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?

Weekly Mind Dump: Blessed

✪ I went to the doctor this week with my wife and I asked the doctor if she would be willing to tell us the gender of the babies since we are foreigners. Normally, it is illegal for them to tell you. For foreigners though, it is a little confusing. Anyways, she agreed to let us find out…and as my wife wrote on Facebook: “Latest update on the twins: Baby A revealed his gender to us during yesterday’s ultrasound. Baby B is still a mystery.”

✪ Good news on our renting/remodeling situation. First, the homeowner of the two main apartments we rent agreed to sign a three-year contract and approved our remodeling plans. He is also hoping he can sell it to us in the future. Second, we are remodeling the main two apartments by putting in a nursery and then remodeling the newly rented room into a kids room. Lord willing, everything will be done by the end of this month.

✪ This past Friday was our ten-year wedding anniversary. I am blessed to have been married for ten years. God has been good to us. I also enjoyed the day (alone) with my lovely wife. On Friday, we had three families from the church each take one of the children to spend the night at their house. The children had a great time and two of families asked if the kids could stay over another night. It is Sunday afternoon now, and two of the kids are still out with friends playing and the smallest is home taking a nap. We are blessed to have such greats friends that love on our family and children. My wife has done a wonderful job training our girls.

✪ I was thinking about Chinese…and we know there are four main parts: listening, reading, writing, speaking (maybe grammar can be added as a separate grouping). Each grouping is separate from the other (although they are connected) and one doesn’t automatically help you build up the other. Thus, practicing speaking all day doesn’t help you improve the other three. Only practicing those other three will make you improve. Now, there is always a little influence and overlap in each area, but not to the degree that it is useful. Listening will help you with listening and not speaking. Speaking will help you speak, but doesn’t’ improve your listening. Reading characters will help you read but it doesn’t help you perfect writing. Each area needs to be equally studied if you want to equally perfect each area. One more thing that came to mind concerning writing…there are two types…pencil and paper and then typing. You could easily be able to type characters, but not able to write them with a pencil. So this is two sub-categories of writing. If I was grading myself from best to worst, according to how I studied, then it would be as follows: Speaking; Writing-typing; Reading; Listening; Writing-pencil.

✪ One of the American families that have been working in our church for the past few years is working towards starting their own church. This past week they hosted VBS in the housing complex that they bought a house in. They hosted it in their new house and the Lord blessed. They had a great turnout with over 30 kids and many parents. So far they haven’t had any problems from authorities or neighbors…since they have been building relationships in the community. I am very proud of them and the work they are boldly doing. We pray the Lord continues to bless them.

Remodeling: Adding a nursery on to the main auditorium.

View from 38 stories up overlooking the harbor.

Matthew: Jesus Calls And Ministers

Memory Verse: Matthew 4:19-20

4:12-17 Jesus, The Great Light

  • 4:12-13 When Jesus heard that John was cast into prison, He left Nazareth and departed for Galilee. He lived in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim. Matthew doesn’t record everything that Jesus did before He came to Galilee, but we know there was more from the other Gospel accounts. Therefore, we are told, “Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison,” so that we know where in the timeline of events that the following story took place.
    Matthew 14:1-12; John 1:29-4:42; Luke 4:14-30
  • 4:14-16 Jesus moved to this specific location to fulfill scripture. Isaiah (Esaias) the prophet said, “The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; The people which sat in darkness…”—This area had suffered from an invasion by Syria (their time of darkness). But the prophet continues saying they “saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.” Even though they had suffered in the past, there was hope in their future. Matthew tells us that this hope is going to be fulfilled in Jesus. Jesus is the Great Light. Just as light causes darkness to cease, Jesus will cause the captive to be free. If today you are living in a “dark” place, there is good news for you because Jesus brings the light of change. He is here to free you from your chains of bondage.
    Isaiah 9:1-2; 2 Kings 15:29
  • 4:17 The light was Jesus Himself and the message that He brought. From that time, Jesus began to preach. He came with a message for mankind, saying, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” This is the same message John the Baptist was preaching. Repentance is the change of mind that produces a change in behavior. The reason they needed to repent was because the kingdom of heaven—God’s rule over the life of believers is at hand. Jesus was here to establish God’s kingdom in the hearts of mankind. He is preaching salvation and the victorious life. Will you listen?
    Matthew 3:1-2

4:18-22 Jesus’ Call To Full-time Discipleship

  • 4:18-20 Jesus is walking by the sea of Galilee when he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and Andrew. We know from the Gospel of John that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist. Therefore, we know that these men have heard of Jesus. They know that He is possibly the promised Messiah. We can assume that they received John’s baptism and their hearts are ready for the Christ according to all that John the Baptist taught. These two men were also fishermen. As they were casting a net into the sea, Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Jesus had greater plans for their lives than they did. He called them out of their profession to “follow Him”. Every disciple of Jesus is called to follow Him wholeheartedly, but some will be called to leave their profession to serve Him full-time. Jesus’ plan for their lives is to make them “fishers of men” instead of “fishers of fish”. He is going to train them to take the message of the “kingdom of heaven” to the world. These two brothers immediately left their nets and followed Jesus. These men didn’t take the time to consider the implications of leaving their full-time occupations to follow Jesus, but they exemplified the faith needed to step out and follow the calling of God. God is calling some of you men to do the same.
    John 1:19-42
  • 4:21-22 Jesus went on from there and He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John. They were mending their nets in a ship with their father Zebedee. Jesus called them. He probably called them in the same way that He called the two other brothers. These two brothers immediately left the ship and their father, and followed Him. Not only did these two brothers leave the family business to follow Jesus, but they left their father. Jesus didn’t ask if their parents approved of them being in full-time ministry, but as men He knew they were to make a decision of their own. Today, the calling is the same, every man must make the decision about serving Jesus. It will cost you leaving your occupation. It will cost you leaving your parents. There is a price to pay, but it is worth it. God is looking for men today to give their lives to serve Him full-time. Will you?

4:23-25 Jesus’ Full-time Ministry

  • 4:23 Jesus went about all Galilee doing three things: (1) Teaching in their synagogues—these were places where the Jews congregated for worship and instruction, therefore Jesus would go there and cause them to understand the true meanings of the Old Testament Scriptures. (2) Preaching the gospel of the kingdom—Jesus would publicly proclaim the good news of the kingdom. Everything was going to change because of everything He was going to do and He was preaching this new way. It was a message for all to hear. (3) Healing all manner of sickness and disease among the people—Jesus also preformed works of compassion and mercy. He didn’t just focus on the rich and comfortable, but His message and healing power reached the lowest of the low among societies order of importance.
  • 4:24 Jesus fame went throughout all Syria, therefore, the people brought all the sick people that were taken with divers diseases, torments, possessed with devils, lunatics, and those who had the palsy unto Him and He healed them. Jesus didn’t turn away those who society would deem as crazy and not worthy of the time of such a leader who is quickly becoming famous. Jesus took time to minister to these people. He performed miracles that couldn’t be denied. The sick people were immediately healed every single time. It wasn’t like today’s false teachers who claim to heal people and it doesn’t work or the person wasn’t really sick and they claimed to be healed to cheat others into believing something false. The power for Jesus to heal also wasn’t based on the faith of the people He was healing, but was based on Him, the Healer. Today’s false teachers do the opposite, blame their failures on the lack of faith of others.
  • 4:25 The response to Jesus’ constant teaching, preaching and healing caused great multitudes of people from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judaea and from beyond Jordan to follow Jesus. Things were really happening and people were responding to Jesus. They wanted to know more about who this person was. I am sure their mind was filled with questions: Was He really performing miracles? Where did His wisdom of the Scriptures come from? What was this gospel of the kingdom He spoke of? Could this really be the Christ? They followed Jesus to find these answers and we will find them out as well.

Review Questions

  • Why was it important for Jesus to go to Galilee?
  • Who is the great light?
  • What did the first two brothers have to give up to follow Jesus?
  • What did the second two brothers have to give up to follow Jesus?
  • What three things did Jesus do as full-time ministry?

Weekly Mind Dump: 5

✪ We had another great Sunday. Because of our moving and remodeling and the lack of space during the transition, we have just been having the Sunday morning service for the last two weeks on Sunday. But we were given the key to the new place we rented today, so we should start getting back to our normal Sunday schedule next week and re-start the kids club next month.

✪ This has been a long week. I have done a lot of counseling and working through different problems with those in the church. It isn’t always fun, but it is always needed and always worth the time to invest in someone else’s life…even if you don’t get anything else done that day.

I went to the US embassy this week. During the train ride, I wrote a post and many seemed to enjoy it, if you missed it, you can read it here.

✪ I heard someone say you become the sum of the 5 people you are around the most. This made me think about how this applies to learning the language? Let me give it a go: Your language will become the sum of the 5 people you talk to (or communicate with) the most. So in China, if you are learning the language, you need to ask yourself, who are the five people I talk to the most every week (excluding spouse and kids)? Do you talk to 5 people within a week? Do you talk in Chinese or English? (Includes all forms of communication, face-to-face or Facebook.) If the 5 people you talk to the most every week aren’t talking to you in Chinese then you probably won’t learn the language. If some of the 5 people you talk to the most every week are talking to you in Chinese then you might learn the language. If the 5 people you talk to the most every week are talking to you in Chinese then you most likely will learn the language.

✪ In the quote below, there are three areas that are mentioned as problems for missionaries adjusting to a new culture during their first term on the field. The three areas mentioned are relationships, ministry, and expectations. I would agree with this. Relationships are hard to form under the stress of a new culture and we become self-focused and forget to love one another. Ministry is often harder to do and many don’t know how to go about it or they get so busy with surviving their new life that they don’t have time to serve. Expectations are set really high before arriving or one thinks others have set these unrealistic expectations for them and the weight of the language and new culture often causes them not to live up to it. Whatever aspect the author is looking at these three areas from, struggling to adjust to new relationships, not finding fulfillment in ministry and failing expectations all can crush one’s spirit. Missionaries can easily fall into the trap of thinking about how much better their relationships, ministry, and ability to fulfill expectations were in America. It is a struggle of the mind and a missionary needs encouragement and ultimately connect these three areas with his true identity in Christ. Only after this is done can we work through the practical problems that arise on the field.

Quote from Culture Shock by Myron Loss

Matthew: Jesus Resists The Temptation Of Satan

4:1-11 Jesus Resists The Temptation Of Satan

Memory Verse: Matthew 4:4

4:1-2 Temptation: Darkness That Follows The Light

  • 1:1-3:17 So far, everything we have studied about Jesus has been glorious. We studied His genealogy that pointed to Him having the right linage to fulfill the prophecies of the coming Christ. We then studied His miraculous virgin birth as He was declared the One who would save His people from their sins. Wise men brought presents to worship Him—the only one worthy of worship. The king was threatened by this young child who was born in a manger, and tried to have Him killed, but He was protected. He grew older and at the right time He found John the Baptist and received His baptism to fulfill all righteousness. Finally, the heavens opened, He received the Spirit of God and God declared, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
  • 4:1 Now, the glorious story turns dim and Jesus is tempted to do wrong. We have heard that He is the Son of God, and now we will find out as Jesus is led by the Spirit up into the wilderness (a desolate place) to be tempted of the devil. God does not tempt anyone, but He allows it to happen and uses it in our lives. God does test us. The difference between the two is in the motivation: one who tempts another hopes that he will fail and do wrong. The one who tests another hopes that he will succeed and do right. For believers, we need to realize that our salvation is a glorious experience, but there will be a time after we are saved that our new reality will be tempted and tested. Just like Jesus, we have the Holy Spirit to help us. We also have the promise from God that He will not allow us to be tempted above what we are able to bear and He will make a way to escape.
    James 1:2-6, 12-15; 1 Corinthians 10:13
  • 4:2 Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights. Fasting is when you choose not to eat or drink for a certain period of time so that you can focus on spiritual disciplines like praying. When He was done fasting, He was hungry and physically weak, but spiritually strong
    Luke 4:2

4:3-4 The First Temptation: “Prove Your Identity”

  • 4:3 The First Temptation: The Devil, who is the tempter (hoping people fail), came to Jesus and said, “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” The Devil might have been there when God from heaven declared Jesus as His Son, because now he is challenging Jesus’ identity. He says, “If” which introduces a condition clause and cast subtle doubt on what was already stated. The Devils point is that Jesus turning stones into bread would prove His identity as the Son of God. He also knew Jesus is physically weak and hungry, so he uses food or nourishment to tempt Him to prove His identity. The devil will use things in our life that we crave or when we are weak to cause us to doubt our identity in Christ.
  • 4:4 The First Reply: Even though Jesus was physically weak and hungry He was confident in His identity as the Son of God—because of the very Word of God. Jesus answers the Devils temptation saying, “It is written” and then quoting the following scripture: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Jesus didn’t need to prove who He was by doing a miracle to provide Himself bread at the Devils beckoning, but could rely on the very word of God that proceeds from God’s mouth—meaning everything from the declaration of heaven to the entirety of scripture. Thus He is rejecting the miracle as needed proof and trusting in God’s Word as proof. Physical food is important, but so is trusting God at His word.
    Deuteronomy 8:3

4:5-7 The Second Temptation: “Prove Your Trust”

  • 4:5-6 The Second Temptation: Next, the Devil took Jesus up into Jerusalem (the holy city), and set him on a pinnacle of the temple. He then said to Jesus, “If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.” Since Jesus quoted scripture and declared its importance, the Devil decided he would try to use scripture to tempt Jesus this time. It is like the Devil is saying, if you really live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God, then prove it. He knew that if he was really the Son of God that the angels would take care of Him and He should test it to prove His trust in the scriptures. The devil will even use the Bible (out-of-context) to cause us to doubt our trust in God and His Word.
    Psalm 91:11-12
  • 4:7 The Second Reply: Jesus knew the scripture that the Devil used was true, but that He used it out-of-context and for Jesus to needlessly throw himself of the top of the temple just to test if God would save Him was unnecessary and wrong. Jesus quoted scripture back, that counteracts the devil’s motive, which says, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” We are not to tempt God and put Him to the test. It shows our lack of faith, trust and dependence on Him and His word. Jesus knew this and would not play the Devil’s games. This scripture was given to protect Jesus, not for Him to live a reckless life.
    Deuteronomy 6:16

4:8-11 The Third Temptation: “Prove Your Allegiance”

  • 4:8-9 The Third Temptation: Again, the devil took Jesus, this time up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them. Then the Devil tempted Jesus saying, “All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” It’s as if the Devil concludes that Jesus isn’t going to do a miracle at his bidding, and so he ask for something more subtle, yet more costly. He wanted Jesus to pledge His allegiance to Him as God by falling down and worshiping him in exchange for an earthly kingdom. The devil will try to tempt you with fame, wealth, power, authority etc in exchange for your allegiance to God.
  • 4:10-11 The Third Reply: Jesus quickly replies to the Devil, “Get thee hence, Satan.” He refers to Him as Satan (adversary, accuser), tells him to be gone and then quotes the following scripture: “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” Jesus knows that only true worship and service should be given to God—the Supreme Being. Satan wants to be God. He wanted Jesus to treat him like He would treat God. Jesus was unwilling to trade His allegiance in for anything. He pledged His allegiance to God. Finally, the devil left Jesus and angels came and ministered unto him.
    Deuteronomy 6:13

Review Questions

  • What happened before Jesus went to the wilderness?
  • How many days did Jesus fast?
  • What was the first temptation? Jesus’ response?
  • What was the second temptation? Jesus’ response?
  • What was the third temptation? Jesus’ response?