A Prayer Prompted by Matthew 23

Heavenly Father,

By listening to Jesus we learn that there is a great danger in hypocritical religion.  The scribes and Pharisees were guilty of it then, but many besides them have been guilty of it too. Many are still guilty of it now.

In response we ask you to please show us where the practice of our faith does not measure up to your standards.  Transform our hearts so that we become people who are inwardly pure.  Let our love for you and for others cause us to grieve over sin and truly fear the day of your coming judgment.

And let us always be prepared and eagerly waiting for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In his name,
Amen.

Matthew 18 Verse by Verse

Matt photoIn this chapter Jesus teaches us about life in the community of believers.  Some of the things he focuses on are greatness, temptation, sin, correction and forgiveness.

Matthew 18.pdf

Matthew 18.mp3

A Prayer Prompted by Christ’s Teaching in Matthew 18

Heavenly Father,

Teach us to exercise the faith of a child toward you. Help us to be innocent, trusting and not afraid to ask you for what we need.

Help us to take sin very seriously, so that we will carefully avoid temptation. Further please prevent us from tempting others through our words and actions.  On the contrary, let us join with you in going out to seek the one lost sheep of your flock who is going astray.

When we feel that someone has sinned against us, or has need of some form of correction, give us the power to not respond out of anger or frustration.  Help us rather to correct that person with the goal of restoration in mind. And remind us to follow your instructions as to the best way to make that restoration a reality.  And then, most of all, help us to be forgiving people, always aware of how much we have been forgiven by you.

You truly have released us from a debt we could never pay, by having Jesus Christ pay for our sins on the cross.  May our lives reflect your grace, your goodness and your compassion.

In Christ,

Amen

Matthew 17 Verse by Verse

Matt photoA few disciples have a mountain top experience with Jesus as witnesses of his Transfiguration.  Upon coming down, they find the rest of their group unsuccessfully trying to help a demonized boy.

Matthew 17.pdf

Matthew 17.mp3

A Prayer Prompted by Concern for God’s Kingdom as Seen in Matthew 17

Heavenly Father,

We declare Jesus to be King of kings, Lord of lords and supreme Ruler of heaven and earth. We also declare him to be King, Lord and Ruler over our lives.  

May your Kingdom come and your will be done.  We ask your help in discerning your will so that we will more faithfully represent Christ as we go about our earthly business.  Help us to know how to exercise Christ’s authority in the spiritual realm, in our families, in our church and in our daily community life.  Help us to see when we are not doing so, especially when that is the result of a lack of faith. We admit that our faith needs to grow.

Help us also to see all those numerous cases when submission to earthly rulers is the right thing to do.  We thank you that we live in a place where we are free to worship you.  We pray that you would give those that govern wisdom to govern according to your will.  We also pray that you would have mercy on them and lead each of them into a saving knowledge of you.

And finally, we look forward to the soon return of Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Little faith – Matthew 17:14-20

Coming down from the Mount of Transfiguration, this was the scene for Jesus and his disciples (from the ESV).

14 And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and, kneeling before him, 15 said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he has seizures and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. 16 And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.” 17 And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Let’s admit right from the start that rebuking a demon and getting immediate, happy results is no small thing, unless you are Jesus.  He did this kind of thing all the time.  Most of us, let’s also admit, probably fall into the category of the disciples.  They failed.

Sometimes failure just happens.  Maybe what we tried was a bad idea.  Maybe it wasn’t God’s will.  Maybe the failure was in our approach, so we need to go back and try again with a lesson learned.  Sometimes we fail due to lack of faith.  That was the case here.

Jesus doesn’t attribute all problems to demons nor all failure to too little faith, so neither should we.  Sometimes, however, the battle is purely spiritual.  The gates of hell are busy in their futile efforts to prevail against the church.  Their failure is assured in the long run.  Jesus will see to that.  In the short run, we have to take a little responsibility.

Let’s willingly engage in the work of spiritual warfare, remembering that we serve a big God who promises victory.  And let’s not be hindered by our all-too-usual lack of faith.  The strength of the church, the souls of the lost and the advancement of God’s will in the world are dependent, to some extent, on our faithful engagement.

Matthew 15 Verse by Verse

Matt photoMatthew has been hinting at the fact that Jesus is the “prophet like Moses” that was foretold in Deuteronomy 18.  In this chapter the Lord begins to do Moses-like works not only for Israel, but also for the Gentiles.

Matthew 15.pdf

Matthew 15.mp3