Matthew: Jesus’ Teachings: The Praying Of Believers

Memory Verse: Matthew 6:9-13

6:9 The Invocation

  • 6:9a Addressing God in prayer: Jesus started his prayer saying, “Our Father which art in heaven.” When we pray, we need to address the one that we are praying to. You don’t have to say this exact phrase, but we should acknowledge the One that we are praying to. We also learn four things from this phrase: (1) “Our Father”—when Jesus said, “our” He was including the true disciples in the family of God. Jesus was including us as part of His family who get to take part in this awesome privilege of prayer. (2) “Our”—Jesus was also including others in His prayer and not just praying for Himself but also interceding on the behalf of others. (3) “Father”—when we come to God in prayer, we are coming to Him like children come to their father. We have an intimate relationship with Him and not one of fear. (4) “In Heaven”—He is Father but we are reminded that He is in heaven. He has the sovereign rule over all and we reverently are allowed to petition the Lord God Almighty.
    Matthew 7:9-11; Galatians 4:6

6:9b-13a The Petitions

  • 6:9b Petition One (Towards God): First, Jesus petitions God saying, “Hallowed be thy name.” Hallowed means to make holy. Jesus wants God’s name to be made holy or to be treated as holy. We know that God is holy and we are to treat Him as such, including His very name as holy. Jesus desires that God would receive the respect and reverence that He is due. Personal application: Are we doing what we should to give God the respect of holiness that He deserves? Do we really desire to treat God as holy?
  • 6:10a Petition Two (Towards God): Second, Jesus petitions God saying, “Thy kingdom come.” Kingdom refers to God’s rule over the life of believers. Jesus wants God to establish His kingdom in the hearts of mankind. We become citizens of this kingdom through repentance and faith. We recognize God as our Ruler and we are His subjects to carry out His will on Earth. It can also refer to the future eternal state when all believers will live in the eternal kingdom of God and the desire for this to become a reality. Personal application: Are you willing to ask God for His kingdom to come, to rule in our lives and to use us to cause others to become citizens of this kingdom through preaching the gospel of repentance and faith? Do we really desire God’s kingdom to come?
    Luke 12:32
  • 6:10b Petition Three (Towards God): Third, Jesus petitions God saying, “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” God’s will is perfectly obeyed in heaven and Jesus desires for His will to be perfectly obeyed on earth. We are laborers together with God and it should be our desire to carry out His will as He has revealed it to us in the Bible. We know that He wants us to put off the works of the flesh and start producing the fruits of the Spirit. Also, in heaven there is (or will be) an innumerable great multitude of people from all nations, kindreds and tongues standing before the throne of God and Jesus saying, “Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.” Therefore, we know that our command to be salt and light in the world should extend to all peoples. Personal application: Are we willing to ask God to accomplish His will in our lives, to cast off our sin, to produce righteousness and to obey His commands? Do we really desire His will to be done in our lives?
    1 Corinthians 3:9; Galatians 5:16-23; Revelation 7:9-10; Matthew 5:13-16
  • 6:11 Petition Four (Towards Man): Fourth, Jesus petitions God saying, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Jesus desires for us to rely on God for our daily necessities. We are given permission to ask God—the source of everything—to “give” us what we need each day. Jesus asked for that day’s bread. We learn two things from this: (1) Prayer is something we do daily. We are constantly looking to trusting God through prayer. (2) God cares about us, even something as small as the food that we will eat today. (3) Jesus asked for provision, not just for Himself, but for those with Him too. Personal application: Are you choosing to daily be dependent on God? Do we really trust God daily?
    Psalm 24:1; Matthew 6:25-34
  • 6:12 Petition Five (Towards Man): Fifth, Jesus petitions God saying, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Jesus desires for us to seek forgiveness from God and offer forgiveness to others. Jesus ask for our debts to be forgiven. Debt is something that is owed or due, usually money, but here His meaning is spiritually—as in our sin debt. Because we broke God’s law we are in debt. Unless someone pays our debt for us, we will pay it with our own lives. The good news is the Jesus paid our debt for us when He died on the cross. Because of Jesus, God forgave our debt. We are eternally forgiven as believers. But when we sin our fellowship with God is hindered. So we continually ask for forgiveness. This same type of forgiveness should be applied to all our relationships. Many people are “debtors” to us because they have wronged us and we are to forgive them because Jesus forgave us. Forgiven people forgive others. Personal application: Are you being a hypocrite by wanting to be forgiven by God but unwilling to forgive others? Are you really seeking and offering forgiveness?
    Matthew 6:14-15; 18:23-35; Luke 11:4; Ephesians 4:32
  • 6:13a Petition Six (Towards Man): Sixth, Jesus petitions God saying, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Jesus desires for us to avoid temptation, sin and evil. God never tempts us, but He does allow us to be tempted and He does tests us. He never allows us to be temped more than we can handle and always makes a way of escape. This request then is for God to allow is to avoid these situations altogether so that we won’t be tempted to do wrong. Jesus desires that we to be set free from evil and the influence of the evil one—Satan. We can’t do it on our own, thus we petition God for help. Personal application: Are you asking God to keep you from the paths of evil and lead you in the paths of righteousness? Do you really desire to avoid evil?
    James 1:13; 1 Corinthians 10:13

6:13 The Closing

  • 6:13b Jesus closes the prayer with what is referred to as a doxology—which is like a formal way to praise God and acknowledge His worthiness. He says, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.” The kingdom, power and glory are all God’s. Attributing these three things to God shows He is the Sovereign Ruler.
  • 6:13c Finally, Jesus ends the prayer with “Amen”—meaning “so be it”. It indicates the end of the prayer and that you are in agreement with and desirous of everything you said.

Review Questions

  • What is the invocation of Jesus’ prayer?
  • What are the first three petitions toward God?
  • What are the second three petitions toward man?
  • What is the doxology of Jesus’ prayer?
  • What word did Jesus end the prayer with and what does it mean?

Weekly Mind Dump: North Korea

✪ We had another great week. Our Kids’ Club has started back, but it has been very slow. Each week there are more kids, but it looks like we might have lost some along the way. Time to go out and find some more!

✪ We visited a Chinese city on the border of North Korea and took a big boat into North Korean waters. We used binoculars to get a better look at everything. It was really sad. People washing their clothes in the river. The soldiers (I am guessing guarding the border) were fishing with nets up and down the river. The hard part of these tours (I have taken many) is that we can do nothing. Here I am on a nice boat with a bunch of Chinese tourists gawking at the North Koreans (like a zoo) and can do nothing to reach or help them. At least when we have taken the small boats in before, we were able to give out some Chinese tracts (even though they didn’t read Chinese) to the North Koreans who met us in the middle of the river on their boats. Pray for North Korea.

✪ In a previous update I mentioned about starting a new church plant in October, but we are holding off on that for now. One of the Chinese men who was going to go out and start it wants/needs more time and training before he steps out. I think this is a wise decision.

✪ Although we aren’t starting a new church this October, one of the American men who has been serving in our church for the past couple years is stepping out to start a church in October and one fo the Chinese men in our church who is a faithful member will be going to help him as they get things started. We will be having a send-off time for them this Sunday.

✪ One of the church members recently commented on our three girls personalities and I thought it was interesting and almost spot on. She said our oldest daughter was 透明 transparent (she really likes to talk about everything), our middle daughter was 温柔 gentle and soft (she loves to smile and cuddle), and the youngest was 淘气 mischievous (yep, she likes to laugh and cause trouble in a playful way).

A busy airport in the mornings! Seeing our friends off…glad they came!

About a 20-minute drive outside the city and you see this…

Going to the local mall for dinner, a busy time of the day.

One of the men practicing music as he looks out over the city from the church window.

Looking into North Korea with binoculars… a mom and child washing clothes in the river with a guard nearby.

September 2017 Prayer Letter

It has been a busy end of the summer as we transition into the fall and life is getting back to a “normal” pattern being busy about the Lord’s work.

Below or the many updates, praises and prayer requests for this month:

  • Praise the Lord we were granted a work visa. It was a long and complicated process (including a trip to Hong Kong), but this should be renewable each year and be the cover that allows us to minister in China, Lord willing. We are in the final stages of applying for our residence permit. Please pray everything will go smoothly as we finish the paperwork and process for this.
  • Praise the Lord for intervening in our building situation. As we reported last time, one of the apartments we were renting was sold and we had to move out. We planned on renovating the other apartments to fit our needs, but it was going to be very tight in space, then the Lord opened up a new space for us to rent in addition to what we were already renting. Therefore, our renovation plans changed and we made the new space the kids’ room and added a nursery on to the main meeting space. This allowed us to have the amount of space that we needed. All the renovations are practically done, we just have to do some final touches in the nursery.
  • My wife has been a trooper carrying these precious twin babies. This pregnancy has been hard on her body, but she is pushing through it. We are excited to meet our sweet babies this December/January. Also, we found out that one of the babies is a boy! The other one has hidden behind his/her brother so we haven’t been able to find out.
  • Lord willing, we are taking our first year-long furlough around August of next year. We are looking to raise new support, thus if you are interested in having our family in your church to present our ministry and to consider partnering with us in this way, please contact me via email.
  • We were blessed to have missionary friends from Peru visit us, teach our students preparing for ministry and strategize how we can work together to reach more people with the gospel between our two ministries. They were a huge blessing.

Thank you! We know that we couldn’t do anything without the help of God’s people. Thank you for giving, praying and being a part of our team, Project China. We are especially fond of you!

Matthew: Jesus’ Teachings: The Worship Of Believers

Memory Verse: Matthew 6:1

6:1-4 Alms: Hypocrisy Or Worship?

  • 6:1 Jesus just finished teaching that the standard to enter the kingdom of God was perfection—just like God in heaven. We discovered that the Scribes and Pharisees didn’t meet the standard because they were only outwardly obedient to the law, disregarding the inward obedience to the law. Now Jesus continues to teach on this dichotomy of righteousness and hypocrisy. He warns us to be on guard about practicing our righteous works (specifically: alms, prayer, fasting) before other people with the intent to be seen by them. The consequence for this is that we will have no reward from our Father in heaven. He causes us to ask the question: “What is the reason I do what I do? To have others worship us or to worship God?” True humility has an audience of One—God.
    Matthew 5:20b, 48b; Jeremiah 17:10; Hebrews 4:13
  • 6:2 The hypocrisy of alms—refers to giving to the needy: Jesus says that when we give to those in need we aren’t to give in the same manner as the hypocrites—people who are like actors in a play, they perform a certain part for the applause of the audience. The hypocrites give to be seen by other people and to be worshipped or glorified by them. In Jesus’ day, they would sound a trumpet in the synagogues or the streets to draw attention to themselves. They were playing the part of a righteous person by giving to the needy, but they weren’t genuinely doing it as an act of worship towards God but for worship from other people. The praise of men is their only reward.
    Leviticus 25:35; Deuteronomy 15:7; Psalm 41:1; 112:9; Proverbs 14:31
  • 6:3-4 The worship of alms: As believers, if we see someone in need and we have the ability to help them (whoso hath this world’s good) then we should have compassion on them, expressing the love of God. But when we give to those in need, we need to make sure that we are doing it as an act of worship towards God and not to gain the attention of others. Jesus uses a metaphor of not letting the left hand know what the right hand does—meaning that we are to give in secret—with the right motivation—knowing that God the Father sees it and He will reward it openly and appropriately.
    1 John 3:17

6:5-15 Prayer: Hypocrisy Or Worship?

  • 6:5 The hypocrisy of prayer—refers to talking to God: Jesus says that when we pray we aren’t to pray in the same manner as the hypocrites. The hypocrites pray to be seen by other people and to be worshipped or glorified by them. In Jesus’ day, they would love to stand in the synagogues or on the street corners to draw attention to themselves. They were playing the part of a righteous person by praying, but they weren’t genuinely doing it as an act of worship towards God but for worship of other people. The praise of men is their only reward.
  • 6:6 The worship of prayer: As believers, we are to pray without ceasing—meaning that prayer is to become a habitual part of our lives. But when we pray, we need to make sure that we are doing it as an act of worship towards God and not to gain the attention of others. Jesus uses an example of entering into a closet with the door shut to pray—meaning that we are to pray in secret—with the right motivation—knowing that God the Father sees it and He will reward it openly and appropriately.
    1 Thessalonians 5:17
  • 6:7-8 The misconception of prayer: Jesus continues to teach on prayer and tells us not to pray in the same manner as the heathen—unbelieving Gentiles who worship false gods and idols. In Jesus’ day, they would use vain repetitions when they prayed, thinking that God would hear them because of their much speaking or many words. Today, several religions around the world still pray in this manner. They teach words to a certain prayer and tell you to repeat those words and God will hear you. This is not true. This is meaningless repetition. It causes one to thoughtlessly say words and treat prayer like it is a magic formula that works based on devotion to repetition. Jesus tells us to not pray like this because we are not trying to get the attention of God—we already have His attention. We are His children. He is our Father. He already knows everything that we need before we even ask Him. He cares for us. He loves us.
  • 6:9-13 The manner of prayer: Jesus gave his disciples an example prayer so that they would know how to pray. His prayer was personal, short, simple, powerful and on-the-spot—this all would have been new to them compared to the way they saw others pray. Jesus addressed God and asked Him to do many things. His prayer included: (1) His desire to see God glorified and God’s will to be done; (2) His requests for God to provide for that day’s needs, for God’s grace and help to live right. He tells them to pray after this manner, but doesn’t expect them to memorize and meaninglessly repeat these words. (We will study this prayer more in depth in the next sermon.)
  • 6:14-15 The hinderance of prayer: When we sin our fellowship with God is hindered. So we ask for forgiveness. That same type of forgiveness should be applied to all our relationships otherwise it will hinder our prayers asking God to restore our fellowship. Are we being hypocrites by wanting to be forgiven by God but unwilling to forgive others?
    Luke 18:9-14; 1 John 1:9

6:16-18 Fasting: Hypocrisy Or Worship?

  • 6:16 The hypocrisy of fasting—refers to abstaining from food to focus on God: Jesus says that when we fast we aren’t to fast in the same manner as the hypocrites. The hypocrites fast to be seen by other people and to be worshipped or glorified by them. In Jesus’ day, they would disfigure their faces to appear of a sad countenance to draw attention to themselves. They were playing the part of a righteous person by fasting, but they weren’t genuinely doing it as an act of worship towards God but for worship of other people. The praise of men is their only reward.
  • 6:17-18 The worship of fasting: As believers, we aren’t commanded to fast but we see it as a normal part of a believer’s life—self-denial—to help focus on seeking God’s will, prayer and serving others. But when we fast, we need to make sure that we are doing it as an act of worship towards God and not to gain the attention of others. Jesus tells us to wash our faces and anoint our heads—meaning that we are to fast in a way that appears we aren’t fasting or in secret—with the right motivation—knowing that God the Father sees it and He will reward it openly and appropriately.
    Isaiah 58:1-8; Acts 13:2, 3; 14:23

Review Questions

  • What is the hypocrisy of alms? What is the worship of alms?
  • What is the hypocrisy of prayer? What is the worship of prayer?
  • What is the misconception, manner and hinderance of prayer?
  • What is the hypocrisy of fasting? What is the worship of fasting?
  • Are you are worshiper or a hypocrite?

Weekly Mind Dump: Hong Kong and Peru

✪ Everything went smoothly in Hong Kong. We were granted our visas and came back to China last Tuesday. (Now we have to apply for a residence permit.) We enjoyed our time in Hong Kong. Even though it seemed everyone was sick at some point, we got the medicine we needed and everyone is doing much better now. The Lord took care of us. Praise the Lord!

✪ We arrive back in China Tuesday evening/night and then a few hours later a friend serving the Lord in Peru landed. I picked him up from the airport and then took him to the hotel. The next morning we returned to the airport to pick up two more friends serving the Lord in Peru. Thus, we have been busy since we have returned from Hong Kong with our friends from Peru. Every day they have been teaching our students 4-hours a day, showing them around the city, talking about problems and solutions, planning for future plans (Lord willing), and busy with the ministry.

✪ Today, we started our new church schedule and restart the several areas that we stopped during last month remodeling. Please pray as we invite the families back for the kids’ club and that we can reach new students who are in the city for university and as everyone comes back from their summer break.

✪ We had great services today. The gospel was clearly preached in a powerful message in the morning service and we were reminded of God’s power in the second. I pray those in attendance were not only challenged to believe on Jesus but to share the message of this good news.

✪ One of the reasons for our friends serving in Peru came to China was to help cast the vision in Peru for men and women to give their lives to come to China and preach the gospel! Maybe the Lord would open doors, if not through support, then through opportunities to teach Spanish in universities for them to get a salary and be granted a visa to live and work in China as they spread the good news of Jesus. Pray with us about this matter!

Taxi in Hong Kong…look at all those phones!

Getting on the plane in Hong Kong to return to the mainland.

Looking and praying over the city with our friends who serve in Peru.

Matthew: Jesus’ Teachings: The Righteousness Of Believers

Memory Verse: Matthew 5:17

5:17-20 The Old Testament: Fulfillment And Standard

  • 5:17-18 Jesus did not come to destroy the Old Testament—law or the prophets. Not even the smallest part (one jot or one title) will pass from the law until all be fulfilled. Jesus came to fulfill it—He isn’t going to abolish the Old Testament as something evil, but He is bringing it to completion because it will have been fulfilled—Jesus ushers in something better. Even so, the Old Testament remains the Word of God and should be held in high esteem as such. Its application is what is going to change.
  • 5:19 Believers are to teach and obey the Bible and will be ranked in the kingdom of God according to it. If we break one of these least commandments and teach others to do the same then we will be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. If we obey and teach others to do the same then we will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
  • 5:20a The Scribes and Pharisees turned the obedience of the commandments of the Old Testament into outward obedience and disregarded inward obedience. Jesus tells His disciples that unless their righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, which means complete external and internal obedience, then they will never be able to enter in the kingdom of heaven. Many upheld these two groups of people as righteous because of their outward display of “righteousness,” but inwardly they weren’t righteous at all. They taught things from the Scriptures that were never intended. Thus, Jesus was saying, “If you aren’t as good as these people, who you think are good, but aren’t good at all, then you can’t enter the kingdom of heaven.” There is a higher standard than these outwardly religious people. Jesus is going to explain in the next few verses.

5:21-48 The Law: Outward And Inward Disobedience

  • 5:21-26 Don’t murder—actually, don’t even be angry with your brother. As Jews, they were taught not to murder. But Jesus points to the inward obedience that the Jewish teachers left off. He teaches that whoever is even angry with his brother is in danger of the judgement. The attitude or motivation that leads to murder is anger or hatred. We insult others (raca, fool) because of our anger and hate towards them. These have the same penalty as murder. With this correct understanding, Jesus teaches us how we are to deal with interpersonal relationships. When we remember someone has something against us, then we should do everything possible to seek reconciliation with them. Otherwise it could have disastrous consequences. Question: Are you quick to seek reconciliation in all your relationships, or do you let anger and hatred lead you to sin against them?
    Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17; 1 John 4:20
  • 5:27-30 Don’t commit adultery—actually, don’t even lust after the other sex. As Jews, they were taught not to commit adultery. But Jesus teaches that whoever looks at others and lusts has committed adultery with that person already in their heart. God created sexual acts and thoughts to be enjoyed within the marriage relationship only (not masturbation with pornography). Men struggle with this more often than women, but God is against using either sex for sexual exploitation. Jesus uses a metaphor that means refusing to repent of our sins—especially our lustful sins—might bring us temporary pleasure, but we will loose our soul in hell. Question: Are you doing whatever necessary to control your lust, or are you allowing your lustful passions to lead you to commit inward adultery?
    Exodus 20:14; Deuteronomy 5:18
  • 5:31-32 Don’t divorce without a writing of divorcement—actually, don’t divorce at all unless it’s for fornication. As Jews, they were taught they could get divorced as long as they gave their spouse a writing of divorcement. But they wrongly applied the Old Testament law so that they could divorce for any reason they wanted. Jesus correctly teaches that we shouldn’t get divorced unless our spouse commits fornication. If we get divorced outside this reason, then we are causing our spouse to commit adultery and the person who remarries her to commit adultery. Question: Are we desiring to wrongly divorce our spouse, or are we committed to the life long commitment that God intended?
    Deuteronomy 24:1-4
  • 5:33-37 Don’t make oaths you can’t keep—actually, don’t make oaths at all, just keep your word all the time. As Jews, they were taught to keep their oaths. But Jesus says we should always be telling the truth, not only when we are under oath. We make an oath to let others know that we are “telling the truth”. But that doesn’t give us permission to be deceptive when we don’t make an oath or use the oath to deceive people. If we are not truthful, aren’t our intentions then evil? Question: Are we honest or deceptive?
    Leviticus 19:12; Numbers 30:2; Deuteronomy 23:21, 23; James 5:12
  • 5:38-42 Don’t seek revenge greater than the offense—actually, don’t seek revenge at all, instead respond with good. As Jews, they were taught “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” as the way to seek retribution. But it was meant to limit retribution, not cause it, therefore Jesus tells us not to oppose the one who is evil but to respond with good. In personal matters, when others offend us, embarrass us, take advantage of us, violate our rights or liberty, then we are to respond with good not evil. We are to give up our personal rights for the benefit of others. Question: Are we responding with goodness when others do us wrong, or do we seek equal revenge?
    Exodus 21:24; Leviticus 24:20; Deuteronomy 19:21
  • 5:43-48a Don’t love your enemies, just your neighbors—actually, love your neighbors and your enemies. As Jews, they were taught to “love their neighbors” but they also added “hate your enemies” even though the Scriptures didn’t. We are to respond to those who wrong us with blessing, good and prayer. When we do this we are acting like our Father, who loves His enemies. The standard is to be perfect like God. Questions: Are we only loving those who love us, or are we also loving our enemies—those who do us wrong?
    Leviticus 19:18; Proverbs 25:21
  • 5:20b, 48b Jesus’ standard for righteousness is summed up in this verse: perfection. We are to be perfect just like God in heaven, otherwise we can’t enter the kingdom of heaven. After reviewing these laws—including their outward and inward meanings—we realize that we are not perfect. Thankfully, Jesus is perfect and He met this standard on our behalf and grants His perfect righteousness to anyone who has faith in Him. As believers, we desire to live up to these six standards (reconciliation, purity, commitment, integrity, self-denial, love)—from the inside out—not as a means of salvation but as a reflection of who we are: children of God.
    James 2:10; 2 Corinthians 5:21

Review Questions

  • Did Jesus come to destroy the Old Testament? Why?
  • Are the Scribes and Pharisees righteous? Why?
  • How was Jesus’ explanations of the laws different from the Jews?
  • What is Jesus’ standard for righteousness?
  • How can we be made righteous and live out these commands?

Weekly Mind Dump: Visa Run

✪ Visas! We were granted the work permit last Wednesday (Praise the Lord!) and left for Hong Kong on Thursday. We applied for our work visa on Friday and we should, Lord willing, pick up the passports with accompanying work visas on Monday afternoon (keep praying). Then the plan is to fly back to China on Tuesday. (The two guys that are training for ministry filled in for me today at the church. Very proud of them.)

✪ This also means we have been living in Hong Kong since Thursday. This is our second time visiting HK. This place really is incredible. The great number of people in any given place amazes you. There have been several times where I have just stopped and watch the flow of unending people go by. Another thing that has stood out is the high prices of everything. Comparing to where we live in mainland China, taxis are super expensive and eating out has almost broken the bank! Everything from the hole in the wall restaurants to the Cheesecake Factory (yeah, you read that right) have been crazy expensive. But don’t get me wrong, the food has been great. Even though this trip has come at an inconvenient time, it has been nice to be with just the family for a few days.

✪ Our middle daughter was diagnosed with tonsillitis right before we left China. She has been on antibiotics and we have been trying to keep everyone else from getting it, but we are all living in one room for five days. Last night our oldest daughters throat started hurting really bad and she had a really hard time sleeping. So instead of passing this lovely gift to one of the local churches (which I found two Baptist churches within a 10-min. drive of our hotel), we decided to just have a devotional time in our room this morning and then visit the local Baptist hospital so we could pick up some antibiotics. Pray for both kids to get better and for protection for the rest of us, especially momma. (Update: as I am writing this, the youngest seems to have caught it as well…leaving to get antibiotics for her now too! Bye.)

✪ Of course, I brought my iPhone with me and my SIM card from the mainland has worked great here. But when I use the 3G all of the same websites that are blocked in the mainland are still blocked on my phone (facebook, google, etc.). But If I connect to the local wifi hotspot, I can access all the websites without any problems. So it seems that the mainland has a deal to still regulate its users when they travel outside the mainland. Interesting.

✪ We have confirmed one intern family coming in November for six-months from our home church. We are excited about being involved in this part of their training. If you are interested in helping a new family as they start out in the ministry through this internship, contact me for more details.

✪ Our home church is putting on TWO great events this coming winter. They are hosting TWO DIFFERENT “OUR GENERATONS SUMMITS” IN TWO DIFFERENT LOCATIONS. The first Summit (Southeast) if located in ATLANTA from December 28-30, 2017 (Thursday thru Saturday). The second Summit (Northeast) is located in BOSTON from January 4-6, 2018 (Thursday thru Saturday).

✪ A lady who we help employ came to us a few days before we left and with tears of sorrow in her eyes, humbly asked more hours so she could make more money. Before she became a Christian, she went through a divorce. Her husband gambled their savings away and he hasn’t helped any with the cost of raising their child. She has to bear the responsibility of raising her daughter on her own. The cost of the city life is high and she simply wants the best for her daughter. It was a very raw and open moment. After discussing it with my wife, we decided to help her, and with tears of joy, she expressed thanks to God not only for the momentary help but for missionaries who brought her the gospel and introducing her to Jesus. Praise God. Please remember this mother and daughter in your prayers and pray for her ex-husband who, Lord willing, we are going to try and reach out to him with the gospel as well.

Looking over the water at the city on a foggy evening (Hong Kong).

The rat race: never ending streams of people whom God loves! Lord, make your Name great among these people!

Took my wife to her favorite restaurant–that never gets to eat at, just a 1-hour-and-45-minute wait!

Matthew: Jesus’ Teachings: The Responsibility Of Believers

Memory Verse: Matthew 5:16

5:13 The Responsibility Of Believers As Salt

  • 5:13a Jesus teaches His disciples true happiness comes from being a follower of Him and describes the characteristics of such a person. He makes the final characteristic about being persecuted personal for the disciples. He tells them that they will be persecuted for following Him, similar to the men of God before them. Then He continues teaching them, using a metaphor saying, “You are the salt of the earth.” Salt was an important commodity in Jesus’ day. It was used to preserve meat and enhance the flavor in food. They would even use salt as money or as a type of payment. Jesus is using it here as a metaphor. The salt represents the function of a believer’s responsibility and the earth represents the people of the world. Lets look at two ways salt can function and make some applications:
  • Preservative: Salt was the main preservative of that time. There was no refrigeration to keep meat good, therefore, in a desert climate like theirs, they would use salt to preserve the meat. The goal of preserving something is to keep is from decaying. Therefore, as believers our goal is to preserve the works and word of God. We are to be the preservers of good and truth in our society. Through our examples, we keep truth from decaying and people from spoiling their lives. Also, in the context of the disciples impending persecution, the metaphor could have encouraged them to persevere—to continue living out their faith and preaching the gospel even in the face of difficulty or danger.
  • Seasoner: At that time, salt was also use as a food enhancer, just like it is today. We add salt as a seasoning to food so that it taste better, giving it a more bold flavor, thus improving a dish. Things that don’t have salt are often bland or without much taste. Therefore, as believers, our goal is to enhance the lives of others through the works and word of God.
  • 5:13b “Of the earth”—We are to act as “salt” in the earth. We are to live out this metaphor among the unbelievers around us. We live in a world corrupted by sin. We live in a world where lies and false teaching are abundant. We live in a world where people are looking for something more for their bland existence. We are given the responsibility to be the “truth preservers” and “ life enhancers” in their midst. We have the gospel and the gospel changes everything.
  • 5:13c Salt is only good if it salty. If salt every lost its taste, then it wouldn’t be good for anything. Pure salt as we know it can’t loose its flavor or effectiveness, but the salt they used wasn’t pure thus it was possible for that type of salt’s “saltiness” to be drained away. If this happened, it wouldn’t have any taste, therefore it couldn’t enhance food, and it would also fail to preserve food. Once salt has lost its saltiness, you can’t put it back in. The only thing it would be good for would be to throw it down on footpaths to be trodden under the foot of men. Therefore, our responsibility as believers to act as “salt” in the world is only good when we live it out in the society around us. We can only live it out if we are salty. Our “saltiness” comes from God. As we read His Word it transforms our minds and we are no longer conformed to this world. As disciples of Jesus, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are willing to forsake all, endure persecution and live as peacemakers in the world. We have a responsibility.
    Mark 9:50; Luke 14:34-35; Matthew 5:9; Colossians 3:16-17; Romans 12:1-2

5:14-16 The Responsibility Of Believers As Light

  • 5:14a Jesus uses another metaphor to further explain the responsibility of believers. He tells his disciples, “You are the light of the world.” Jesus is teaching His disciples an important lesson. In the Gospel of John, He tells them that as long as He is in the world, He is the light of the world. Therefore, they are to learn from Him what this means, because when He leaves them, it will be their responsibility to be the light. Just like light allows us to see and makes things visible, Jesus makes God visible to us through his works and proclamation, even to the point of death. We are to walk in His footsteps.
    John 8:12; 9:5; 12:35-36
  • 5:14b “Of the world”—We are to act as “light” in the world. We are to live out this metaphor among the unbelievers around us. Light is needed in a dark place. Our world is darkened by sin. Just like you and I were before we were saved, the people of the world are blinded to the truth because they live in darkness. It is our responsibility as believers to shine the light of the gospel so that they can see the truth and be saved.
  • 5:14c “A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid”—Jesus is teaching His disciples that their responsibility as “light” means they are to have a public ministry and testimony. How can you hide a city that was built on a hill? You can’t. That is the point. How can we hide the gospel that radical changed our lives? We can’t. Our lives, everything we say and do, is a public witness to the God we believe in. The lifestyle of a believer should obviously be different from the lifestyle of unbelievers. We are light—that means we are made to shine into the darkness.
  • 5:15 People don’t light a candle and then put it under a bushel. They put it on a candlestick so that it can give light to everyone in the house. Jesus uses this example to show that light is meant to shine. It would defeat the purpose to light a candle and them place it unto something to keep the light from shining or to extinguish it. Its purpose is to illuminate. Therefore, Jesus is telling his disciples their purpose and responsibility is to give light. Just like John that Baptist, we are called to bear witness of Jesus (the Light), that all men through our witness might believe. If people are going to be illuminated to the truth, then we have to bear the light for all to see. We were saved for this.
    John 1:1-10
  • 5:16 Jesus then clearly applies His metaphor and says, “Let your light so shine before men.” Every believer is to live boldly and openly before unbelievers. This means that we are (1) aware that those around us are watching us and they know what our works are like (wether good or bad), therefore, we will (2) intentionally live out our good works, not so we can receive praise like the Pharisees, but so that they will glorify our Father in heaven. Before we lived in darkness and our actions were characteristic of that, but now we are in the light and our actions should be characteristic of it. This marvelous Light has changed our lives and we no longer fear but are freed to face the darkness with the glorious light of the gospel, proclaiming the wonderful message of salvation in word and deed.
    Ephesians 5:8-9; Philippians 2:14-15; Psalm 27:1; 1 Peter 2:9, 12

Review Questions

  • Jesus said we are the what of the earth?
  • What are its functions?
  • What makes it useless?
  • Jesus also said we are the what of the world?
  • What is its main characteristic? Should it be hidden?

Weekly Mind Dump: Joy

✪ Preached on having an “attitude of joy” this morning and really enjoyed it. Studying the sermon and preaching it has encouraged me greatly.

✪ We should get an answer about our visas tomorrow, Lord willing. Then we will have to leave the country and re-apply for the new visas before we come back into the country. Please pray that everything goes smoothly. Our deadline is Thursday, so time isn’t on our side.

✪ Remodeling is almost done..which I am thankful for. Lord willing, everything will be finished this week and we will get back to a normal schedule starting next weekend.

✪ We have been contacted by a couple of people who are wanting to come and intern in China. We are working on the details and we will see what happens.

✪ Lots of plans coming up in the future. Excited about all the is going on and for what the future holds. God is good.

Clouds over the city in the evening.

Spent some time enjoying the ocean one afternoon this week.

A natural history museum on the coast.

Our newly remodeled kids’ room.

Matthew: Jesus’ Teachings: The Blessedness Of Believers

Memory Verse: Matthew 5:6

5:1-3a Jesus Starts Teaching His Disciples On The Mountain

  • 5:1-2 Jesus’ constant teaching, preaching and healing caused great multitudes of people to follow Him. When Jesus saw the multitudes, He went up into a mountain and sat down. His disciples came unto Him and He started to teach them. This teaching starts in the next verse and continues until Matthew chapter seven verse twenty-seven.
  • 5:3a “Blessed”—Jesus is going to use this word nine times to show what a person who is blessed is like. This word means to be happy or fortunate. Therefore, Jesus is going to teach His disciples what the true meaning of happiness is and how to obtain it. So many people are searching for happiness in this life, but it seems out of reach for so many or they give up resigning to the fact that it is unobtainable for them to achieve. As we will discover the following characteristics are those of believers, the faithful who have found their true happiness in Jesus and not in the things of this world.

5:3-9 The Eight Characteristics Of The Blessed

  • 5:3-9 Each of the eight characteristics taught by Jesus have the same structure. Jesus states that a person is blessed who (1) “names the characteristic or attitude” and (2) “gives the reason for the blessing”. Therefore, we will also follow this same structure in trying to understand each of them.
  • 5:3 Blessed are: (1) The poor in spirit—those who realize they are spiritually poor. This person realizes that he lacks something, that trusting in himself is not sufficient. This person is not proud, but humble, realizing he is in need of God. (2) For theirs is the kingdom of heaven—they will be saved and God rules in theirs hearts and lives. This person’s humility led him to understand his sinful condition and need for grace, which God offers free to those who need it. Conclusion: True happiness is found by humbly coming before God to be rescued from spiritual poverty and placed into His kingdom.
  • 5:4 Blessed are: (1) They that mourn—those whose deep sorrow or regret lead them to repentance. True repentance precedes salvation and leads to salvation. God is looking for a broken and a contrite heart. (2) For they shall be comforted—they will lead to salvation, God will not despise them, but will forgive their sins, which results in great comfort. Conclusion: True happiness is found by godly sorrow that works repentance to salvation and results in the comfort of knowing our sins are forgiven.
    Psalm 51:16-17; 2 Corinthians 7:10
  • 5:5 Blessed are: (1) The meek—those who have enough self-control to do the right thing. They refrain from going to either extreme of “excess” or “absence”. It is the strength not to react wrongly when we are wronged. (2) For they shall inherit the earth—they will receive blessings. Conclusion: True happiness is found by showing forth the strength needed to choose God’s will over our own and trusting in Him for the outcome.
    Psalm 37:7-10; Ephesians 4:1-2; Matthew 11:28-30
  • 5:6 Blessed are: (1) They which do hunger and thirst after righteousness—those who have an overwhelming desire to have a right relationship with God and live according to His will. They realize they are not righteousness in themselves, nor can they establish their own righteousness, therefore they look to God for the righteousness which is by faith. (2) For they shall be filled—they found and submitted themselves to the righteousness of God. Conclusion: True happiness is found by craving righteousness and realizing it can only be satisfied through Jesus, which results in a right relationship with God.
    Psalm 42:1-2; Romans 10:3; Philippians 3:9
  • 5:7 Blessed are: (1) The merciful—those who show forgiveness, compassion or gracious acts towards those who aren’t worthy of it. As believers, God withheld His just punishment from us and heard our cry for mercy, therefore, it is only right that we do that same. Showing mercy is a characteristic of being a believer. (2) For they shall obtain mercy—they will also be the receivers of mercy, most importantly God’s mercy. Conclusion: True happiness is found by being saved according to the mercy of God and showing mercy to others as a result of it.
    Psalm 28:6; Romans 11:30; Titus 3:5
  • 5:8 Blessed are: (1) The pure in heart—those who are real, true and blameless in the inner-man. They have no hidden wrong motives. They aren’t hypocrites. It is the sign of a true believer who is spiritually pure through salvation living his life in response to that truth. (2) For they shall see God—they will see Him face to face. Conclusion: True happiness is found by genuinely believing in God and genuinely obeying His will, knowing that one day we will eternally be living with Him.
    Psalm 44:20-21; 51:10; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 23:27-28; Mark 7:18-23; Revelation 22:3-4
  • 5:9 Blessed are: (1) The peacemakers—those who reconcile broken relationships, especially the relationship between God and man. As believers we know that God has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. Through preaching the gospel we are working to restore mankind’s relationship with God so they can have peace with God. We also work to live peaceably with all men. (2) For they shall be called the children of God—they will receive the adoption of sons. Conclusion: True happiness is found by being reconciled to God and helping others to be reconciled to Him, knowing they are sons carrying out the mission of the Father.
    2 Corinthians 5:18; Romans 5:1; 12:14; Hebrews 12:14; Galatians 4:4-7
  • 5:10 Blessed are: (1) They which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake—those who receive any form of action that punishes them for being a believer or obeying God’s will. (2) For theirs is the kingdom of heaven—they will be saved and God rules in theirs hearts and lives. Conclusion: True happiness is found in a real relationship with God—no matter the cost of obtaining, knowing that one day God will wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there will be no more death, sorrow, crying or pain.
    Revelation 21:1-4
  • 5:11-12 Jesus expands the last characteristic making it personal for His disciples. He says three things we need to note: (1) He tells them they are blessed when, for Jesus sake, men revile, persecute or says all manner of evil against them falsely. (2) He then tells them to rejoice and be exceeding glad because great is their reward in heaven. (3) Finally, He reminds them that the prophets which were before them were also persecuted, meaning as they experience persecution they will be numbered with the people of God.

Review Questions

  • Where was Jesus teaching and who was He teaching?
  • What does “blessed” mean?
  • The eight characteristics are characteristics of who?
  • What are the eight characteristics?
  • What did Jesus make personal to His disciples at the end?