July 30 – (Matt. 19:16-30) Wealth was considered a sign of God’s favor and a reward for righteous living.  Jesus challenges this concept (vv. 16-30).  By observing this religious young man struggle between choosing wealth or eternal life, what do we learn about the kingdom? Do we today still even unconsciously use wealth as a standard of God’s blessing? On the other end of the spectrum, if we are wealthy, that does not mean we have no eternal life. 

                Jesus offers a form of wealth to His followers.  How would you describe it (vv. 27-30)? How is it obtained? There is tension between kingdom wealth and worldly wealth.  How does that tension express itself in your life?

July 31 – (Matt. 20:1-16) Picture yourself in each of the groups of workers described in these verses.  How would you feel in these differing situations? Where do you feel you would fit in?  What does the parable of the workers teach us about grace, work and compensation in the kingdom of God?  What parts of Jesus’ teaching can be applied to the church or other forms of Christian service?

Aug. 1 – (Matt. 20:17-28) How does Jesus’ statement about his impending death model the values of the kingdom that he has been teaching (vv. 17-19)? Even the mother of James and John gets in on the disciples’ struggle to obtain a place of honor and status in Jesus’ kingdom (vv. 10-13).  Surprisingly Jesus does not condemn the desire.  How does he transform it (vv. 24-28)? Let’s try to think in these terms as we “disciple” others whose comments are a little off base.

Aug. 2 – (Matt. 20:29-34) Here are some verses when compared to Mark and Luke’s version may seem to discount each other.  Again, knowing more about that time and in this case geography may help us see there is no discrepancy. Jericho (v. 29) was not the ancient OT city (Josh. 5-6), but the new Jericho, about a mile to the south of the older city.  Matthew says the healing of the blind men took place “as they went out” of Jericho (and Mark 10:46 agrees), but Luke 18:35 says it was “as He drew near to Jericho.” It is possible that Matthew and Mark refer to the new Jericho, and Luke to the old Jericho nearby, or vice versa.  Another possibility is that the blind men cried out to Jesus first as He was entering the city (Luke 18:35) but He did not heal them until He was leaving the city.  These observations make we wonder what other scripture I have misinterpreted in some way. The Holy Spirit will instruct us as we listen to Him.

                Here is another discrepancy about the two blind men in verses 30-31. Mark 10:46 and Luke 18:35 mention only one blind man, and Mark gives his name (Bartimaeus).  This does not mean that Matthew’s report of two blind men is inaccurate, only that Mark and Luke focused on one of them.  “Lord, help understand Your Word as You want us to learn about You!”

Aug. 3 – (Matt. 21:1-11) As Jesus enters Jerusalem during Passover; excitement is building and emotions are intense.  Identify words or phrases that communicate something of the electrifying atmosphere. How do you think the disciples felt as they witnessed the excitement of the crowds and saw Jesus riding on a donkey, fulfilling a prophecy about the Messiah?  What different perceptions does the crowd have of Jesus (vv. 9-11)?  Only knowing what they knew (either the disciples or just a person in the crowd) at that time, where would you fit into those perceptions?

Aug. 4 – (Matt. 21:12-22) We read of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Having received the praise of the people, He enters the temple, looks around and then clears it out (vv. 12-13).  Why might this action in the temple be seen as the catalytic event that led to His crucifixion?  How might Jesus’ interaction with the blind and lame, children and religious leaders “in the temple” be seen as a snapshot or even climax of Jesus’ entire ministry (vv. 14-17)?

 Jesus’ cursing of the fig tree for not having fruit was symbolic of the preceding events.  Look back at His entrance into the temple (v.v.12-14).  What fruit was Jesus looking for?  What fruit would He find in us today?

Aug. 5 – (Matt. 21:23-32) Here is something I have never seen before.  Why did Jesus refuse to tell the chief priest and elders by what authority He was teaching and healing?  The leader’s refusal to answer Jesus’ questions shows their dishonesty and traps them. If they do not know whether John was from God, how can they judge whether Jesus is?  

                The parable of the two sons show that the religious leaders failure to respond rightly to John the Baptist’s prophetic ministry.  A person’s actions ultimately prove whether or not he is obedient to God. As a Christian, you said no to Jesus…until you said yes to Him. 😊 But I am pondering those times the Holy Spirit urges me to something and I say yes, but “forget” to do it.  Selah