Few are chosen: Matthew 22.14

“For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Matthew 22.14

Few are chosen because few accept the invitation. Jesus emphasizes “the wide sweep of the invitation to accept the gospel and the small number of those actually found worthy” (IOVC).

To be chosen we must recognize the great opportunity that God gives us right now to participate in his joyous life. And let us ask, What must we do?

#votd #Matthew #election

Surrounded by wolves: Matthew 10.16

“I am sending you out like sheep surrounded by wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”

Matthew 10.16

Jesus sent out the Twelve to preach to Israel. He warned them about opposition. He told them how they should deal with it.

Jesus’ words here applied to Matthew’s readers and to us today. Wisdom is need to meet resistance. We must never lower ourselves to the level of others. What “wolves” have you encountered?

#votd #Matthew #mission

These things defile: Matthew 15.18

“But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these things defile a person.”

Matthew 15.18

Jesus taught on true defilement. Ceremonial uncleanness pointed toward the greater evil. The inner person is the source of unholiness and profane one’s words and actions.

Conversion from the heart and control of the mind are necessary to one’s sanctification. From evil thoughts that enter will come evil words and sins. It cannot be otherwise.

#votd #Matthew #heart #uncleanness

Treasures on earth: Matthew 6.19

“Do not accumulate for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and devouring insect destroy and where thieves break in and steal.”

Matthew 6.19

The faith is nothing if not sensible. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus pointed out the craziness of accumulating material goods, since they are subject to corruption and loss.

What is the sensible course of action of the disciple in relation to material goods? How should they be used? What should be our attitude toward them? What should I accumulate?

#votd #Matthew #materialism

First and greatest: Matthew 22.38

“This is the first and greatest commandment.”

Matthew 22.38

The old covenant passed away, but the truth of love for God with all one’s being remains. While no commandment ought to be neglected, some things are more important than others, because they are broader, deeper, and more meaningful to the whole.

Do I like “sound doctrine” more than “sincere love”? Is my fear greater than my loving devotion to God? Is love for him my over-reaching priority?

#votd #love #Matthew #commandment

Lord! Let us in! Matthew 25.10-12

“Then the door was shut. Later, the other virgins came too, saying, ‘Lord, lord! Let us in!’ 12 But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I do not know you!'”

Matthew 25.10-12

Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins registers the Lord’s sad refusal to let in the unprepared. No one should expect entry into God’s kingdom who has not prepared himself before the hour comes.

Will God change his requirements for heaven? No! Must I believe and obey his commands today? Absolutely! What do I lack to be prepared for eternity?

#votd #Matthew #preparation

Graphic: Gospel of Matthew structured around 5 discourses of Christ

Without buying into the priority of Mark’s gospel, you can appreciate the visual representation of the structure of Matthew’s gospel, below.

Matthew is punctuated by 5 discourses of Christ.

Matthew is punctuated by 5 discourses of Christ.

The graphic comes from this site.

#gospels, #graphs, #matthew

When a Bible verse waved at me

bible-verse-waveMatthew’s version of the Lord’s prayer presents a seven-element chiasmus. I’m still chewing on it, but the central element is the daily-bread request. Surrounding it are two “as” statements (elements 3 and 5). Then elements 2 and 6 include movement or direction. The first and last elements contrast God and the evil one, both perhaps containing the idea of separation: regarding the Name as sacred or special; being removed from the influence or danger of the evil one (don’t quote me on that, yet). I’m amazed to see this.

I popped open my Bible Monday night in the car while waiting on The Missus and the MIL as they picked up a couple of items in the grocery store. The structure just waved at me.

As did Mt 6.24, with a nice chiasmus as well. Note that the verbs in the middle two phrases are mirrored: hate/love and devoted/despise.

• Here’s a short list of books recently received, purchased, or oogled. Only the last one is not by brothers in Christ.

  • Graceful Reason: Studies in Christian Apologetics, by Dick Sztanyo (Vienna, WV: Warren Christian Apologetics Center, 2012)
  • Practical Guide to Bible Study: An Easy-to-Use Outline Format, by Jon Gary Williams (LaVergne, TN: Williams Brothers Publishers, 2011)
  • Except One Be Born from Above, by Mac Deaver (Sheffield, TX: Biblical Notes Publications, 2013)
  • Concise Bible Commentary, by David S. Dockery, ed. (Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing Group, 2010)

• For one who doesn’t like driving an automobile, I’m doing a lot of it and have been over the past several trips to the US. I’m thankful to be doing it, however, and grateful for those who have lent us vehicles. I would like driving a buggy and feeding and grooming a horse much less. All for the Mission.

Some speakers, plus one, at the 8th annual Preachers Files Lectures

Some speakers, plus one, at the 8th annual Preachers Files Lectures

• At this link, a little lesson of mine, “You Can Be Sure of the Power of the Gospel,” delivered at the Preacher’s Files Lectureship this past Saturday. (The introductory text needs editing, and the brother says he’ll get to it.) The time at the Rodgers Springs congregation, just outside of Middleton TN, was a blessing. All sessions should be added online before long, including a Questions-and-Answers session hosted by Dick Sztanyo and myself. Continue reading

#chiasmus, #corollaries, #ephesians, #matthew

Perception is NOT Reality Sometimes

We have heard it many times that one’s perception is reality. This is not the case, however. At least, it is not the case all the time. The word perceived means to attain awareness or understanding. When people look at an event in life there is an interpretation of that event that brings about a perceived understanding. For instance, I see two people fussing over something; I interpret that which I see, and then gain understanding with regard to the situation. My understanding may be complete or incomplete, but that is what I perceived in what I saw. If there is no correction to what understanding I gained, then that perception (awareness, understanding) becomes, to a degree, reality.

Moses and Aaron went to Egypt’s king, but as they went, they were met by the elders of Israel who were returning from having seen the king. When they met, they heard these words from their brethren, “The LORD look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us” (Exodus 5:21, ESV). The elders of Israel perceived a situation with which they had direct experience, and they interpreted it as something that needed to be laid at the feet of Moses and Aaron. Moses and Aaron, having heard these words, also interpreted (perceived) the situation and wondered aloud to the Lord.

This goes to point out that perception is not always reality. In other words, that with which one may come away may not actually be how the situation really is. The elders misperceived the situation. The Lord knew full-well the “whys” and “wherefores.”

It is a difficult thing for us to judge as we ought to; it is not that we can’t judge correctly, only that we are apt to judge or conclude before we actually know the relevant information needed to judge properly. The Lord called upon the people of His day to judge righteously (John 7:24); this means that before a person can rightly interpret he needs all the relevant information, for without it his judgment will be incomplete.

There is another example in Scripture, this time pertaining to the apostles when they were with Jesus (Matthew 16:1-12). Jesus had recently interacted with the religious leaders and called into question the correctness of their interpretation; in fact, He said they were quite capable of judging the atmospheric weather about them, but because of their lack of true understanding in scriptural matters, they could not judge properly those things that surround Him (16:1-4). After this brief interaction, Jesus is with His disciples when He called upon them to understand that leaven can be a dangerous thing. The disciples did not catch on; they were thinking about physical food when the Lord meant for them to understand His remark metaphorically (or spiritually). It was not that long ago that the Lord fed thousands, but the disciples had their minds on one thing, and forgot the other. In other words, they allowed the word leaven to throw them off in their understanding.

This is, often times, why it is that we fail to interpret (perceive) accurately. We have our minds on one thing and the “car that drove within five feet of us” was not even seen! What makes this matter unfortunate for Christians is not only the failure to understand something in the immediate, but also that one might very well fail to understand something the Lord wants His saints to perceive (understand) accurately—and knows that one can if desired and focused. RT

#exodus, #leaven, #matthew, #perception, #reality

Out of the Abundance

     The Lord speaks an axiom: “Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34, NKJV). From the heart comes the issues of life (cf. Proverbs 4:23). Exactly what those issues are will manifest itself in due time. Whatever your occupation, hobby, or interests might be—if any of these things take a priority in your life, why should you expect the Lord to take an interest in you?

You can be a scientist, a teacher, a banker, or even a preacher; if these things that are done encourage you to lose site of Him who is all-important, then blindness settles in. People speak about what is important to them. The Lord gave us what is important to Him. If we prioritize our thinking over His, then end result is catastrophic for those who do.

When a man does not protect that which belongs to him (his heart), then that which belongs to him will be affected by those evil influences on the outside. Secular education is important, but it has, unfortunately, turned into our own “secular righteousness.” Thus, the abundance that comes from the heart can be secular “righteousness” or godly righteousness.

On can’t help but to speak about that which resides inside. On Sunday morning it is easy to see what people want others to see, but when you post (or share things) on facebook what you would not say in “polite company”, then others learn who has your heart. RT

#abundance, #matthew, #proverbs, #secular-righteousness

ARE YOU WORTHY?

     In Matthew 10 the Lord give what is known as the “limited commission” to His disciples. They were to go throughout Israel preaching the kingdom (10:7) and, before they were finished the Lord would follow them in His own preaching (10:23). It was in this context that the Lord said something about those who were (are) worthy of God.

Persecution is tough for anyone to have to experience. Persecution, however, has a quality that only it can produce; it purges the “dross” inside the soul from actual attachment to the soul (dross corrupts). Jesus identifies some things that can be considered “dross.”

If one loves his (her) parents more than the Lord, that one is not worthy of the Lord (10:37). We love parents, but our parents will do nothing for us with regard to our relationship to the Lord. It has to be our individual decision to serve God—regardless of what our parents might have done.

If one does not take the cross of Christ and carry it, that one is not worthy of the Lord (10:38). To take the cross of Christ means that one lives the life of Christ (Galatians 2:20). This is much easier to understand than to do—but doing it is crucial.

If one preserves his life and by doing so lets go of anything associated with the Lord, that one is not worthy of Jesus (10:39). Related to this is that which we value more. If we value self-preservation more than the Lord, then the Lord will value us less.

Each one of these three points can be described as when “the rubber meets the road.” Now that the rubber has met the road will you apply hard the brakes, spin the tires, and burn rubber or will you decide for the Lord and move forward? RT

#limited-commission, #matthew, #persecution, #tires

A Few Thoughts From: Matthew 28

In the first chapter an angel visits Mary and then Joseph. In this chapter an angel visit the women. Matthew has “bookends” with an angel visiting women. Now how is that for a “Jewish” gospel in a “man’s” world?!

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The women come to the tomb for anointing purposes and meet an angel that frightened them, I suppose, beyond anything measurable they have yet to experience in life. Yet, the Lord’s servant tells each to fear not. What a word of encouragement, but yet, how could they not fear with such an out-of-this-world being? That fear turns from encouragement (to not fear) to excitement when they learn that the Lord is raised. To make their excitement all the more intense, the risen Lord speaks to them. I can’t imagine what it would have been like!

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To the eleven disciple (then twelve, Acts 1), the Lord gave His great commission. They (the apostles) were to go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. The excitement the women experienced now belongs to the Lord’s chosen disciples, but with that excitement there is a serious charge. Is this our charge also? To the eleven He gave these words, but how else will we teach men but that we do the same?

#matthew

A Few Thoughts From: Matthew 27

When one thinks about Judas the question that comes to mind is “Why?” Why did he think it was okay to betray, and what did he think was going to come of this since he knew that Jesus came from heaven? It is astounding when one thinks about it. However, is it much different than when Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt and they continued to complain against him (so they thought), but in actuality they complained against the Lord? It is really not different at all. When one is bent on thinking and doing evil, why let anything of the Lord get in the way?!

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Some of us have an unfavorable opinion of some politicians today. Our unfavorable view of these men and women is associated with their willingness to lay principles of righteousness to the side in order to put themselves in favor with a portion of the population if they think it will help for their reelection. I wonder if any of them ever knew Pilate personally (27:18, 24; 28:11-14)!

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The thief on the cross and his conversion is a perplexing thing. Matthew records that both thieves crucified alongside the Lord “reviled Him.” Luke, however, says that one of those two rebuked the other (23:40-42). What shall we make of that? Perhaps something like this occurred: As all three were hanging there the angst, anxiety, and intense pain was contributed to what each thought and said. Those standing there may have made a contribution to the thinking and reviling the thieves made toward the Lord. There may have been a contribution, but a contribution that did not control the thinking of one. As one reflected on what he knew of the Lord (if he knew anything), on what he heard others say who were standing nearby, how he observed what Rome did in executing this punishment, he had a change of heart. This change of heart produced in him a change of words. As Matthew records it, the thief reviled the Lord; as Luke records it, the thief now thought differently. 

#matthew

A Few Thoughts From: Matthew 26

I have always been impressed with the Lord’s words concerning an act of devotion by a woman (26:11). What impresses me most is how Mark records it. “She has done what she could” (Mark 14:8).  It may be that some saints feel as if they can do nothing in comparison with other saints; I would encourage them, however, to not make such comparisons. It is not a matter of what one can do in comparison with another, but did she (he) do what he (she) could do?

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It is terribly unfortunate if one thinks that because we have the poor with us always that somehow justifies not tending to the needs of those saints who are poor.

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Would you betray the Son of Man for a month’s wage, as Judas did? When the Lord said to his disciples that one around the table was actually guilty (26:23) no one could possibly understand such an egregious act being contemplated, so they ask the Lord “Is it I?” Judas asked the same question. I wonder why? Was his guilt so over-powering that in order to alleviate any suspicion by the others he asked the Lord the same? I suspect that is the case. How disappointed, dispiriting, and sunk he felt when the Lord replied!

#matthew

A Few Thoughts From: Matthew 25

Preparation is always easy to understand, but unfortunately is seems to be more difficult to apply. There is a reason for that: “I have time.” With regard to the Lord many think they have time because they are, in part, looking for the signs of the Lord’s return; sign of the times, you might say. Why shouldn’t they? They have heard from premillennialists that there are signs to occur when the Lord returns, and they could just wait till then. It appears, however, that five of the virgins anticipated incorrectly the time of the bridegrooms return!

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The “talents” of this chapter do not pertain to one’s ability. Thus, when one says: “My talent is to play the guitar” or, another says: “My talent is to sing songs to the Lord” misses the point of what we are to understand. What’s the point? How well did you work with that which your Lord gave to you? Did you seek to manage well that which belongs to another, or did you seek to keep that which belongs to another for your own purposes? Take note of the “name” of the servant (25:30). Another point to remember: the Lord of these servants knew well the capability of the particular servants; there was an expectation along with the responsibility given. Don’t judge what other servant do or can’t do; be sure you do what you ought to do.

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Preparation, Propriety, and Punishment

#matthew