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Matthew chapter 7

 DAILY DEVOTION
FOR
JULY 8, 2020

 
Scripture:  Matthew 7
Author:  Jeremy Witt

As we begin chapter 7, Jesus again hits the heart and motive rather than simply an action.  Jesus’ first public sermon addresses the heart of the matter rather than “dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s” as was the practice of the scribes and religious leaders.  This speaks to the entire purpose of Jesus’ coming to earth.  Sin causes us to turn our hearts away from God, and Jesus came to make fix the problem altogether by destroying sin and death so that our hearts might be made right with the LORD.

In verses 1-6, Jesus addresses our own hearts rather than the outside appearances of others.  Verse 3 is the key phrase, “why worry about the speck in your friends’ eye when you have a log in your own?”  Again, this was a shot at those religious leaders that heaped rules upon the people that God never intended to give.  In case you are not aware, the Torah or Law (Genesis – Deuteronomy) was God-given, but the religious leaders added their own material over the years to clarify what God meant.  Ironically, their man-made laws far outnumbered what God gave.  From His first sermon to His last, Jesus came and pointed out how mankind had missed the mark and missed the heart of the Law which was being made right with God by faith. 

Verses 7-12 can be summed up by “seek the LORD and keep seeking the LORD.  Don’t ever stop, and as you go, treat others the way that you want to be treated.  This most certainly makes life easier than the rules that they tried to practice.  Yep, some of you guessed it.  We do the same thing that the religious rulers did, don’t we!  We complicate things because we do not keep our eyes on Jesus.  It is easy to say and hard to do consistently, so we try to make it attainable by making a checklist of do’s and don’t’s. 

In verse 13, Jesus addresses how to go to heaven.  He doesn’t make it complicated and says it outright.  The way is hard, and few will choose that difficult, narrow way.  Following Jesus goes against the world.  It is tiring to live differently.  It is difficult at times to keep our eyes on Him and not our circumstances or what others are doing.  Our flesh wants to live like the world.  When we live differently, we are isolated (lonely) and we may have to go at it alone. 

This is another reason why we need each other as Christ-followers.  We need the church.  It is far easier to climb a mountain with others so that they can help to help pick you up, pull you up, etc. than it is to go at it alone.  The trail up the mountain is narrow, but it doesn’t mean that we have to be alone.  Insert an advertisement for Life groups and small, accountability groups. 

Verses 21-27 hit hard.  There are some who think that they are right with God and they are not.  There will be some who “prophesied in Your Name and cast out demons” who Jesus does not know.  Honestly, this is scary to me.  Insert a word from Sunday’s sermon on fear.  We must fear the LORD.  We can’t base things on our way of thinking, but we must base it upon His Words and His Ways.  Again, this is scary.  This is why we must continue seeking Him, reading His Word.  We must be trusting Him and not in ourselves.  We must be relying on Him and not what we think or understand. 

The implications of the Sermon on the Mount are quite numerous.  Jesus was different than what the people were used to, and He is different than what we are used to.  He cares about our hearts and our motives rather than just outside appearances.  He tells us that following Him is hard and only a few will do it.  He doesn’t hide the difficulty from us.  He wants us to evaluate our own lives rather than others.  He wants us to compare ourselves to Him rather than others.  He wants us to seek after Him, look for Him, and knock on doors striving to find Him.  This will be our lifelong journey of faith.

As verses 28-29, tells us how amazed the people were with Jesus’ teaching in comparison to their religious teachers.  He taught and made it plain.  The question was for the crowd then exactly the same as it is for us today.  Will we follow and be wise and build our lives upon the rock (verse 24), or will be turned away and build our lives upon the sand?

Posted by Jeremy Witt with

Matthew chapter 6

DAILY DEVOTION
FOR
JULY 7, 2020

 
Scripture:  Matthew 6
Author:  Jeremy Witt

Today and tomorrow’s devotion will continue through the Sermon on the Mount.  At the heart of chapter 6 is the issue of who are we trying to please?  Is it God or is it man?  It addresses our hearts and our motives.  The entirety of this chapter will take good actions and ask questions about our hearts or motives behind those actions.  Ultimately, what Jesus was doing was showing that despite good actions, what God sees is the heart.  Remember when Samuel was told by God in 1 Samuel 16 to go and anoint the next king of Israel?  God sent him to Jesse’s house, and his oldest son came out.  Samuel thought to himself, “Surely he is the one.”  He was tall, strong, and handsome.  He looked the part just like the current king, Saul, looked the part.  But the LORD said, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him.  The LORD doesn’t see things the way that you see them.  People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (NLT)

Verses 1-4 refers to generosity and benevolence to the poor.  Notice verse two.  Do not call attention to yourselves when you give to the poor.  There was a group of people who would do this.  They were perceived by the culture and people as righteous.  They were looked to as the religious leaders.  Much of what Jesus was saying was very counter-cultural but also not politically correct because these people were the Pharisees, Sadducees, and religious leaders.  Jesus was calling people not to focus on what others thought, but allow God to reward you with the approval of man. 

Verses 5-13 refers to praying.  Fortunately for us, Jesus specifically taught on prayer.  Yet again, Jesus said not to pray like those hypocrites.  The world expected the Messiah to come but the manner in which they expected was to come in power (military and political).  Jesus came and went against the religious leaders from the very start of His ministry.  He said essentially NOT to do as they do.  Holy Moley!  People were amazed at what He said, how He said it, and who He did not glamorize.  (see Matthew 7:28-29)

Let’s focus on some things on prayer.  Notice that no priest was there.  Pray privately not publicly for attention.  Again, allow only God to see not man.  The world in that today wanted the show.  Man sought attention and approval from other people.  Jesus comes and says to do none of that.  Allow God to see and reward us.  Don’t talk just to talk or pray to be seen.  The example of prayer that Jesus gave was simple and to the point.

Verses 14-15 are some that leap out from the page.  One of the hardest things for us to do is to forgive another person yet Jesus calls us to do this and to remember that we ask God to forgive us.  From the very start of His ministry, Jesus called people to forgive others.  Why?  What was Jesus’ purpose in coming?  To pay our sin debt so that we might be forgiven by God.  He was calling people to do what He would eventually do in an ultimate way.  Jesus was calling people to do the hard thing for others.  We also know that when we forgive, it helps us more than anyone so that we do not become bitter and hard-hearted but that is for another devotional. 

Again in verses 16-18, Jesus called people to fast but to do it in such a way that was different from the religious leaders.  When we fast, do not draw attention to ourselves.  Let it be between us and God. 

Jesus speaks on money in verses 19-24.  Yes, Jesus speaks on money, and actually, He will speak on money more than He will on heaven and hell.  Many today hate this, and I think it is because our world is consumed with wealth.  Jesus wrapped up this topic for now in verse 24 pretty clearly.  You can’t follow and serve God while being consumed with money.

Finally, Jesus speaks on worry and/or fear in verses 25-34.  Remember that Jesus is the Son of God.  God is all-knowing.  He knows us better than we know ourselves.  Jesus knows that we are prone to worry.  What we worry about varies from person to person and from moment to moment.  Ultimately, what is at the heart of worry?  Control or the lack of control and many of us like to be in control.  When we realize that we are not in control, we worry.  Jesus told us not to worry.  God has this.  Let’s trust Him. 

Posted by Jeremy Witt with

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