The Unlimited Healing Power of Jesus

(Matthew 8:14-17)

In first part of this section (vs.14-15) Jesus goes to Peter’s house and seeing Peter’s mother-in-law lying sick with a fever he heals her. There are a couple of interesting points here in this small section. Firstly this woman was Peter’s mother-in-law which shows that he had a wife and thus was married. This was further indicated by Paul who likewise showed that Peter was married in 1 Corinthians 9:5. Some have thought that Peter was celibate but this was clearly not the case.

The second thing we see in this small section is that Peter’s mother-in-law had a fever. Most fevers are associated with infection of some kind and usually not too much to worry about. We don’t know how serious this fever was or the underlying condition causing the fever. It may well have been associated with something quite minor such as a common cold or could have been something more serious. The point here though is that if this was a minor condition it shows that Jesus was concerned not with just major health issues, which were the “big” miracles, but he was also concerned with the small infirmities as well. God is not just God of the big stuff but of the small stuff too. And there is no problem too large or too small that we cannot take to him, even a minor fever from the common cold.

In the next verse (vs. 16) we see many people were brought to him for healing and to have demons exorcised and he healed all of these people. There were no questions, no requirements to be healed, no offerings given or requested. It was a matter as simple as, they came, they were sick and he healed them. All who came were healed. None were too difficult and no case was a bother to him.

Matthew then wrote in the final verse in this section (vs. 17) that Jesus was fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah who said, “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.” So we see from this and my previous posts that there were many purposes to these miracles and healings. They were a sign to confirm the message he preached, they were to fulfil Old Testament prophecies and of course they were to show the power of God.

Why Jesus Healed the Sick

(Matthew 8:1-13)
(At the end of chapter seven of Matthew we see Jesus finishes his sermon on the mount. The people having heard his words were astonished at his teachings for he taught as one who had authority. He spoke powerfully and boldly to the people all the words of life and what would be the keys to entry into God’s kingdom.
(Then as evidence of this authority he had, he confirmed all of the words through the acts that he did. This is one of the reasons he did many of the miracles including healing the sick and infirm. We see over in Mark 16:20 saying, “And they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it.” The signs the disciples were given to practice included healing the sick and the purpose of these signs was to back up the ministry. Likewise when Jesus preached, his ministry and words were confirmed by the signs. No man could do the miracles he did unless the power of God was with him to do it, and so it was evidence that the words He spoke were the words of God.
(Now after finishing the sermon on the mount Jesus went forth and healed many who were ill which confirmed the message he had just given. But there are other teachings in this message as well. We see in the first section of Matthew 8:1-5 where Jesus cleansed the leper. Under the Mosaic law there were explicit teachings as to what needed to be done if ever a leper were cured of leprosy. There were offerings to be made over a period of time and they needed to be pronounced cleansed by the priests at the temple and various other practices. At the time of Jesus there was no New Covenant in effect because it did not commence until Jesus died, so the people were still under the law. Also Jesus could not be seen to be breaking the law and he would not, for he came to fulfil the law and the prophets (Matthew 5:17). So in accordance with the law he instructed the leper now healed to go and make the offerings and show himself to the priests in accordance with the ordinances on the cleansing of leprosy.
(Jesus was not making a great song and dance about this healing either. He was not doing the healings so that people would come to him and look upon how great and marvellous he was. On the contrary he typically told the people who were healed not to tell anyone but go and do as he instructed them. The point of the healings was not personal edification or gain but to confirm the message of the Kingdom of God.
(We then see a second healing in this section on the servant of a centurion in Matthew 8:5-13. This healing is different in several ways. Firstly, Jesus was prepared to go to the sick man and heal him, but the centurion said it was unnecessary to do that. The centurion recognised the power of Jesus and that if he would just say the word it would be done. He knew that the power of God was everywhere and that it did not require the Lord to be physically present for his healing power to go forth. Jesus marvelled at this centurion for Jesus saw that the man’s faith was great. This man had an understanding that many others did not. He had faith and so the Lord did the healing as the man requested and his servant was healed instantly.
(Although there were many healings done by Jesus and many miraculous things occurred, they were done for a purpose. They showed the power of God and were a wonder and blessing to those who received them, but the main purpose of the healings was to back up the words that Jesus spoke. It is the ministry that is important for the ministry and teachings are what will lead a person to life. Eventually all of the miracles will cease for they will not be required. In God’s kingdom there will be no sickness or death and so healings will not be needed. But the teachings of life are eternal. It is these that are more important and must be noted.
(Some Christians and some churches today are seeking miracles once again. It is more important to seek the kingdom. We should rather seek the truth and find the faith that will lead us into the kingdom of God as this is everlasting. Miracles and healings are temporary and of this world only, but the truth lasts forever. Focus on finding the truth that leads to God through Jesus Christ instead.

Build Your House Upon The Rock

(Matthew 7:24-29)

In this final section of the sermon on the mount Jesus gives the last warning to the people and to us today. When he speaks of building your house upon the rock he is talking about your life. And again in this section he is giving us the key to life and living a stable and solid life.

Whenever a builder constructs a house, the first thing they do is to dig a foundation. They dig down until they strike bedrock and build the foundation and structure of the home so that it is anchored on this bedrock. This is to ensure that the building can withstand the forces of nature through wind and rain and so on, and be able to stand firm. If the builder were not to do this and just build the house on the surface of the ground, then movements in the soil caused by the elements would cause it to collapse.

Jesus likens life to this same principle of the building of a house. The key to life is to build your life on the solid foundation of his words and do them. The key is in doing what he says. It is not enough to just hear or read the words of Jesus, but you must then also follow up on them and live your life in accordance with his words. This is akin to building upon the rock. jesus’ words are wisdom, based upon the wisdom of God, and it is His words that will lead us to eternal life in the future as well as a stable and solid life in the here and now. His words provide guidance, insight, knowledge and wisdom about all matters pertaining to this life and the future with God. If you take his words to heart, learn them and apply them in your life, then you will find the pathway to truth and life that exists only through faith in Christ Jesus. This is the solid foundation on the rock of Jesus.

The alternative is like a house not just built on the ground but on sand. If a house built without a foundation on soil will not stand, then how much less if it were built on sand. Sand shifts so readily having no binding properties that it is almost liquid. It takes very little wind or water to move sand and so anything built upon it will simply not stand, but very quickly collapse. There is no anchor on sand and no solid base on which to anchor any kind of a structure.

If you were to hear the words of Jesus and do nothing else, it would be the same. You have nothing to anchor to and hold you fast when the winds and rain of trouble, temptation and ordeal come upon you. What is there to hold onto to anchor you against the days of adversity? This is why when we see disaster strike people in the world they fall apart and are perplexed, not knowing which way to turn. They are without hope in the world and as such are at the mercy of the problems, troubles and issues that befall all in the world. But in Jesus there is hope for he provides guidance in his words that will answer these days of adversity. And in him there is protection.

If you would have life and peace in this world then you need to listen to the words of Jesus and then act upon them. You need to take his words to heart and live by them and they will give you light and life.

Who will go into God’s Kingdom?

(Matthew 7:21-23)
Jesus tells us in this section of scripture that not everyone will go into God’s Kingdom. There are many who appear to be righteous that will miss out.
It is not enough to call on the name of the Lord to gain entry into God’s Kingdom. Jesus says here that not everyone who does so will gain entry. And we see that some of these people who will miss out did many mighty or significant works in the name of Jesus. Yet still they did not gain entry into the Kingdom of God. The question that obviously arises is why? There are many in today’s churches who are seeking to do magnificent works that may miss out too. We see many who set up ministries, who go out into missionary works, who preach and prophesy and exercise the power of the Spirit but still may miss out.
The key to entry into God’s Kingdom though is not in the mighty works. It is not in saying great words or preaching the word or prophesying or missionary work or building churches, schools, hospitals or any of the other works that can and are being done. No, the key to entry into God’s Kingdom is by doing the will of the Father.
What is the will of the Father? It is to believe in Jesus whom he sent to be our saviour. Paul wrote in Romans 1:17, “He who through faith is righteous shall live.” It is by faith or by believing in God and Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour that we shall live and gain entry into God’s Kingdom. The apostle John made it even more clear that faith in Jesus was the key saying in John 6:40, “For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
So the key is through faith in Jesus Christ. All the works that a man may do will come to nothing if he does not have faith. It is the condition of the heart and the faith that a person has that is the key. The question will be whether they are truly doing these works for the Lord or for their own benefit. There may be people who believe they can buy or even bribe their way into heaven; that by building churches or setting up ministries of different sorts they can gain forgiveness for their sins or make atonement for their evil ways. Likewise some years ago there used to be talk that by going to church and donating to the church was like putting savings or credits into a “spiritual bank account.” That these things would offset any sins that a person may have committed or would do in the future. There is no spiritual bank account. God does not weigh up a measure of sin and a measure of good deeds to see which pile is the larger to decide whether a person has life or not. Those who believe such things are blind and have been led astray by false teaching and lies. These things are of no consequence for the forgiveness of sin cannot be bought and God cannot be bribed. Forgiveness is freely available to all, but only through faith in Christ Jesus and through repentance.
The works of God are not like the works of man. Jesus was asked about this matter in John 6:28-29 which says, “Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So the works of God are about faith in Jesus Christ, and without faith there is no entry into God’s Kingdom. No person will be accepted on the basis of works of the law as Paul wrote in Romans 3:20, “For no human being will be justified in his sight by works of the law, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” He added in Galatians 2:16, “…a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified.”
Do you want to go into God’s Kingdom? Then learn what it means to be doing the will of God. Learn what it is to have faith in Jesus Christ and what to believe, for that is the pathway to life.

Beware of False Prophets and False Teachers

(Matthew Chapter 7, Verses 15-20)

One of the greatest challenges all Christians face when trying to seek out the truth is…who do you believe. Jesus warned us in this section about being careful to spot and avoid false prophets or false teachers. If we choose to follow the wrong teachings from one of these people then we may be taking in information that is not aligned with the truth or even put ourselves in a position where we are being taken advantage of by unscrupulous people ministering lies for profit.

Many people have been hurt by false teachers and false prophets through accepting false teaching. I recall an instance where at a church one time a speaker made an altar call at the end of the service for people to come up who had been hurt in some way by the church. With the exception of just a handful of people, the whole church of several hundred people stood and went forward. Such a situation is an absolute travesty and speaks much about the extent of corruption that can exist in Christianity today through false teaching and false prophets.
But what can you do about it? Well Jesus also provided some good information in this section of scripture on how to spot these frauds and what to do.
Firstly we need to understand that they may be hard to see. He talks of wolves in sheep’s clothing, meaning that these false prophets will look as if they are good and will be well disguised and camouflaged. They will have all the appearances of being good teachers and doing what is right. But like all liars, they will not be able to hold onto their lies and evidence will begin to show up that shows them for what they truly are. In order to perpetrate a lie, a liar must tell more lies to cover the original lie. They must then continue this path and weave a web that they will eventually be caught in as inconsistencies arise. Jesus said, you will know them by their fruit. The fruit is the teachings and the things they do. Fruit does not immediately appear on a tree but must go through a process of pollination, germination and growth before it is ripe and ready for picking. So too these people will take time to show their true colours.
Next we see that Jesus shows that they will not be able to help going down this path for the evil will bear evil fruit, but good people will do good. It’s like the old saying that a leopard can’t change it’s spots. These false teachers or false prophets are exactly the same.
Finally it is important that when you come into contact with Christians you need to do two main things. Firstly, you must have an understanding of the truth in the Bible and weigh up all that they say or do against that knowledge. And secondly, you need to spend time to watch these people and see what they do over time, for Jesus says when their fruit ripens you will know them by their fruits. Over time there will be a pattern from these people. If the pattern is to help, assist, speak good things aligned with Bible truth and respecting others, then they may be true prophets teaching truth. But if their words and actions are self-serving, seeking to get gain from those around them and using people to get advantage, especially when falsely using the teachings in the Bible to get power over others, then their fruits can be considered bad.
These are the wolves Jesus is talking about. They feed their own appetites and do nothing unless it is to their own gain or advantage. They are proud and arrogant, but at the same time will disguise themselves well with cunning and deception. As individuals we need to learn from the Bible, seek the truth, and ask Jesus to give us understanding so that we can spot these false teachers when they come along. For as sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, they will come. There are many people who see Christianity as a means of gain and will use it to further their own devices and designs. While there is gain through Christianity in godliness, as the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 6:3-6, the gain comes through contentment, not material gain. And these false prophets are not seeking contentment but rather are seeking material gain or power. This is not of God and as Jesus said, we must beware.
In due course they will be seen for what they are, and even if their disguises are very good, they will be cut down by the Lord. He will protect his church from these people, but it is important for us to likewise recognise them and take action so that we are not hindered through false teaching.

Enter by the Narrow Gate

(Matthew Chapter 7, Verses 13-14)

One of the disciples once asked the Lord, “Will those who are saved be few?” (Luke 13:23) The Lord responded saying, “Strive to enter by the narrow door,” and here in this section we see that same teaching being repeated in a slightly different manner. Here the Lord is saying we need to “Enter by the narrow gate.” He says that there will be many who take the wide and easy path that leads to destruction, but the gate and the path that leads to life are narrow and hard. Finally he says that those who even find it will be few, let alone those who enter by the narrow gate.

Locating this narrow gate will be hard for not many will even find it let alone be able to enter. Earlier in the sermon on the mount Jesus made the following points. “Ask and it will be given, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened.” These three aspects of finding things out and searching for the truth all had a promise that the searching would not be in vain. The fact that he said this three ways suggests the level of importance there is in making the effort to search out the way.
Then in this scripture we see that it will be hard to find and the way will be difficult to walk that leads to life. Too many people may not be prepared to walk the hard road and will be lost through taking the easy way out. The easy way is a life of compromise and half measures, of listening to what others say and accepting it without verifying the truth of a matter. But as Christ has taught us, we must do the work. We must ask, seek and knock if we are to even find this narrow gate, let alone enter it.
Will the road to life be hard? The truth is that it will be hard in some ways, for there will be the need to subjugate everything for the sake of walking the path to life. It will require a complete change and sometimes a full reversal of human nature, while being bombarded daily by temptation through the weaknesses and passions of the flesh as well as the attacks from the devil and his hosts. But we must also weigh this with other scriptures where the Lord says to, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30) We need to balance these seemingly two opposing positions to try to understand what is happening.
When we come to the Lord he does teach us. We see also that there are many levels of teaching and understanding in the Lord, which Paul described in 1 Corinthians 3:11-12, “For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw.” There is no other foundation by which we may have life than following Jesus Christ. But there are many levels of teaching that are built on that foundation. Consider all the many Christian denominations and non-denominational churches that exist today. All of them have the foundation of a belief in Christ, but then their teachings range from what could be considered rubbish like chaff and sticks, up to precious gold and silver. The analogy Paul makes also ties in with the Lords teaching about how hard the narrow gate will be to find, for it is easy to find chaff and grass for hay, but it is increasingly difficult to find gold and silver. To find the more precious things requires hard toil, searching and great effort. Finding the narrow path will be the same.
Now Paul makes the point that all who have the foundation of Christ may be saved, but they will be tested with the fires of adversity. And fire which will destroy wood, hay and chaff actually has the opposite effect on gold and silver, for they are refined and purified even further through fire as the dross is melted and burned off.
It is my opinion that the reason Jesus said there will be few who find the narrow path is that he was talking about those who find the path in this age. Ultimately everyone who seeks the Lord will need to be made perfect if they are to eventually live with the Father, but there will not be many who reach that standard in this time on earth. Jesus talks of two flocks one of which he calls the little flock (Luke 12:32). He describes the little flock in John 10:1-16 and how they follow the shepherd (Jesus) wherever he goes and listen to his voice. In the last verse he then mentions a second flock that is not of this same group that must be brought in also to make one large flock. Now when we go into Revelation we see there is a group called the 144,000 who fit the description of this little flock in John 10, for they are with the Lamb and follow Jesus everywhere he goes (Rev 14:4). These 144,000 are those who achieve perfection in this age and they go into heaven with Christ singing. These are the ones I believe who found and entered the narrow gate and who found the gold teaching that Paul alluded to.
But we also see a second group in Revelation referred to as a, “…great multitude that no man can number.” (Rev 7:9-17) They also go into heaven but in a much different way. For the 144,000 went into heaven following Jesus singing and with much joy, but this second group we see had suffered on this earth. For it says they were hungry and thirsty and beaten down by the sun and scorching heat. They had need of shepherding and teaching  and they were in tears for the Lord will wipe every tear from their eyes. They were in torment while on this earth because they lacked the teachings and the guidance necessary to overcome the issues in this life. They had not found peace nor perfection, but they followed Christ to the best of their ability. They are those who had the foundation, but the building on that foundation could not withstand the fire of testing.
The aim for all of us is to aspire to find and by enter the narrow gate and to aspire to the standard of the 144,000. Naturally not everyone will achieve that level in this time otherwise there would not be only 144,000. But the closer we can get to that place through prayer, study and searching for the truth, the less we will suffer in this age and the less tears will need wiping from our eyes when the Lord sets up his kingdom.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

(Matthew Chapter 7, Verse 12)

In this one verse (vs. 12) the Lord has shown us a summary of what was contained in the Old Covenant law and the words of the prophets. “Whatever you would wish that men would do to you, do so to them.” This one verse provides both an insight into what the Lord is seeking from us as well as a maxim to live by.
There are several focal points of Christianity and this scripture provides one of those points. The first point is about worshiping the Lord Jesus Christ and creating a relationship with God through him. The second point is about our relationship with our fellow man and learning how to live in harmony with one another. What we see in this scripture is the key to this second focal point of the teachings of Christ. How to live in relationship with other men.
Consider for a moment the Old Covenant law. There are in excess of six hundred laws that were given to the children of Israel by which they were to live. When you distil the essence of these laws we find that at the bottom of them is this precept spoken of by Jesus, which is to do unto others as you would have them do to you. In the Ten Commandments for example we see that they speak entirely about relationships. First about our relationship to God and then about our relationship with our fellow man. The third level of relationship contained in the old law was about our relationship with ourself. As an example there were laws and precepts about what to eat and wear, and the wisdom contained in these laws would keep us healthy and free from sickness if we followed those laws.
So the entire scope of the teachings of the law and prophets comes down to relationships and that is in essence what Jesus was telling us in this single verse. We need to learn how to get along with each other. When you consider the ultimate reward for following Christ this becomes apparent. After all things have been concluded and all sin is washed away, the Lord will rule his people into eternity. In that time he wants his people to be able to get along with each other. He does not want people to argue, back-bite and fight with each other as that would certainly not be a pleasant place to live. Instead he wants his people to be at peace and in harmony with each other and this is what this verse is telling us. How do you want to be treated by other people? Then do the same to them. If you do not like to be spoken against and upset and stressed and so on, then don’t do these things to others.
Easy to say, but not always easy to do. Fortunately the Lord has provided us with teachings and processes through the Holy Spirit to enable us to learn how to live this way. When we learn to walk in the spirit we can truly find the way to live in peace and harmony and truly fulfil the truth of this scripture.

Ask and it will be Given, Seek and you will Find, Knock and it will be Opened

(Matthew Chapter 7, Verses 7-11)

Another set of wonderful promises in this section of scripture. Beginning with, “Ask and it will be given, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened,.” These are such positive messages to the Christian who is really looking for the truth. There is no if, but or maybe about this passage, but rather a positive statement that says, “Do this and you will get what you are after.”

Now each of these points while similar are slightly different and it is worth considering them individually for a moment. “Ask and it will be given.” When we are trying to understand a matter and when we need help or some other assistance, the Lord says simply to ask. He says ask and you will get what you are after. Consider the reverse of this. If you don’t ask for something, how will the person, including the Lord, know what you really want? How can someone give when they don’t know what you need? Too often in the world we hear people complain that they never get anything, but often it is because they don’t ask. Rather than get all bitter and twisted about it, would it not be simpler just to ask? After all, what is the worst that could happen? You could get a knock back and the person say no, but at least it is a decision which you can then work on. When the answer is no, sometimes you need to ask in a different. Many times a negative answer is not necessarily the final answer, it just may mean there are other things that need to be done.
Which brings us to, “Seek and you will find.” Have you ever lost something of value, say your car keys or the TV remote? Would there be any point just sitting around wishing they would turn up without going to look for them? Of course not. The Lord gives an example in the parable of a woman having ten coins and on losing one of the coins she searched diligently and swept the house until she located it (Luke 15:8-10). Seeking the things of the Lord is much the same as this. We need to seek diligently, looking high and low, and then the Lord has promised we will find what we are seeking.
Then we have the scripture, “Knock and it will be opened.” This is a bit like the other two above in that if we were to come to a door wanting to enter, how would those on the other side know we were there if we did not knock? It would be pointless to just stand there in the hope that someone might open the door. Generally when we come to a building or house wishing to enter or speak to those inside we need to knock. Knocking on the door announces our arrival and lets the occupants know we are waiting for them. It gets their attention so that they will come and open the door for us. Generally we knock because we want to come inside for any one of many reasons. It is the same with the Lord. We want to come into his presence and so we need to knock at his door, metaphorically speaking. We need to make ourselves known to him through prayer to seek entrance to his presence so we can ask and seek the things we may wish to know. Prayer is rather like knocking on heavens door. We address our prayers to God and then ask for whatever we may be seeking. And best of all in this section of scripture the Lord has said we will receive what we need and are seeking…presuming of course that it is in his will and is what we really need at that time. Make no mistake, sometimes the Lord does say no, but when he does it is because whatever we were seeking is not what we may really need.
He further goes on to show that when we ask him for anything, he always gives us good things. He likens it to us with our children. If they ask us for bread would we give them a stone? Of course not! And in the same way when we ask the Lord for anything he will give us what is good for us. This is why in some cases we may not get what we are seeking because it is not good for us. We do not know the future but the Lord does. I recall a personal example where at one time I sought to change jobs and asked the Lord to make the change happen. It didn’t and I was puzzled because I was far and away the best candidate for the role. The person actually employed was later fired for fraudulent activity. But shortly after that the organisation was restructured and the role ceased to exist. In the wisdom of the Lord who knew these things in advance, he protected my employment situation whereas if I had followed the course I wanted I’d have been unemployed. He gave me what I needed and indeed something better by saying no to my request.
The Luke version of this scripture goes one step further saying if we ask him he will give us the Holy Spirit. (Luke 11:9-13) There is probably no greater gift than this, for it is the Holy Spirit who becomes our teacher, counsellor, guide and protector to lead us into the kingdom of God and to transform our natures into the image of Christ.
All we have to do is ask.

Judge not that you be not Judged

(Matthew Chapter 7, Verses 1-6)

We are called to have a positive relationship with one another as brethren. In any positive relationship there is no judgement of our fellow man. At the start of this chapter Jesus points out that we are not to judge one another. The fundamental principle here is that the basis of our judgement is completely flawed for man judges according to his own perception, whereas God judges according to the heart. Man judges with only part of the facts but God judges according to the truth. Man’s judgement is clouded by a host of issues including his own limitations, biases and environment, but God looks at all things from a position of perfect knowledge and judges according to a standard based on his own perfection.

It is often said that it takes one to know one and in some measure this is what these first verses are saying. The apostle Paul spoke of this also in Romans 2:19-24 showing that in many cases those who judged others and preached about all manner of evil were actually doing the very same things themselves.
The act of judgement is not right for us to do. When we take it upon ourselves to judge another we are no longer a brother but a judge. In judging we assume a position greater than the other person and think that we are better than they are, yet we are all equal in Christ. In judging another then we assume the position of judge and the only one who has the right to judge us is God himself, so in judging we take God’s rightful position.
Furthermore, there is no-one perfect for we all suffer the same weaknesses as the rest of humanity. While the Lord is working with us and being merciful towards our faults and weaknesses, we need to be of the same mind towards our fellow brethren and show mercy towards them. We do not know at any point in time exactly which weakness a person may have that the Lord is dealing with and so it is not our position to judge. The person may have some fault we perceive and can see, but the Lord may be dealing with a deeper underlying issue that is more grave and of more importance to resolve first. The apostle John said it best in John 7:14-24 saying, “Do not judge by appearances but judge with right judgement.” Whenever you consider a matter, weigh it up not by what you think it might be from appearances but against what is right, holy and true. We are not called to judge our brethren but we do need to weigh matters and make decisions about courses of action. We may judge a deed but never judge a person for we are all beset with weaknesses and failings.
We must remember also that Jesus came to save the sinners and as Paul wrote in Romans 8:1, “There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.” If the Lord does not condemn us, then who are we to condemn another person through judging them? We should not even judge ourselves, as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 4:1-5, and sometimes we are our own worst critics. We put ourselves down and condemn ourselves for some foolish thing we may have done. But when we judge and condemn ourselves we are doing something worse than the action we are condemning ourselves for. Again it is not our position to judge even ourselves for judgement rests in the hands of God.
The next section in vs. 6 gives a warning saying, “…do not throw your pearls before the swine…” There is great value and reward in Christ and the teachings that will lead us to His Kingdom. But there are many people in this world who are simply not interested and indeed are hostile to Christianity. Whenever the subject of religion arises they may ridicule, abuse, deride and belittle those who are speaking of Christianity. So not only do they fail to see the benefits, they turn and attack those who are trying to give them something of value. To these people the precious gifts of knowledge of God are as worthless as dirt. They have no concept of the value of Gods word nor any desire to know it’s value. They cannot see that it can lead to a better life now and later to eternity for they are blinded to the truth of the gospel.
Jesus said that these people would exist and he has given fair warning that if we try to give them the things of God they will reject them, in some cases violently. So what is the answer? Don’t give them your gifts. Jesus has said elsewhere that where he is there is his servant also (John 12:26) and so if He is working with these people he will have the right servant speak the right words. If these people reject his words, then their judgement is upon their own heads. Why should you continue to bang your head against the wall only to be ridiculed and have your good spoken of as evil. In the final analysis the Lord said at the very end of Revelation to, “Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.” (Rev 22:11) Let them alone for if the Lord is working with them he will put it upon their mind to seek, and if they reject the Lord there is nothing you can do about it.

Seek First the Kingdom of God and other teachings

(Matthew Chapter 6, Verses 16-34)

Jesus continues his teachings about not doing things to be seen by men in verses 16-17 saying when you fast you should not look dismal, but rather go about your business as if all were normal.

Let us look for a moment at the scriptural significance of fasting as it matters to the Christian under the New Covenant.
In Jewish laws and customs fasting had several purposes and breadth of application. There were four appointed public fasts mentioned in the Old Testament, and a fifth that was less stringently applied. There were also appointed fasts set up by rabbis. In addition people often held personal and private fasts for various reasons.
One of the customs that arose from private practice but with no specific scriptural basis was fasting twice a week, specifically on Mondays and Thursdays.
Fasting is seen as the abstinence from food and/or drink, but the Hebrew words that it is translated from also have a broader application. They can include all forms of abstinence such as washing, comfort, anointing, wearing of shoes as well as abstaining from the desires of the flesh and passion that leads to sin.
Some more information on the Purpose and Conception of fasting includes:
In the ancient Near East (ie. not in the scripture), prayer and fasting were advocated as a means to have one’s requests fulfilled by the gods. The Bible emphasizes that the fast is not an end in itself but only a means through which man can humble his heart and repent for his sins; his repentance must manifest itself in his deeds (Joel 2:13; Jonah 3:8). The idea is especially stressed in Isaiah (58:3ff.) where the contrast is made between a fast which is not accompanied by any real repentance, and which is therefore unacceptable to God, and the true fast which leads to God’s merciful forgiveness: “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the fetters of wickedness, To undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free… Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him… Then shalt thou call, and the Lord will answer.”
Other scriptures also stressed that a fast without sincere repentance is valueless and senseless (Jer 14:10-12, Isaiah 58:1-9). Jesus upbraided the Pharisees example of fasting for the did it to just look and appear religious but failed in the requirement of a penitent heart or a desire to come close to God. To them the fast was a bit like the prayers of empty words discussed in the last post and became a meaningless and futile exercise as they were seeking the approval of men rather than God.
Verses 19-21 talk about the seeking of money and wealth. The issue here is not the money or wealth in themselves for in reality they are neutral. Rather it is the condition of the heart of the person. If a person puts their trust and hopes on money and wealth they are behaving foolishly for all things of this earth are temporary and will ultimately disintegrate through time or may be lost and stolen. Today we see this is even more apparent for the ravages of inflation and the financial crises that have arisen from time to time wreak havoc with the value of money. You cannot trust in money to save you or to get you through anything. And as the Lord showed in this section, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” If we make our treasure in the heavenly places and put our value on praise, worship and the seeking of God rather than seeking the temporary riches and pleasures of this life, then our hearts will be with God and we will receive his blessings.
The next section from vs. 22-23 continues and expands this teaching saying, “The eye is the lamp of the body.” It is through our senses and especially our eyes that we perceive the world. If we look for good things then we fill our mind, heart, soul and life with the light of what is good. But if we seek out the things that are evil and bad in this world then in a similar way we will pollute our life and our thinking which guides our life will be unsound. When we seek God and the truth of all matters, we seek what is good, holy, just and true for in God there is no darkness of evil. It is important for us to watch carefully what we seek with our eyes and other senses for we become what we take in through the senses. The surest way to be free from evil is not to accept it in through senses in the first place and thus not allow it into your heart and mind to pollute your thinking.
Jesus continues in the next verse (24) showing again the problems of seeking money saying, “You cannot serve God and mammon,” (mammon being a Semitic word for money). You cannot serve two masters for you will end up being devoted to one and hating the other. At some point in time the two masters will pull in different directions and a choice will need to be made which will cause you to oppose one or the other. If it is money you are serving, seeking to find riches, at some point it will lead you away from God. And as discussed earlier, money will never and cannot ever save you.
Now Jesus understood that we will be anxious about these things, for in the next section from vs. 25-34 he teaches the we should not be anxious. There is a great promise in this section that God will provide for his people. All that we need to sustain our life and live well will be provided when we seek Him. All of the world seeks the things of the world and the Lord knows there are things we need for daily subsistence. He knows we need food, clothing, shelter, water and so on and in this section of scripture he has promised he will provide all those things. But he also makes the point that we must get our priorities right. In vs. 33 it is clear that we must, “…seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.” This is a call to align our lives correctly and put our treasure in the Lord. This is a call to seek out what is good and right and true and not look for the evil things of this world. This is a call to put our trust and hope in a living God and not to trust in the temporal things of this world that have no real power to save us. And if we do these things, then there is no need for us to be anxious for God will sustain us both today, tomorrow and forever.