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Posts tagged ‘Matthew’

Why Should We Study the Genealogies?.


At first glance, the beginning of Matthew is a less-than-exciting literary starting point of the New Testament. It is a list of “begats” tracing Jesus‘ lineage back to Abraham.

What this beginning lacks in literary punch it makes up for in theological significance. Among other things, the genealogical tables of the New Testament place the gospel squarely on the plane of history. Jesus was born “in the fullness of time”—His ministry is defined and interpreted against the background of Old Testament history.

The New Testament provides two genealogical tables for Jesus, one by Matthew and one by Luke. These tables differ at significant points. Matthew was writing for a Jewish audience and Luke for a Gentile audience. Matthew was concerned to show that Jesus legally descended from David and was therefore a descendant of Judah to whom the messianic kingship was promised. Matthew treats the legal descent of Jesus and limits the lists to three groupings of fourteen generations, allowing himself to make omissions.

Luke follows the natural descent with greater detail. He takes the list back to Adam, as it was a central theme in his Gospel to set forth the universality of the gospel. Jesus is indeed the Son of Abraham and the Son of David, but He is also the new Adam who comes to redeem not only Israel but men and women from every tribe and nation.

Taken from “Tracing the Genealogy of Jesus” by Ligonier Ministries (used by permission).

Our Annual Christmas IQ Quiz.


How well do you know the Christmas story?

Most of us know the general outline because we’ve heard or sung it or watched it being enacted in the Christmas programs that most churches offer during December. We know about the shepherds, the angels, the “Wise Men,” the star, the innkeeper, the long journey of Mary and Joseph, the baby in the manger, and we know about the gold, frankincense and myrrh. But how much of what we know is tradition and how much comes from the Bible?

For the last several years David Langerfeld, Associate Pastor of Harrisburg Baptist Church in Tupelo, has given a Christmas IQ Test to his Sunday School class. I should warn you that this is a tough quiz. When I took it, I missed several questions. Try taking it first without checking the Bible to see how well you know the real Christmas story.

For extra fun, make copies of this quiz for your Sunday School class or small group and see how much everyone knows about the Christmas story.

Click here to read the answers (along with a few additional comments from me).

1. Joseph was originally from… (Luke 2:3)
A. Bethlehem
B. Nazareth
C. Hebron
D. Jerusalem
E. None of the above

2. What does the Bible say that the Innkeeper said to Mary and Joseph? (Luke 2:7)
A. “There is no room in the inn.”
B. “I have a stable you can use.”
C. “Come back later and I should have some vacancies.”
D. Both A and B
E. None of the above

3. A manger is a…
A. Stable for domestic animals
B. Wooden hay storage bin
C. Feeding trough
D. Barn

4. Which animals does the Bible say were present at Jesus’ birth?
A. Cows, sheep, goats
B. Cows, Donkeys, goats
C. Sheep and goats only
D. Miscellaneous barnyard animals
E. None of the above

5. Who saw the star in the east?
A. Shepherds
B. Mary and Joseph
C. Three Kings
D. Both A and C
E. None of the above

6. According to the Bible, how did Mary and Joseph get to Bethlehem?
A. Camel
B. Donkey
C. Walked
D. Joseph walked, Mary rode a donkey
E. Horse-drawn chariot
F. Who knows?

7. How many angels spoke to the shepherds? (Luke 2:10)
A. One
B. Three
C. Multitude
D. None of the above

8. What did the angels say/sing? (Luke 2:14)
A. “Glory to God in the highest, etc.”
B. “Alleluia”
C. “Unto us a child is born, Unto us a son is given”
D. “Joy the world, the Lord is come”
E. “Glory to the newborn King”

9. What is a heavenly host?
A. The angel at the gate of heaven
B. The angel who serves refreshments in heaven
C. An angel choir
D. An angel army
E. None of the above

10. There was snow that first Christmas…
A. Only in Bethlehem
B. All over Israel
C. Nowhere in Israel
D. Somewhere in Israel

11. What is Frankincense?
A. A precious metal
B. A precious fabric
C. A precious perfume
D. None of the above

12. In Matthew, what does “wise men” or “Magi” refer to?
A. Men of the educated class
B. Eastern Kings
C. Men who studied the stars
D. Sages

13. What is Myrrh?
A. Middle Eastern Money
B. A drink
C. An easily shaped metal
D. A spice used for burying people
E. None of the above

14. How many wise men came to see Jesus?
A. 3
B. 6
C. 9
D. 12
E. We don’t know.

15. Where did the wise men find Jesus? (Matthew 2:11)
A. In a manger
B. In a stable
C. In Nazareth
D. In Saudi Arabia
E. In a house
F. None of the above

16. When the wise men found Jesus he was… (Matthew 2:11)
A. A babe wrapped in swaddling clothes
B. A young child
C. A boy in the temple
D. A grown man

17. The “star in the east” that the wise men followed… (Matthew 2:9)
A. Stayed in the same place their entire journey
B. Disappeared and reappeared
C. Moved ahead of them and stopped over the place where Jesus was
D. Was just a mirage
E. None of the above

18. The wise men stopped in Jerusalem… (Matthew 2:2)
A. To inform Herod about Jesus
B. To find out where Jesus was
C. To ask about the star
D. To buy presents
E. None of the above

19. Where do we find the Christmas story?
A. Matthew
B. Mark
C. Luke
D. John
E. All of the above
F. Only A and B
G. Only A and C
H. Only A, B, and C

20. When Joseph found Mary was pregnant, what happened?
A. They got married
B. Joseph wanted to break the engagement
C. Mary left town for three months
D. A and B
E. B and C

21. Who told (made) Mary and Joseph go to Bethlehem? (Luke 2:1-5)
A. The angel chorus
B. Mary’s mother
C. Herod
D. The shepherds
E. Caesar Augustus

Dr. Ray Pritchard

Author, Speaker, President of Keep Believing Ministries

Don’t forget to check the online answer page to see how well you did. Your comments are always welcome.

You can reach the author at ray@keepbelieving.com. Click here to sign up for the free email sermon.

Repent and Change.


Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. —Matthew 4:17

God’s demand on us to become standard bearers requires us to leave the night and look forth to the morning. “Who is she who looketh forth as the morning?” She is a church filled with standard bearers who refuse to return to the night as soon as they leave the church parking lot or the mission trip. “Fair as the moon and clear as the sun” is not just for the altar or the service or the times with other Christians. Repentance, conversion, and becoming fair and clear are not for a moment but for a lifetime.

Leave sin behind at the altar once and for all! Get real about repentance. Sorrow may accompany repentance but sorrow is not repentance.

Repentance is change! Repentance involves a total change of life.

Jesus came preaching repentance. To the religious He says repent. In other words change your minds, get a new concept of God’s kingdom in your hearts. To those with wealth and power He says repent. Change where you deposit your treasures. Instead of putting treasures where moth and rust corrupt, lay up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-20). Instead of seeking things, seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33).

Jesus, change me. Make me today more like You.
Transform me into Your glory. Use my
repentance as the tool to break
and remake me. Amen.

By ROD PARSLEY.

How Parents Influence Your View of God.


mom with kids
A parent has a powerful influence on how their children view God. (http://www.stockfreeimages.com)

The problem of belief in God has never been solely to convince the conscious mind. If it were, He would need only to raise up brilliant debaters and apologists rather than pastors and churches that nurture. Paul wrote, “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:10, KJV).

It is easy to confuse deep, heartfelt conviction with mere intellectual assent and to think salvation is thereby accomplished. I do not mean to say that anyone’s conversion experience is thereby invalid, but that it did not finish the process. We have been too easily convinced of completion.

When belief in the heart, to whatever degree, opens the floodgates of understanding to the mind and conviction to the spirit, and we respond in the sinner’s prayer to invite Jesus in, we are redeemed and justified. Our sins are washed away in the blood of the Lamb and our destinies are changed from hell to heaven. We are once and for all time fully saved.

But the experience of conversion is not all there is to being saved. Salvation has a larger meaning than justification, redemption, being born anew, going to heaven or all these put together.

Unbelieving Saints

Redemptionjustification, being born anew are entrances to the process of growing into salvation (1 Pet. 2). Going to heaven is the end product. All of what happens in between, the process ofsanctification and transformation, is the major part of salvation, which means “to become whole, to be healed.”

When we ask, “Have you been saved, brother?” we mean redeemed, justified, born anew and going to heaven. Well and good. But perhaps the question is confusing. If we mean, “Has the Lord gotten hold of you, paid the price, and set your face toward heaven?” every born-anew Christian ought to answer with an unqualified, “Yes, I’m saved, and I’m going to heaven.”

But concerning the process in this life of being saved, none ought ever to reply that it is all done. Each one should answer, “I’m saved, and I’m being saved every day,” because “by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Heb. 10:14, NASB).

Although every believer is in process, he knows by faith that positionally he has already been made perfect and is already being raised up to sit with Christ in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6). Whatever further conversions of the heart we explore ought never to be taken to imply that our first conversion was invalid or insufficient.

On the other hand, no matter how dramatic or conclusive that conversion was, we run the risk of crippling our abundant life the moment we build a tabernacle as though it once and for all finished the process it, in fact, only began. The heart needs to be transformed anew every day, or we fail to grow in Jesus. Indeed, that is our primary definition of growth in Christ—further and further death and rebirth through continuing inner conversion.

Continual conversion of a believer’s heart moves the heart from unbelief to belief and repentance. This happens as the light of God’s Word reaches into the dark, hidden recesses of the heart, and begins to prepare it to produce good fruit (Matt. 13:3-8).

Historically, in America, sanctification has come to mean striving to live up to the law on the base of a supposedly transformed character. That struggle all too often has led to judgmentalism because tragically, the transformation had never been complete.

True, we are washed clean at the moment of conversion, and our consciences sprinkled (Heb. 9:14). But not all the character has been transformed at that moment.

Jesus is not yet that firmly seated as Lord in the inner depths of many Christians. It must hurt the Lord deeply that in churches considered most sound, sin so often still runs rampant, even among the leaders. Or where obvious sin has not reared its head, so little fruit of the Spirit is seen.

In such churches, conversion may be complete in the conscious mind, but the heart remains almost untouched.

The Lord must be allowed to fully occupy each believer’s heart. This will be accomplished through the weapon of the Word of God being spoken to one another through preaching of the Word, the ministry of small groups, and through diligent, intercessory prayer for and with each other. As the Word touches the places of unbelief in our hearts, we will arise in conversion to take up the battle cry against the flesh and make it our joy to plunge to inner death and rebirth.

Purity of Heart

Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (KJV). Mark again those words, “pure in heart.” Jesus was saying that those whose hearts are purified come to understand and embrace God for who He actually is.

The inference is that because our hearts are not pure, we impute to God motives and ways that are not His. We do not see God, but only our projection of Him.

The Scripture teaches, “We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also” (1 John 4:19-21, NASB).

Here we see that the impurity is hate. Our hatred of fellow human beings colors what we see of God—or prevents it altogether.

This is one of the primary facts that necessitates continual conversion of the heart. Our hidden andforgotten judgments, especially against our fathers and mothers, prevent us from seeing God as He is.

“He who curses his father or his mother, his lamp will go out in time of darkness,” wrote Solomon (Prov. 20:20). Our judgments made against our parents in childhood, usually long forgotten, have darkened our spiritual eyes. We do not see ourselves, others, life or God accurately.

Many times people have come to us saying: “Don’t talk to me about a loving God. Why doesn’t He stop all the wars, or at least prevent some of the bestial things men do to men, sometimes in the very name of religion? Or doesn’t He care?” We have all heard statements like that.

Being prayer ministers, Paula and I never try to defend God. We avoid theological debates. We know the answer is not a mental one but a matter of an impure heart. We merely ask, “What was your father like?”

Invariably we uncover a history similar to what the person has imputed to God—cruelty, insensitivity, desertion, criticism and so forth. No matter what the mind may learn in Sunday school of a gentle and loving God who “so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16), the heart has been scarred and shaped by reactions to our earthly fathers.

As a result, we often project cruelty, insensitivity, desertion, criticism and other negative factors onto our understanding of who God is. Our minds may declare His goodness, but our behaviors reveal what the heart really thinks: “As [a man] thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7, NKJV). Until we are able to forgive our natural fathers for the hurts they may have caused in our hearts, and repent for the judgments we have formed against them, we will not be able to truly see God as gentle, kind and lovingly present in our lives.

Repentance Fosters Healing

I (John) had a gentle, kind father who was a traveling salesman and gone much of the time. During the summer of 1979, I found myself puzzling over why thoughts of unbelief so often trooped through my mind.

In airports or while driving on busy freeways, I would find myself thinking, How can God really be concerned about every detail of all these people’s lives? Or, How can He actually know every hair that falls from every one of these teeming millions of heads? (See Matthew 10:30.)

My mind insisted, “This is purely a logical matter. After all, that’s a reasonable question to ask.” But my spirit was not at rest.

Finally I thought to ask the Lord. He instantly replied, “Your father had little time to notice what you were doing.” That revealed my inner world of judgments. I had judged, “Dad wouldn’t see, compliment, affirm or care.”

Nevermind that he did, in fact, do those things when he was home. My bitter root grew because he wasn’t always there. So, of course, God wouldn’t be there for me. And I worked so hard for Him!

Those thoughts plagued my mind most especially whenever Paula and I were busy serving the Lord. The little boy had been hurt because he worked so hard and received so little notice for it, and the grown-up subconsciously expected God to treat him like that, too.

Following the revelation, repentance was easy and joyous. I have never since been bothered by such nagging doubts. Now I do not merely have belief, but surety of knowing and feeling that my Father sees and approves of my service to Him. Now I have abiding fellowship with Him, in heart as well as spirit (1 John 1:3).

How many of us have come to our parents for something, and they said, “We’ll see,” and then forgot about it? Or our parents made a promise to buy us something, but either it never arrived or came so late that the joy of it was gone. Covertly, that colored our faith in God.

What kind of anger did we push down and forget, because we thought, It’s not good to be angry with Dad and Mom. What kind of resentful judgments did our hearts cherish and our minds forget?.

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ SPIRITLED WOMAN.

Why is Reading the Bible so Important?.


Is it not remarkable how often Jesus settled great issues with a reference to reading? For example, in the issue of the Sabbath he said, “Have you not readwhat David did?” (Matthew 12:3). In the issue of divorce and remarriage he said, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female?” (Matthew 19:4). In the issue of true worship and praise he said, “Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babes you have prepared praise for yourself’?” (Matthew 21:16). In the issue of the resurrection he said, “Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone’?” (Matthew 21:42). And to the lawyer who queried him about eternal life he said, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” (Luke 10:26).

The apostle Paul also gave reading a great place in the life of the church. For example, he said to the Corinthians, “We write nothing else to you than what you read and understand, and I hope you will understand until the end” (1 Corinthians 1:13). To the Ephesians he said, “When you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ” (Ephesians 3:3). To the Colossians he said, “When this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and you, for your part read my letter that is coming from Laodicea” (Colossians 4:16). Reading the letters of Paul was so important that he commands it with an oath: “I adjure you by the Lord to have this letter read to all the brethren” (1 Thessalonians 5:27).

The ability to read does not come intuitively. It must be taught. And learning to read with understanding is a life-long labor. The implications for Christians are immense. Education of the mind in the rigorous discipline of thoughtful reading is a primary goal of school. The church of Jesus is debilitated when his people are lulled into thinking that it is humble or democratic or relevant to give a merely practical education that does not involve the rigorous training of the mind to think hard and to construe meaning from difficult texts.

The issue of earning a living is not nearly so important as whether the next generation has direct access to the meaning of the Word of God. We need an education that puts the highest premium under God on knowing the meaning of God’s Book, and growing in the abilities that will unlock its riches for a lifetime. It would be better to starve for lack of food than to fail to grasp the meaning of the book of Romans. Lord, let us not fail the next generation!

Taken from “A Compelling Reason for Rigorous Training of the Mind” by Desiring God Ministries (used by permission).

John Piper

What Does the Bible Say About Hell?.


Vision of Hell

Engraving ‘Vision of Hell‘ (Circa 1650).

Photo: Getty Images

Hell in the Bible is a place of future punishment and the final destination for unbelievers. It is described in Scripture using various terms such as eternal fire, outer darkness, a place of weeping and torment, the lake of fire, the second death, unquenchable fire. The most terrifying reality of hell is that it will be a place of complete, unending separation from God.

Biblical Terms for Hell

The Hebrew word Sheoloccurs 65 times in the Old Testament. It is translated “hell,” “the grave,” “death,” “destruction,” and “the pit.” Sheol identifies the general abode of the dead, a place where life no longer exists.Example of Sheol:

Psalm 49:13–14
This is the path of those who have foolish confidence; yet after them people approve of their boasts. Selah. Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol; death shall be their shepherd, and the upright shall rule over them in the morning. Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell. (ESV)

Hades is the Greek term translated “hell” in the New Testament. Hades is similar to Sheol. It is described as a prison with gates, bars, and locks, and its location is downward.Example of Hades:

Acts 2:27–31 
‘For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’ “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.” (ESV)

The Greek word Gehenna is translated “hell” or “the fires of hell,” and expresses the place of punishment for sinners. It is usually associated with the final judgment and depicted as being an eternal, unquenchable fire.Examples of Gehenna:

Matthew 10:28
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (NKJV)Matthew 25:41
“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels …’ ” (NKJV)

Another Greek term used to indicate hell or the “lower regions” is Tartarus. Like Gehenna, Tartarus also designates the place of eternal punishment.Example of Tartarus:

2 Peter 2:4
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment … (ESV)

With so many references to Hell in the Bible, any serious Christian must come to terms with the doctrine. The passages are grouped in sections below to help us understand what the Bible has to say about hell.

Punishment in Hell is Eternal

Isaiah 66:24
“And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.” (NIV)

Daniel 12:2
Many of those whose bodies lie dead and buried will rise up, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting disgrace. (NLT)

Matthew 25:46
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (NIV)

Mark 9:43
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand than to go into the unquenchable fires of hell with two hands. (NLT)

Jude 7
And don’t forget Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns, which were filled with immorality and every kind of sexual perversion. Those cities were destroyed by fire and serve as a warning of the eternal fire of God’s judgment. (NLT)

Revelation 14:11
“And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” (NKJV)

Hell is a Place of Separation from God

2 Thessalonians 1:9
They will be punished with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power. (NLT)

Hell Is a Place of Fire

Matthew 3:12
“His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (NKJV)

Matthew 13:41–42
The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will remove from his Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. And the angels will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (NLT)

Matthew 13:50
… throwing the wicked into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (NLT)

Revelation 20:15
And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire. (NLT)

Hell Is for the Wicked

Psalm 9:17
The wicked shall return to Sheol, all the nations that forget God. (ESV)

The Wise Will Avoid Hell

Proverbs 15:24
The way of life winds upward for the wise, that he may turn away from hell below. (NKJV)

We Can Endeavor to Save Others from Hell

Proverbs 23:14
Physical discipline may well save them from death. (NLT)

Jude 23
Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives. (NLT)

The Beast, False Prophet, Devil and Demons Will Be Thrown into Hell

Matthew 25:41
“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.’ ” (NLT)

Revelation 19:20
And the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who did mighty miracles on behalf of the beast—miracles that deceived all who had accepted the mark of the beast and who worshiped his statue. Both the beast and his false prophet were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. (NLT)

Revelation 20:10
… and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (ESV)

Hell Has No Power Over the Church

Matthew 16:18
Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will buildmy church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. (NLT)

Revelation 20:6
Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. (NKJV)

By 

A wonderful thing…


By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
James 1:2-4

That’s the message of the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) is that, even if you’re poor in spirit, you have hope because Jesus has you in his hands. If you’re in mourning, if you’re meek, if you’re humble, if you’re a doormat, if you’re sat on, if you’re persecuted, if people hate you, if people say bad things about you, you have the unending favor, life, and love of God. And no one can take that from you. No matter how sick you are, no matter if you’ve been told you have a week to live, you have hope and a wonderful future. Listen to me, friends. No matter how sick, run down, poor, or broken you are, if you have Christ in your life, you have a wonderful future. And you can trust him.

I think the greatest human accomplishment, which is usually done through religious people, is to get through incredible suffering for the glory of God. Those of us who are suffering, we have people in our lives who are watching us, and they’re learning from us about what’s really important.

Those of us who are suffering, we have an opportunity to prove to our kids, grandkids, parents, siblings, and close friends that in the midst of our suffering God’s life is strong in us. It’s a wonderful thing.

Prayer: Dear Lord, even in the midst of my suffering, in my hard times, help me to show your strength, your hope, and your love to all I meet. Amen.

Reflection: How do you respond in hard times? How does your behavior reflect your relationship with God?

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