Friday, January 21, 2022

25 Observations from Matthew 15

 Matthew 15 is not easy. These thoughts are starters, but most require more digging.

  1. These scribes and Pharisees are from Jerusalem. They are the heavy hitters trying to assess how much of a threat Jesus actually is.
  2. Not only can tradition not save, it often causes us to drift further from God.
  3. Religious traditions are usually an effort to create or preserve the life we want. Traditions serve us but rarely do they serve God.
  4. The Pharisees had used tradition to create a loophole by which they could shirk their responsibility to care for their parents.
  5. Throughout history, religious groups have existed that exhibit fervent external worship but whose hearts have not been changed at all.
  6. Remember, man looks on the outward appearance, while God looks at the heart. (1 Sam 16:7)
  7. Beware of worship that sounds, looks, and feels powerful, but which is only an external expression. (Amos 5)
  8. The Pharisees claimed to be clean because they only ate “clean food” and they ceremonially washed before eating it.
  9. The Pharisees thought the disciples were unclean because they were eating clean food with unclean hands.
  10. Jesus made it clear that cleanliness before God has nothing to do with the food we eat or the hands with which we eat it.
  11. What goes into the mouth is physical but what comes out of the mouth is spiritual.
  12. In verse 13, Jesus references the truths told in chapter 13’s parables. Not all plants are good plants. Let God sort them out.
  13. How do you know if your guides are blind? If the fruit of their heart does not match the actions of their tradition.
  14. Verses 17-20 are a summary/remix of the sermon on the mount. 
  15. Guard your heart, for from it flows everything (Proverbs 4:23)
  16. It’s worth noting that Jesus lists “evil thoughts” and “slander” in the same category as murder.
  17. By including the story of the Canaanite women, Matthew is building the case that Gentiles were, in many ways, more receptive to Christ than the Jewish people were.
  18. Having just confronted the Pharisees about unclean food, Jesus now has a conversation with an unclean person.
  19. This woman had every reason to lose her faith, but she didn’t. Jesus was silent when she prayed. She was mistreated by Jesus’ followers. She felt like she didn’t fit in.
  20. Jesus wanted everyone to know that she was a Gentile, so he emphasized it several times.
  21. The woman’s appeal to Jesus is not based on who she is or what she has done, but rather on who He is and what He can do.
  22. In verse 27, the woman is actually referencing an idea that has always been true. Even in the OT, there was room within the Jewish community for outsiders if they were willing to take the prescribed steps of assimilation.
  23. Crumbs from Jesus are better than a feast from anyone else.
  24. Jesus’ healing of many as well as his second feeding both illustrate an important point: There is plenty of Jesus to go around.
  25. This feeding is a second feeding as Jesus will reference both of them together in the next chapter.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

3 Sermon Outlines from Matthew 14

 Matthew 14 contains three familiar stories, and each carries with it valuable lessons about God, Jesus, and us. From these stories, we not only discover more about who Jesus was, but also how we can learn and grow through our interactions with and our faith in Him.

Sermon One: Consider the motivations of Herod

  1. He was motivated by lust.
    1. He entered an alduterous marriage
    2. He was “pleased” by his step-daughters dancing
  2. He was motivated by fear.
    1. He feared the people’s opinion of him
    2. He feared his guests’ opinion of him (at the party)

Conclusion: The pursuit of pleasure and the pursuit of popularity will almost never lead to wise or God honoring decisions. While neither of these things are wrong on their own, if they are allowed to govern one’s life, they become the second master that no one can serve if they are seeking to serve God.

Sermon Two: Jesus’ process of leadership training

  1. You give them something to eat.
  2. Bring what you have to me.
  3. He broke the bread and gave it to the disciples.
  4. The disciples gave them to the crowds.
  1. He challenged them to take on a project they did not think they could do.
  2. He instructed them to rely on Him to use what they had
    1. We all have gifts and resources, and whatever gifts and resources we have are exactly what we need to accomplish what God has called us to do.
    2. Sometimes, we need to allow Him to set the agenda for how we will use those gifts and resources. Because then, they’ll be enough.
  3. When they gave Him control of what they had, He multiplied it and gave it back!
  4. He gave to them so that they could give to others.

Conclusion: We can do more than we imagine with less than we think if we are willing to let Jesus set the agenda.

Sermon Three:  Peter’s RollerCoaster Night

  1. First he was awestruck.
    1. Imagine getting on the boat after the feeding miracle.
    2. The disciples were likely energized and excited about what would come next.
  2. Then he was afraid.
    1. The storm was unexpected
    2. The storm was strong
    3. The storm was winning
  3. Then he was amazed.
    1. Imagine seeing a man walking on the water
    2. Imagine realizing that man was Jesus
  4. Then he was acting.
    1. He joined Jesus in the miracle
    2. He experienced something no one else ever has
  5. Then he was anxious.
    1. He took his eyes off Jesus
    2. He was too focused on the storm
  6. Then he was awake.
    1. Jesus saved Him
    2. He had no more doubts about who Jesus was

Conclusion: Life is never a simple straight line. We will always experience ups and downs. There will often be storms to distract and deter us. The key is to keep your eyes on Jesus.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

30 Sermon Starters from Matthew 13

Matthew 13 is the beginning of Jesus' parables. The majority of these parables help us understand the nature of God's Kingdom as well as the exclusivity of God's Kingdom. At the end of these parables, we should be left with a sense of gratitude that we have been included as well as a sense of responsibility to see as many others included as possible.

  1. A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.
  2. A parable is a true-to-life story that teaches truth about eternal life.
  3. A parable usually teaches one main point. The details are important to the degree they pertain to the main idea.
  4. Jesus used parables to obscure the truth from those who had rejected Him.
  5. Just as God “gave them up” in Romans 1, Jesus has allowed those who rejected truth to experience the consequences of that decision.
  6. Many of Jesus’ parables were warnings about the religious leaders, thus the people could be warned without the religious leaders understanding.
  7. The see is the word of the Kingdom. God spreads the Gospel everywhere to everyone, but not always with the same effect.
  8. Equal opportunity does not always lead to equal outcomes.
  9. The footpath represents those who intellectually cannot accept the Gospel. With the help of the evil one, they “reason” their way away from Jesus.
  10. Satan’s greatest deception is to cast intellectual doubt into the minds of those who would believe. “Has God really said…?”
  11. The rocky soil prevents deep roots.  Without roots, one cannot stand in the midst of suffering.
  12. Those who say, “I cannot worship a God who allows this…”, have never truly understood who God truly is. They have not put down roots.
  13. The thorns represent the distractions in our world which choke out the spiritual life of people.
  14. The cares of the world could also be worded, “Caring too much about the world.”
  15. The deceitfulness of riches takes many astray. Following Jesus is fun until it is costly.
  16. The parable of the weeds reveals there are people who look like Christians, talk like Christians, hang out with Christians, and may even think they are Christians; but who will be revealed to be lost at the final judgment.
  17. Warning for pastors: In your fervor to defend the Gospel (by destroying weeds), be careful that you do not destroy the good plants who are among them!
  18. Jesus will sort everything at the end. For now, just be faithful.
  19. The Kingdom of Heaven will expand and will impact all of life.
  20. The parable of the mustard seed and the parable of the leaven make it clear that God’s Kingdom is NOT to be segregated from the rest of life. It shoul

    d impact all of life.
  21. Jesus’ explanation of the Kingdom’s scope was new. It had been hidden until then.
  22. The mystery Jesus revealed in these parables is the mystery Paul revealed in His letters (Colossians 1; Ephesians 3).
  23. The Kingdom of Heaven is more valuable than anything we could ever find or own.
  24. The Kingdom of Heaven is worth losing everything.
  25. The Kingdom of Heaven is the most important pursuit in life.
  26. The great sorting of humanity will not happen until the end.
  27. Humanity WILL be sorted at the end.
  28. In these parables, Jesus refers to the final judgment as fire/burning three separate times.
  29. The judgement awaiting those who are sorted includes separation, pain, and regret.
  30. Those who truly understand the Kingdom are able to synthesize the truth they have always known with the truth they are continuing to learn.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

30 Sermon Ideas from Matthew 12

A great amount of material is present in this chapter. It would be easy to focus on the minor issues and miss the major issues. At the end of the day, the main thing is (as it almost always is), "WHO IS JESUS?!" 

  1. The Pharisees weren’t upset about theft, they were upset about Sabbath. This shines a light on some of the “property” mindset of the time.
  2. This activity by the disciples was specifically permitted in the law - Deuteronomy 23:25.
  3. Imagine it being considered “work” to walk through a field and have a snack.
  4. When you want to find something wrong with someone, you will. The Pharisees wanted to find fault with Jesus and His disciples. They did.
  5. Only you can choose whether or not to be a fault finder or a gift giver.
  6. Everything in the law points to something greater. Everything in the temple points to something greater. That something is a someone. It’s Jesus.
  7. Your vertical relationship will be impeded by dysfunctional horizontal relationships.
  8. The minor prophets repeatedly condemn God’s people for participating in ceremonial worship gatherings while oppressing their fellow man (Hosea 6:6, Micah 6:6-8, Amos 5:18-24)
  9. Interestingly, in healing the man with a withered hand, Jesus didn’t do any work. He told the man to do the work.
  10. In order to be healed, the man had to actively and visibly oppose the Pharisees and obey Jesus.
  11. Sometimes, obedience precedes healing.
  12. The law, properly understood, always reflects God’s care for people and will never instruct us to not love and care for our fellow man. 
  13. Imagine desiring to kill someone because they healed a person!
  14. Be careful where your rage and anger take you. Beware of personal feuds that blind you to wisdom.
  15. In the middle of the chapter, Matthew references Isaiah’s prophecy which spoke to the Messiah’s work on behalf of Gentiles. In this chapter, we are seeing the Jewish leader’s rejection of Jesus.
  16. The people’s trajectory of understanding Jesus is radically different than the Pharisees. At one moment, they ask if He is the Messiah and the Pharisees are convinced He is from Satan.
  17. An interesting observation is (that when speaking about others) it is always wiser to ask a question than make a proclamation, especially when the proclamation is accusatory.
  18. Satan is the master of chaos and disunity, but his forces are unified in their hatred for God.
  19. Beware of those who would seek unity in their ambition against a shared enemy.
  20. In His response to the Pharisees, Jesus answers the question of the people… The Kingdom has come.
  21. When a demon is cast out, the first question is, “who is being bound?” Therefore, who is the strong man and who is being plundered.
  22. A corollary is to realize that Satan seeks to plunder our lives by binding us with the cares of this world!
  23. The Pharisees had so hardened their hearts at this time, they were beyond repentance. They had become Pharaoh of the New Testament.
  24. Jesus viewed Jonah as a historical character. If Jesus did, we should.
  25. Ninevah and the Queen of the South are further hints at Jesus’ coming salvation of Gentiles. What binds them together is their repentance when confronted by the truth. They had a lesser testimony than Jesus and still they repented.
  26. In their rejection of Jesus, the Pharisees had become seven times more guilty.
  27. In all of these conversations, what emerges is a litmus test for our relationship with Jesus. Do we accept Him as God and Lord or do we try to explain away what He has done? Naturalism is the enemy of faith.
  28. Often the people we think should truly understand Jesus are the ones who can’t actually grasp who He is.
  29. All the knowledge in the world (the Law, the Family) cannot save you.
  30. Don’t be distracted by all the excitement of this chapter. Demon-posession, unforgiveable sins, debate about the law are all issues, but what is really at stake is: Will you do the will of God?

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

25 Sermon Ideas from Matthew 8

 Matthew 8 is the "healing chapter". Here Jesus demonstrates His power.

  1. Only Jesus can make us clean. Not even the teachings from the sermon on the mount can make us clean, but Jesus can.
  2. Jesus is willing to make you clean.
  3. Jesus will not make you clean until you are willing to bow your knee to Him.
  4. In Matthew 8, several people approach Jesus for help. In each case, they submit to His will.
  5. Submission is necessary for sanctification.
  6. True faith requires recognizing and submitting to Jesus’ authority.
  7. When you truly understand Jesus’ power, your life will be changed forever.
  8. Jesus came to heal and save everyone, not just the people who looked like Him.
  9. Jesus relieved suffering and rescued sinners.
  10. Jesus’ followers should seek to relieve suffering and rescue sinners.
  11. God’s plan was always that Jesus would heal and save.
  12. Following Jesus means letting go of everything else.
  13. You cannot rely on Jesus while you are still relying on yourself.
  14. There is no responsibility in life so important that it should keep you from following Jesus.
  15. Jesus slept in the storm because He knew who was in control of the storm.
  16. The ability to sleep is often connected to the degree of our trust.
  17. There is no storm so great that Jesus cannot control it.
  18. My lack of control in life’s storms should never lead to fear, it should be conquered by faith.
  19. Jesus took His disciples through the storm so that He could show them His power.
  20. In Matthew 8 Jesus demonstrates power over disease, injury, nature, and evil.
  21. The response of the men who were saved by Jesus was to tell others about Him.
  22. If Jesus has really saved you, you won’t be able to keep your mouth closed.
  23. The response of those who hadn’t been saved was to chase Jesus’ off.
  24. The people begged Jesus to leave because He had created an inconvenience for them.
  25. Everyone who meets Jesus must either accept Him or reject Him.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

25 Sermon Ideas from Matthew 7

Matthew 7 is the final chapter of the Sermon on the Mount. Here are twenty-five sentences that can be starter ideas or just help to fill in a sermon or Bible Study on Matthew 7.

  1. Be known as a person full of mercy and grace, not as a person full of judgment.
  2. Choose to look at yourself more critically than you look at others.
  3. Don’t sit in judgment on those whom Christ has forgiven.
  4. Beware of the cycle of judgment. You don’t have to return judgment for judgment. You can choose to give mercy.
  5. Asking, seeking, and knocking are all pursuit words. God loves it when we pursue Him.
  6. God only has good gifts for His children, and everything God gives to His children is good.
  7. Our heavenly Father is better than even the best earthly Father.
  8. Our heavenly Father is the embodiment of our ideal father, and more.
  9. Pay attention to your expectations of others. Don’t expect more of them than you do of yourself.
  10. Love your neighbor as yourself.
  11. The more resistance you face in life, the more likely it is that you are heading in the right direction.
  12. An easy life almost always leads to the wrong destination.
  13. The end result of your life will either be destruction or life.
  14. The majority chooses the wrong path a majority of the time.
  15. Not all “teachers” are as they seem. Before you pay attention to their words, pay attention to the fruit of their life.
  16. All the “good doctrine” in the world is meaningless if it doesn’t lead to love and mercy.
  17. Galatians 5:22-23 outlines the fruit of the Spirit. These fruits should be the outcomes of our life.
  18. Those who truly know and trust Jesus will bear Jesus’ fruits in their life.
  19. Fruitlessness leads to the fire.
  20. If Jesus doesn’t know you, you can’t spend eternity with Him.
  21. At the final judgment, Jesus will “know” everyone in the Lamb’s book of life.
  22. The sermon on the mount teaches how to be successful while living on earth.
  23. Ignoring the words of Jesus leads to collapse when life’s storms hit.
  24. Jesus isn’t afraid of life’s storms because He controls them and He can use them for our good.
  25. If you want to know what the foundation of your life is, take a look at your calendar and your bank account.

Monday, January 10, 2022

25 Sermon Starters from Matthew 6

 Each of these sentences can serve as an idea seed from which to build an entire sermon, or they might be one key point in a sermon. Ideally, they will help you process what God wants to say through you to the people to whom you preach.

  1. Motives matter.
  2. If you are living for the approval of people, you’ll likely not receive the approval of God.
  3. If you have to tell people about your acts of generosity, it wasn’t really generosity.
  4. Maintain secrecy about our “good deeds” is a helpful way to check our motivation.
  5. Never pray for the approval of someone else.
  6. Never be embarrassed about the way you pray. God’s opinion of your prayer is more important than anyone else’s.
  7. Even if no one ever knows the “good things” you have done, God knows.
  8. Fancy words do not a good prayer make.
  9. Jesus’ prayer contained ten lines. Only one of them is a request. Our prayers need to be more than request lists.
  10. If you pray that God’s name will be honored, make sure you don’t dishonor His name with your actions.
  11. Praying that God’s kingdom will come is an empty thought if we don’t submit our lives to His rule.
  12. If we truly want God to be obeyed on earth as He is in heaven, we must obey Him on earth.
  13. Those who have been forgiven, must forgive.
  14. Step number one in resisting temptation is to pray every day for God’s strength in resisting temptation.
  15. “Your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
  16. Invest in things that last.
  17. Your actions, words, responses, and attitudes are all investments. With those investments, you are either building God’s kingdom or your own.
  18. Whatever you look at is what you will see. Choose to focus your attention on the right objects.
  19. Instead of serving your money, make your money serve God.
  20. If you are serving money, you will eventually be mastered by anxiety.
  21. The more you worry about what you cannot control, the more you will be controlled by what you worry about.
  22. Worry only makes us suffer twice.
  23. You will find what you seek, so choose wisely what you will seek.
  24. The best way to receive everything you need, is to stop seeking it and start seeking the Kingdom.
  25. Work at what you can control. Pray about what you cannot control.