Are You A Stumbling Block?

“You shut off the Kingdom of Heaven from people.” (Matthew 23:12)

The harshest words Jesus spoke here on earth were not directed to the immoral or to heretics, but were for the religious hypocrites He condemned in Matthew 23. He pronounced a series of “woes” or curses against them in this chapter, and in verse 12 we find the first: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the Kingdom of Heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.”  These men were doubly cursed, Jesus indicated: not only were THEY going to hell; but they were causing others to go there as well.   Continue reading

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Who’s Your “PR Agent”?

“Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12)

Have you ever seen someone boast (or maybe “humble brag” — if there is really such a thing! — on Facebook or Twitter) in order to promote themselves? If you have ever been tempted to do the same thing, you might consider these words of Jesus in Matthew 23 instead: “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” Continue reading

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“For God” (John 3:16 sermon)

In London, England there is a 70-foot high red granite obelisk called “Cleopatra’s image
Needle” that stands beside the Thames River.  In the 1870’s it was given to Britain by Egypt.  When they moved it to England and set it up, they put a “time vault” at the base they constructed for it, with all kinds of representative clothes, toys, etc. from their culture for future generations to uncover.  They also appointed a committee to select what they considered to be the single greatest verse of scripture to put into that vault as well. The committee chose John 3:16, and put that verse into the vault, translated into the 215 known languages of that day.

Last week we saw by way of introduction why John 3:16 is such an important verse that people would put it in time capsules, and on signs at football games, and in every kind of imaginable place. It is perhaps not only the single greatest verse of scripture, but quite arguably also the greatest sentence ever spoken in human vocabulary! We saw last week just WHY it is so important: it is a succinct summary of the fundamentals of faith in one sentence, which can lead a person to salvation. So today we want to begin to study this great verse word by word, and phrase by phrase for the next several Sunday mornings.  This verse begins with these important words: “For God …”. Continue reading

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A Misplaced Love

“They love … being called Rabbi by men. But do not be called Rabbi …” (Matthew 23:6-8)

Jesus’ harshest words in scripture were reserved for the scribes and Pharisees, whom He condemned in this chapter. Here He tells us one of the reasons why. They loved being called “Rabbi”, the common Jewish title for a teacher.  They were supposed to love GOD, and other PEOPLE — the two great commandments — but they loved recognition for being a “Rabbi” instead.

Not too many people literally seek to be called “Rabbi” in Christian circles today (some actually do …). But the same principle applies to other titles as well: Continue reading

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Don’t Be A Hypocrite

“… but do not do according to their deeds, for they say things and do not do them.” (Matthew 23:3)

In Matthew 23 Jesus reserves His harshest words anywhere in scripture for the scribes and Pharisees. He repeatedly calls them “hypocrites” in this chapter, and here He tells us what He means by that: “they say things and do not do them.” These men were hypocrites because they were always telling other people the “right” things to do, while they themselves did not do the very things which they prescribed.

Let us make sure that we are not found in their position:  Continue reading

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It’s Not Complicated

“On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:40)

It’s not complicated. God’s basic will for your life as a whole, and for every day, is actually fairly simple. In Matthew 22 Jesus said “the whole Law and the Prophets” hang on these two basic commandments: love God, and love people. And remember, this is not merely some “church guru” who came up with this idea; it is JESUS HIMSELF who taught it! Continue reading

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Your Foremost Concern Today

“This is the great and foremost commandment.” (Matthew 22:38)

What is your greatest concern today? If there were ONE thing you could accomplish, which would cause you to consider this day a success, what would it be?  Jesus gives us some direction on that front in this verse: Continue reading

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