Matthew 25 begins with the words, "When the end comes" (Matthew 25:1), and ends with the words, "eternal life" (Matthew 25:46). Often, we might wish that this was all that the Word of God says about "the end" - "eternal life." This is not all that is said. Jesus also speaks to us about eternal loss (Matthew 25:11-12,30,41,46). The choices that determine eternal loss and eternal life are being made here-and-now. Each one of us must decide whether we will be like the wise bridesmaids or the foolish bridesmaids. By our way of life, here on earth, we will show whether we are "good and faithful servants" or "useless servants." Our response to the Lord will be seen in our response to other people (Matthew 25:40). Live for the Lord now. Live with Him in eternity.
Thursday, 14 February 2019
Securing the tomb - That's what they tried to do. Raising the dead - That's what God did. "He's not here. He has been brought back to life, as He said" (Matthew 28:6). What a tremendous turnaround! What, to man, is impossible, becomes reality through the power of God. "Don't be afraid! Go, tell My followers to go to Galilee. There, they will see Me" (Matthew 28:10). The first revelation of the risen Lord - It's for His followers, but they're not to keep the Good News to themselves. This is for us. We're to bring Jesus and His love to more and more people. We do not go to people in our name. We go with the "authority" of Jesus, our Lord (Matthew 28:18-20). He is with us "until the end of time."
The release of Barabbas and the execution of Jesus - The sinless Saviour dies for the guilty sinner.
"The release of Barabbas and the execution of Jesus" (Matthew 27:20) - In this, we catch a glimpse of the meaning of Christ's death. The sinless Saviour dies for the guilty sinner. "He saved others, but he can't save himself" (Matthew 27:42. The two are connected. He saves others by sacrificing Himself. "My God, my God, why have You abandoned Me?" (Matthew 27:46). This is Jesus, taking our place, bearing our sin. "The curtain in the temple was split in two, from top to bottom" (Matthew 27:51). Notice the direction. The barrier to our coming into God's presence is removed from above. It is the work of God. It is His doing. Glory to the Lord!
"Jesus said absolutely nothing in him in reply, so the governor was very surprised" (Matthew 27:14). Jesus had not come to escape death. He had come to die. Pilate was surprised. He did not understand. This was not the normal response. Jesus could not be understood according to the thinking of other people. He was a special person. He had a special purpose. He was heading to the Cross. The place of His suffering was to become the place of our salvation. Thank You, Jesus.
"Thirty silver coins" (Matthew 27:3,9) - Jesus' enemies paid the price to Judas. Jesus paid the price for us. Thank God for Jesus. His sacrifice for sin was worth much more than the money paid to Judas by Jesus' enemies. His sacrifice of Himself for our salvation was the only way in which the price could be paid. Jesus took our sin upon Himself so that we might receive God's salvation - as a free gift.
"All of this happened so that what the prophets have written would come true" (Matthew 26:56). "The Son of Man will be coming on the clouds of heaven" (Matthew 26:64). Here, we have looking back to what came before and looking forward to what lies ahead. If we are to avoid becoming like Peter, who denied Jesus (Matthew 26:69-75), we need this big perspective on Jesus. He is much more than a man, more than a prophet, more than a good example. he came from heaven. He returned to heaven. He will come, again, from heaven. When we keep before our eyes what the Scriptures teach us about Jesus, we will not be taken in by those who reduce Jesus to the human level. We will, always by the grace of God, stand up for Jesus, lifting Him up as the perfect Son of God and the perfect Saviour of sinners.
"Father, if this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, let Your will be done" (Matthew 26:42). Jesus was not just a passive victim of circumstances. He embraced the will of God, His loving, heavenly Father. He saw what needed to be done, and He said, 'I will do it.' He said, 'I will give Myself in death so that sinners might be forgiven and live eternally in the heavenly glory of God's Kingdom.
In Matthew 26:14-35, we read about Judas, Peter and Jesus. Judas betrayed Jesus - but Jesus knew all about it before it happened. Jesus knew what was going on behind the scenes with Judas. Peter denied Jesus. Again, Jesus knew that this was going to happen. Between Jesus' identification of Judas and Peter as the men who would betray Him and deny Him, there is the Lord's Supper. How wonderful this is - we hear about human failure (sin), and we also hear about our Saviour's sacrifice for the salvation of sinners.
"At that time, the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified" (Matthew 26:2). Jesus was not taken by surprise. He knew what He was letting Himself in for. He knew why He had come to earth. He knew what He had come to do. He knew the purpose of His life. "You will not always have Me with you. She poured this perfume on My body before it is placed in a tomb" (Matthew 26:11-12). Jesus was under no illusions about what lay ahead of Him. He had come to die. The time of His crucifixion was drawing near - and He knew it. Immediately after He speaks about His tomb, He speaks about the "Good News" being "spoken in the world" (Matthew 26:13). He knew the connection between the two - His death and the Good News. He died for us. This is the Good News of God's love.
Tuesday, 12 February 2019
Jesus calls us to be both holy and loving. What will it mean to live a life that is becoming both more holy and more loving? It begins with being reached by the love of God and changed by the love of God. We cannot make ourselves more holy. We cannot make ourselves more loving. When we catch a glimpse of the great God, who is both holy loving, we see ourselves as we really are - sinners, and we also see the Saviour who is reaching out to us, the Saviour who can and will change us. How does he change us? He shows us our sin. He forgives our sin. Seeing our sin as it really is, we cannot be, like the Pharisee who looked down his nose at the tax collector (Luke 18:11). Seeing our Saviour as He really is, we know that there is hope for every one who comes to the Saviour. We have His precious promise - "I will never turn away anyone who comes to Me" (John 6:37). When the love of Christ reaches us, we rejoice in this: "Every offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives." Thankful to the Lord for His love, which has reached us, we pray that His love will change us. We pray that we will become more like Jesus - more holy and more loving. We will say, 'Lord, Your love has reached us. May Your love change us. May your love inspire us to live a life that is pleasing to you - a life of holiness, a life of love.' We cannot change ourselves. We need to be changed by the Lord. Let us pray for His help. Let us pray that He will fill us with His love. This is where true holiness comes from. It comes from the love of God, reaching us. It comes from the love of God, changing us. The love of God - This is the real power that lies behind a life of holiness and love. We need more holiness. We need more love. These are not things that we can reach out and grasp for ourselves. We must always look away from ourselves to the Lord - "How much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him?" (Matthew 7:12).
In Matthew 8:19-34, we learn about discipleship (Matthew 8:19-22), peace (Matthew 8:23-27) and deliverance (Matthew 8:28-34). How sad it is that this chapter ends with these words: "Everyone from the city went to meet Jesus. When they saw Him, they begged him to leave their territory" (Matthew 8:34). If it had ended with the words, "Everyone went out to meet Jesus", we would say, "Wonderful! We want more of this." When this is followed by the sentence, "When they saw Him, they begged Him to leave their territory", we sense that we are in the presence of something solemn, even something sinister. What we have here is the activity of Satan. Even when the Lord is working powerfully, Satan is also at work, seeking to hinder the work of God, creating resistance in the hearts of those who have begun to show an initial interest in Jesus. Satan gets worried. He does everything he can to prevent people moving from seeking to finding. Let us take our stand against Satan. Let us take our stand in the Name of Christ. Let us take our stand in the power of Christ.
Sunday, 10 February 2019
In Matthew 23, we have a devastating protest against hypocrisy. What is a protest against hypocrisy? It's a protest for holiness. God is calling us to be holy. He is saying to us that we must never be content with hypocrisy. God has something better for us. The way of holiness begins with welcoming the Saviour. Our faith and life are grounded in Him - "Blessed is the One who comes in the Name of the Lord" (Matthew 23:39). In Matthew 23, we have a devastating protest against hypocrisy. What is a protest against hypocrisy? It's a protest for holiness. God is calling us to be holy. He is saying to us that we must never be content with hypocrisy. God has something better for us. The way of holiness begins with welcoming the Saviour. Our faith and life are grounded in Him - "Blessed is the One who comes in the Name of the Lord" (Matthew 23:39). Jesus inspires our worship. He gives us strength for living. Jesus inspires our worship. He gives us strength for living.
The wise men did want to worship Jesus (Matthew 2:2). Herod said that he wanted to worship Jesus (Matthew 2:8). What a difference there is between saying that we want to worship Jesus and really wanting to worship Him. This highlights the conflict between false religion and true worship. Religion may say the right things, but, if we don’t really mean what we say, our words will not make any difference to the way we live. This kind of religion is worthless. What does God say to us about this kind of religion? - “God warned them in a dream not to go back to Herod” (Matthew 2:12). God is still warning His people to steer clear of empty religion. When we come to the Lord, we must not come with empty words - words that we don’t really mean. Our worship is to shape our life. How is our worship to change our way of living? Real worship arises out of salvation. This is very different from religion. Religion says more about ourselves than it says than it says about our Saviour. Salvation is not about us. It’s about Jesus, our Saviour. When He is the focus of our attention, we will learn to worship Him and live for Him.
The values of our Lord Jesus Christ, Gospel values, Kingdom values are very different from the world's values. It's the difference between "treasures on earth" and "treasures in heaven" (Matthew 6:19-20). When we treasure the things of earth, we will worry about the things of earth. Jesus says that we are not to worry about these things. We are to have a higher priority than 'looking after No. 1'. We're to be concerned about "God's Kingdom and what has His approval" (Matthew 6:33). When the things that matter most to God are not the things that matter most to us, other things will take over our lives. What matters most to you? This is what Jesus is asking us. Are the things that matter most to God becoming the things that matter most to us?
Whenever the end-times are spoken of, many strange things are said. People speak as if they know it all. The more they say, the more they show that they don't know it all. We need to make sure that we keep listening to what God's Word says to us. This will keep us from being deceived by people who make things up as they go along. The main thing that Jesus says to us is this: "you must be ready because the Son of Man will return when you least expect Him" (Matthew 24:44).
Jesus speaks about the end-times: "The earth and heaven will disappear." He also speaks about something that will never come to an end: "My words will never disappear" (Matthew 24:35). In all of life's changing circumstances, we must hold on to this great truth: God's Word lasts forever.
Why does Jesus speak to us about the end-times? - He is encouraging us to "endure to the end" (Matthew 24:13). We cannot endure to the end without the grace of God: "If God does not reduce the number of those days, no one will be saved" (Matthew 24:22). God's Word tells us that we are to "keep ourselves in the love of God" (Jude 21). It also tells us that we are kept, in the love of God, by the power of God - the power of His love (Jude 24).
Sunday, 3 February 2019
In Matthew 21:1-22, we learn that Jesus is a very different King from the kings of this world. He is the King of love. There is no tyranny, no dictatorship, no reign of terror. Alongside His love, there is His holiness. We see this in the cleansing of the Temple. He is looking for us to be fruitful. This is the lesson of the cursed fig tree. May In Matthew 21:1-22, we learn that Jesus is a very different King from the kings of this world. He is the King of love. There is no tyranny, no dictatorship, no reign of terror. Alongside His love, there is His holiness. We see this in the cleansing of the Temple. He is looking for us to be fruitful. This is the lesson of the cursed fig tree. May God help us to be fruitful - in holiness and in love.
Tuesday, 29 January 2019
Learning from children and caring for children: This is what Jesus speaks about in Matthew 18:1-10. We should never act like we know it all, and have nothing more to learn. We should never act like we're a law unto ourselves. We must do all that we can to protect little children in a world that has so many dangers. We need little children. They have something to teach us. Little children need us. They need the protection that we, adults, can give to them.
"The Son of Man came to save the lost" (Matthew 18:11). In Matthew 18:12-13, Jesus speaks about sheep. He's really speaking about us. He is the Shepherd. We are His sheep. Sheep wander away from the shepherd. We wander away from the Lord. The shepherd looks for the lost sheep. Jesus has come to seek for us and find us. He brings us home to God, our Father. Through His saving grace, we receive new life - a life in which we rejoice in our great Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. He delivers us from the condemnation, which our sin has brought upon us. He brings us into the knowledge of His forgiveness. This Gospel of salvation changes us. It teaches us to live in the power of God's love.
Jesus speaks about "the Kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 19:12,23), "the Kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:14,24) and "eternal life" (Matthew 19:29). Jesus' way of thinking and living is so very different from the world's way of thinking and living. He challenges us to think His way and live His way.
We read about Elijah in his high-points of strength - the triumph over the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:36-39) - and his low-points of ...
When we come to God, acknowledging His holiness and our own sin and guilt, we discover that the God of great holiness is also the God of gre...
In Matthew 11, we learn, from Jesus the Saviour, about John the Baptist. From the warnings given by Jesus to Chorazin, Bethsaida and Cape...
We look, Lord, at what we have been, and we feel like we’ve made a right mess of things, then we remember Jesus – and His forgiveness: “The ...