust the flesh.
BIBLE READING: MATTHEW 9
9 And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.
For some reason I’ve always loved this story. Maybe it is my vivid imagination. I have always enjoyed the phrase where Jesus sees Matthew “sitting at the receipt of custom”,
I guess because I picture Matthew going about his daily business, the drudgery of a constant routine. Sitting there amongst all the taxpayers, tax collectors, and Matthew‘s heart longing for more. Do you remember when your heart longed for more?
“JESUS PASSED FORTH”
May you and I never forget that Jesus is the one that came by where we were. Jesus is the one that took the initiative. Jesus is the one that passed by. You and I should be so thankful and thrilled that Jesus cared enough about us to come to where we were.
“HE SAW A MAN”
Jesus saw you. Jesus saw the faults, the failures, the sin, and the darkness in your life. He saw what we really were. And Jesus still sees what we really are. Why would Jesus waste His time noticing us? Why would He ever take a second look? Not only did Jesus see you before you were saved, Jesus sees you now after you have been saved. He sees your heartaches, He sees your fears, and He sees your struggles.
“HE SAITH UNTO HIM, FOLLOW ME”
I do not know if you have ever noticed this, but Jesus did not tell Matthew to get his life right and then follow. Jesus did not tell Matthew all the things that would need to change if he was going to be a follower. Jesus did not mention his faults, Jesus did not try to fix his flaws, and Jesus did not give Matthew a list of rules to follow. Jesus never asked Matthew to follow rules, Jesus asked Matthew to follow Him. If you and I become true followers of Christ, everything else will take care of itself. Nobody will need to tell us to do anything, because the Holy Spirit will do that. And if we are a true follower of Christ, we will obey the Holy Spirit. Dear friend, are you more interested in following a list, than following the Lord? Do you judge your spirituality by your accomplishments, or by your attitude? Is your religion based in your head, or is your love for the Lord based in your heart?
Well there is one way you know if it is real: “and he arose and followed him”.
BIBLE READING: MATTHEW 8
5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,
6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.
7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.
8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.
9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
The first reason I like this man is that he was genuinely concerned and compassionate for his “servant”. There are other stories in the Bible about men that were concerned about their son, their daughter, their family, their property, etc. This man, although he was the servant’s master, seemed to genuinely care for him. We should all be like that. Never should we think that we are above anyone else. We should always have a heart for others, no matter who they are. He seemed to have “TRUE COMPASSION”.
I noticed secondly that according to this passage, this man never really asked Jesus to heal his son. The Bible says he “beseeched” Jesus, that appears to be just to get his attention. He simply told Jesus of the need. It does not appear that this man was just trying to take advantage of Jesus. This man was not trying to boss Jesus around or act as if he felt entitled that Jesus should do something for him. He had “TRUE MOTIVES”.
He goes a step further when Jesus tells the man that he will come and heal his servant, the centurion said that he was unworthy that Jesus would even step foot into his house. That seems to be “TRUE HUMILITY”.
Then this man tells Jesus that he does not even need to come to his house. He said if you just speak the word right here, I know that you could heal him. Wow. He did not demand to see it done. This is what you call “TRUE FAITH”. In fact, Jesus called it “great faith”. Here is a man that was used to giving orders, and used to telling people what to do, and yet here he is humbled and simply believing Jesus because he was desperate. Jesus said that he had not seen a great faith like that in all of Israel. I wonder how that made his disciples feel? I will tell you one thing about this man; his servant was healed. It is amazing to see the miracles that will happen in your life when you have true compassion, true motives, true humility, and true faith. Maybe it is time for a “TRUE CHANGE”.
BIBLE READING: MATTHEW 7
1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
This passage does not teach that we should not judge. This passage is teaching that we should be very careful before we decide to judge, because if we do, then we will be scrutinized with the same kind of judgment. I do find it interesting that it does not say who will judge us with the same scrutiny. It does not say who will give us the same measure of judgment and mercy as we give to others. It never specifically says. I have the feeling that if we judge others with great scrutiny, then we are opening ourselves up to that same judgment from the Lord. I believe that, simply because in Colossians and other passages, God has said that He is the judge, and that we are not to step into God’s position.
One of the problems that arises when you and I determine that we are going to judge others is that we end up judging others for far less things than we have in our own life. We often are guilty of worse since than the ones we accuse others of. It is very hypocritical. In fact, when we judge others, we often cannot even see the faults that we have. We are so minded to scrutinize others that we do not put that same scrutiny on our own lives.
God tells us in verse five that the best thing we can do is to work on the sins and faults in our own life first. We need to “pull the beam out of thine eye”. It would be much more profitable for us to judge ourselves, and with God’s help, to better ourselves than it would be for us to try to fix everyone else.
Let me mention one other little detail that you may not have noticed. In verse five, after we have dealt with our own sins, God does not say to you to now “point out” the moat in your brother’s eye. He says to “pull out” the moat out of thy brother’s eye”. So instead of judging, we should be helping. Instead of announcing that our brother has a fault, we should be helping our brother to fix it that fault. I don’t know about you, but I think that is very good advice.
BIBLE READING: MATTHEW 6
1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
We know that God loves a “cheerful giver”. Not just cheerful about giving financially, but cheerful about giving in general. We are given some specific instructions here, however, about our financial giving to the Lord.
God does not reward us for any deed that we have done for the purpose of being seen by others. It really does not matter how much we give, if we have given it to impress others, then God will not reward us for it. God says to be very careful that we do not do anything to draw attention to ourselves for the hidden purpose of being admired by others. In Jesus day, the religious hypocrites would make all kinds of noise so that people would stop and take notice as they gave their alms at the temple. Now all of us would love to just tell ourselves that we would never do anything like that, and how despicable that someone would stoop to that level. But we need to be very careful. This philosophy shows up in our lives more than we probably think.
You see, the whole point of this passage is the fight for who gets the glory. When we do things to be noticed or do things to make sure people see the good things we do, then we are the ones desiring the glory. In verse two, that’s exactly what we are told. The problem is that God is very jealous of his glory. He will not share that. God says in verse four, that we should do our best to keep secrets the things that we have done for Him. God says if we do that, then He will reward us where everyone can see it. If you give God the glory, then God gives you the reward. It is that simple. Not only should we make sure that we are cheerful givers to the Lord, let us also make sure that our cheerful giving is for the right reason, and done in the right way. If it is done with the right attitude, for the right reason, and in the right way, then only God will get the glory for anything that is done.