Text: Matthew 18

Memorize: “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a huge millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the open sea.” Matthew 18:6 NET

Eternal life matters more than any other thing in this life (verse 8). Whoever causes another, more spiritually fragile and weaker in faith, to lose eternal life will be held responsible and will suffer dire consequences.

It is possible to make someone sin by arrogance (verses 1-5) and, in a way, by omission (verses 10-14) that fails to confront and admonish (verses 15-17). Continue reading

Text: Matthew 15

Memorize: And he replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father did not plant will be uprooted. Leave them! They are blind guides. If someone who is blind leads another who is blind, both will fall into a pit.” Matthew 15:13-14 NET

The subject: tradition above God’s commandments. The targets: Pharisees and scribes. The issue: breaking God’s commandments.

When this Jerusalem commission charged Jesus with breaking the ancient traditions, Jesus turned the tables on them and charged them with breaking God’s commandment because of their traditions. In the ensuing explanation and Jesus’ announcement to the crowds that contamination occurred from what came out of a man’s mouth and not what went into it, the disciples saw how deeply the Pharisees and scribes were offended. Continue reading

Text: Matthew 14

Memorize: “Now when Jesus heard this he went away from there privately in a boat to an isolated place. But when the crowd heard about it, they followed him on foot from the towns.” Matthew 14:13 NET

With the sad news of John the Immersor’s death at King Herod’s hands, Jesus seeks to get away to an isolated place. The text doesn’t explain the motive behind his action. Mark and Luke connect it with the Twelve’s return from the limited commission. Some see him removing himself from any possible confrontation with or provocation of Herod. Without taking away from the merits of those explanations, it may also be that Jesus seeks time away to be strengthened in company with the Father. Continue reading

Text: Matthew 11:25-30

Memorize: “At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your gracious will.'” Matthew 11:25-26 NET

Not everyone can see it. Those who think they see are the most blind. The learned, bless their hearts, tout their studies and cite their sources as proof of why it can’t be this way. All the while, the humble little people get it. Continue reading

Text: Matthew 10

Memorize: “I am sending you out like sheep surrounded by wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16 NET

We know the action of sending. We used to send letters written with mechanical instruments that scratched ink upon paper, stuffed into envelopes and sent by truck and plane. Now we hit “Send” to put an electronic message in someone’s inbox. We send, or ought to, on occasion, flowers to loved ones. Continue reading

Text: Matthew 9:9-13

Memorize: “As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax booth. ‘Follow me,’ he said to him. And he got up and followed him.” Matthew 9:9

Jesus made disciples by eyeballing them and calling them to a radical relationship which meant denial and abandonment in order to follow him. On the road, in a house, Jesus sought out people with a sense of need, and showed them the cure for their real malady. Continue reading

Text: Matthew 8:5-13

Memorize: “For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I say to this one, ‘Go’ and he goes, and to another ‘Come’ and he comes, and to my slave ‘Do this’ and he does it.” Matthew 8:9 NET

Read the soldier’s oath upon enlistment in the American military:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The military is a hierarchy. Boot camp ensures that the recruit obeys his superiors immediately, without question. Continue reading

Devotional for October 5

Text: Matthew 7:1-6

Memorize: “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For by the standard you judge you will be judged, and the measure you use will be the measure you receive.” Matthew 7:1-2 NET

It was said of T.W. Brents, “He was absolutely without mercy toward error, but not so toward men; a man of charity toward human weakness and frailty, but woe be to the man who stood before him to champion an unscriptural position!” Jesus does not want us to sacrifice truth, but he warns against the judgmental attitude, the finger ready to point at the faults of others. Williams translates the first part, “Stop criticizing others.” Continue reading