The Coming One

Matthew 11:3
“Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?”

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The circumstances of life often cause us to question God. It is hard sometimes to reconcile what we are going through with who God is; compassionate and good. This happened to John the Baptist. From the words of Jesus, we know John was the greatest man to have ever lived. He was a man that preached the gospel to thousands, the man who pointed the way to Christ, and the man who baptized Christ, Himself. Yet, in our text, we read he was also the man who doubted. Laying in a prison cell, the cold, the dampness, the suffering, all seemed to squeeze his faith and cloud his vision of Christ.

The response of Jesus, to John’s question of doubt, gives us great insight into the solution when we are facing the same dilemma as John.

Matthew 11:4-5 “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: the blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.’”

In other words, Jesus answers John’s doubt by reminding him of who Jesus is and what He does. I think the solution in times of difficulty and doubt is to go to the Word and be reminded of all that Jesus is.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Chapter 11

  1. Why was John in prison?
  2. What would cause John to doubt that Jesus was the Messiah?
  3. What does Jesus give as proof that He is the promised Messiah?
  4. According to Jesus who is even greater than John the Baptist?
  5. Who does Jesus invite to come to Him?
  6. Take some time right now to give your burdens to Jesus.
  7. What are some verses that might help you today with your situation?
  8. Jesus spoke of taking His burden. His burden is the lost. Take His burden up by spending some time praying for your unsaved friends and family. Look for an open door this week to share Christ’s love with them.

Old Testament:
Genesis 21- The Battle Won
Genesis 22- Instead Of Me

The Twelve

Matthew 10:2-4
Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him.”

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These twelve ordinary men were chosen, empowered, and sent by Jesus into the world with the simple message of salvation. As a result, their lives have transformed the world.

John Foxe records the plight of many of them:

Phillip labored in Asia and was scourged, thrown into prison, and crucified.
Matthew served the Lord in North Africa and was speared to death.

Andrew served in Asia and was crucified.

Peter’s ministry, to some degree, is recorded in the book of Acts. He is said to have been crucified upside down.

Bartholomew spread the Gospel through India, and was beaten and crucified.

Thomas preached in India and was speared to death.

Simon the zealot is thought to have taken the Gospel to Britain, where he was crucified.

John lived to be an aged man. He faced great persecution, but is thought to have died a natural death.

Their brief time on planet earth forever changed the course of human history. D.L. Moody said, “the world is yet to see what God can do through a life completely surrendered to Him.” Oh, that we would follow the example of the twelve, and live lives committed to Christ.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Chapter 10

  1. Note that the word “disciple” means, “a learner and follower”
  2. Before Jesus sends out the 12, what does He give them?
  3. In vs. 7 they were to declare that the kingdom of God is at hand. What does the term “at hand” mean?
  4. Why do you think they were sent with so little?
  5. In verse 20, what promise is given to those who are facing persecution?
  6. The promise of persecution is not one that we look forward to being fulfilled in our lives. According to Jesus, why do we face persecution?
  7. What application can you make to your life from verse 32-33?
  8. How do the words of Jesus in verse 39 effect you today?

Old Testament:
Genesis 19- You’re Kidding
Genesis 20- Turning Around

Be Of Good Cheer

Matthew 9:2
Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.’”

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This chapter introduces us to a man who is facing one of life’s greatest challenges; that of a terrible physical disorder. Being a paralytic would mean he not only missed out on much of the experiences of life that we take for granted, but also, he would be totally dependant upon others. He was not even capable of getting to this home on his own.

I find it interesting and exciting that Jesus says to this man, “Be of good cheer.” With such a difficult trial, what could he possibly have to be happy about? Maybe you feel that way. Maybe the darkness of what you are facing is stealing away your joy. What could you possibly have to be happy about?

I pray these few statements from Jesus will help to restore your faith, hope, and joy this morning.

“ Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.”

Matthew 9:22 “But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, ‘ Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.’ And the woman was made well from that hour.”

Matthew 14:27 “But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘ Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.’”

Mark 10:49 “So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Then they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.’”

John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Take time to reflect today on Jesus the Savior, the Healer, the Protector, the Planner and the Peace Giver.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Chapter 9

  1. What does Jesus alone have power to do?
  2. Take time to “soak in” the fact that Christ has forgiven all your sins. How should we respond to that?
  3. Why did Jesus eat with tax collectors and sinners?
  4. What does He call them to do?
  5. New wine speaks of God doing a new thing. Perhaps God wants to do a new work in your life. Take time to seek Him for what he desires to do in and through you.
  6. What do you learn about Jesus from the four consecutive stories of healing?
  7. What does Jesus say about the harvest?
  8. Pray for God to raise up LABORERS for the harvest in your community.

Old Testament:
Genesis 17- Change
Genesis 18- Impossible

Why Are You Afraid?

Matthew 8:26
“Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?”

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Out on the Sea of Galilee, in the midst of a great tempest, we find the disciples fearing for their lives. When they cry out to Jesus for help, He responds with a question. “Why are you afraid?” Naturally, they had much reason to fear. The storm was great, many in the boat were unaccustomed to the sea and it’s ways, and fear has a way of spreading from one to another. To make matters worse, when they looked to Jesus, He seemed to not care about their plight. He was sleeping while they were suffering. It seems they had reason to fear. On the other hand, they had been traveling with Jesus. They lived through the chapter we just read. They saw Him cleanse the leper and heal the crowds. If they had only looked back at what Jesus had done, they would have had great comfort for what they were facing.

Perhaps this morning would be a good time to reflect on the works of God. Think through the pages of Scripture at His mighty deeds in the lives of others. Then think through your life and remember all the ways He has been faithful to you.

“Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?

Pastor Jim

Questions for Chapter 8

  1. Leprosy was an incurable, communicable disease. The law forbids anyone to touch a leper. What does Jesus do? What is the result?
  2. A centurion is a Roman soldier, not a Jew. What does Jesus say about His faith?
  3. How does Peter’s mother in law respond to what Jesus did for her? How can you serve Jesus?
  4. Summarize in just a few words what Jesus says about following Him in 8:18-22.
  5. What did the disciples do in 8:23?
  6. Where was Jesus during the storm?
  7. What was He doing?
  8. How does the whole city react to the healing of the demon possessed men?

Old Testament:
Genesis 15- Agents Of Shield
Genesis 16- God Who Sees

Removing The Speck

Matthew 7:5
Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

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Often, when we know of a Christian friend who is stumbling in their walk with Jesus, we are not sure what to do. They may have gotten involved in an ungodly activity or into a bad relationship, or simply stopped investing into their relationship with Christ. We want to help, but at the same time we fear that saying something will be construed as “judging them.” Jesus gives us, in this passage, a keen insight into how to deal with one another in the body. When you see something amiss in my relationship with Christ, the first place you should look is inward. Is there anything out of place in your relationship with Christ? What you find must be removed. The Biblical way of dealing with personal sin is found in 1John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive . . . and to cleanse…” Once you have “removed the plank,” it is time to look outward to see how you can help me “remove the speck.”

Too often, we neglect helping one another out of fear of judging them. It is important to remember, the Bible exhorts us to do all we can to help one another make it to the end of the race, where we will be welcomed by the loving arms of Jesus.

Galatians 6:1
“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”

Galatians 6:2
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

Hebrews 12:12
Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, . . .”
Let’s go out today seeking to do all we can to help one another reach the end of our faith and the salvation of our souls.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Chapter 7

  1. What does Jesus tell us to do with the plank in our eye?
  2. How will that help us help others?
  3. Is there anything in your life that needs to come out? Take some time right now to confess it to God and ask His help to remove it.
  4. “Ask, seek knock” Jesus is teaching the need for persistence in prayer. Is there anyone who you have given up praying for? Start again today and be consistent, heaven is filled with people who made decisions for Christ in their final years, days even hours.
  5. To understand the “Narrow Way,” look up John 14:6 and John 1:12.
  6. Who does Jesus warn us against?
  7. In the final verses of chapter 7, what does the rock represent?
  8. How can you build your life on the rock?


Old Testament:

Genesis 13- Moving Forward
Genesis 14- Meeting Melchizedek

Treasures In Heaven

Matthew 6:21
” For Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

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The longer I live, the more I have come to realize, so much in life is passing. Things I once coveted and had to have, are bundled up and given to the Salvation Army. That “new car smell” has been replaced with “what’s that smell?” Even relationships that were once so close, have grown distant. The words of Christ shout a deafening cry,

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

Matthew, Chapter 6, not only exhorts us to lay up heavenly treasures, it also sheds light on the spiritual activities that will help us do it. We are told to give, pray, fast and let go.

One of the great struggles we face is how to live for eternity, while living in time. We know, while God could cause manna to appear on our front lawn every morning, He has chosen to call us to “till the ground.” In other words, we all have to work for a living. We need the tangibles like cash, food, housing, etc. How do we balance living here with storing up treasures in heaven. I think one of the keys is found in Verse 33.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

When we decide to no longer worry, to no longer be consumed with the things of this life, and instead, put our full confidence in Jehovah, as our provider, we will be able to put Him first. When that happens, we will see  He is, in fact, able to meet our every need.

Today, whether you go to work, school, or stay at home, put Jesus in first place. Seek to please Him with every step, and watch as He uses the details of your day as opportunities to store up treasures in heaven.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Chapter 6
Chapter 6 deals with spiritual exercise or activities that each Christian should be involved in. We are taught the proper way to give, pray and fast. The word “charitable” means mercy that causes us to give.

  1. Contrast the way the hypocrite gives with the way we should give.
  2. How does God respond to proper giving?
  3. In verse 6 Jesus is speaking regarding our private prayer life. How should we prayer? How does God promise to respond?
  4. What warnings does Jesus give about prayer? “Do not…”
  5. The “Lord’s Prayer” is designed to be an example. What does it teach about praying?
  6. What is “Fasting?”
  7. Choose something to fast from this week, i.e. lunches, dinners, T.V. or even Facebook and use that time for prayer and worship. Choose a friend to fast with and encourage one another.
  8. What can you do this week to store up treasures in heaven?
  9. Matthew 6:25-34 contains some of the most practical and valuable teaching in the whole Bible. What does Jesus teach that will serve as the antidote to anxiety?

Old Testament
Genesis 11- United
Genesis 12- Famine In The Land

Sermon On The Mount

Matthew 5:1-2
And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: . . .”

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Matthew 5-7 contain one continuous message that Jesus preached to His followers on a hillside overlooking the Sea of Galilee. Although it is called a sea, it is actually a lake. The Greek word for sea and lake are the same word.

Verse 1 gives us the setting in which this sermon was given. We read, “seeing the multitude, He went up…” This great message on Christian ethics and Christian living was motivated by seeing the multitude. The word “multitude” simply means a large group of people. It is used in the Gospels to speak of the great number of people who, while being drawn to Jesus, had not yet received Him. The multitude illustrates for us the unbelieving world. The Bible teaches us how Jesus feels about the unbeliever. He loves them so much He bled and died for them. So, here we find Jesus wanting to save the lost; wanting to reach the multitude, and as a result, He departs from them to spend time with His disciples. A disciple is one who has received Christ and is following Him.

You see, the method Jesus uses to reach a lost world, is through the lives of His followers. The more time we spend with Him, and the more we become the Christian of the sermon on the mount, the greater influence we will have upon the world, for Christ.

As you read Matthew 5-7 pray and apply the Scriptures to your daily living and let’s see God use you to reach the world for the kingdom of heaven.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Chapter 5
Chapters 5 – 7 record a message given by Jesus to His followers explaining how Christians should live, it is most commonly referred to as “The Sermon on the Mount”
The word, blessed, means happy.

  1. According to Jesus, where will we find true happiness?
  2. Why does Jesus compare His followers to salt?
  3. Why light?
  4. How can you apply verse 16 today?
  5. In verse 18, what promise does Jesus give regarding His Word?
  6. Is there anyone who you need to reconcile with today? How can you humbly seek to repair the broken relationship?
  7. Is your eye causing you to sin? What things do you need to change to help you not look at what you shouldn’t? Find someone you can be accountable to, let them know what you are struggling with so they can pray with you.
  8. Since marriage is so sacred to Jesus, how can you work on yours?
  9. What does Jesus mean by “turn the other cheek”?
  10. How does loving your enemies set a Christian apart from the unbeliever? Who are you having a hard time loving? How can you apply this verse to you situation.

Old Testament
Genesis 9- Cover It Up
Genesis 10- Babel

Fight

Matthew 4:1
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”

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People seem to be fascinated with fighting. I can remember being in Jr. High School and hearing the word “FIGHT” resonate across the playground. All activities stopped and the whole student body ran in an attempt to get a front row seat to view the scene. Things have not changed; people gather to watch boxing matches, UFC events and even hockey games, all for the thrill of the fight.

Here in Matthew 4 we have a fight for the ages. It is the greatest of fights because it is between the greatest of opponents; the devil and Jesus. It reflects the fight we all face. I notice in this epic battle a few key elements that will help us as we seek to overcome the temptations the devil throws our way.

First, notice how the devil works. Jesus is hungry and weary, and tempted with food. The devil will always attack where we are weakest. We simply need to understand that. When we do, we can build defenses like accountability, to help withstand those attacks.

Second, notice how Jesus responds to the temptation. He quotes the WORD. Daily Bible reading will give you fresh ammunition to counter-attack the devil’s temptations. I am still amazed how, what might seem like an obscure passage while I am reading it, has tremendous impact on my life throughout the day. Keep in the WORD and you will always be prepared for battle.

Third, Jesus understood we cannot put ourselves in a compromising position and expect to come out victorious. It seems to me, when we fail in our walk with the Lord, it is because we were in a place we should not have been. Get off the pinnacle of the Temple! Do not tempt the Lord by putting yourself in a place where all you can expect is failure.

Let’s keep ourselves in the WORD, and our eyes on Jesus, as we press toward the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Chapter 4

  1. How did Jesus get into the wilderness?
  2. What do you notice about the things Satan used to tempt Jesus?
  3. What did Jesus use in His response to each of the temptations He faced?
  4. How will knowing God’s Word help you overcome temptation?
  5. What was promised to those who lived in darkness?
  6. What was the message that Jesus began to preach?
  7. What promise does Jesus give the fishermen if they will follow Him?
  8. How did the fishermen respond to the invitation of Jesus?

Old Testament
Genesis 7- Obedience
Genesis 8- Dark Times

Baptism

Matthew 3:15
“Jesus answered and said to John, ‘Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’”

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The baptism of Jesus was a critical event in His life and ministry. It becomes a great illustration for us, of Christian living and service. First off, note that Jesus was baptized to fulfill righteousness. Water baptism is a picture of a spiritual baptism, which happens the moment a person believes in Christ.

Paul wrote, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…”  1Corinthians 12:13

While water baptism is not a requirement for salvation, it is a requirement for obedience. We are commanded, upon receiving Christ, to make it public with baptism. Jesus, to illustrate the value of this public declaration, submitted Himself to the rite of baptism. Second, note what happened upon His baptism; the Holy Spirit descended upon Him. This is a picture of a second baptism that the Bible speaks of; not when we are submerged in water, but in the Holy Spirit. I find it of the highest importance, that before Jesus began public ministry, He was baptized with the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised, any who asked would receive the Holy Spirit, and along with the outpouring of the Spirit, would be power to walk with Christ. Take time right now to ask God to baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and empower you to live for Christ and serve Him. Finally, note that Jesus heard the voice of God. One thing abundantly clear in Scripture is that God honors obedience. I believe whenever we take steps of obedience in our lives, we will hear the voice of God clearer. Whatever He is asking of you, do it, and His voice will become louder and clearer to you.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Chapter 3

  1. What message did John give to the people?
  2. What was the purpose of John’s ministry?
  3. In what way should our lives be like that of John the Baptist?
  4. When the people were baptized what did they confess?
  5. Are there any sins you need to confess this morning?
  6. What baptism does John promise Jesus will bring?
  7. Ask Jesus to baptize you this morning with the Holy Spirit.
  8. Have you been baptized in water? If not, contact the church about the next baptism.

Old Testament:
Genesis 5- Likeness
Genesis 6- Finding Grace

Worshipping Jesus

Matthew 2:2
“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

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Those ancient travelers who went in search of the Child Jesus, form a valuable illustration of true worship. Their worship included at least five ideas we would do well to imitate.

First, their worship was Spirit led; we read they followed “His star”. These men, who spent their time observing the heavens, were amazed that a star, which had not existed before, appeared in the sky and directed them to Jerusalem.

Second, their worship was Biblically founded. The leading of the Spirit brought them to Jerusalem. Once there, they searched the Scriptures to find the Child. Jesus said, those who worship Him must worship in “spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-240). If we want our worship to be well pleasing, we must search the Scriptures to find out who God really is, and what He desires from us.

Third, they worshipped with “exceedingly great joy.” In other words, their worship was a celebration. We all vary in personality: some are quiet, others quite loud. When we are not trying to mimick someone else in worship, there is an element where we are celebrating. What could be more amazing than God sending His Son into the world to save sinners?

Fourth, their worship included giving. They took of what they had and offered it to Jesus. When we see the value of Jesus, we are willing to give our valuables to Him. Perhaps it is time to give your time, talent and treasures to the Lord.

Finally, they were changed by their worship. We are told they departed another way. The way they came was not the way they left. These men who had been star gazers were now witnesses of Christ.

Let’s take some time today to worship Jesus in Spirit and in truth.

Pastor Jim

Matthew Chapter 2- Questions 

  1. Why did the wise men come?
  2. What was the source of authority for the chief priests and scribes when trying to determine the identity of the Messiah?
  3. What did the wise men do when they met Jesus?
  4. What lessons can we learn the reaction of the wise men to meeting Jesus?
  5. Jesus was born in Bethlehem but grew up where?
  6. Why does Matthew continue to quote from the Old Testament?

Old Testament:
Genesis 3- The Cunning Beast
Genesis 4- Offering