The Parable of the Sower

Reading Time: 8 Minutes If you’ve been reading the Gospel of Matthew, you may have wonderedhow the religious authorities could have been so blind. Jesus spokewords that have been quoted for centuries with his famous Sermon onthe Mount message, but they seemed to be completely unresponsive tothem. He healed people all over the northern reaches […]

Living Within The Story

Reading Time: 5 Minutes As we’ve done before, let’s put ourselves in the scene of Matthew 12. The chapter has been full of opinions, evaluations and judgment. Let’s imagine that we followed Jesus through every event of this chapter, beginning with his argument with the religious leaders over what was acceptable on the Sabbath (Matthew […]

A Failed Generation

Reading Time: 8 Minutes If you’ve been reading Matthew 12, you will have noticed some astounding claims that Jesus made for himself. He claimed to be: — Greater than the Temple (verse 6) — Lord of the Sabbath (verse 8) — Someone who acts by the power of the Spirit (verse 28) — Someone whose […]

Our Heart and Our Mouth

Reading Time: 7 Minutes I don’t know about you, but some of my deepest grief, disappointment, embarrassment and hurt has come from words that should never have left my mouth. Jesus identifies the problem of wrongly spoken words in the Bible passage for today’s article. He said, “Either make the tree good and its fruit […]

Blasphemy!

Reading Time: 8 Minutes The followers of Jesus never get tired of miracles. This is true today and was true when Matthew recorded the healing of a blind and mute man: “Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. […]

A Model for Living

Reading Time: 8 Minutes The book, “Imitation of Christ,” by Thomas a’Kempis has been influencing Christians for over 500 years. What if someone attempted to imitate Jesus Christ in thought, word and deed? A’Kempis answered that question in a compelling book that has been read and re-read by thousands over the years. In 1896 Charles […]

Gentleness Revealed

Reading Time: 8 Minutes Jesus invites us to come to him, knowing that he is gentle and humble in heart. We remember his invitation to come to him and his “gentle and humble in heart” nature (Matthew 11.28-29). Jesus revealed the true nature of his gentleness as he entered the synagogue in Capernaum. This experience […]

The Question of Authority

Reading Time: 8 Minutes Once again, I want to remind us why we are studying the Gospel of Matthew. We are slowly working our way through Matthew to learn more about Jesus, his message and behavior. The goal of the study is to align our lives everyday with his way of life. I think the […]

Which Side Are You On?

Reading Time: 7 Minutes The majority of Jesus’ ministry took place in Galilee, the northern part of Israel. They were privileged to hear his famous Sermon on the Mount. Many of them were eyewitnesses to his healing power. Imagine the kind of talk that a healed leper or a blind man would generate. In spite […]

Expectations Versus Surrender

Reading Time: 6 Minutes So far in this chapter, we have heard about John the Baptist’s questions about the nature of Jesus’ mission. We’ve also taken a look at Jesus’ evaluation of John. In this section the crowd weighs in with their opinion. Jesus uses the term, “this generation,” to describe the popular response to […]

Whose Opinion Matters?

Reading Time: 7 Minutes The first section of this chapter in Matthew’s Gospel deals with John the Baptist’s questions about Jesus. This section deals with Jesus’ evaluation of John’s importance to the world. Matthew remembered Jesus asking three rhetorical questions about John. He wrote, “As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds […]

Jesus Answers Our Doubts

Reading Time: 8 Minutes Today, let’s first look at what John the Baptist wanted to know from Jesus. Then, we will ask how doubt may arise in our lives and what Jesus does for doubters. Matthew 11.1-6 – When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach […]

The Law of Life

Reading Time: 6 Minutes One of the things I have learned as a preacher is to know the needs of my audience and to address those needs. If my audience were in a country where there was intense religious persecution, I would focus on certain verses of the passage for today. Since we live in […]

Fear Not!

Reading Time: 7 Minutes According to http://www.Biblegateway.com there are 193 references to “fear not” in the Bible. I haven’t taken time to read each of the references today, but I have a good enough general knowledge of the Bible to know that it is a frequent message from God to his people. Often, the “fear […]

The Opportunity of a Lifetime

Reading Time: 6 Minutes For as long as I can remember I have made it a practice to read a chapter from one of the Gospels on a daily basis. One day, when reading today’s Bible passage, a phrase seemed to jump off the page. When I read, “It is enough for the disciple to […]

Conflict Will Come

Reading Time: 8 Minutes As we read further into the Gospel of Matthew, we see increasing conflict between the religious authorities and Jesus. We learn in today’s passage that conflict will also happen to Jesus’ followers. If we lived in North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, or Libya, I would write this article from a different point […]

Agents of the Kingdom

Reading Time: 8 Minutes The close followers of Jesus have been in the classroom, learning from him. They have heard his teaching and seen his miracles. Matthew describes the the next phase of their education. He writes, “And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them […]

Following Jesus

Reading Time: 7 Minutes Whether it looks like it or not, God has been and is at work in the world. He gives people like you and me the great opportunity of working with him. He reaches out to us and says, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of people” (Matthew 4.19). The […]

Jesus’ Reputation as a Healer

Reading Time: 6 Minutes The next two episodes of healing conclude a long section of accounts of healing in Matthew’s Gospel. The first instance of healing involved two blind men. Matthew 9.27-31 – And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” 28 […]

Stories of Healing

Reading Time: 8 Minutes The other night, a friend told a small group of how she prayed for her son’s healing. Her son had a very troublesome disease that seriously threatened his quality of life and possibly life itself. God heard her prayers and her son is now off of medications and playing basketball. Today’s […]

New Garments for New Life

Reading Time: 8 Minutes If you look back to the preceding verses, Jesus had left a party at a known “bad guys” house, accompanied by other bad guys and sinners (Matthew 9.8-13). Some followers of John the Baptist, took exception to Jesus’ behavior. Matthew wrote, “Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, ‘Why […]

When Jesus Calls Your Name

Reading Time: 7 Minutes Matthew was an unlikely candidate to become a “religious” person. To the general population he was an undesirable outcast. In this account we will see that the straight-laced religious crowd could only see Matthew’s failures, but Jesus saw his potential. Today’s Bible passage highlights the values of the kingdom of God […]

Living Within The Story

Reading Time: 8 Minutes Jesus and the disciples have returned to Capernaum. Matthew writes about another episode of healing. Matthew 9.1-7 – And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. 2 And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their […]

Deliverance from Evil

Reading Time: 8 Minutes Jesus taught us to pray, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6.13). It makes sense that his mission would involve setting people free from evil and evil powers. Jesus’ ministry of healing and deliverance fulfilled what the prophet Isaiah described as the work of the […]

Jesus and the 2020 Storm

Reading Time: 7 Minutes Put yourself in the place of one of Jesus’ followers. In the space of a few days, you have seen a leper healed and returned to society. You have witnessed the paralyzed servant of a Roman official made well with a word from Jesus. You’ve also heard a message that people […]

The Cost of Following Jesus

Reading Time: 8 Minutes The next episode in Jesus’ life finds him on the other side of the Sea of Galilee. A crowd has been following Jesus and he desires to separate from the crowd. Matthew tells us what happened: “Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to […]

God Works Through Us

Reading Time: 8 Minutes Matthew began this section on healing with the remarkable account of a leper being cleansed from his disease. He next described how Jesus healed the servant of a Roman official with an authoritative word from a distance. Healing is, once again, a topic of today’s passage. Matthew 8.14-17 – And when […]

Prayer for the Paralyzed

Reading Time: 8 Minutes Our hope in studying the Gospel of Matthew is that God will use the study to make us more like Jesus. One helpful way of reading is to see yourself as a part of the story. Try one of these options as we read the story of the centurion, who came […]

Getting Clean

Reading Time: 7 Minutes As we begin a new series of blog posts, I am trying a new format for a few days to see how it works out. If you have any comments about the format, I am interested in hearing from you. The goal of the new series is to take an in-depth […]

Don’t Be Deceived

Reading Time: 7 Minutes Jesus concluded the Sermon on the Mount with an emphasis that we don’t deceive ourselves about our relationship with him. He challenges us to examine our relationship with him, when he says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does […]

The Narrow Gate

Reading Time: 8 Minutes You may have heard the story of “Stripe the Caterpillar.” Stripe awoke one day and saw a huge cluster of caterpillars climbing what looked like a tall pillar. He assumed that was what he was destined to do. So, he joined the crowd and began moving toward the pillar. Once he […]

Ask, Search, and Knock

Reading Time: 8 Minutes A man was with his two sons at the Texas State Fair. They were waiting in one of those thirty-minute lines for a one-minute ride that everyone so loves. The man was a little distracted, while waiting for the people in front of him to creep forward an inch or two […]

“Spec Inspectors” Beware!

Reading Time: 7 Minutes Matthew uses the word, “hypocrite,” thirteen times in his Gospel. Four of these instances are found in the Sermon on the Mount. We have learned that “hypocrite” originally referred to an actor or actress on the stage. The part that an actress or actor plays is not necessarily who that person […]

Jesus’ Message About Anxiety

Reading Time: 8 Minutes Anxiety disorder is the most common mental health diagnosis in the United States, affecting over 40 million people. Some of the symptoms are fatigue, muscle soreness, irritability, difficulty sleeping, restlessness, impaired concentration, and excessive worry. My guess is that with the corona virus, high unemployment, racial tension, and increases in violence […]

Jesus and Generosity

Reading Time: 8 Minutes God is after your heart, not your money. However, he may use your money to get to your heart. A familiar theme in my articles on the Sermon on the Mount is that they are not a new law that places strict duties on Jesus’ followers. Rather, each instance reveals another […]

Jesus’ Message about Fasting

Reading Time: 7 Minutes Jesus began his instruction about giving by saying, “So whenever you give alms” (Matthew 6.2). When he turned to prayer, he said, “And whenever you pray” (Matthew 6.5). As he brings up the issue of fasting, once again he says, “And whenever you fast” (Matthew 6.16). In each case Jesus presents […]

The Lord’s Prayer (Part 3)

Reading Time: 7 Minutes This is the third blog article on the Lord’s Prayer. My hope in writing these articles is to help us pray with greater clarity the greatest prayer of all time. Jesus taught us to pray in this way. “Our Father in heaven,hallowed be your name.10 Your kingdom come.Your will be done,on […]

The Lord’s Prayer (Part 2)

Reading Time: 7 Minutes O. Hallesby in his classic book, “On Prayer,” was the first to alert me to the power of Revelation 3.20 as it is applied to prayer. In the passage Jesus was speaking to a lukewarm church in Laodicea these words, “Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear […]

The Lord’s Prayer (Part 1)

Reading Time: 8 Minutes Moses spoke volumes when he said, “For what other great nation has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is whenever we call to him? And what other great nation has statutes and ordinances as just as this entire law that I am setting before you today?” […]

Learning to Pray Like Jesus

Reading Time: 8 Minutes Prayer is the second illustration of how an inner life that is aligned with Jesus operates. Let’s pull up a chair, sit before Jesus, and learn from the Master who “lives to make intercession for us” (Hebrews 7.25). If we are to be aligned with Jesus, both our inside condition and […]

Beyond People Pleasing

Reading Time: 8 Minutes I have often confessed to being a people pleaser. I still remember the day when I made a conscious decision to be liked by other people. I was standing inside the doors to the high school I attended. I felt rejected by a group to which I wanted to belong. There […]

Living a Jesus-Kind-Of-Life

Reading Time: 8 Minutes The section of the Sermon on the Mount that we have been studying for the past few days began with these words from Jesus: “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5.20). Like the other […]

What Kind of Justice Do You Give?

Reading Time: 8 Minutes When people have joined Jesus in the way he exerts his power in the world, what can we expect? What kind of “salt” and “light” (Matthew 5.13-16) can we expect them to be? In what way are they a contrast to the world around them? How do they bring flavor and […]

Clarification and Summary

Reading Time: 8 Minutes I greatly appreciate comments on Facebook and on the real-voices.com website. Based on some comments, I think it will be helpful to pause in our study of the Sermon on the Mount today, and provide some clarifications and a summary of what we have learned in Matthew 5.21-37. I have been […]

Your Words and Your Heart

Reading Time: 7 Minutes Dallas Willard says that attempting to do what Jesus teaches in our own strength is like trying to turn an apple tree into a pear tree by tying pears onto the branches. Willard’s words are particularly appropriate for Jesus’ message that we are studying today. Jesus said, “Again, you have heard […]

What about Divorce?

Reading Time: 7 Minutes For some people the next words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount are two of the most difficult verses to read in the entire Bible. Jesus said, “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that […]

Jesus’ Instructions About Lust

Reading Time: 7 Minutes In 1976 the then Presidential candidate, Jimmy Carter, was interviewed by “Playboy” magazine. He was asked if his strong religious beliefs would make him a rigid and unbending leader. Carter’s response almost cost him the election. The following paragraph is what got so much attention. Carter said, “I’ve looked on a […]

Jesus Teaches About Anger

Reading Time: 8 Minutes If Jesus’ people are to be “salt” and “light,” then they have to be a contrast to other people in the world. How we handle our anger will either make us look like a fool or a child of God. It is up to us to respond to what Jesus teaches […]

Why Righteous Living is a Gift

Reading Time: 7 Minutes When Jesus was crucified, there were two charges filed against him. The religious authorities charged him of breaking their law and of using magic to lead other people to also break it. The Roman government saw him as a rebel and it was their policy to always crucify people who threatened […]