Matthew 7.7-12 – August 3, 2020

Matthew 7:7–12

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
 (Matthew 7:7–12 , NIV)

Ask.

Seek.

Knock.

Thought Questions:

In what ways do we hear these instructions and think: surely it is not as easy as that? In what ways is it NOT as easy as that?

Think of the best gift you have ever received. Now, knowing those good gifts, how well do you understand that God gives even better gifts to his children? Why do we at times assume God is not a giver of good gifts, but someone who wants us to fail?

How do you want to be treated by others? How can you treat others in the same ways today?

Matthew 7.24-29 – June 13, 2020

Matthew 7:24–29

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” 

28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.  (Matthew 7:24–29, NIV)

Sing along! The wise man built his house upon the rock…

Thought Questions:

At what point do you become knowledgable enough to live out the words of God you have learned? In what ways do we sometimes want to know more before we begin to do more? Why do you think this is our tendency?

What challenges–rain, winds, storms–have you faced in your life and how has God proven to be your foundation?

How have you worked on building your foundation today?

Matthew 12.9-14 – June 5, 2020

Matthew 12:9–14

Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10 and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”
11 He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.
 (Matthew 12:9–14, NIV)

After a while you begin to see a pattern: Jesus breaks the “rules” set up to maintain holiness (i.e., the Sabbath laws), to act towards others in. … holiness.

Thought Questions:

How do you think the man with the shriveled hand felt being a pawn for the Pharisees’ trap? How do the Pharisee’s actions serve to further humiliate this man who was already seen as “not worthy of the Lord’s honor?” [Individuals who suffered from some disability would have been considered inferior not just in day-to-day life, but also accursed by God or at the very least, outside of God’s favor.]

Why is it too often so easy for people to value stuff and rules above human lives?

What good things can you do for someone in need or who has been rejected regardless of the perception or expectations of others?

John 3.16 – May 3, 2020

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16, NIV)

“It tells you that he dies for everyone including you. If you believe in him that you will not perish but have eternal life. Only if you believe.”

 

Thought Questions:

What or who do you love more than anything else? What are willing to give for this object or person?

What is the most valuable thing you have had to give or sacrifice? How does this compare to giving your one and only son?

How does belief in Jesus give you eternal life?

Matthew 5.1-12 – May 2, 2020

Matthew 5:1–12

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. 

He said: 

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted. 

Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth. 

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled. 

Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy. 

Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God. 

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God. 

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:1–12, NIV)

Thought Questions:

What type of people do we or people we know typically think of when we say: They sure have been blessed? How do the lives of these people compare to what we read here?

Why do we have difficulty assuming the poor or those who mourn should be considered blessed?

Think of a time when you found yourself as one of these people Jesus describes? How would you say you received experienced blessing in those circumstances?

How can you live a life that recognizes and supports these attributes as important and worthy of blessing?

Matthew 20.1-16 – April 26, 2020

Matthew 20:1–16

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
“About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.
“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’
“ ‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.
“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’
“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’
“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’
13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
 (Matthew 20:1–16, NIV)

Where do you want to be ranked? First or last?

Thought Questions:

How much would you have assumed the first workers would have been paid in comparison to the last? Why does this seem like the most logical pay scale?

Why are we so focused on what we consider “fair?” Do we have a similar emphasis on fairness for others?

In what ways are you thankful for God’s generous gift to you?

Matthew 5.14-16 – April 24, 2020

Matthew 5:14–16

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14–16, NIV)

If you have something “shiny” that needs to be shared, why would you hide it?

Thought Questions:

Think about a time you have been somewhere traveling and seen a city in the far distance. How far was that city and how amazing is it you can see those lights that far away?

Why is the message you have so important for others to hear?

Why do our good deeds help others glorify our Father in heaven?

What specific deeds can we do that helps others see our Father? Share those things with others by clicking on “Leave a Comment” below…

Matthew 25.31-45 – April 18, 2020

Matthew 25:31-45

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’” (Matthew 25:45, NIV)

“Our biology works everything toward self preservation / gratification. This passage has really been one of my favorites as it reminds us that God has woven us into a great tapestry of his plan. Even when we have weak times, the ties to others in our family holds us tight and our strand is the only one capable of strengthening the life strands of other who are not finding their place in the tapestries of Gods plan. You are only able to touch the strands that you are able to cross but God has woven a great number of other strands to pull their strands close also. So never miss a chance to put out a hand, lend an ear, give some time. And No strand you touch was not supposed to be in tapestry somehow God is an amazing weaver!”

Thought Questions:

If you read all of Matthew 25.31-46, you discover that those who served “the least of these” are the ones commended. How often do you look at your small acts of kindness as service to God versus just something nice you did for someone else? How can we understand this as service to God more?

Why do people have a hard time understanding that our service does not have to be “big” in order for it to matter? Why do people assume any service we do does not matter as much as the service of someone we deem “more important?”

Even in a time of social distancing and stay at home orders, how can you show small acts of service to others, even the least of these?

Matthew 3.1-2 – April 14, 2020

Matthew 3:1–2

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matthew 3:1–2, NIV)

It is interesting that the message of John is the same that Jesus would proclaim when he began to preach: The Kingdom is near!

Thought Questions:

How important was it for John the Baptist to precede Jesus with the message that the Kingdom was near?

What does it mean to repent? What does it look like for someone to repent?

How does the message of God’s kingdom being near bring you comfort and peace? In what ways does this change the way you live your life?

Matthew 6.19-24 – April 1, 2020

Matthew 6:19–24

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
 (Matthew 6:19–24, NIV)

Recognition. Prestige. Accolades. All things money might bring us. What is does NOT bring us, however, is the treasure of heaven.

Thought Questions:

If we “Can’t take it with us,” why do you think people spend as much time and effort as they do trying to gain wealth and possessions?

Someone once said that our calendars and checkbooks tell us our priorities. Where are, in the words of Matthew, your treasures? Where is your heart?

What are ways you can be focused on serving God more than your money or possessions?