Matthew, chapters 18 & 19

“[…] Whatever things you may bind on earth will be things already bound in heaven, and whatever things you may loosen on earth will be things already loosened in heaven.”
~Matthew 18:18

When we are waiting for a decision to be made by our congregation’s body of elders, we can easily lose patience if it affects us personally.
When Jesus was talking about things being bound or loosened, he did it in the context of someone on trial.
When a body of elders holds someone to account for their sins, they need to be careful not to rush into rash judgments based on hurt feelings.
Jesus implied elders’ decisions should be based on principles laid down in heaven, and the same principles should guide them when reinstating someone into the congregation. (2 Cor. 2:6-8)

Matthew, chapters 16 & 17

“Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured from that hour.”
~Matthew 17:18

Does the Bible teach that illnesses are induced by demons?
While the boy in this story did exhibit symptoms of epilepsy, his sudden convulsions were actually being controlled by a demon. (Matt. 17:15)
Jesus’ disciples had Holy Spirit to cure the ill (Matt. 10:8)
The Bible differentiates between those who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. (Matt. 4:24)
Still, Jesus’ disciples could have expelled the demon from the boy’s body had they had sufficient faith. (Matt. 17:19,20)
In Bible history, there was someone who developed a disease as a result of a direct demonic attack.
But in the case of Job, he was being specifically targeted by Satan to try to prove points against Jehovah and against humankind. (Job 2:4-7)
It is not the standard in the Bible that illnesses or diseases are direct results of demon activity. (Rom. 5:12)
But regardless of the origin, God promises to do away with all suffering under Christ’s kingdom. (Isa. 33:24; Rev. 21:3,4)

Matthew, chapters 14 & 15

“[…] Out of the heart come wicked reasonings […].”
~Matthew 15:19

Do I ever try to justify unethical behavior to myself when tempted to do something wrong?
It is human nature to have a sinful inclination, but if I am not careful, I could end up a slave to my own whims, and also end up hurting those who matter most, including God. (Jer. 17:9)
Instead of entertaining sinful notions, it is wiser to not let them nest in my heart to begin with. (Prov. 4:23)

Matthew, chapters 12 & 13

“[…] If you had understood what this means, ‘I want mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless ones.”
~Matthew 12:7

Often we think of mercy as an accessory to justice. But really, justice is a means for God to express his mercy toward us.
Because of his mercy, Jehovah God sent his only-begotten son to earth to die for our sins. (Ro. 5:8-11)
Jesus thereby satisfied God’s law of ‘a life for a life,’ replacing Adam as our first father, and opened the way for us to reconcile with God. (De. 19:21; 1 Cor. 15:45)
God’s law was founded on mercy, so Jesus highlighted mercy as the underlying principle in the application of his law.
If we are motivated by a sincere desire to aid those who are at a spiritual or material disadvantage, our heavenly Father takes notice. (Prov. 19:17; 2 Cor. 4:1,2)

Matthew, chapters 10 & 11

“[…] My yoke is kindly, and my load is light.”
~Matthew 11:30

Is there such a thing as a refreshing burden?
God’s Word promises “his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3)
Jesus invites his followers to submit to his direction under his “yoke.” (Matt. 11:28,29)
The idea of carrying a yoke or letting someone else decide our way of life may not attract us.
But if we follow Christ’s footsteps, we will find spiritual and emotional healing. (1 Pet. 2:21, 24)
In that sense, committing to a Christian lifestyle is refreshing instead of burdensome.
The more we learn about God’s love, the more we enjoy a life of service to him.

Matthew, chapters 8 & 9

“[…] The sons of the Kingdom will be thrown into the darkness outside.”
~Matthew 8:12

Jesus knew his Jewish contemporaries would reject him as the Messiah.
As God’s people, they were the first to have the opportunity of joining Jesus in his heavenly kingdom. (Gal. 3:29; Heb. 6:17,18)
But most rejected the signs that its king, Jesus, was walking amongst them. (Matt. 12:38-40)
Perhaps they expected the Messiah to rebel against Roman rule and establish God’s kingdom there and then. (Dan. 7:14; Luke 23:2; John 18:33-35)
Still, Jesus continued to carry out his ministry until the end, confident that God would bless all who eventually followed him. (Matt. 8:11, 20:28)
We do not know who will listen to us when we share God’s kingdom message in our communities, and most reject it.
But we can imitate Christ by enduring with a positive attitude.

Matthew, chapters 6 & 7

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
~Matthew 6:21

What do you value most in life? What consumes the greater part of your time and effort?
Although Jesus did not have wealth or a prominent career, he was obviously successful in carrying out his life’s work.
Doing his father’s will was in his heart, and he found happiness in teaching others God’s kingdom message. (Acts 20:35)
If we were to focus our resources on selfish pursuits, we would probably eventually find them to be vain and unsatisfying. (Eccl. 2:11)
But if we guard our hearts from selfish desires and follow Christ’s example of selflessness, we will discover the happiness that only God can give, while successfully securing our future. (1 Ti. 6:18,19)