October 4th Matthew chapter 5 “blessed are those who mourn”

Yesterday we looked at the first step that Jesus gives in order to attain happiness.  I don’t know if you realized it, but these steps are also the steps to salvation.  This first step is being poor in spirit.  As I mentioned yesterday, being poor in spirit is the effect of grasping the reality of our sin.  This first step is the realization that we are in need of a savior.  The second step, which we will look at today is mourning.

Mourning is an emotional reaction to something.  We cannot force an emotional reaction, it is instead something that happens due to situations in our lives.  One cannot make themselves happy, sad, mad or glad, these emotions come upon us due to the condition of our heart and the situations in which we find ourselves.  Since we cannot force ourselves to mourn, this second step of mourning is impossible without the first step of being poor in spirit.  If we are not poor in spirit (facing the reality of our sin before a righteous God) we will not begin to mourn, my friends it is, in fact, impossible to do so.  So Jesus tells us that those who mourn over their sin are the ones who will be blessed.  This second step is the second step toward salvation, which is true happiness.

The Greek language has nine different words for our English word mourn.  In Greek, each  of these words are used in different situations and they vary in the extent of mourning.  One would not use the same word to mourn over the loss of their favorite football team as they would to mourn over a commercial airliner that had crashed and taken the lives of hundreds of people.  The word used for mourn in these verses is the one that depicts the most intense kind of mourning.  One Biblical scholar wrote that this type of mourning in the original language would be as one who mourns over the death of a child.  A person who finds themselves in a place of that kind of mourning is someone who truly realizes how desperately lost we are with out Christ.  In Matthew chapter seven Jesus says “many will come to me in that day and say ‘lord, lord’; and I will say to them depart from me for I never knew you.”  I believe that the ones who are being talked about in Matthew chapter seven are the ones who have supposedly come to Christ, but have come in their own righteousness.  Jesus also tells the parable of the wedding feast in which all were invited to come.  At first glance this parable seems to be terrible and dreadful.  It seems as though the master of the house, who illustrates God, was a vengeful, uncaring and angry king.  When the feast had begun the master of the house noticed that there was one there that did not have the appropriate apparel for the occasion.  The master then called him out and had him cast out.  What we need to understand about this parable is that in that time period in the East, a rich master or a king provided wedding garments for their guests.  So the master of the house did not decide to pick on the one poor person at the feast; he instead had given freely to all who attended the clothing that was needed.  This man, wearing inappropriate clothing, had rejected the clothing of the king.  Clothing that was given freely to him in order that he may freely attend the great banquet with the king and his court.  This man was not cast out because he did not fit in, or that he could not afford good clothing; he was, instead cast out because he decided that what he had was good enough.  With that thought he rejected the clothing of the king.

Being poor in spirit, which allows us to mourn, causes us to realize that the clothing that we have will not due in the presence of the king.  When we grasp the majesty of His garments and that of His guests we realize that we need to take off our righteousness and put on the righteousness afforded by the king.  This righteousness was freely given to all who will don it by the Son of the great King, Jesus Christ.

Tomorrow we will look at the third step that leads  to happiness which is meekness; once again it is impossible to reach this third step without the first two.

 

Pastor Steve

October 3rd Matthew chapter 5 “blessed”

Jesus, after He gets the attention of the disciples and other listeners, begins His sermon with the words “blessed are…”  This word blessed means “happy.”  It is not a word we usually use in that context today, but it is the meaning.  So, as Jesus begins to tell His disciples how to be happy, it is a new train of thought.  Jesus has ushered in another covenant with man.  We need to remember that He said “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”   This way of thought is brand new to all of man kind, we have just left the old covenant of the law and entered into a new covenant of grace.

Before we dive into the beatitudes we need to first compare it to what the old covenant had to say about being blessed (or happy).  Look at the verses below; they are the opening words to the book of Psalms (Psalm 1:1-3)

“1 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.”
We see in these versed that they way to be happy lies in six things.  Three things are things that we should not do and three are things that we should do.  The key to happiness is wrapped up in what is done or not done.
We should not:
1.  Walk in ungodly counsel  (make the ungodly your main friend group)
2.  Stand in the way of the sinner (go where the ungodly go)
3.  Sit in the seat of the scornful (do what the ungodly do or think in the same way)
We should:
1.  Delight in the Law (the Word of God)
2.  Meditate on it day and night (memorize and take to heart His Word)
3.  Bringing forth fruit in his season (leading others to repentance)
In these six things we know what to do in order to be blessed.  But Jesus turns this upside down when He begins His sermon.  We see in the beatitudes that Jesus is no longer demanding what we do in order to achieve happiness, but instead He is telling us what we are to be in order to achieve happiness.  Where in the law (before Christ) we were told what we were to do; Jesus is now telling us that in Him, we can instead become different.  So instead of denying ourselves of things that we desire to do, He will change us insomuch that our desires will change.  He is now showing the world that in a relationship with Him, He will change the heart of man instead of just the actions of man.
So He begins with a statement that would make little sense to the listeners.  John MacArthur puts the phrase in such a way that we can see how different the ways of God are in comparison to our own and how difficult it must have been for those first listeners. John MacArthur says that Jesus, is in effect, is saying, “happy are the sad.”  I would like to have seen the faces of those around Jesus when He said those words.  There was most certainly an anticipation of what this great teacher would say.  The crowd along with the disciples wait for the master teacher to be seated then He comes out with the statement “Happy are the sad.”  I imagine the expressions would be much like that of a puppy when it is confused; ears perked, head cocked slightly sideways and eyes that scream “what in the world are you talking about?”  But as Jesus goes on He begins to explain that true happiness only begins with the brokenness of man in repentance.  In order to come to Christ all must realize how utterly bankrupt that we are without Him.  We all must realize the depravity of our sin, for with out that realization, we will never reach for the savior.  Why would one who considers themselves “a good person” need a savior?
So Jesus begins by saying “blessed are the poor in spirit.”  When ever I teach on this text I use the same illustration because I believe that it is the best way to put this phrase into perspective.  When a local high school has “spirit” day they brag that they are the best (even if they had never won a sporting event).  The band plays songs, the students use chants with their abbreviated school’s name and sometimes there is even a mascot that performs.  The idea is to promote pride in their school.  The reality of the school is never really talked about, they are always “number one!”  If the football had not won a game in three years the cheer leaders would still cheer that they are number one.  This builds team and school spirit.
Being poor in spirit is the exact opposite.  It is when we look at ourselves in the light of the perfect righteousness of the Son of God and come to the reality that we, in of ourselves, have nothing to boast about.  We can only lay before Him, ask for mercy and a transformed life.  This is the first of four steps that Jesus lists in the beginning of His sermon.  There are many who simply just began going to a church because it was the right thing to do, but have never come to the realization of the desperate need of repentance ( a changed life).  These will never find true happiness and joy because there has never been a need for a savior.  Therefore only the sad can truly be happy, but that sadness turns into joy upon accepting and understanding the marvelous grace of the Savior.
We will look at the second step to attain happiness tomorrow.
Pastor Steve

September 30th Matthew chapter 5a

As we get into Matthew chapter five we find the sermon on the mount.  There is no way to even come close to doing justice to this sermon by studying an entire chapter in one day.  So, I am going to break it down.  If you are in the habit of daily reading, I would like to ask you to read chapter five each day as we study it.  When this is done in repetition, it is amazing how much more clear the passage is.

Jesus, at this point, is giving the only recorded sermon of His entire ministry.  No where else do we see an entire sermon being presented.  When seeing the words of Jesus else where we see snippets of what He is saying.  So, think with me for a moment; How important must these words be?  Jesus’ sermon, if read, is only ten minutes long.  These words are of great importance and they completely destroy the tradition of that day and also today’s.  In this sermon we see the recipe for salvation, Godly living, the desire of the true believer, those who will be forsaken that truly believe they are His, adultery, our witness, judging, anger toward a brother in Christ and much much more.  I hope that you will get as much out of these chapters as I have.

Today we will just start with the first verse of introduction.  It is important to realize why this introduction is mentioned.  Opposite of what we do today, the teachers and rabbis would sit when they began to teach.  When the master was seated it was time to pay attention.  This is why we see in Acts that Paul was trained “under the feet of Gamaliel.” The term under the feet literally meant that students would sit before the master teacher as he taught them in the seated position.  Much like today, when someone rises, we tend to know that they are about to speak and that we should listen.  So we see that these are not just jumbled thoughts that have been placed together by the author, it is instead a sermon that builds, it has a beginning and has a conclusion.

Monday will will begin to look at the beatitudes.  I have been surprised and enlightened by these eight verses more so than any other in scripture.  If the book of Revelation is the revelation of Jesus Christ (which it is), I would consider the sermon on the mount the revelation of man.  The beatitudes explain what happens when a person truly repents and I think you will find it quite intriguing.  Can’t wait for Monday!

 

Pastor Steve

 

September 29th Matthew chapter four

In today’s reading we see the temptation of Christ.  Satan tries his best to get Jesus to skip the sacrificial death in God’s plan.  Lucifer even offers to hand everything over if Jesus will change His direction of fulfilling the Father’s will.  If we look a bit deeper at the temptations we will see what was behind them.  When Satan wanted Jesus to turn the stone into bread and to have Jesus jump from the temple,  I do not believe that it was just for the purpose of a meal or disobedience.  The Jews, under Roman rule, were kept content and paying taxes because the Romans kept them fed and entertained.  If Jesus were to do these two things the people would have crowned Him king on the spot.  We will see later that Jesus had to slip away before the people took Him by force and made Him king.  If Jesus would have taken the easy route and skipped the cross His reign would only have been an earthly reign.  Jesus came to save men from sin, not from Rome.  When these two temptations failed, Satan offered the kingdom to him with out a fight if He would bow to him.  Once again, this would remove the sacrificial death on the cross.

We need to make sure that we see how Jesus, the son of God, defeated Satan’s temptations.  Jesus did not debate Lucifer (although He could have and He would have won) He instead relied on the Word of God.  Each and every attempt by the evil one was combated with the Word.  With the truth of the Word Satan has no foot hold. It is interesting that Satan stopped after three attempts.  Lies cannot stand up against the truth. Psalm 119:105 states “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path…”  If Eve would have trusted in the truth of God’s Word she never would have eaten the forbidden fruit.  After doubting God’s word she denied God’s Word then, tragically, she disobeyed God’s Word.

Now we see, as I mentioned yesterday, the message of Jesus.  He begins His ministry by preaching “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (4:17).    Jesus not only demanded repentance, but He also said that the Kingdom was “at hand.”  So often people view the Kingdom of heaven to be in eternity only, but it is not.  When Jesus came he set up a Kingdom without borders.  Jesus set up a Kingdom without discretion of race, ethnicity, gender or social status.  The thing that makes people part of the Kingdom is a renewed Spirit through repentance.  When trusting in Christ for the remission of sins and turning from those sins people become the son’s and daughters of God.  This happens right here, and right now, not some time in the future.  Kingdom dwellers obey their new found King.

I John 3:3      “Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us that we should be called the son’s of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew not Him.”

 

Pastor Steve

September 28th Matthew chapter three

In Matthew chapter three we hear, for the first time, the message of John the Baptist.  This is a message that we need to listen to very carefully.  This is a simple, to the point message that all men must understand to enter into a relationship with Christ and then into eternal life.  If the message were to be heard today from the local church it would say (and we all have most likely heard it many times) “you need to ask Jesus into your heart.”  This morning I’m going to kick a hornets nest.  In my opinion, this is one of the most ungodly phrases that I have ever heard.  This phrase has begun this centuries first step into the gospel of easiness.  With this phrase many men  have misled people into a false hope of salvation.  With this phrase we can break down salvation into a neat little phrase that we can utter.  This is a very clean way to confront the issue of salvation, but it is wrong.  This phrase is mentioned no where in scripture and it doesn’t have the same meaning of the message of John the Baptist or of Jesus Christ.  Salvation is dirty, it is the realization of sin, confessing it and repenting (turning away) from it.  In the zeal to reach people many have watered down the Gospel to the point in which it is not even recognizable, in fact it is a different gospel altogether.  We read in Galatians 1:8 ” If any man preach any other gospel unto you other than that which we have preached let him be accursed.  As I said before so say I now again, even if an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you other that which we have preached let him be accursed.”   Much like John, when Jesus began His ministry His first message was also the same.  We see in Matthew chapter four that the first words that Jesus spoke to the people when He began His ministry were: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  Without repentance there is no salvation.  There has to be a change.

The next thing that we will look at this morning is the fact that Jesus was baptized.  This may seem odd at first; after all Jesus was sinless wasn’t He?  One may wonder why a sinless man would need to be baptized.  The reason is that baptism identified Jesus with the church.  Not only was Jesus supporting the church but He is the head of the church.  In Revelation chapter one we see that Jesus is walking among the seven golden candlesticks.  These candle sticks represent the complete church, in which Jesus is actively a part of.  The Jews used to baptize proselytes when they accepted the faith of Judaism.  This action meant that they were now numbered with the other Jewish believers.  In like manner baptism identifies us with the local church.

So the baptism of Jesus shows us two things: first it shows us that all believers should be attached to the local church in order to “fulfill all righteousness” (Mt. 3:15).  The second thing that we learn about baptism is that it is not a mechanism in which one gains salvation or the remission of sins.  If the point of baptism was to remove sin, it would have been ridiculous for Jesus to be baptized.

The last thing that I would like to focus on this morning is the message that John gives to the religious crowd.  In verse eight John says “produce fruit worthy of repentance.”  He went on to tell them that just because they were Jews did not mean that they were followers of God.  If I may give you another perspective of what John was saying, he basically says that the proof is in the pudding.  If you have an encounter with a righteous God and repent; every one will know it.  Friends, if we smell like the world, look like the world, have the same goals as the world and enjoy the same entertainment as the world, we have not repented.  If we have not repented there is no salvation.

 

Pastor Steve

September 27th Matthew chapter two

In today’s reading I would like to focus on the reactions to Jesus by the people that surrounded Him.  We will see that in Matthew chapter two that it is often the same at is today.  When encountering Jesus each one of us must respond.  His existence and his sacrifice for sin along with His eternal Kingship demands a response from each of us.  It would be impossible not to respond, because ignoring Him in itself is a response.

The first group that we will look at are the Magi; this group of men traveled a great distance to meet the new King in person.  These men were considered to be “King Makers” in the region and they were greatly respected.  There is little doubt why we see them mentioned in Matthew’s gospel since Matthew focuses on the Kingship of Christ.  The Magi were gifted and trained in astronomy (which was at that time greatly mingled with astrology).  The Magi came to meet the new born King for one reason, that reason was to worship Him.  When they arrived, they did not just worship Him in jest. They not only traveled a great distance they gave gifts that cost them a great deal of their income.  These men came and in worship gave themselves to the King of kings who deserves all that we have.  This, obviously, is the proper way to respond to the savior.

The second group of people that we see are the religious crowd.  The religious crowd, including but not limited to, the Pharisees and the Sadducees.  This group of people should have been the ones who were most ready to receive the Messiah. They had been given the word of the prophets.  These men had a special revelation as to the coming Messiah.  Even though all of the signs were in place, this group was simply indifferent to the new King.  I personally think that they had things just the way that they liked them and did see the need to rock the boat.  They had wealth, prestige and the respect and obedience from most of the people.  Just like the church of Laodicea they “had need of nothing”( Revelation 3:17)  because they had no idea that they were in need is a savior.  They had clung to their own righteousness.  If one were capable of having their own righteousness there is no need for the righteousness of Christ.

The last group that we will look at is more of an individual than a group.  This individual is king Herod.  King Herod definitely believed that Jesus was to become king because he was threatened by Him.  Herod realized that a new legitimate king would demand obedience.  The obedience that this new king would deserve would be the kind that would cause Herod to give control over to someone else.  There is no room for two kings in a kingdom and Herod had decided that he was going to be king over his own life.  This is why Herod went to great lengths to stop this new king from reigning.  He even went as far as to kill all the male children in the area under two years old.  People still today will go to great lengths to minimize the great King, but just like Herod, it is a complete waste of time.e This King is not just an earthly king reigning over Judea; He is the King of Kings that reigns over all of creation.  There is coming a day when every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, even those who will not do it willingly.

Pastor Steve

September 26th Matthew chapter 1

Welcome to  our study of the Gospel of Matthew!  I trust that we will see more clearly the kingship of Christ as we study this book together.

I will only focus on the lineage of Christ briefly this morning.  What I would like for us to realize this morning is that not only is Jesus the only legitimate King, but He is the last to be able to prove that His lineage links to king David.  Israel is, and will be for some time, searching for the Messiah.  They have rejected Christ and are awaiting another.  The line of the Messiah must come from the line of King David.  Around AD 70 the temple was destroyed along with all records in regards to lineages.  Even if they claim a messiah has come, they could in no wise legitimize the impostor.

In view of the virgin birth, we will look at the first prophecy given us in scripture.  This prophecy goes all the way back to Genesis chapter three.  In Genesis chapter three and verse fifteen, as God was giving Lucifer his punishment and curse,  we read “..And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise His heal.”   The problem with this little verse is that the seed always comes from the man.  We see in Genesis 38:9 that Tamar’s husband spilled his seed on the ground and he was punished for it.  So the man, through his semen, produces the seed.  In this text we see that there would be enmity between his seed and the woman’s seed.  This is a reference to Christ for Jesus was the only person to have ever lived that was born of a virgin; therefore we have the “seed of the woman.”  We see in this prophecy that Satan will bruise His heal (death on the cross) but Jesus will bruise His head (utter defeat at the end of days).

The reason that this is important is because we see that God had planned all along to redeem man through His son Jesus Christ.  Jesus didn’t show up on earth to fix a mess up.  God didn’t, one day in heaven, begin to wring His hands and wonder “How am I going to fix this one?”  On the contrary, He knew before the foundation of the world that Jesus would be the Messiah who would redeem His chosen people.  It is unimaginable to me to think that God would create something while having knowledge that Jesus would have to suffer the horrible death due to that creation’s dis-obedience.  This shows us that there is something so amazing in store in the future that we cannot accurately understand what it is.  We do know that it was worth putting to death the perfect Son of God.

 

Pastor Steve

Friday September 23rd Intro to Matthew

It is good to finally be with you again!  I did not plan on taking a break from this blog, but sadly, circumstances demanded it.  I want to give a special thank you for all of those who have contacted me in regards to this blog.  It is very encouraging to know that there are people who have been following it and more importantly, in His Word every day.

We had just finished Second Samuel and began First Kings when we came to our abrupt stop.  I wanted to dip our feet into First Kings in order to understand Solomon’s reign a little before we moved on.  We see in First Kings that Solomon ends up falling into the trap of lust.  Solomon begins to take wives from other nations and cultures and then begins to allow them to perform their religious acts to their idols; the idols that they had brought along with them.  This mistake came with a great price for Israel; in fact it divided the kingdom into two separate kingdoms.  This is why we read of Judah and Israel after this point in First Kings and then again in First Chronicles.

We will now begin studying the book of Matthew together.  We have already gone through the Gospel of John, but as we look at the four Gospels (each, the story of the life of Christ from different perspectives) we see different attributes of Christ.

Matthew’s perspective is the perspective of the Kingship of Christ

Mark’s perspective is that of the servant-hood of Christ

Luke’s perspective focuses on Jesus’ humanness

John shows more of the deity of Christ.

As we begin to study Matthew together we will see this Gospel present: the King who is revealed, the King who is rejected and the King who is returning.  Even the lineage given by Matthew goes back to King David showing the Kingship of Christ.  John, showing the deity of Christ, instead, begins with Jesus being the Word in the very beginning.  Mark gives no lineage because a servant’s lineage was a non issue and Luke, showing the humanness of Christ, traces the lineage of Jesus all the way back to Adam.

I hope that you will consider joining us as we are in the Word together.  Monday’s blog will be focused on Matthew chapter one.  If we were to read this chapter today we would be all set for Monday’s comments on it.

Pastor Steve

August 19th First Kings chapter 5

Although David wanted to build a temple to honor God, God would not allow it.  God told David that there was too much blood on his hands.  God then told David that his son would build the temple.  David began to put back materials for his son to build the temple even though David knew that he would never see it.

During this peaceful time in Israel we see that when Solomon requested cedars from Lebanon; not only did the king of Tyre make them available, but he was happy to do so.  God had put a soft spot in the surrounding King’s hearts for Solomon.  Solomon shows great leadership and organization in the building of the temple.  As we look at the astronomical number of workers that had been amassed, we realize that Solomon was able to set up a working and very effective chain of command.  The chapter today says that he had 3,300 foremen working under his command.  It is a good thing for the surrounding nations that they were at peace with Israel, because with Solomon’s leadership abilities and attention to detain, he would have been a magnificent general.

Once again we see the heart of Solomon in this chapter.  Solomon could have erected a pyramid as the kings in Egypt did in order to honor their own names.  Solomon could have had a palace constructed with every luxury known to man.  Solomon instead, decided to place his time, money and efforts on the work of the kingdom.  The temple was going to be the place for the mercy seat.  The mercy seat is a picture of Christ and His redemption.  Solomon cared more about the things of God that he did for his own wants and needs.   

 

Pastor Steve

August 18th First Kings chapter 4

I don’t know if I have an odd thought pattern, or if these thoughts come across every ones mind.  I have often pondered the question: “If I could live during any time period, what period would I choose.”  When I was younger I thought that the 1950’s in America seemed like a good time to be alive.  The U.S.was prosperous, crime seemed low and I imagined that life was just like it was portrayed on the television show Happy Days.  As I became a bit older I imagined instead of living in the middle east during the ministry of Jesus.  How amazing to see Him speak to the people, to be at the sermon on the mount, to see Lazarus raised from the dead, to watch the expressions on the faces of the blind who gained their sight or perhaps the deaf that gained hearing.  But as I grew even older I decided that I would not want to live in that era because most people rejected Him; why would I think any differently.  I am thankful that I was not put in that spot when all the leaders of the day were denouncing the Messiah, in which I would have probably followed suit.

But imagine living in Jerusalem during the reign of Solomon!  This is the only time, that I am aware of, that Israel is in the will of God and under His blessing for any length of time.  I see this time, during Solomon’s reign, to be a picture of what the future kingdom will be. There were no problems with neighboring nations, nor were there any wars.  The kings of the surrounding nations sent ambassadors to learn from this Godly leader in Israel.  The world saw the blessing of God on a people who obeyed Him, and it was attractive to the outside world.  It says elsewhere in the bible that gold and silver were as stones in Israel during the reign of Solomon.   Justice was preformed by the wisest man who had ever lived and was based off of the law that God had given.  This would have been a utopia.  If Solomon and his descendants would have obeyed; God would have fulfilled His promise to them generation after generation.  Sadly, we as sinful man, are just bent to disobedience.

I would imagine that this kingdom of Solomon’s was the best government that had ever come across our world, even to this day.  A perfect government that was ruled by a righteous king, just as it will be during the future, one-thousand year, reign of Christ.  I would like to experience both of them.  Although that is not possible, I do know that I will experience one of them!  I sure hope that you will be joining me.

 

Pastor Steve