Aug. 6 – (Matt. 21:33-46) How do you take the leaders’ response to Jesus’ parable? As keepers of Jesus’ “vineyard” today, where do you fit in to this parable? What can we do to change “His vineyard”?

Aug. 7 – (Matt. 22:1-14) As you read these verses, let’s add some understanding of the times and meaning. Verses 1-2: In this case, a wedding feast was a countrywide celebration that would have continued for several days.  This “feast” represents enjoying fellowship with God in His kingdom.  Verse 3: To refuse a direct invitation from the king would be an extreme insult and a challenge to his authority.  Verse 9: The wedding invitation to those not previously invited anticipates the spread of the Gospel to the Gentiles.  Verse 11: Everyone was invited but proper wedding clothing was still expected.  This proper clothing could have been either a special garment provided by the king or a clean garment symbolizing evidence of righteous works. Did you get a deeper understanding?

Aug. 8 – (Matt. 22:15-33) The Pharisees tried to get Jesus to disobey the Roman government law.  The Sadducees tried to get Jesus to discredit the Jewish laws or beliefs.  It’s amazing how the enemy can try to discredit us from many avenues.  Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves! 

Aug. 9 – (Matt. 22:34-46) The next attempt to discredit Jesus revolves around the law.  How does His response confront His questioners (vv. 33-40)?  Finally, Jesus poses a dilemma to the Pharisees that silences them (vv. 41-45): “How can the Christ be both the son of David and His Lord?”  Why does this question stop them in their tracks?

                Throughout this section Jesus has been involved in verbal battles.  How have they confirmed or changed your perception of Jesus? Jesus’ power to resist His enemies is the same power that He uses to care for His people.  Think about that.  What benefits to your relationship with Him might come out of this passage?   Thank God for His determination to deliver His people from dominating authorities…wherever they are. 

Aug. 10 – (Matt. 23:1-15) In these verses, Jesus is talking about leaders and their influence.  Influence is a powerful force.  Those who influence others (and we all are leading someone somewhere) are able to change minds and redirect actions.  The religious leaders in Israel possessed the power of influence.  Once they decided to oppose Jesus, they did their best to lead others to do the same.  Make a list of people who have influenced you.  Consider parents, pastors, teachers (include Sunday School), political leaders and authors.  Note how they have contributed to your character and actions.  Consider not only positive influences but negative influences as well and what you have done to overcome their negative impact on your life. Thank the Lord for working good in your life from a negative.   For those who have been a positive influence, why not thank them if possible.           

                Jesus talks about 7 woes to leaders in this chapter. As you consider all of these, remember that all of us are leading someone, somewhere!  First woe: Leaders who have drawn the people away from the kingdom of heaven instead of toward it (v. 13).  Second woe: Leaders who sought to make converts, only to place them under the weight of the many requirements they added to the Bible’s teaching (v. 15).

Aug. 11 – (Matt. 23:16-26) Third woe: Leaders who focus on superficial distinctions and overlook the higher principles of the law (v.v. 16-19). Fourth woe: Leaders that neglect the weighty matters of the law (v. 23). The leaders tithed even to the seasonings they grew in their garden but were not giving to the Lord mercy and faithfulness and such. Fifth woe: Leaders that sought external purity while being blind to the corrupt internal condition of their hearts. Selah

Aug. 12 – (Matt. 23:27-39) If we must…let’s continue with the last 2 woes. Sixth woe: The Pharisees were like tombs, which in Jesus’ day could be outwardly very beautiful but within held nothing but death and decay.  These tombs were whitewashed to identify them clearly, since people would be unclean for seven days through any contact with them (Num. 19:16; Luke 11:44).  Seventh woe: In plotting against Jesus, the religious leaders follow their ancestors, who persecuted and murdered God’s prophets.

                What warnings and hope does this chapter offer us today as we seek to live out our faith?  Ask God to give you a spirit of humility so that no matter who is teaching, (or even you are the one teaching someone something) you will respond to the Lord as Father, Teacher and Master.

                Let’s think again about our motivations in all we do.  Make a list of all the religious activities that you do, such as attending church, reading the Bible, being in a small group, serving on a committee or doing evangelism.  Consider which you are most inclined to do for the approval of others.  Which are easier for you to do just because it pleases the Lord?  Ask God to heal parts of your heart that you honestly are doing only to please man (or self). Selah