The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John


September 2020:




Rev. JT Overby

September 1-4  John 18-21


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Dr. Kevin Calhoun

September 7-11  Matthew 1-5


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Dr. Craig Bowers

September 14-18 | Matthew 6-10


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Rev. JT Overby

September 21-25 | Matthew 11-15


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Jonathan Norton

September 28-30 | Matthew 16-1



  • September 1, 2020

     

    by JT Overby

     

    Read John 18

     

    “Jesus knowing all that would happen to him.” The events that were about to transpire were no secret to Jesus. He was not unaware of the betrayals, denials, tortures, and cruelty He would soon face. He was fully aware that He was being handed over to sinful men and that sinful men would do what they always want to do to God—be done with Him, rid themselves of His presence. We started that work in the Garden in Genesis 3.  We have been doing it ever since, and it reached its ultimate point of rebellion in the garden in John 18.


    Yet, Jesus does not shrink back. He does not try and flee. Knowing all that would happen, He steps forward. He steps forward, giving Himself over to this sinful rebellion in order to take the sins of His people upon Himself. He goes as the suffering servant of Isaiah 53, not by accident, but of His own will. Jesus will give Himself up to the horrors of man’s rebellion in order to take upon Himself the wrath of God that man deserves. Why?


    “So, if you seek me, let these men go.” He does it for our sake. The only holy, pure, innocent, and righteous one will be condemned so those worthy of condemnation could go free. We are able to escape the horrors that we deserve because Jesus takes them upon himself.


    As they seek Jesus, he steps forward to pronounce his identity and says, “I am he.” Yahweh, the one true God, has robed himself in human flesh. When he makes this known the roughly 300 battle-hardened men fall to the ground. They cannot stand before Jesus.


    “No one takes it (my life) from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” For you. For me.



  • September 2, 2020

     

    by JT Overby

     

    Read John 19

     

    The authority of Jesus is constantly mocked in John 19. We see sinful man doing what sinful man does. They look at God and His anointed and say, “Come let us burst their bonds apart and rid ourselves of their chains!”* They want nothing to do with Jesus’ claims of authority. In fact, in the heat of rebellion, God’s people, the Jews says they have no king but Caesar. They unite themselves with the authority of the world in rebellion against God’s authority.


    Why are our hearts so bent towards evil? Our every sin is a rebellion against God’s goodness and authority in our lives. Within us we have a flesh that desires to rule and seek its own good, and not submit to the rule or good of anyone else. But the rebellion of the flesh only leads to death. What does the death of Jesus accomplish for sinful people like us?


    On the cross, Jesus gives Himself over fully to our rebellion against Him. Simultaneously, He pays the price for our rebellion against God. He dies the rebel’s death, crucified along two other guilty men. But in His death, He offers life and salvation for all who would repent of their sinful, rebellious ways and submit to Him. How do we know He offers salvation and not retribution?


    When Jesus dies, His body is pierced. Remember back to John 7:37-39. All who are thirsty can come to Jesus. Like the rock in the wilderness, Jesus is struck, and out of Him flows living water. All who come to Jesus will never be thirsty again. There is no life in sin! There is life and life abundant in coming to Jesus! Will we come and drink, or stand far off, shaking our fist at God?

     

    ** Psalm 2:3, paraphrased

     



  • September 3, 2020

     

    by JT Overby

     

    Read John 20


    What gentleness and kindness Jesus has towards us stubborn and hardened followers. We are so slow to believe. We are so quick to mistrust. We are so prone to doubt and question the love and faithfulness of God. We are so disillusioned by what we see in front of us that we don’t live in the reality of the living Jesus.


    This was certainly Thomas’ problem. Even though the other disciples had seen Jesus, Thomas wouldn’t believe that He had actually been raised from the dead until he saw Jesus himself. So, we think Jesus must rebuke him for his lack of faith. He must be harsh to Thomas for struggling to believe what has so clearly already been revealed. He must be sorry to have a follower like Thomas who is so slow to keep up.


    We look in the mirror and see we are the same way, though. How hard are we? How cold are we to the Lord at times? If Jesus should be that way with Thomas then He should certainly be that way with me.


    Yet, Jesus surprises us. His love is not like our love. His grace is not like our grace. His kindness is not like our kindness. Indeed, His ways are not like our ways (Isaiah 55). Thomas said he wouldn’t believe unless he saw Jesus. Jesus comes to Thomas and lets Thomas do more than see. He invites him to place his hands on Him, to touch, see, and believe. What grace! Thomas believes.


    Jesus then teaches that those who do not see are blessed for their belief. Jesus pronounces blessings on us. Blessed are we for not seeing and yet believing! What’s the blessing? Knowing Him now, but even more, one day we will see Him and one day we will know the gentle and kind embrace of Jesus. Blessed are we in our risen Savior!



  • September 4, 2020
                                                                                                         

    by JT Overby

     

    Read John 21

     

    We know from John 20 when Mary didn’t recognize Jesus, and from Luke 24 when the two disciples didn’t recognize Him, something mysterious is going on with the appearance of Jesus. We would have good reason to believe from Luke 24 when it says that their eyes were opened, that God in His sovereignty is doing something to the eyes of the disciples so that they are unable to see Jesus. What is the common theme in each of these occurrences?


    Jesus delights to reveal Himself to His people! In Luke 24, Jesus takes a walk with two disciples and opens up the Scriptures to them, showing them how the Christ must go through all He did in order to truly be the Savior. He breaks bread with them and their eyes are opened. In John 20, Mary is weeping, thinking that someone has stolen the body of her Lord. Jesus speaks to her and reveals Himself to her. Now in John 21, we see the disciples again do not recognize Jesus. Jesus delights to reveal Himself to them. He provides them a catch of fish, then prepares breakfast for them to eat with him.


    Christianity is belief in a God that delights to reveal Himself, that delights to communicate who He is to lost people. John 1 tells us that Jesus is the Word. Jesus then goes on mission to reveal who God truly is because no one has ever seen the Father. Jesus reveals Him to us. What grace!


    If we believe in a God who delights to reveal Himself to us, and we have come to see Him, how should we be seeking to reveal Jesus to those around us? Do we believe that Jesus delights to be revealed to them? May we go in power, boldness, and humility and reveal Jesus, the true God and Savior.



  • September 7, 2020

     

    by Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read Matthew 1


    As we begin our study of Matthew’s Gospel, it could be easy for us to scan chapter 1 very quickly. After all, Matthew begins with a long list of names (16 verses in all) tracing the lineage of Jesus from Abraham to David, then from David to Jesus. Reading a list of names can seem quite monotonous. But we must remember that all of  Scripture is inspired by God, and every verse recorded for us has an important meaning.  Therefore, what can we learn from this list of names?

     

    First and foremost, we are reminded once again that God is always faithful to keep His word. When God initiated His covenant with Abram (Abraham), God promised He would bless all nations through Abraham’s family. Furthermore, God promised He would provide a Savior from the family of David (Genesis 12:2-3; Isaiah 11:1). These 16 verses at the beginning of Matthew demonstrate that Jesus was the Son of Abraham, the Son of David. In the lineage of Jesus we see the fulfillment of God’s  covenant promise to Abraham.

     

    Whatever else we (or anyone else) may think of God, we should always remember He will be faithful to His word. True Christians can take comfort in this truth, and those who are opposed to God should tremble at God’s word.  If it is found in the pages of God’s written word, we can trust it at all times. “God is not man that He should lie,” (Numbers 23:19). “He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself,” (2 Timothy 2:13).


     

    Application:

    List 2 or 3 promises found in the Bible.  
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    How do these promises strengthen your faith in God?  
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    Prayer:

    Lord, I know Your promises are true. Help me to trust in You today.  Amen!



  • September 8, 2020

     

    by Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read Matthew 2

     

    Our reading for today records the visit of magi from the east coming to worship Jesus. When they arrived in Jerusalem they began to ask, “where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him, (vs. 3).”  Then we read in verse 4 the short statement, “Herod was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.”  Why was Herod troubled?

     

    As King of the land, Herod was very jealous of any and all rivals to his kingdom. History records numerous atrocities performed by Herod to protect his rule. Herod would go to any length to make sure his kingdom remained under his control. When the magi appeared asking for the “King of the Jews,” Herod was ready to take quick and decisive action.  That is why he demanded all infants two years old and younger be slaughtered. The possibility of another “King” sent Herod into a murderous stupor.

     

    As Pastor Craig has shared in numerous sermons, the message of the Gospel contains four specific truths: there is a Kingdom, the King is Jesus, Jesus was crucified, and Jesus was raised to life again.  This message calls us to repent of our sin, believe Jesus is God’s Son, and follow Him.  No other person, possession, or activity is to take the place of God in our Christian walk. “Hear, O Israel!  The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4).

     

    Application:

    List any areas in your life that may be potential “idols” taking precedence in your worship.  
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    What steps can you take to keep God as Lord of your life?  
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    Prayer:

    Lord Jesus, You alone, are Lord of my life. Lead me in Your paths today.  Amen! 



  • September 9, 2020

     

    by Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read Matthew 3

     

    When I listen to a sermon or a Bible study, I want to be able to understand the message of the speaker. I am sure you, like me, have heard sermons that were much too complicated to understand. As a result, we have difficulty making application of the message to our daily walk with God. 

     

    This certainly was not the case with the message preached by John. The more John preached, the larger his crowds became. “Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea, and all the district around the Jordan; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins,” (vss. 5-6). What was the message John proclaimed that drew such a response?

     

    John was very clear about the problem of sin and repentance. We are all separated from God by our sin, and John clearly taught that salvation was not possible without repentance. 

     

    John was also very clear about our Lord Jesus. He was quick to say One mightier than he was would be coming among them. This One who is to come is the one and only King. We need to hear this message clearly today. We need to be introduced to the person and work of Jesus. A life of faith is found not in church membership or attendance. We are not saved by the works we do or accomplish in life. Jesus, and Jesus alone, is the provider of mercy, grace, life, and peace.

     

    Application:

    What do you know and believe about Jesus?  
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    How has faith in Him made a difference in your life?  
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    Prayer:

    Almighty God, I come to You confessing my sin. I turn to You by faith in Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Amen!



  • September 10, 2020

     

    by Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read Matthew 4


    The first event recorded in Matthew following the baptism of Jesus is the temptation of Jesus. “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil,” (vs. 1). Several important truths are revealed to us in this event.

     

    1.  We learn that the devil is a real enemy. The devil is not even afraid to attack and tempt the Lord Jesus. Three times he seeks to get Jesus to sin. The devil brought sin into the world when he tempted Adam and Eve, and he continues to tempt and lead people into sin today. We must watch and pray daily against his attacks if we are to resist the devil.

     

    2.  We also learn that our best weapon against the temptations of the devil is the Bible. The psalmist wrote, “Thy word have a hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee,” (Psalm 119:11). With each of the three temptations issued to Jesus we find Jesus respond with the word, “it is written,” (vss. 4, 7, and 10). We will never fully resist the devil if we are not students of God’s Word.

     

    3.  We also learn the truth of Hebrews 2:18 that we have a Savior who can sympathize with us because “He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.”  With every temptation we encounter, we can turn to Jesus for strength. 

     

    Application:

    List areas in your life where you face regular temptation.  
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    List promises in God’s Word that help you resist the devil each day.  
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    Prayer:

    Lord Jesus, in my flesh I am weak. Teach me Thy Word that I might find strength in You. Amen!

     



  • September 11, 2020

     

    by Kevin Calhoun

     

    Read  Matthew 5

     

    I read a story the other day about a truck driver in Nebraska who stopped at a roadside diner for something to eat. As his food was brought to his table a group of bikers began to slap him around and make fun of him. They took his plate of food and threw it on the floor.  Then they told him to get out of their seat. The trucker quietly paid his bill and left without further conflict. After he left one of the bikers said, “He wasn’t much of a man.” The waitress replied, “He wasn’t much of a driver either. He just ran over 10 motorcycles in the parking lot.”

     

    Suppose for a moment that was a real news story.  We would probably applaud the truck driver. We would say he had a right to retaliate. He was just “getting even.” The problem is, most of the time we don’t want to simply get even. We want to get ahead. The phrase “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” appears to be a good motto. Sooner or later, however, we would all be blind and toothless.

     

    In our reading today Jesus calls us to a better response: turn the other cheek, give more than is required, and go the second mile. Rather than striking back with force, Jesus calls us to compassion and mercy. By doing so, we become a living testimony to God’s grace and mercy.

     

    Application:

    Describe a time you were hurt by someone and you responded through retaliation.  ________________________________________________________________


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    How did you feel afterward? How was your relationship with the person affected?  ________________________________________________________________


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    Prayer:

    Lord Jesus, as You have shown forgiveness and mercy to me, help me to show forgiveness and mercy to others.  Amen!

     


  • September 14, 2020

     

    by Craig Bowers

    Read Matthew 6

     

    What do you pray? Do you have a pattern? Should you? Our Lord presents the ideal pattern for praying in verses 9-14. This is not a prayer to be repeated in a mindless religious activity! Instead, Jesus gives us a pattern for all our prayers.

     

    Let’s walk through how this pattern can be fleshed out in your prayers:

     

    “Our Father.” You have a perfect, Heavenly Father. He is relational. He is your father as well as the Father of all OUR brothers and sisters in Christ.

     

    “Who art in heaven.” God reigns over all. He is sovereign and the sole authority in all creation.

     

    “Hallowed be thy name.” Our Father is perfect in His character. There is no impurity in Him. He is blameless. He makes no mistakes.

     

    “Thy Kingdom come.” Our Lord will establish His Kingdom on earth. I am a citizen of His Kingdom. He is the King of the Kingdom.

     

    “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Our Father’s will is carried out perfectly in heaven. May my life be surrendered fully to His will on earth. May my life be utterly yielded to Him.

     

    “Give us this day our daily bread.” Our King will take care of the needs of today. My trust in His provisions banishes worry.

     

    “And forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” Lord God, as a recipient of Your grace I am expected to exercise grace toward others.

     

    “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” The day will be filled with challenges, trials, and temptations. Lead me in the paths of righteousness. Help me to recognize the snares set by the enemy and have enough wisdom to avoid them.

     

    “For thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory, forever! Amen” Lord, You are over all and everything created is for Your glory. There is nothing impossible with You.

     

    Using this as a guide for your daily prayer enriches your time with the Lord and will keep your prayer life fresh.

     

    Application:

    Commit today to model your prayer after the model prayer of our Lord Jesus



  • September 15, 2020

     

    by Craig Bowers

     

    Read Matthew 7


    Discernment. It is a word that is often used in religious circles but rarely practiced. Jesus instructs us to be “fruit inspectors” in verses 15-20. That warning is followed by the eternal consequences of the failure of “many” to follow the instructions of the Lord. Let’s be careful to understand what Jesus is saying.

     

    Just prior to the red flag Jesus raises about false teachers, the Lord tells us that there are two ways, a narrow and a broad way. One leads to life and one to death. Then He says to be on the lookout for false teachers. He then moves the scene to the Day of Judgment when those who listen to false teachers will be told to leave the presence of God forever!

     

    The warning is vitally important. But few seem to exercise the discernment. What does that mean? It means people are not properly evaluating religious teachers. So, what is the litmus test? How do you discern “false prophets” from true prophets? The Lord gives us the answer: you know them by their fruits. That begs the question of what “fruit” are we to look for?

     

    First, the fruit of biblical agreement. Amazingly, people read books written by very popular “prophets” who do not agree with the Bible. Here’s a simple test: Do they think that there are many ways to heaven? Are they willing to take a stand and clearly articulate that no religious person will enter heaven unless they trust in Jesus Christ ALONE? Do they promote the works of social justice over God’s justice? Is the basis of their teaching the Bible or “messages” that tickle the ear, appeal to curiosity, or exalt self?

     

    Second, the fruit of those who bear fruit of a true prophet agrees with Jesus! They proclaim the exclusivity of salvation through Christ alone. True teachers of God’s word prioritize pleasing God over pleasing the audience or selling books.

     

    Third, fruit absolutely refers to lifestyle. One cannot separate the words of a teacher from their walk. How do you know if the teacher to whom you listen is living the life of righteousness? You must be able to observe them in life.

     

    Fourth, the fruit of false teachers is hell. “Many” will say to Christ Jesus on the Day of Judgment, “Did we not do the things that you asked us to do?” The final judgment will not be based on how carefully you followed the teachings of a religious person but rather how carefully you followed the teachings of Christ and His word! The fruit of Christ is life.

     

    Application:

    How do I evaluate the religious teachers in my life?



  • September 16, 2020

    by Craig Bowers

     

    Read Matthew  8

     

    “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” (Verse 26) Answer: The boat is about to capsize and we are going to drown! That’s a very real life and death situation. Most situations we face do not actually involve dying. Some do! Even in those cases, Jesus asks this very pointed question. So, how do we live a fear free life? Or maybe a better question is this: How do we live a faith filled life?

     

    Jesus draws a direct correlation between fear and faith! The greater the degree of fear, the lesser the degree of faith. The response we often have goes something like this: But you don’t know my circumstances! Jesus knew the circumstances of these men in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. They were about to die. Even in the face of death, Jesus questions why we would fear.

     

    As we face so many uncertainties in our day, many people are living in fear. As Christ followers we must ask the question: Does fear dominate my life? Am I worried about this or that? Am I kept up at night because of the uncertainties of life? Maybe the  uncertainties seem to be rather certain - shouldn’t I have the “right” to live in fear?

     

    Let’s lean in today to this truth: The deeper my faith in Christ, the lesser my fear in life. That’s it. Period. Kind of convicting, isn’t it!? God does not want us to focus on fear but on faith. So how do I develop a deeper faith?

     

    Focus. What dominates your thought life? If the storms and waves of life are your focus, then you are living in fear. If knowing and walking with God dominates your thought life, you are walking in faith. What is your focus? If you truly trust in God and His goodness, then you will know that only by His permission will the waves wash you overboard. If He decrees it, who can stop it. Not your worry! Trust Him even if you are washed overboard. Your safety is not the boat anyway; your safety is in Him. If you land in troubled sea, His arm is long enough to pull you out. He may or He may not. That’s up to Him. If He spares you, you will live. If not, you’ll be in His presence. So why fear!

     

    Remember. The disciples quickly forgot the power of Christ. They were witnesses of His miraculous power. Yet, they quickly forgot. Just like us. How quickly we forget His work. We must remember. That’s why Jesus instituted the “Lord’s Supper.” Remember His goodness and grace. Remember His salvation and love.

     

    Application:

    Focus is your choice. Choose wisely your focus today!

    Remember His mighty works today!



  • September 17, 2020

     

    by Craig Bowers

     

    Read Matthew 9

     

    Verses 12 and 13 are our focus for today. The religious people severely criticized Christ for eating with sinners and tax collectors. Think about this with me. How do you imagine people would respond if they saw a key religious teacher eating a meal at a public place with seriously immoral people. If we are honest, the response would not be overwhelmingly warm. Jesus shattered the norms of “religion.” He was perfect. He never compromised His holy standards. Yet, He loved people enough to get past their immorality so He could talk to them about the hunger of their hearts.

     

    The focus today is the desire of God. He desires compassion over religious sacrifice. He wants His followers to be compassionate people. What does that mean? It does NOT mean that we condone the immoral lifestyles of others! It does mean that we demonstrate love and grace to those who live in immorality. It means that we care enough about them to actually spend time with them! Jesus ate with the outcasts of society. He did not condone their sin. However, He did not condemn them either. He actually spoke more words of condemnation to the religious critics.

     

    We live in very challenging times. But Christ followers throughout history have faced tremendous pressure to conform. The calling of God is to avoid conforming, condoning, condemning, while demonstrating compassion. It is beyond the human capacity to do that. So we must continuously depend on the Holy Spirit and the grace of God in our lives.  

     

    Application:


    Am I more concerned about my religious activity or the demonstration of compassion to those who are different?  
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  • September 18, 2020

     

    by Craig Bowers

     

    Read Matthew 10

     

    What is the meaning of discipleship? Read verses 24-39 again with that question in mind. Jesus begins by teaching us that a servant is not above his Master. We are the servants and He is the Master. You know how Jesus was treated! Slandered, maligned, hated, envied, and murdered. We are not better than our King. Discipleship is understanding that it is an honor to be treated like our Master was treated.

     

    Disciples understand what happens in the temporal world from the prism of eternity. The worst people can do to you is kill you! But God is the one who regulates the scales of eternal justice. True disciples of Christ have a reverent fear of His all seeing eye, all hearing ear, and all knowing mind. Yet, we also know that He loves us with a limitless love. An eternal love. An inseparable love. We walk in the assurance of His love.

     

    Christ followers also understand that following Jesus comes with a high price. It may mean that family members will disassociate themselves from you. It also means friends will walk away from you. The cross divides people. Taking a stand on truth will incur the wrath of family, friend, and foe.

     

    Discipleship means putting Jesus above every relationship, every hobby, every desire, every ambition. Discipleship means your first loyalty is the Kingdom of God. Cultural Christianity in America is dead. Many cultural Christians have either walked away from the Bride of Christ or are walking away. Why? Because Jesus was an add-on to life. A benefit that helped business and reputation. That’s no longer true. True Disciples follow Jesus because He is the love of their lives.



  • September 21, 2020

     

    by JT Overby

     

    Read Matthew 11

     

    John the Baptist, the great prophet preparing the way for Yahweh is       struggling. He has been locked in prison for preaching out against Herod’s wickedness in taking his brother’s wife. Is this how it is supposed to go for the one preparing the way for God? Is this what ministry was to be like for him? John is confused. Is Jesus really the Christ? If so, why is John locked up in prison and not ministering alongside Jesus?


    Life is often confusing. Life in Christ is one where we certainly experience green pastures and still waters, but it is also one of walking through the    valley of the shadow. We often wonder why our Shepherd would lead us there. If He really is God, why do we face such struggles?


    We don’t always have answers to these questions, but we do know two things. One, God is near to us in our sorrows, just as He is with us in our joys. He is leading and guiding and there is no escaping His presence or His love. Two, we know He cares deeply for us because He Himself went through the darkness to save us to Himself. Jesus suffered. Jesus walked through the darkest valley for our sake. He certainly cares about what you are going through.


    So, He gives us an invitation. Are you weary? Are you tired? Are you weighed down by sin and temptation? Are you buckling under the darkness and pressures of life? Are you struggling to stand? Come to Jesus. Your burdens are exactly what He wants to relieve you of, they are exactly what qualifies you to come. Let Him put on you a yoke of kindness and gentleness. Let His love and nearness carry you along.

     



  • September 22, 2020

     

    by JT Overby

     

    Read Matthew 12

     

    We do our best to dress ourselves up. We dress a certain way, like to look a certain way, all to look like we’ve got it together. We especially like to do this spiritually. We hide the pains we feel, we hide the sins we struggle with, the addictions we suffer under, all with our best smiles. But our words, and ultimately our lives, reveal what is going on in the heart. What goes on in the heart will come out. How terrifying.


    Hebrews 4:11-13 is really a terrifying passage. In it we see that the word of God is living and active and gets down into the deepest places of the heart to discern our thoughts and intentions. Nothing is hidden from the view of God and we are laid naked and bare before Him. Terrifying. What hope do we have?


    Jesus comes to offer us something worth delighting in and treasuring above all else. He invites us to pick up our cross and die to self. He invites us to take our appearances, our passions, our desires, out of the treasure chest of our hearts, and instead allow his words, the gospel to be treasured. What happens when we treasure the gospel?


    We bear fruit of that gospel. When I treasure the love, kindness, gentleness, forbearance, steadfastness, long-suffering of Jesus Christ, I will be more loving, kind, gentle, patient, and steadfast! When I treasure who He is and what He has done for me, I will want to extend that same love towards others. What we treasure in our hearts will come out. Our works and our words reveal who we are most truly.


    Who are you? What are you treasuring? 
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  • September 23, 2020


    by JT Overby


    Read Matthew 13


    Since becoming a homeowner who is responsible for his yard, I’ve come to see why Jesus speaks so often in parables using themes like seeds, growth, thorns, and weeds. It requires zero effort on my part to have the best weeds in the neighborhood. It requires no effort for thorns and briars to grow up around my house. I’m a professional at growing weeds if I want to be that.


    So it is with sin. It requires no effort to sin. It is easy. It is natural. I’m a professional sinner. I have everything inside me to be the best sinner I can be and walk straight into death, and also destroy all my life and relationships around me. I can do it all on my own.


    We are given the choice to listen to two words. We will either listen to the lies of Satan and give ourselves over to sin, or we will listen to the word of God and there come to find life and salvation. Life is all about words and the words we listen to and give ourselves over to. What kind of soil does the word find in your heart?


    What do you see in your heart? Do you value pleasures of life and abhor any kind of suffering and struggles and do all you can to avoid hardship? Do you worry? Are you given over to anxieties and concerns of life? Are there pet sins in your life that you just can’t give up? This kind of soil destroys life.


    May we continually come in humble repentance before God who has the power to work in our hearts, and may we plead that He tills up our hearts that they may be good soil for the word! And may we give ourselves over to God’s word that by the power of the Spirit much fruit be produced! 



  • September 24, 2020


    by JT Overby


    Read Matthew 14

     

    The place where Jesus goes to pray and then feed the 5,000 is described as a desolate place. You have to imagine that is somewhat of a reflection of Jesus, in His humanity, after hearing of the death of John the Baptist. Jesus hears the news and goes to be alone and pray. After feeding the crowds, He withdraws again to be alone and pray. Two things happen around Jesus’ attempts to pray: the feeding and the walking on water.


    Jesus, in a desolate place, is rushed by needy crowds of people. They bring to Him their sick and broken, desperate for anything He can do. Jesus shows compassion on them. His very heart is towards them. He doesn’t give them a cold shoulder and ask for space. He feeds them. They are satisfied and fed to the point that there is an abundance of leftovers.


    In the second event, the disciples are struggling in the dark against the winds and waves. Jesus doesn’t give them a bit of grace and protection from afar. He could have easily spoken to the wind from a distance and provided relief for them. Rather, He comes to them. He walks on water to come and save them.


    These are but a shadow of what Jesus will do for His people in going to the cross. There He will allow His body to be given up that He might be the true bread of  heaven. There He will not walk on the water, escaping the darkness of sinful rebellion, but will allow the waters of evil to overtake Him, dying the death we deserved to die.


    Life is full of brokenness. We have countless reasons to come needy to God. All that we are is satisfied and healed in Jesus. May we come to Him and rest in Him as we experience the hungers of life, and experience the storms of this world.

     



  • September 25, 2020


    by JT Overby


    Read Matthew 15

     

    There is a version of religion and specifically Christianity that professes to know God and be in right relationship with Him, yet denies Him by their works. Paul in Titus 1 warns Titus of false teachers coming into the church who profess to know God with their lips, yet deny Him with their works. Paul tells Titus that it is faith and good doctrine that produces godliness. Because these false teachers teach false doctrine and aren’t exhibiting godliness, they show themselves to not be of the faith. Their mouths say one thing, but their works say another, and this is a reflection of the heart, Jesus says.


    Isaiah prophesies of people who honor God with their lips when their heart is actually far from Him. Jesus goes on to teach about what truly defiles a person. It isn’t what goes into one’s mouth that defiles a person, but rather what comes out of the mouth as that is a reflection of the heart.


    How do we come to then take more of Jesus into our hearts, delighting in Him all the more so that our lives will show our faith in Him? We must constantly take in and grow in right doctrine, the words of God. Do you delight in God’s word? Do you  meditate upon it day and night? Do you allow it to confront you? Do you allow it to encourage and embolden you? Do you submit yourself to God’s word or do you twist God’s word to submit to you, your desires, and your wants?


    When we behold the glorious King, our true God, our Lord and Savior in the word, we come to know and experience true life. That will overflow into our lives and reveal what is happening in our hearts. What does your life reveal about your heart?

     



  • September 28, 2020


    by Jonathan Norton


    Read Matthew 16


    When reading through this chapter again two parts of the text stood out to me. First, in verses 1-4 where the religious leaders tried to test Jesus by demanding a sign from heaven. The second passage that stood out was in verses 13-20 when we see the church mentioned for the first time in scripture. Let’s quickly examine both.

     

    In verses 1-4 we see the fourth time the religious leaders had asked for a sign (Matt. 12:38, John 2:18, John 6:30). Back when Jesus walked the earth, it was a religious world to say the least. There were Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, and lots of religious people who talked the religious talk. They met every Sabbath and they had a system of do’s and don’ts much like the legalists of today. But Jesus came to change the system! The Gospel of Jesus Christ system teaches that miracles do not convince  people of their sin, nor give them a desire for salvation (Luke 16, John 12, Acts 14). Rather, miracles only give confirmation where there is faith, but not where there is unbelief. As believers, we should spend less time looking for more signs of God, and more time telling others about the God who has already provided us with ample signs of His heaven.

     

    In Matthew 16:18, we see the word “church” appear for the first time in scripture. Remember, the Old Testament does not mention it. The church appears late in history and well into the ministry of Jesus. Notice who the church belongs to – “I will build my church” (v. 18). We must remember the church is not the work of a certain denomination, a seminary, a pastor, or group of church leaders. The church belongs to Jesus Christ and “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (v. 18). And rather than meeting with the recognized religious leaders of the day, Jesus gathered His own group of men together to build His church. He patented the church His way. It was His genius that started the church, and for these reasons we can be confident the church will survive. Nothing going on today can overpower it. As long as we await the Lord’s return, there will be the church. Amen!                



  • September 29, 2020


    by Jonathan Norton


    Read  Matthew 17

     

    There are three different events in this chapter that give us three different pictures of Jesus the King: 1.) The King in His Glory (vs. 1-13) where we see the Transfiguration as God’s way of teaching Peter that Jesus is glorified when we deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. 2.) The King in His Power (vs. 14-21) where we move from the mountain of glory to the valley of need, and 3.) The King in His Humility (vs. 22-27). Let’s take a closer look at number three, more specifically verses 24-27.

     

    When studying the miracle at the end of Matthew 17 there are many unique points to take note of.

     

    First, this miracle of Peter and the fish is only recorded by Matthew. It is interesting that Matthew, the former tax collector, wrote about this miracle to affirm the kingship of Jesus.

     

    Second, this is the only miracle that uses money. The money was to be a reminder to the Jews that they had been redeemed from slavery. We too have been redeemed by the blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19).

     

    Third, it is the only miracle using one fish. He had multiplied multiple fish before in Luke 5 and John 21, but this time He used only one fish. When we read this miracle it seems so simple, but it is far too complex to be an accident, and only a sovereign God who has dominion over all of creation could orchestrate something like this.

     

    Fourth, this miracle was performed for Peter. Jesus knew Peter’s need and He met that need. Jesus performed many miracles for Peter throughout the New Testament which is why Peter writes “Casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). God the Father had interrupted Peter on the mountain in verse 5 of this chapter, and now God the Son interrupted Peter in the house (v. 25). We should desire that Jesus interrupt our busy lives, so He can meet or needs for His glory.   

     

    Give thanks for the King of glory is still in the miracle business and He cares for you!



  • September 30, 2020


    by Jonathan Norton


    Read Matthew 18


    Unfortunately, today too many Christians are having a difficult time getting along with each other, just like the non-believers in the world we live in today. There seems to be division and dissention among believers over politics, how to respond to Covid-19, worship styles and education. We desperately need Matthew 18 to teach us the essentials for unity and harmony among God’s children. Those essentials are: Humility (vs. 1-14), Honesty (vs. 15-20) and Forgiveness (vs. 21-35).

     

    Take a close look at honesty in verses 15-20. What should we do when we feel like another Christian has sinned against us, caused us to stumble or hurt our feelings? We read in this passage to: Keep the Matter Private, Ask for Help from Other Believers and Ask the Church for Help if Needed.  

     

    When someone has wronged us, scripture teaches us to go to that person in private and be honest with them. Many times, your own attitude of love and restoration will help them repent and apologize. Remember, more than anything, you go to the person with the idea of winning a friend, not winning an argument. We must understand, it is possible to win the argument and lose your friend. Galatians 6:1 says, “If anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness”. We must lovingly seek to restore the relationship with the patience and tenderness that honors our Lord.

     

    When we read in this text to ask for help from others and the church, the message here is that when sin is not dealt with honestly and privately, it always spreads. It is critical that we surround ourselves with Godly people who can help us see things through a different lens. The word “gained” in verse 15 is what Paul was teaching in 1 Corinthians 9:19-22. Paul refers to winning the lost, but also winning the saved. We must strive for unity in the church and with our Christian friends if we want to win the lost souls of the world. We, the children of God, should be the model of how restore relationships through His love and for His glory - no matter what the circumstances are in the world.