Monday, January 14, 2008

McCheyne Reading Plan: Catching up on Matthew

Disclaimer: In posting these thoughts, questions, and ramblings I feel it wise to give a disclaimer. There are many people that are far more knowledgeable and gifted in expositing the Word of God than I. These thoughts are not intended to be in-depth analysis of the text. They are thoughts. They are questions. They are ramblings. It will be a display of what God is teaching me through His Word. In depth study will be done at a different time. It is also good to know the author's goal. 1) To be accountable in reading through Scripture. 2) To share these thoughts with others. Possibly for someone else's edification; possibly for my own. 3) To glorify God through His Word. 4) To spur one another on in taking up Scripture and reading! So without further ado, here are today's readings:

I am trying to catch up on the McCheyne Reading Plan without making this a legalistic burden. Therefore, I will pace myself in getting caught up. Today I will try to catch up on Matthew.

Matthew 8:

You don't touch lepers. You don't spend time with sinners. You can get defiled being around the refuse of the world. That is unless your Jesus. Jesus touched lepers. This story has always inspired me to "touch the lepers" of our world. I bet the touch of Jesus would have been phenomenal to this leper that probably hadn't been touched in years. I am so glad that Christ touches the untouchable.

"I'm not worthy, but your word is powerful." Oh, that we had the faith of the centurion.

I've often wondered why Jesus rebuked the disciples for little faith in the midst of the storm. They knew they were in trouble, they cried out to God to save them. Is not relying on Jesus in times of distress a good thing? It's not like Jesus' was known as a skilled sailor. They aren't necessarily calling on their ship captain to help them. They are asking for a miracle. Perhaps, the problem is that their faith was just like the waves of the sea (James 1:6). Their fear displayed their weakly trusting hearts.

Miracles are fun unless they kill our pigs. God's will is wonderful unless it interferes with our comfort and luxuries. We want to see God move and do miraculous things...unless of course it means personal loss. Show your glory Lord...even if it kills our pigs.

Matthew 9:

I've always found it a little strange that the faith of another healed this man. It would be unwise to develop an entire system of theology on this one point, but I do believe it is significant. It should teach us to fervently pray and "work" (if that's the correct word) for other's salvation.

Are we more like the Pharisees or Jesus? Do we attract tax-collectors and sinners or the religious elite? If Jesus' ministry was to "not call the righteous, but sinners" then what should ours be? I realize the danger in this line of thinking. Much of our 20th and 21st century weak theology, seeker-sensitive, watered-down, barely able to be called gospel, Christianity is attributed to us trying to be more like the world (tax collectors and sinners) than like Jesus. Lord, show me the biblical balance. Help me to be a friend of tax collectors and sinners while not aspiring to be one.

12 years of suffering and this woman still has faith. Not that she had faith for 12 years, but it is surprising that she is not so hardened by her condition that she has given up hope. Lord, grant me this type of steadfast faith.

It's kind of ironic that when Jesus tells men to "see that no one knows about it" they are motivated to spread "his fame through all that district". And now that we are commanded to take the gospel to the nations we are passive about spreading his fame. May I be more faithful in spreading His fame.

I love seeing the heart of Jesus in verse 36. "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd". This text speaks to me in two different ways. First of all I pray that the Lord might help me to be faithful and feed his sheep. I pray that I might have the type of compassion of Christ for the sheep that God has entrusted to me. As pastor I pray for the heart of Jesus. But the second thing speaks to me as a common sinner. I see myself in this text as one that is "harassed and helpless". Now certainly I am one that has been redeemed and I do indeed have a great shepherd. So, as I read this text it causes me to rejoice that the Lord has taken me from harassed and helpless to rescued and freed.

Matthew 10:

Verse 11 is phrased in an unusual way. "Find out who is worthy". That is interesting. I'm not sure at this point I can understand its full meaning, but something about it strikes me. What makes one "worthy"? It seems to be the receiving of Christ's disciples.

"Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves." Oh, the wisdom that this takes.

Verse 23 confuses me. "You will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes". Didn't they do this? Does "Son of Man comes" mean something different than I think? Are all the towns of Israel different than I think? Is "going through" different than I think? I would say this is not a reference to the Second Coming but possibly something else...but that's just a guess. Any help?

It is interesting that Jesus comforts the disciples in the midst of speaking on persecution with the sovereignty of God. It seems that many times when the sovereignty of God is spoken of it is in the context of persecution.

Ironic that the Prince of Peace came not to bring peace but a sword.

I am convicted by verse 38, and honestly sometimes a little scared. Do I take up my cross? Do I follow Him? I want to scream out after reading this verse--I am not worthy of you Lord, I never will be worthy of you Lord. Jesus, make me worthy.

Matthew 11:

Is there significance in Matthew referring to Jesus as "the Christ" in verse 2. You would have thought given the context he would have said Jesus. It's almost as if he is answering the question posed by John the Baptist before he even asks it.

Why does Jesus say "born of women" instead of "born of men"? I am sure it is cultural. Wasn't Jesus born of a woman? I know he is not saying John is greater. John was born of woman; Jesus was born of God.

Yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. This reminds me of something C.J. Mahaney said in a sermon I listened to recently: We are just a justified of the most distinguished saints, even the apostle Paul.

Something about verse 20 hit me. I read it like I never had before. Jesus does mighty works and really displays his glory. They do not repent. So Jesus denounces the cities. Wow! When we see the glory of Christ displayed we ought to be quick to repent.

What things were hidden in verse 25? Is it the "mighty works" of verse 20? Has the Lord hidden the significance of these things from the wise and yet revealed them to simpletons? How unsearchable are his ways!?!

Matthew 12:

Something greater than the temple is here! That statement sends chills down my spine...and I've never even seen the temple nor been idolatrous of it.

"And if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless". I wonder how often I do not know what that means. How often have I condemned the guiltless because I am more passionate about sacrifice than mercy.

It really frustrates me that the Pharisees are not enjoying Jesus but a rather questioning him and trying to trap him. Does it annoy me so much because I see myself in them? Nonetheless, I want to scream, "Get over yourselves!" What type of heart do these men have? A man gets healed right in front of them, and rather than rejoicing they are ticked off because Jesus did not do it the way they thought it ought to be done. So, rather than enjoying Christ they conspire to kill him. Kill a guy for healing a man! Wow! How darkened is my heart, that my righteousness (apart from Christ) does not exceed that of the Pharisees.

Many have stumbled over this "unforgivable sin". It seems to me in the context that it is having such a wicked heart that it attributes to Satan what the Holy Spirit is doing. I would love to have more understanding on this verse.

Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. What then should the language be like of those that are redeemed? I am not convicted here of "foul" language as much as I am of prideful, self-exalting, others demeaning language. If I am prone to tear down, what does this say of my heart? Lord, help me!

"By your words you will be justified, by your words you will be condemned." What? I thought it was by faith that I would be justified? What do words have to do with it? The words are a reflection of the heart. If my heart is good my words will be good. If my heart is bad my words will be bad. So, if my heart is changed then I will be justified. If my heart is not changed then I will be condemned. Our only hope is a renewed heart.

How was Jesus 3 days and 3 nights in the heart of the earth? Does Jesus go to "hell" as some say? Or is it the grave? Is this a reference to something else?

Something greater than Jonah is here! That's a huge understatement, Jesus! Jonah's preaching brought about the repentance of the Ninevites. Jesus' preaching is not bringing about the repentance of the Pharisees. If they repented at the veiled preaching of Jonah and the Pharisees do not repent at the unblemished truth of Jesus, woe to them. And yet for us today, that here the gospel how much more will be condemned if we do not heed its call!

v43-45 escapes me. This talk is not very Southern Baptist of Jesus. I want to know more about this.

Matthew 13:

The Parable of a Sower has always spoke to me as a minister. I know that even faithful preaching of the Word only has a 25% success rate.

Verse 12 makes me pray that the Lord might give me more, and more, and more, ad infinitum of Himself!

Why do we have "weeds" in our church? The enemy has sown them there. How do we "get rid of the weeds"? It's not by going through your church pulling up all suspected weeds. We should let both grow together. I know this is not saying to not do church discipline but perhaps this will keep us from going on witch hunts trying to pull up weeds.

There is something to be said about Jesus speaking in parables to the crowds. It seems like Jesus made pains to "not be understood" accept by those that had "ears to hear". Then why do we water down the gospel so that "lost people can understand it". Or is he speaking in parables so the people CAN understand? I tend to think its the former.

Do I find the gospel of Christ such a treasure that I give up all for it?

I do not fully understand verse 52.

Matthew 14:

Why would he jump to the conclusion that it's John the Baptist raised from the dead? That's weird.

The king was such a nancy. He had to kill a man just to "keep his oaths and his guests". Sometimes its better to not be true to your word if your word was stupid. Why add murder on top of putting your foot in your mouth. How many times have I added sin on top of sin because of my fear of man?

The disciples solution to the people's needs: take care of yourself. Jesus' solution to the people's needs: you give them something to eat.

I wonder what would have been more weird--Jesus walking on water or inventing a speed boat. It's neat to me how Jesus improvises. It's night. Nobody is around. He decides to walk on water. He knew the disciples would see him. He had to know it would freak them out. I would say that he wanted to make this a teachable moment for Peter and the other disciples.

We should always wait to be sure it is God's command before doing something as foolish as walking on water.

Even with a wavering faith Christ is readily available with his saving hand.

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