Preparing with Hope April 23, 2023

disciple: someone who follows Jesus and leads others to do the same.

Looking back.

This past Sunday we examined Matthew 22:15-22 using a couple of helpful tools.  We leaned that we need to understand what's happening when these verses were written.  Who wrote the verses?  What do we know about the author?  Who were they writing to?  What was happening?  This is so helpful to understand as we study the Bible.  
We also learned that we need to give grace to each other and ourselves.  We're not going to be perfect.  And when we mess up, we need grace and we need to offer grace to each other.  
As we studied the verses together we discovered that Jesus was challenging the listeners to stop holding people hostage to rules and instead give them back to God, because His image is on everyone.  And He loves them!  And so should we!  The challenge was to begin looking for God's image in everyone that we encounter and offer grace to everyone.

Looking ahead.

This weekend we will be studying Matthew 18:20.   At first glance this verse appears to tell us that God is present when two or more people gather.  And I believe this is true.  God is present when we worship together, but I don't believe we should use this verse to encourage this.  Instead, we need to use our next tool to help us discover the deeper meaning.  When studying the Bible we need to read the verses before and after to help us learn what is happening.  We cannot read just one verse and think we are done.  There is often more to be learned.  


So, before we go any further, let's stop and pray.  Take time to confess any sins to God.  It is always good to reflect on your life and see if there have been any actions that could be considered a sin or any thoughts.  But don't stop at confessing your sins.  Move on to thanking God for forgiving you!  This is SO powerful!  God doesn't want to hold us in bondage to what we have done.  He wants to release us to live in freedom!  
And now listen.  Instead of telling God what you want the verse to say.  Listen.  Ask God to speak.  And give the Holy Spirit permission to say whatever He wants to say.  And listen.  God will speak.  Allow Him to begin to prepare you to read through the verses again and hear what He wants to say to you.  

read it again.

Read the verse again, but this time read the whole section.  When the Bible was first written, it wasn't written in the way that we read it today.  It really was someone putting to paper (or papyrus) what was spoken.  There weren't any verse numbers or headings.  There wasn't even any punctuation.  But our modern day Bibles have done most of the hard work for us to show us where one section begins and ends to better understand what is happening.  So, read the section as a whole to discover what is happening. Matthew 18:15-20  

now what?

After you've read the whole section (and maybe reading some of the verses after), what do you think God is wanting to teach us?  Is it what you thought earlier?  Or is there something else?  It's okay if you're still not sure.  I shared with you the NIV version of these verses.  I would encourage you to read a couple of different translations.  You might find one that you like or understand a little easier than another one.  That's great.  Use that one in the future but don't forget to read multiple translations when studying the Bible.  


The Bible isn't meant to be read just to fill your head with knowledge.  It's meant to change you in some way.  To change the way you think and act.  As you read the Bible you should live differently.  It should encourage you to live the way that God intends for you to live.  
One of the ways I'm sure God has created us to live is with other people.  We were never meant to do life on your own.  It doesn't matter if you're an introvert or an extrovert.  We all need people.  So, one thing we should be doing every week is sharing what we are learning with someone else.  Invite them into your learning process.  Bring them along.  Tell them what you've been discovering as you've been reading the Bible.  And share with them how God wants you to live differently.   As you share your story one thing that happens is you possibly motivate them to live differently and it encourages them to support you in how you're living too.  

get ready for Sunday.

Now, get ready for Sunday.  It doesn't matter what day you're reading this, begin to get ready today.  
  • Begin to pray for those that are serving this Sunday.  (Maybe God is encouraging your to serve in some way too.  Everyone has a part to play and every part is important!). 
  • Pray and ask God who He wants you to invite to join you to come this Sunday.  Statistics show that over 80% of people nationally don't attend church.  And our community is no different.  Who does God want you to invite?  
  • Pray and ask God to prepare your heart to hear what He is going to say on Sunday.  God will speak.  The question is will you be ready to hear?  We want to place the responsibility on others or even God.  But God wants us to be ready and we do that through prayer.  

See you Sunday!

It's not too late.  Click on the link below to join this week's devotional.

1 Comment

Suzanne Charity - April 18th, 2023 at 1:11pm

This passage is giving instruction to a Christian about what to do if you know a Christian that is in sin. To 1st try to win the person back by yourself. If he still doesn't repent bring 1 or 2 Christians with and try again. If he still won't repent now is the time to bring it to the church to let them talk to him. If he still won't repent do not fellowship with this person. The only thing I can thing of that vs18-20 have to do with vs15-17 is that we can take authority and pray for the person that is in sin, declaring what they are doing is sin (binding on earth) and asking God to intervene in the situation and God will be in agreement with us (binding in heaven). If we see Godly things Christians are doing we can call thise things that are not in existence as into existence to help in anyway to further this good work (loosing) and God will agree with this (loosing). The Amplified version helped me with this. 18 I assure you and most solemnly say to you, whatever you bind [forbid, declare to be improper and unlawful] on earth [c]shall have [already] been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose [permit, declare lawful] on earth [d]shall have [already] been loosed in heaven.

Vs19,20 God is saying that if 2 believers agree about asking God to do a particular thing as long as it is in God's will He will do it. When 2 or 3 Christians are together to pray GOD IS THERE, meaning He's listening and that's how He is able to answer our prayers!

(PASTOR): I'm glad you are suggesting we read different versions. The amplified version really helped on the binding and loosing. I hope I understood correctly. I will use that today for someone I know and will you also agree with me for this man (Dave), that God would convict him. He believes his sisters in Christ when they deny him intimacy, are acting 'holier than thou' and I want God to show him that these are God's daughters and He should respect that they are honoring their heavenly Father in this way. Thank you Pastor Tim.