01/09

January 9

Matthew 7

 

VERSES 1-5

Jesus continues His Sermon on the Mount to His people, the Jews. Again, Jesus is focusing on the heart of the Jew under the Mosaic Law. The Law was a tutor to lead us to the Savior, helping us to recognize our need for Him. Once the Law was broken, on any point, a man or woman was then guilty of the Law and unqualified for righteousness. We’ve all sinned, and we’ve all fallen short of God’s glory. 

 

When it comes to God’s standard of righteousness, if a person is self-reliant, that person will try to earn God’s favor by keeping the rules. If a person is surrendered to God in faith, that person will receive righteousness as a gift. Even after someone is born again and made righteous by faith, it is very common for someone who struggles with self-sufficiency (pride) to continue to try to live by works. 

 

There are two meanings for “judge” in Greek. One meaning is to discern and another is to condemn. To discern is to determine if something is righteous or unrighteous, right or wrong. In verses 1-5, the meaning is to condemn or punish. When someone is judgmental or condemning of others, he or she will point out the faults in others, as if to decide their guilt. Remember the Jews, living under the Law, had a sin nature, trying to do their best to be disciplined in their actions. Because of their self-reliance, they felt a sense of pride when they did the right thing, a sense that they have earned their place with God. In order to feel justified, some would compare themselves to others, as if in a competition, to be “better than” someone else. 

 

The same holds true among Christians today. If we fail to receive the grace of God, we take what is holy and good and turn it into performance. Going to church, reading the Bible, giving offerings, returning God’s tithe, serving, outreach, confession, worship – any of these things can be turned into acts that we think earn us favor with God. Some even think they can hold God to His Word by merit – not because of His grace and our reliant faith, but because they performed, now God has to perform. That’s manipulation! God is moved by faith, not manipulation. 

 

People who live in God’s grace by reliant faith will treat other people according to grace. That doesn’t mean they compromise righteousness. It means they lean on God’s grace, His boundless help, His unending love, His depths of compassion. It’s by His grace that they have a relationship with God, a position with God, and a power to live in the life God has provided. 

 

If someone does not live by grace, they often will not extend grace to others. Furthermore, whatever measure of grace we extend to others is the same direct amount of grace that we are able to receive for ourselves. 

 

VERSE 6

Along the same lines of receiving, if you give wisdom to someone who can receive and apply it, that’s a blessing. However, if you share your wisdom with someone who won’t receive it, it’s like casting pearls, something of value, to swine, the self-righteous. Not only will the self-righteous disregard your wisdom, they will see you as a threat to their way of thinking, and will turn and tear you to pieces!

 

VERSES 7-12

The verbs ask, knock, and seek are Greek imperatives in the present tense, suggesting continued petition.  They could be translated, “ask and keep on asking, knock and keep on knocking, seek and keep on seeking.” This same passage in Luke 11:9-13 is specific about asking for the Holy Spirit, but the principles seems to apply to whatever promise we ask from God. 

 

In Matthew 7:12, it says “therefore” – what is it there for? If you want men to do something for you, you do to them, this is the Law and Prophets. If you want grace, extend grace. 

 

VERSES 13-29

In these verses, Jesus goes to the heart. In verses 13-14, Jesus shows us that works won’t save us from destruction. 

 

In verses 15-20, He says in the same way you can determine the nature of a tree by its fruit, you can determine the nature of a man or woman. 

 

In verses 21-23 Jesus says it is possible to do good things without receiving grace and a heart change, thus never knowing them. There has to be a heart change, a surrender, doing His will as our Lord and Savior. 

 

In verses 24-29, Jesus says that when our position is surrender and obedience, we are positioned in grace and cannot be moved. However, if we don’t surrender and obey, our self-reliance will crumble and fall apart. 

 

Jesus taught with an authority- not arrogance, not just a strong speech, but with heaven backing Him. The anointing was on His teaching. The scribes of that day did not have that same position with God or His power on their words. 

 

Genesis 23-24

 

Since the flood, people are dying at a younger age. Abraham lives to be 175. Sarah dies at 127, much younger than Abraham. Abraham will remarry and have more children. 

 

In early civilizations, people would marry among their own families, maintaining their own culture, keeping the same faith, and staying within their own territories. When Abraham left his home, it was a big deal. The Lord told Abraham that the land he was in, Canaan, was given to him and his descendants. As we’ve seen, Abraham and Sarah were fearful of being killed in Canaan. The current residents in Canaan where descendants of Ham and known to be idol worshippers and wicked people. Abraham asked his servant to find a wife for Isaac from his family home, a woman who worshipped the Lord, a woman that was willing to leave her family and move to Canaan. 

 

Abraham asked a trusted, faithful servant (the oldest, has served Abraham the longest) to make an oath to find this woman. Abraham believed that this was God’s plan for Isaac and the family, stating that a messenger from God would go before the servant. Abraham asked the servant to swear by putting his hand underneath Abraham’s thigh. This was an ancient custom for a servant, signifying the position of being underneath that person’s authority, binding himself to his commitment. 

 

The servant prayed and asked God to make him successful in his endeavor, as well as to show kindness to Abraham. Notice that this oldest servant prayed for his leader, asking God to bless him. I believe the servant saw himself as part of Abraham’s household, not just an individual. When God blesses Abraham, God also blesses the group for whom Abraham is responsible. This is a lesson for all of us. 

 

He asked God to show him the one, and it was Rebekah, a woman with a servant’s heart. A woman who was kind and thoughtful. As the servant watched Rebekah get water for him and his camels, he wondered at her, remaining silent, so he would discern if she was God’s choice. Sometimes we need to be quiet and watch, amen? 

 

When the servant realized that Rebekah was the answer to his prayer, he blessed the Lord, saying of God, “He has not forsaken His mercy and His truth toward my master.”  Notice the joy the “oldest servant” had for Abraham, blessing God for answers to prayer for his leader. This is inspiring for any of us that love the leaders we serve!

 

Bethuel was Rebekah’s father, and Laban was her brother.  In verse 50 the two said, “The thing comes from the Lord.” The family knew this was the will and purpose of God for Rebekah. 

 

The servant worshipped the Lord, bowing to the ground. He was reliant on the Lord, and the Lord worked on his behalf. We see his dependent and obedient faith!

 

When Rebekah sees Isaac for the first time, she puts on a large piece of fabric that covered her face and form, a custom in that day.  The veil is a symbol the woman would use to identify herself as the bride and as someone making the decision to submit to the authority of a husband. 

 

Isaac was an only child, and he was close to his mother. He was dealing with the grief of losing her. Isaac’s grief was comforted by the companionship of his new wife.  

 

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