Thursday
Jan282016

An open invitation

Explore the Bible
February 14, 2015

Julie Beavers
Pine Bluff

Matthew 11:20-30

Matthew 11:20-30 is so full of Jesus – what Jesus does, who Jesus is and what Jesus wants for all of us.
In the first few verses of this passage, Jesus rebukes the people in several cities for not repenting. John the Baptist had proclaimed to these people who Jesus was. Jesus had performed miracles among them, and they were glad He did. They listened to all He said, yet they remained hard-hearted and stubborn and refused to make a change in their lives.

In Matthew 11:25-27, we see Jesus revealed. Jesus addresses God as Father, showing an intimate and personal relationship between them (Matt. 11:25). He also refers to God as a sovereign Lord, as “Lord of heaven and earth” (Matt. 11:25). And then, in Matthew 11:27, Jesus tells us who He is. If there had been any question among the people before, it was now answered.

Jesus tells us that only He truly knows God (the Father) and only the Father knows Him (the Son). Jesus came down to earth to reveal the Father. All the miracles, the teaching, the conversations were to reveal God to us.

In part of chapter 11, Jesus had told the people of the judgment that would come to them then they didn’t repent.

Here in Matthew 11:27-30, we see Him tell them how to accept His offer of forgiveness and not be judged, but rather find spiritual rest with Him. Verse 28 looks different to us now. The people of Jesus’ day were burdened with having to live by the law. Everything they did was held to that scrutiny.

In Matthew 11:28, Jesus says, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Jesus is saying, “Come to Me. I can take that burden from you. You don’t have to live by the law any longer!”
So many people turned from Him and didn’t accept His free gift, but oh, those that did – they found themselves with a lighter burden and spiritual rest!

Thursday
Jan282016

Distinct in my relationships

Bible Studies for Life
February 14, 2015

Daniel Johnson
Dover

Matthew 5:27-32

“I do.” Two of the most powerful words spoken in someone’s lifetime. With them, a person is bonded to a spouse in a covenant relationship. Better or worse – from then on, the circumstances don’t matter. The couple has vowed to love, honor and cherish each another.

One of the greatest gifts God has given to man is the companionship found in the marriage relationship.
“It is not good for the man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18) so God created woman, and out of the union of a married couple, a family is formed.

The security and nurture provided in this covenant relationship allow for the healthy development of another of God’s blessings: children.

Sadly, today’s culture denies the essence of marriage. By not understanding the God-designed dynamics of marriage, families do not flourish. The differences between husband and wife are not valued, and the picture of Christ and the Church found in the marriage relationship is lost. We treat the permanent as disposable, missing the grace and faithfulness of marriage. Modern culture ignores the clearly defined marital roles, and even the union of man and woman is “redefined.” Monogamy becomes optional as society abuses the sacred origin of marriage in the name of false freedom and love.

It is not to be so for believers. Christians know the marital commands of God, such as those found in Matthew 5:27-32. Christians know what love is. They have the Holy Spirit at work in them. Believers face the same challenges as unbelievers in marriage; but they are to deal with these challenges differently. When there is disagreement, Christian men love their wives as Christ loved the church and Christian women submit to their husbands as to the Lord (Eph. 5:22-33). When there is conflict, Christian spouses reconcile. When difficult times come, Christian spouses support each other.

Marriage is a beautiful, God-given gift created to be a blessing, but for this gift to be all God intends, His commands must be honored.

Thursday
Jan282016

In His service

Explore the Bible
February 7, 2015

Julie Beavers
Pine Bluff

Matthew 9:35-10:8

If you’ve been a Christian and a member of a church for any length of time, your zeal to talk of spiritual things with people you encounter has probably waned a bit. Once we find out about spiritual gifts and realize that mercy and administration are gifts, we might decide that telling others about the saving grace of Jesus is someone else’s job, someone with the gift of evangelism, prophecy or teaching perhaps. But surely not everyone is supposed to tell people about Jesus.

In Matthew 9:35-10:8, we read that Jesus tells us a very different truth.

In Matthew 9:37-38, He says, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few,” and then He urges His disciples to pray for the Lord to send workers into the harvest. This is a prayer we are still praying and urging other people to pray even today.

Matthew 10:5-6 says, “Jesus sent out these 12 after giving them instructions: ‘Don’t take the road leading to other nations, and don’t enter any Samaritan town. Instead, go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Reading verse 5, we see that Jesus sent out all of His disciples, not just those who were comfortable speaking, but everyone. He didn’t just send the youngest of the disciples, He sent them all. He didn’t just choose the unmarried ones. He didn’t just choose the healthiest or the smartest. He sent them all. Matthew 10:5 is a convicting verse – it doesn’t let any of us off the hook. We are all to tell others of Jesus, whether you’re retired, a mother of preschoolers, a college student or a father that works too many hours. Jesus has called on you to tell others about Him.

Jesus has great compassion on the people in Matthew 9:35-10:8. He sees them as weary, broken and worn out not just by daily life, but also by having to live under the religious law. He refers to them as lost sheep and He knows He is the Shepherd they need.

If you know Him as the Shepherd, it is your job to tell others.

Thursday
Jan282016

Distinct in approaching conflict

Bible Studies for Life
February 7, 2015

Daniel Johnson
Dover

Matthew 5:21-26

Two friends end a friendship over a disagreement; a married couple sleeps in separate beds after a fight. Conflict disrupts the harmony of human relationships, and unresolved anger is the cause. Anger is an easy emotion to justify as it rises out of hurt. Hurtful words or unjust treatment cause an upsurge of emotion and cause the offended to feel an equally hurtful or unjust response is warranted. These feelings can quickly lead to a sinful response and a further damaged relationship.

In a fallen world, conflict is a fact of life. Personalities cause conflict; opinions cause conflict; competing needs cause conflict. And ultimately, the root of unhealthy conflict is selfishness. When conflict is caused by selfishness, offenses are ripe to be taken, and they interrupt the love Christians are supposed to have for one another. That love is replaced by anger.

The Lord calls His followers to deal with anger through reconciliation. Often the temptation is to let the conflict simmer and hold out for the other person to make amends, but that is not the command found in Matthew 5:21-26. In conflict, Christians aren’t to posture and pressure. Christians are to pursue peace. Christians are people of love, which is the opposite of selfishness. Where selfishness separates, love reconciles. Reconciling relationships is so important that Christ commands that before a believer makes an offering to the Lord, he is to reconcile any relationship that is estranged (Matt. 5:23-24). If there is any offense he has caused to another, he is to seek out the offended and do his part to right the wrong. As the giving of offerings is a regular activity for Christians, so too should be the pursuit of peace.

Regrettably, in some conflicts, the other party may refuse to play his role in peacemaking. In such cases, as much as it depends on them, believers are to live at peace with others (Rom. 12:18). The Christian extends the olive branch and rights any wrongs as much as the other person will allow. Christians are to be marked not by anger, but by peacemaking.

Thursday
Jan142016

Faith demonstrated

Explore the Bible
January 31, 2015

Sherrill Moffett
Pocahontas

Matthew 8:5-13

Everybody must respond to Jesus. Everybody must figure out what to “do” with Jesus.

During the ministry of Jesus, the responses were as varied as the people He encountered. Some, like the man with leprosy in Matthew 8:1-4, chose to believe and trust. Some, like the Pharisees and other religious leaders, chose to reject.

In Matthew 8:5-13, we see the faith of a centurion who chose to trust Jesus.  

The centurion would have been considered “unclean” and a part of the Roman rule over the Jews and certainly not part of the family of Abraham. Just the fact that Jesus welcomed the centurion, engaged with him and ministered to him, tells us that faith is something that is open to all people. God’s kingdom has very large doors! Any person can enter into His kingdom, regardless of what their race, background, abilities or inabilities are.

The faithful centurion tells us that faith is open to all and that it is risky. This man took certain risks to be near Jesus. He put his reputation, and even career, on the line in order to ask Jesus for help. He
broke social protocol. He came to Jesus in need. He had faith despite the risks.

Faith is not only risky, but also it is humbling. We see in Matthew 8:9 that the centurion had a certain amount of power and authority himself. Yet, he came with no expectation of Jesus helping him. He had a simple faith that was humbling.

Faith is multiplied and used by God. It was the power of God and not the sheer force of the centurion’s will that brought healing. Yet, the faith of the centurion was certainly multiplied and used in God’s kingdom. In a twist of narrative, the faith of the “unclean” centurion was found to be greater than many of Israel. While the religious leaders of the day scoffed at the work of Jesus, the “unclean” centurion professed simple faith in the Messiah.