Matthew: The Cost Of Genuine Allegiance To Jesus

Memory Verse: Matthew 8:22

8:18-20 Genuine Allegiance Comes With A Price

  • 8:18a At this point in Jesus’ narrative He is gaining popularity because of his authoritative teaching style and content as well as the amazing miracles that He is performing among the people. Great multitudes started following Him. People were interested in this man who claimed to be the Son of God. But were these people sincere in their willingness to follow Jesus? Or were they just wanting to come to Jesus to see what He could do for them? Were they interested in the physical healing Jesus had to offer but not willing to pledge their allegiance to Jesus as the Lord of their life?
  • 8:18b When Jesus saw the multitude was about Him, He gave commandment to depart unto the other side of the sea. We aren’t told why Jesus wanted depart from the multitude, but it seems that one of the reason could be that He was testing them to see who would follow Him, even if it cost them to do so. If the journey across the sea was too inconvenient for people to dissuade them from following this Prophet who is teaching and doing things that they never seen before, then their faith probably wasn’t genuine.
  • 8:19a This is exactly what happens. As they make preparations to depart, a certain scribe came unto Jesus and said, “Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.” Jesus apparent test has called out a man who is pledging his allegiance to Jesus. He refers to Jesus as “Master” or “Teacher” which indicates he was familiar with His teaching or position. Jesus is about to embark on a journey and so this man wants to follow—to go with Him. But his commitment is much deeper than this single journey, he adds “whithersoever thou goest”. He is pledging to be a full-time committed follower of Jesus. But was this artificial or genuine allegiance? Was this decision really thought through or was it just an impulsive decision? Was he just looking for a new job?
  • 8:19b What did this pledge of allegiance mean for a scribe? A scribe was a Jew who could read and write and acted as a secretary. Moreover they were often involved in teaching, making copies, and interpreting the Old Testament. Thus, the scribes often became authorities concerning the law. When Jesus came, He challenged their authority and interpretations of the law—showing the hypocrisy of many. So for this man to pledge his allegiance to Jesus, the one who often challenged the scribes, would be seen as joining forces with the enemy. His peers would most likely disapprove of him. Genuine allegiance to Jesus comes with a price.
  • 8:20 The cost of this allegiance is what Jesus points to in His response to the man. Jesus says to him, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” Jesus answer could point to the physical journey they are about to make across the sea, telling the man that the journey doesn’t have anywhere to stay for the night once they arrive but it points to so much more. Jesus used the example that foxes and birds both have places that they call home, but the Son of man, Jesus, doesn’t have such a place while He is on earth. This means several things for the scribe or anyone else who is willing to follow Jesus: (1) No home—our home is the place we feel comfortable, where we store our possessions, and where we sleep at night. Jesus is saying that true allegiance to Him means being willing to give up those things in order to be free from earthly ties. How many people don’t serve Jesus because of they’re earthly desires? (2) No security—a home also gives a sense of security. But Jesus is saying that you are to trade in that security for faith. How many people choose to not follow Jesus because they rather live “secure” lives instead of “faithful” lives? The Bible doesn’t record the man’s response. What is your response?

8:21-22 Genuine Allegiance Means Following Jesus Today

  • 8:21 Then another disciple of Jesus said unto Jesus, “Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.” This man had apparently already made a decision to follow Jesus to some degree. But when he decided to follow Jesus there was a loyalty conflict in his life. This man still felt an obligation to take care of his parents. His allegiance to his family came in conflict with his allegiance to Jesus. The phrase “bury my father” doesn’t necessarily mean that his father was already dead and he needed to quickly bury him (otherwise why is he talking with Jesus and not already at home taking care of the funeral), but it has the deeper meaning of going and taking care of his parents until they pass away and he receives his inheritance—then he would be willing to serve Jesus. The idea behind his words is that he will serve Jesus: (1) after his father has died—possibly sometime in the distant future when his family obligation is fulfilled; (2) after he receives his inheritance—when he is more financially stable. There was going to be a delay between his willingness to serving Jesus and actually serving Jesus. Maybe he felt this obligation or maybe his parents were putting pressure on him to do so.

 

  • 8:22 How does Jesus respond to such a request? (1) First he says, “Follow me”—meaning that His disciple it to continue following Him. He was not to leave Jesus until it was more convenient for him to serve Jesus, but was to keep on the path he already started. Jesus was teaching him and all future disciples that allegiance to Jesus is more important than allegiance to their earthly families. (2) Second, He says, “Let the dead bury their dead”—this is a strange saying unless we understand it as the “spiritual dead” (unbelievers) can take care of the things of this world (maintaining life until burying the dead), but the “spiritually alive” (believers) are to be busy with the heavenly and spiritual matters. To be a disciple meant to take immediate action and the allegiance to Jesus was the absolute priority in your life.
  • Salvation: Jesus is looking for genuine disciples. He is looking for real believers—those who truly believe in their inner-most-being that He is the Son of God who holds the key to eternal life. Those who through repentance and faith have decided to follow Him no matter the cost. A person who realizes the Jesus is the number one priority in their life. Jesus comes first. Are your truly following Jesus? Or are you saying you will become a believer later in life when it is more convenient?
  • Service: Are you following Jesus plan for your life? Maybe like the twelve disciples you have been chosen out to serve God full-time—to be a preacher of the gospel. If you are a man with this call on your life, are you being obedient? Discipleship means being obedient to Jesus in all areas of your life. It means at salvation you said, “Yes” to Jesus’ will for your life and you are willing to try and live that out. What excuse are you using to avoid His will for your life?—Jesus looks to you and says, “Follow Me”.

Review Questions

  • What does the first man say to Jesus?
  • What is Jesus response to the first man? What does it mean?
  • What does the second man say to Jesus?
  • What is Jesus response to the second man? What does it mean?
  • What is the cost of genuine allegiance to Jesus?

Matthew: Jesus Heals Infirmities, Sicknesses, Possessions

Memory Verse: Matthew 8:16-17

8:1-4 Jesus Heals A Leper

  • 8:1 Jesus just finished His teaching to the disciples and the people who followed Him. He came down from the mountain and great multitudes continued to follow him. Everyone was amazed by His authoritative teaching, but they are about to be even more amazed by what He does next. Jesus will prove His authority through His healing power.
  • 8:2-3 A leper came and worshipped Jesus. Leprosy is a contagious skin disease that causes skin lesions, nerve damage and sometimes deformities. In Jesus day, this person would be an outcast from society. This man knew Jesus was more than just a man. He called Jesus “Lord,” and said, “if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.” This leprous man had genuine faith in Jesus. We can know this because he worshipped Jesus and stated Jesus ability to perform a miracle according to Jesus’ will. Who but God should be worshipped or do miracles? This man was professing real faith. Jesus responds by putting forth His hand and touching the leper—Jesus actually touches the “unclean” man rejected by society and who has this contagious disease—saying, “I will; be thou clean.” Immediately the man’s leprosy was gone and he was cleansed. Jesus is showing that His teaching has power behind it and that He came to heal, not just the physically unclean, but also those who are spiritual unclean. Like this leper, it doesn’t matter how unclean you are Jesus is willing to make you spiritually clean—to forgive your sin.
    Mark 1:41, 42; Luke 5:12, 13; Leviticus 5:3
  • 8:4 After he was healed, Jesus told the man to not tell anyone—because it would hinder Jesus’ work at that point—but to go his way and show himself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them—he probably was tempted to tell everyone he was healed and not make the journey to Jerusalem or to follow the necessary procedures to certify and publicly demonstrate he was really cured. But he needed to go, so he could be restored, declared clean as the law required. From this point on, His life would be changed. He no longer would be an outcast, but he would be accepted by his people again. Jesus healed more than just his sickness, but restored his humanity, his life. Jesus wants to change your life—all of it.
    Leviticus 13:1-59; 14:1-32

8:5-13 Jesus Heals A Servant Sick Of The Palsy

  • 8:5-6 Jesus went to Capernaum and when He entered into the village a centurion came to ask something of Him. Jesus was informed that he had a servant at home who was sick of the palsy and grievously tormented because of it. He was lying down because the palsy meant he was crippled or was disabled in his legs or feet. Paralysis is disease of the central nervous system and it probably started at the feet and spread through his body, now at the point of death.
    Luke 7:2-6
  • 8:7-9 Jesus responds to this man who address Him as “Lord,” saying that He is willing to come and heal the sick man—(Jews saw entering Gentile houses as unclean, but Jesus was willing to go anyway). The centurion did not feel worthy for Jesus to come to his house. The centurion was not Jewish, but an officer of the Roman army. He would command around one-hundred people, but also would take orders from higher authorities. This man understood authority and how it worked (he even had servants speaking on his behalf). He knew that based on Jesus authority it was unnecessary for Jesus to come to His house, that He could just speak the words without going and seeing the sick servant, and the servant would be healed. He showed genuine faith in Jesus.
    Luke 7:1-10
  • 8:10-13 When Jesus heard the centurions response, he marvelled, and decided to use it as a teaching point to those who were following Him. He told them that He didn’t find such “great faith” in Israel. This would be hard to hear, because the Jews were to be God’s people and yet this gentile had greater faith than them. Then Jesus goes on to show that people from all nations (from the East and West) will be saved (shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven). On the contrary, the people who are supposed to be God’s people—Jews (the children of the kingdom) are going to reject Jesus and won’t be saved (shall be cast out into outer darkness) and enter eternal punishment (there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth). Those with genuine faith in Jesus will be saved and those without genuine faith in Jesus won’t be saved, no matter who you are, Jewish or gentile. After Jesus teaches this important lesson, He turns to the centurion and tells him to go his way and it will be done according to what he believed. Therefore, his servant was healed in that hour. Jesus speaks with the authority of God.

8:14-15 Jesus Heals A Mother-in-law Sick Of A Fever

  • 8:14-15 Next, Jesus went to Peter’s house and saw Peter’s mother-in-law laying in bed sick of a fever (which could be the result of an infection or something else serious). Jesus touches her hand and the fever left her. She gets out of bed and starts to minister to them.
    Mark 1:29-31; Luke 4:38-39

8:16-17 Jesus Heals The Many Who Were Possessed And Sick

  • 8:16 In the evening, the people brought many people who were possessed with devils unto Jesus. Jesus cast out the spirits with His word. Jesus also healed all that were sick—it doesn’t matter what sickness it was, He could heal it all. Jesus has the authority of God to heal and speaks with the authority of God. Unlike modern day false healers, Jesus could just speak or touch a person and they would be healed instantly and definitely.
  • 8:17 Matthew tells us Jesus did this so that what the prophet Isaiah (Esaias) spoke would be fulfilled: “Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.” Jesus came to heal us of our sins forever. The temporal healing of these people (as they would also die one day) was a foreshadow of what Jesus was going to accomplish on the cross. He would permanently take away our sin and it’s consequences (including infirmities and sickness) for all those who have faith in Him. They will live in a place where this is no more death, sorrow, crying or pain. Also, for Him to heal people would give evidence to who He was claiming to be, the Son of God, and thus to His crucifixion. Therefore, for Jesus to heal would mean that He would have to pay the costs, and this was all part of the plan to bring true healing—momentary and eternally.
    Isaiah 53:4; Palms 103:3; Revelation 21:4

Review Questions

  • What did the leper do when he came to Jesus?
  • What was the leper to do after he was healed? Why?
  • Why did Jesus marvel at the centurions response?
  • What does Jesus healing ministry teach us about His authority?
  • What does this foreshadow Jesus doing?

Weekly Mind Dump: New Video

✪ Watch our new video: 2017 Ministry Update.

✪ Giving Opportunity: Discipleship material, books, and bibles. (1) We are getting our discipleship material professionally printed instead of printing them in-house. We have a total of five books. Each book has 30 lessons in it (except for the special edition one). Two books are still in the developmental stage, but three of the books are ready to print. We would like to print anywhere from 100-500 of each book. Of course, the more we buy per printing the less expensive it is. But it will cost around $1.50 per book to print. (2) We buy Bibles in China and give them out to every first-time visitor that comes to our church or anyone that needs one free of charge. We recently gave a new church plant many bibles to use. Our stock of Bibles at the church is running low and we will be putting an order in to buy some more bibles soon. We would like to buy several hundred more. Bibles cost anywhere from $3-$5 per Bible. (3) There is also a book that we buy and give out to first-time visitors that is the testimony of a Chinese man who got saved. It has been a witness and help to many people. We are also running low on this book. These are three ways that you can give directly to help the church stock up on materials, bibles, and resources. If given for this purpose, we will use 100% of it for this purpose. Contact me for details.

✪ Our “Big Day” we had a couple weeks ago went well. We had three lost people in the service who heard the gospel. Last week was a slow week because everyone was on holiday for the National Day and Mid-autumn Festival. I enjoyed the extra time with family.

✪ In family news, our youngest is finally potty trained…or getting there. We are also looking at getting her into a preschool soon. Our middle daughter has started preschool every day. Our oldest has started homeschooling. We found out that the twins are….one boy and one girl. My wife is having her ups and downs…it has been a tough pregnancy but she is doing good.

✪ Lord willing, we will be starting a new school semester for our bible college students in the coming week. Pray as we are making the final preparations.

✪ Do you or someone you know want to “become a missionary to China”? What are your next steps? It depends on what life-stage you are in. Click here to read my three recommended steps from where you are now. It is my desire to help you make an impact in China.

Beautiful weather as we run on in the early morning.

A car caught on fire near where we live. The firefighters did a great job.

One of our recent lunches…it was awesome (crabs, clams, etc.)

Evening Traffic :-)

October 2017 Prayer Letter

To know Jesus and to make Him known. That is the reason we wake up every day. To joyfully live for the glory of Jesus’ name.

On Sunday morning, many will get on a bus and travel varying distances. Once they arrive at the destination they get off and enter a very tall building. They get on the elevator and take it too well over the 20th floor. From this high up you have an amazing view of the city. But they didn’t come here to see the view, they came here to know Jesus and to make Him known. That is our mission at Grace Baptist Church.

To accomplish this mission we set forth to love God, love others, and make disciples. Fear often cripples the well-intentioned, thus as we started this amazing journey many years ago we had to challenge the status quo through radical obedience to God’s word.

God has blessed us in planting a church and training the next generation to know Jesus and to make Him known

We thank the Lord for the work that has been accomplished, but there is so much we haven’t done yet. This amazing adventure isn’t over, it’s just beginning, will you join us? Pray, Give, Go!

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.

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 Authenticity Of Believers

Memory Verse: Matthew 7:24-25

7:15-20 Discerning Prophets

  • 7:15 Jesus warns His disciples to beware of false prophets. False prophets are people who deliberately pretend to be a prophet to deceive others. These are people who claim to know and understand “God’s Word,” but they teach it falsely, often in a way that is very deceptive. Jesus says that these false prophets will come to us—meaning they will approach believers purposefully and when they do, they will come wearing “sheep’s clothing”—meaning they will appear to be real believers, but inwardly they are “ravening wolves”—meaning that aren’t believers but are there to cause harm to believers.
  • In Jesus’ day, the Bible wasn’t complete so there were still prophets who had direct revelation from God for mankind. Some people claimed to be prophets even though they weren’t and they would falsely speak for God where He didn’t speak.
  • Today, we have the Bible and no longer have need of prophets who get direct Revelation from God like in the Old Testament. Therefore, our highest authority is the Bible and everything a person says or teaches should be judged against it.
  • 7:16-18, 20 If false prophets are so deceptive, how can we know if they are a false prophet? Jesus gives us a test. He says we can know them “by their fruits”—meaning what their teachings produce will give evidence that they are real or betray their disguise and show they are false. Therefore, we are not to just listen to what a person says, but also watch what a person does. Jesus uses two illustrations: (1) First, do we gather grapes and figs (good fruit) from bushes of thorns and thistles? (2) Second, all good trees produce good fruit and can’t produce evil fruit. On the contrary, all corrupt trees produce evil fruit and cannot produce good fruit. The quality of the fruit gives evidence to the nature of the tree, whether it is good or evil, and it is impossibly for them to produce something contrary to their nature. What kind of “fruit” are they producing?
  • 7:19 Judgement (hewn down) awaits those who are false prophets (corrupt trees). They are known by two characteristics: (1) the produce evil fruit; (2) they don’t produce good fruit. Just like a corrupt tree is cast into the fire, so will the false prophets after the final judgment (eternal damnation).
    Matthew 3:10

7:21-23 Discerning Believers

  • 7:21 There are many people who profess Jesus as Lord, but Jesus says there are two different results: those who do enter the kingdom and those who don’t. What causes the difference? Jesus says those “that doeth the will of my Father” will enter the kingdom. Jesus is not saying that works merit our salvation but that true faith produces works. Therefore, we know that there are genuine and false believers. A genuine believer professes faith in Jesus and that faith changes his life, thus his faith is manifest by doing the will of the Father. A false believer says unto Jesus, “Lord, Lord,” professing faith in Him, but never really believed, thus his lack of faith is manifest by not doing the will of the Father. They confessed Jesus in word but rejected Him in the rest of their life. (Note: Jesus says, “My Father which is in heaven” which is His claim to be the Son of God.)
  • 7:22-23 On Judgement Day, many people will say to Jesus, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied, cast out devils and done many wonderful works in thy name?” Then Jesus will respond to them saying, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” The false believers are claiming they did great works in Jesus’ name. This is a false claim or a “lying wonder” because they couldn’t have had genuine works apart from genuine faith. Jesus says He didn’t know them, they were never real believers even though they called themselves so. They were trusting in the “works in Jesus’ name” as their evidence for their relationship with God, but they sadly did everything except the will of God—which is to believe on Him whom He hath sent—Jesus.
    John 6:28-29; 1 John 3:4; 2 Thessalonians. 2:9

7:24-27 Discerning Foundations

  • 7:24-25 If you don’t want to be the person Jesus just described and of whom He said, “I never knew you,” then when you hear all of these teachings of Jesus you should do them. Obedience is the response to genuine faith. Jesus uses a parable to strengthen His point. He says this type of person is a wise person who builds his house upon a rock. A rock is a stable foundation. When it rains, floods waters come and the winds blow—all beating upon the house, it won’t fall because it was founded upon a rock. Therefore, Jesus is the rock of our foundation. When we believe in Him and then live a life of obedience in response to our faith, we are showing that He is our stable foundation and assurance against all other trials of our faith—we will prevail (eternal joy with God).
  • 7:26-27 On the contrary, when you hear all of these teachings of Jesus and you don’t do them then you are deceiving yourself. Disobedience is not the response to genuine faith. Jesus continues the parable to strengthen this point. He says this type of person is a foolish person who builds his house upon sand. Sand is an unstable foundation. When it rains, floods waters come and the winds blow—all beating upon the house, it will fall because it was founded upon the sand. Its fall will be great—it will be utterly destroyed. Therefore, Jesus is not the rock of your foundation. When you believe in Him and then don’t live a life of obedience in response to your faith, you are showing that He is not your foundation. Your assurance is built on unstable ground and the trails against your faith will prevail—you will be destroyed (eternal separation from God).

7:28-29 True Authority

  • 7:28-29 When Jesus had said everything He wanted to say, He ended His teaching (that He started in chapter 5 verse 1). When Jesus started His teaching He saw a multitude of people and then He went up into a mountain and sat down. His disciples followed and He taught them. Apparently, others followed them or He was speaking loudly enough for others who were part of the “multitude” to hear. When He was finished teaching the people were astonished. Why? Because of His doctrine—the manner and content was characterized by authority. He apparently had a commanding manner and they recognized His knowledge about the way of God. He had the power to influence. He wasn’t a “normal teacher” or someone who had doubts like the scribes. Jesus taught like He had the power and the right to give orders and speak on behalf of God. He did.

Review Questions

    • Believers need to beware of what?
    • What is the test Jesus gives us to discern what a person teaches?
    • What are the two kinds of people who profess? Why the difference?
    • What is the parable of the two foundations? Application?
    • What were the people astonished at? Why?

Weekly Mind Dump: Pray For Tomorrow

✪ So the last steps of our visas are underway. We received our “work permit” card which was a huge blessing and we have applied for our “residence permit” which should be given to us in about three weeks or so and everything should be done. Thank you for praying with us about this visa process. Hopefully, this will be the new path that we will be using to serve in China for years to come, Lord willing.

✪ Last Sunday we had a send-off service for the American family and the Chinese man who is leaving our church to start a new work in the city. It was a great service and they have been a blessing to our ministry over the years. Please pray for them as they are in the process of renting a place to start meeting in.

✪ This coming Sunday we are having a “big day” event playing off a Chinese holiday. There are two major holidays that run into each other. The national day is on Sunday and most people will be going home because they get off work/school for eight days or so. But for those that are local and don’t have a family event or haven’t left the city yet, we are trying to do a special event. Pray for our services tomorrow and that we will have some first-time visitors who will hear the gospel.

✪ After Sunday, it will be a slow week in the ministry because all our students and many of our church people will be returning to their hometowns or where their parents/in-laws are currently living to celebrate the holidays. But I am looking forward to spending some extra time with family and getting caught up on a few things to prepare for our upcoming new semester with the students when they return.

✪ We have had a great and productive week this week. We have been having class every morning for four hours and making preparations for our events over this upcoming year.

Send-Off Service

Work Permit Card

A barbequed chicken head I ate this past Friday night.

Sun starting to set over our city as we cross the road.

Matthew: Jesus’ Teachings: The Firm Faith Of Believers

Memory Verse: Matthew 6:33

6:19-21 Disciples Invest In Heavenly Treasures, Not Earthly

  • 6:19 Jesus starts to teach His disciples what it means to wholeheartedly love God over everything else, including money. He tells the disciples to, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth.” “Lay” means to “store away something for future use.” He says that we are not to store away treasure for ourselves here on this earth. Why do people store away things here on earth? For greater accumulation and for future use or security. We often find our value in how many valuables we have. We worry about our future. But Jesus tells us the reason He doesn’t want us to store up these earthly treasure is because “moth and rust doth corrupt” and “thieves break through and steal.” All earthy treasures can be destroyed or taken away. As believers, our faith, confidence and hope can’t be in things so easily corruptible. Our value is not found in our valuables. Jesus wants our faith to go much deeper than only the: “get out of hell, get to go to heaven” type of motivation. He wants  you to trust God with everything, everyday.
  • 6:20 Jesus does want us to store up treasures but in heaven. Jesus wants us to have a heavenly focus with our treasure. “Treasure” in normal terms means wealth you accumulate based on what is valuable, such as money or property. It is the things that you put all your effort into to obtain. It is what you value the most. But when Jesus uses the term in reference to heaven, He doesn’t mean we are to store up “money” in heaven, but we are to place God and our service for Him as the most valuable thing in our lives. It means all your decisions in life will be based in advancing the kingdom of God and not advancing your personal earthy kingdom. Why heaven? Because it is a place where “neither moth nor rust doth corrupt” and “where thieves do not break through nor steal.” Our heavenly treasure cannot be destroyed or taken away. It means that if you live for God it will be worth it, but if you live for anything else, it won’t be worth it. Earthly rewards will fade away, but heavenly rewards will last forever.
  • 6:21 Where is your treasure? Where is the place that you are storing up what you think is the most valuable? Is it here on earth or in heaven? For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Your heart and your treasure are connected. You lead your heart by devoting yourself to whatever you think is most important. Where is your investment?

6:22-24 Disciples Serve God, Not Money

  • 6:22-23 Next, Jesus uses an analogy. He says that light comes into the body through the eye—meaning the eyes function to receive light allowing us to see and benefits the whole body. He goes on to say that if the eye is healthy (single) then the whole body will be full of light, but if the eye isn’t healthy (evil) then light can’t come in and the body will be filled with darkness—and if therefore the light that is in someone is darkness, how great is that darkness. What does Jesus mean? A person can only receive spiritual light when they are born again (healthy eye) and function properly when they are devoted to God. A person with a bad eye (unbeliever) doesn’t live according to the spiritual light and he is wondering in darkness even if he thinks he can see the light.
  • 6:24 Are you devoted to God? You can only serve one master, not two. You will either hate the one, and love the other or you will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot equally love both. You cannot equally be devoted to both. The two masters that people try to serve at the same time is God and money (mammon). Most people are controlled by money. They need it. They want a better life. They want to help others. They let it guide their life and make their decisions. They are focused on obtaining it. Sadly, believers often serve money and God, but money becomes their priority. Their devotion to God lacks, they aren’t committed to doing God’s will over making money and they have no time for attending church, serving or for the things of God. Their priority is their job or studies—(need a degree to make money). For what? For earthly wealth that doesn’t matter. They are wasting their lives. They are miserable. True discipleship calls believers to love, serve and be committed to God. To what extreme? To the same extreme that Jesus exemplified.

6:25-33 Disciples Seek After God, Not Worry

  • 6:25 If God is really the Master of our lives, then we should heed to Jesus’ next command, “Take no thought for your life.” We don’t need to be anxious and worry about our lives, such as food or clothes. Life is so much more that the daily necessities—food and clothing are important but they are not the most important. We are to trust in God no matter if we are rich or poor. To Jesus’ disciples, who were called to serve full-time, he is reminding them not to worry. He knows that full-time servants need money, food, clothing—but they are not to worry about those things. They serve and He will take care of those.
  • 6:26-30 Jesus gives us some examples to show that God is in control and that He cares for us. (1) Food: The birds don’t sow, reap or gather food into barns, yet our Heavenly Father feeds them. We are more important than birds. (2) Anxious: Who by being anxious (taking thought) can add one cubit unto his stature? Our worry achieves nothing. (3) Clothes: consider the lilies of the field. They grow but they don’t toil or spin, yet they are wonderfully “clothed”. (Even Solomon’s clothes in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.) We don’t need to worry about what we will wear. If God cares about clothing grass, which is not important and is used to fuel the fire, then of course He cares for us and will clothe us. God, as our Heavenly Father, doesn’t want us to worry, but to pray and trust Him to take care of these basic daily needs. Why don’t we? Because of little faith.
    Matthew 6:9-13
  • 6:31-33 Instead of be anxious about food and clothes (like “Gentiles”—unbelievers) we are to trusts that our Heavenly Father knows that we have need of all these things. Since we aren’t worrying about these things, but trusting God to provide, He doesn’t want us just to be idle, but instead he wants us to use our time to seek first—as the most important—His kingdom and His righteousness (God’s will, not ours). When we do this—all these things that we were anxious about will be added unto us (needs, not all desires).

6:34 Disciples Focus On Today, Not Tomorrow

  • 6:34 “Therefore”—since we are seeking first after God then we don’t need to be anxious (take no thought) about tomorrow. We focus on today. Everyday we should defer our worries until tomorrow—meaning we are to never worry because worry never comes, it is always today and never tomorrow. This doesn’t mean life will be easy, because Jesus says that everyday has its own sufficient amount of trouble (evil). He is saying that everyday we should deal with that day’s problems and decisions and not worry about the future. How many people make decisions today based on tomorrow’s anxieties? This points to a lack of faith in God. If we can trust God in the big things (salvation) then we can trust him in the small things (daily necessities). We live by faith not by anxiety.
    Proverbs 27:1

Review Questions

  • Disciples invest in what? Not in what?
  • Disciples serve who? Not who?
  • Disciples seek after who? Not what?
  • Disciples focus on what? Not on what?
  • Believers should live by faith or by anxiety?

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!