19 BSF Matthew Week 19, Day 5

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

I worry about being taken advantage of.  We live in a world full of warnings to “keep up your guard.”  We are told to be careful, diligent, cautious.  “There is a sucker born every minute.”  Don’t be a patsy, an easy-mark.

Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.

Peter’s question is not unreasonable.  There have to limits, right?  There have to be boundaries.  If someone wrongs us, they have to pay.  How many times must I offer forgiveness to someone who repeatedly transgresses against me.

I’m guilty of this mindset.  But it is a mindset of limited resources and God is a God of Unlimited Grace and Provision.  Jesus helps put this in perspective.  We are focused on the equivalent of 100 silver coins.  We seek justice for a transgression of 100 silver coins.  But God is dealing at the level of 10,000 bags of gold.

Since we don’t deal much in actual silver and gold, I looked it up.

A US Silver Dollar (1878-1935) is worth about $15.50 in silver.  So 100 silver coins would be worth $1,550.

During the gold rush, a bag of gold held approximately 25 pounds.  Assuming bags have traditionally been about the same size, a bag of gold at current market value would be worth a little over US $500,000.  So, the forgiveness of the King was to the tune of US$5,062,000,000.  $5 Billion Dollars.

In God’s economy, the things we worry about someone taking advantage of us over would get lost in rounding.  If I spent more time and effort protecting my heart and my eyes and those I love, that would be a far wiser eternal investment than protecting worldly possessions.

My only appropriate response should be one of thanks to God and modeling the grace and mercy that He has shown me.  When we pray for God to forgive our sins as we forgive others, the forgiveness we show others is the measure we are asking Him to use on us.

My Answers:

12.
a.
how many times must I forgive my brother = maximum number of time I can ask for forgiveness.  If 7, then…

b.
Law of Lamech or Lamech’s curse was a distortion by Lamech for a rule of  vengence.  Jesus turned these words into a rule of forgiveness instead.

13
a.
Sins of others to me are miniscule compared to forgiveness I have received.  10,000 bags of gold vs. 100 silver coins

b.
Lord’s prayer, forgive us our sins as we forgive others

c.
As I forgive and seek to truly hear others and simply listen, I find myself in a better place, one where I feel more forgiven

d.
Thank you for being God.  Thank you for being the almighty and being patient with me.  Thank you for being the shepherd to come and hunt me down when I repeatedly go astray.

19 BSF Matthew Week 19, Day 4

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

Being a member of the body of Christ is not a life of diplomacy.  Diplomacy is all about building a coalition.  It is about operating from a position of strength.  It is about dealing with others in a way that doesn’t hurt their feelings.

We like diplomacy.  You’re OK, I’m OK.  Can’t we all just get along?  Personal freedom.  We take these words and stretch them into excuses to avoid confrontation.

When we do need to confront something, we start by building our coalition.  Recruiting others to our side to present a position of insurmountable strength.

But this is all wrong.  If a fellow member of the body of Christ is sinning seriously against another, I am called to approach them individually.  Listen to that again.  I am called to approach them individually.  Not to discuss it first with a bunch of different people to build my coalition. Not to ignore it and hope it goes away or somebody else deals with it.  Not to just accept it and avoid conflict.  I am called to approach them individually.

I don’t like that.  I don’t really want to do that – I like conflict avoidance.  But I don’t need to worry or avoid this.  First, the entire responsibility never rests on me.  If the person doesn’t listen to me, then we simply advance to step number 2.  There is no huge burden or failing on my part, it just moves to include 2 others.

Even then we still don’t need to worry.  The promise about binding and loosing isn’t just a grant of authority to us as the church.  It is also a reminder that when we are gathered prayerfully with 2 other believers to trust in God fully, then Jesus is there and God’s will is being done.  Anything we do is only what God has ordained and allowed.    I need not worry or feel burdened if I rely and trust on God whole-heartedly.

I still don’t like it, but Jesus didn’t like being tortured and put to death for my sins either.  That helps put it in perspective.

My Answers:

9.
a.
All parts form one body.  If one part is honored, all rejoice.  If one part suffers, every part suffers.

b.
1. approach individually, 2. approach with 2 others along, 3. approach with and through the church, 4. if not, remove from the congregation until they repent and change ways

10.
a.
Compassion and love

b.
To win them over, to bring them back into a state of not sinning

11.
a.
Bind as in a binding contract.  Loose as in to set free from bondage.  We can set people free from sin and bind them to an inheritance of grace through faith

b.
through Jesus Christ – wherever 2 or 3 gather in His name, He is present.

19 BSF Matthew Week 19, Day 3

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

How do I bring others to Christ?  I think the answer to that is by living out my faith.  It is not just in the words that come out of my mouth, but also in my actions and behaviors.  It is not just in missional statements but in actions and interactions.  The way I choose to live my life.  The people I choose to be around and the way I choose to spend time, in ways that bring honor and glory to God.  The way I put trust in Him and show His love in my interactions with others.

How do I cause others, particularly “little ones” to stumble?  I think the same things apply.  It isn’t just a direct comment or statement I make to them, but more often through my actions and interactions.  The things I do in my life that do not bring honor and glory to God.  The way I choose to live my life in worry and doubt instead of trusting in Him fully.  They people I choose to be around who don’t follow Him.  The interactions I have with others that exclude God.

The message in our passage today is that this is extremely serious.  Far more serious than, I think, we give it credit.  We go through life with such nonchalance, not thinking how the anger we feel, or the worry, or frustration or greed, lust or pride influence our words and actions in ways that can cause those “little ones” who are watching to stumble. We like to delude ourselves thinking that no one notices, but talk with young believers.  Their number one concern of becoming a christian is that they will be seen to be “religious”, joined with hypocrites who go through the motions on Sunday morning but fail to demonstrate it the rest of the week.

Harsh?  Yes.  But when our Lord says it would be better to tie a heavy stone around your neck and go drown yourself, I am thinking we should probably take this seriously!

My Answers:

6.
a.
better to have a large millstone hung around their neck and drowned in the depths of the sea

b.
Pride – we saw someone drive out demons in your name but he wasn’t one of us so told him to stop

7.
a.
stop judging and criticizing others –  Don’t be a stumbling block either in my words or actions or approach.  Just because I can doesn’t mean I should because it may be misunderstood – err on the side of shining God’s light.

b.
criticism, bad examples, drinking, failing to serve or grumbling about service

8.
Even when I go astray, Jesus doesn’t write me off or condemn or curse me, instead He seeks me out and rejoices in my return.

19 BSF Matthew Week 19, Day 2

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

I spend a lot of time with children and they are not always humble.  I see plenty of kids acting out to get attention.  I see many children who are very focused on themselves.  I see children who have no issue being disruptive if it brings them joy or raises their social standing.  I don’t read today’s verses with rose colored glasses.  And, I don’t think acting childish is what the Lord is trying to tell us.

But there are also some traits I see in the children I work with that I think are at the root of today’s scriptures.

The first is love.  Children are amazing at giving and accepting love.  They make friends without hesitation.  They show kindness and compassion for those around them.  I think this is in part because they readily accept love as well.  They don’t question the love of their parents and family and plug into that to have joy with others.

The second is innocence and acceptance.  I am constantly amazed at the conviction these young believers have.  Not because they have a depth of knowledge and study to prove something, but simply because they accept it as the truth.  They know that God loves them because He does, not because they read 16 commentaries that help them work it out in their head.

I don’t think it is an accident that these verses come directly on the heels of the encounter with the father of the demon possessed son whom the disciples could not heal.  I think this is the answer to his prayer to Jesus, “help me with my unbelief.”

The answer to that prayer is not going to come from some outside sign or proof or miracle (even though all of those things are present).  The answer to the prayer is to just accept belief as fact.  To be totally open to it, not because it is the only thing left standing after exhaustive examination (which it would be), but because it comes from God.  To a child this is easy.  Jesus loves me, this I know…

As maturing christians we sometimes make things so complicated.  We hold on to our doubts until they are proven wrong.  But, Jesus teaches us to simply let them go.  It is called faith and belief for a reason.

My Answers:

3.
a.
become like little children

b.
Matt: blessed: poor in spirit: kingdom of heaven, those who mourn: be comforted
John 1: those who receive him, believe, become children of God (born of God)
John 3: must be born again (nicodemus) born of water and spirit, flesh to flesh, spirit birth to spirit

4.
a.
Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all

b.
Humility and repentance

5.
a.
Not proud or concerned with “great matters”, Hidden things from wise and learned and revealed them to children, “My dear children, I write this to you…”   Those entering the faith – those seeking to believe and grow in Christ, humble

b.
Those who serve, those who pray, those who put others first, teachers, preachers, missionaries, the little children – I can teach, I can pray and I can humble myself to not rely on my own knowledge or skill but to rely fully on the Holy Spirit.  To be bold and step forward in the ways God is calling me that brings glory to him not gain for me.

c.
Jesus