Why You Must Forgive

“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves.” (Matthew 18:23)

The words “FOR THIS REASON” are key to the meaning of this passaage. Jesus had just told Peter in :22 that he was not to forgive his brother merely the magnanimously suggested “seven times” (instead of the traditional three), “but up to seventy times seven.” WHY is it that we are to be so lavish in our forgiveness of others? “For this reason …”. Continue reading

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Radical Love For Some “ONE”

“What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying?” (Matthew 18:12)

Here Jesus explains an important principle in the Kingdom of Heaven — and one that you & I should be very glad about: it is the principle of God’s love for the individual.  Christianity is not a “pragmatic” philosophy, which is merely about “doing the best for the most”. Rather it is about a God who shows extravagant love for an individual — even an individual who is  unworthy and who has gone astray. Continue reading

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Guardian Angels?

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10)

The concept of a “guardian angel” — an angel sent from heaven to guard each of God’s people — is present in popular culture, but is there any basis for it in scripture? Continue reading

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Who Is “The Greatest”?

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Who then is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?'” (Matthew 18:1)

We might do well to ask why the scripture tells us that it was “at THAT time” that the disciples asked Jesus this question. What was the significance of “that time”?   If you look back, Jesus had just told Peter to catch the fish with the coin that would be found in it, and pay the poll tax for the two of them. Did this cause envy among the disciples?  What about the other 11?  Was Peter greater than they?  Was being party to this miracle an indicator of his preeminence?  Additionally, this episode is not too far removed from Peter’s confession of Christ in Chapter 16, and Jesus’ response that the keys to the Kingdom were given to him. Was Peter the greatest? And who is the greatest among us today? Continue reading

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Don’t “Sit In the Seat Of Scoffers”

“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, not sit in the seat of scoffers.” (Psalm 1:1)

Psalm 1 opens with a blessing for the person who does not “walk”, “stand”, or “sit” in ungodliness. Most of God’s people today would like to think that we have indeed avoided these worldly postures — but have we? Continue reading

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When It’s OK To Cause Offense

“Then the disciples came and said to Him, ‘Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?” (Matthew 15:12)

We’ve all heard it: “You made so-and-so mad with what you said.” Sometimes it is spoken or implied that we should go and “sooth the ruffled feathers.” And there are times when that is exactly what we should do. But Jesus also shows us that there are other times when we are to do nothing about such “concerns.” Continue reading

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People > My “Rights”

“However, so that we do not offend them (cause them to stumble) go …” (Matthew 17:27)

In the Book of I Corinthians, the Apostle Paul told us that we should restrict our own freedoms, in order not to make others stumble. Jesus gives us an example in this passage of what this looks like in real life.

The disciple Peter had been asked if Jesus paid the tax for the temple. He told his questioner that He did, but was evidently troubled about it at heart when he went back to Jesus. The Lord spoke to him first and asked if kings of the earth taxed their own sons. Peter said that no, they taxed strangers. Jesus responded, “Then the sons are exempt.” His impliciation here is that since He is the Son of God, He should be exempt from the Temple tax.  He had the “right” not to pay it. But His next words teach us an important lesson: Continue reading

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