Lord of Jews and Gentiles

Scripture: Isaiah 42:6, Matthew 15:24, Exodus 3:14
Date: 05/14/2016 
Lesson: 7
"In what ways might your expectations of what you expect from God be too narrow?"
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Good morning. We're so glad that you're joining us from across the country and around the world for Sabbath School Study Hour coming to you from the Granite Bay Seventh-day Adventist Church and today it's sunny in beautiful, sunny California. We are excited that you're joining with us like you do every week, whether you're listening on the radio, watching live on our website - granitebaysda.org - or joining us on the various television networks. We're up here. We've warmed up our voices and we're ready to sing with you so, if you're at home and you have a hymnal, pull it out and join with us.

Our first song is #508 - anywhere with Jesus. Anywhere with Jesus I can safely go, anywhere he leads me in this world below; anywhere without him, dearest joys would fade; anywhere with Jesus I am not afraid. Anywhere! Anywhere! Fear I cannot know; anywhere with Jesus I can safely go. Anywhere with Jesus I am not alone; other friends may fail me, he is still my own; though his hand may lead me over dreary ways, anywhere with Jesus is a house of praise. Anywhere! Anywhere! Fear I cannot know; anywhere with Jesus I can safely go.

Anywhere with Jesus I can go to sleep, when the gloomy shadows round about me creep, knowing I shall waken nevermore to roam; anywhere with Jesus will be home sweet home. Anywhere! Anywhere! Fear I cannot know; anywhere with Jesus I can safely go. Aren't you thankful that you have someone who loves you and knows everything about you? He even knows what happens to the sparrows. Our next song is #240 - fairest Lord Jesus - ruler of all nature, o thou of God and man The Son! Thee will I cherish, thee will I honor, thou art my glory, joy, and crown - #240 - we'll do the first, second and fourth stanzas. Fairest Lord Jesus, ruler of all nature, o thou of God and man The Son! Thee will I cherish, thee will I honor, thou art my glory, joy, and crown.

Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands, robed in the blooming garb of spring; Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer, who makes the woeful heart to sing. Beautiful Savior, Lord of the nations, Son of God and son of man! Glory and honor, praise, adoration, now and forevermore be thine! Thank you so much for singing those favorites with us. And before dr. Derose brings us our lesson study, I want to tell you about our free offer for today. Every week we have a free offer for you, as you know if you watch every week, and today it is a beautiful book entitled steps to Christ.

This book has impacted my life, personally, and I think every person who has ever read this - if you want to know how to get to know Jesus - if you want to know how to love him, this is the book. It's offer #800 and you can call 866-788-3966. You can call in and get this book if you live in North America - and if you live somewhere else around the world, like many of you do, you can go to the Amazing Facts website and I believe you can find it right there and you can read it online. Let's bow our heads at this time. Father in Heaven, thank you so much for being our friend - the person that's always there with us and never leaves us - the person that we can turn to no matter what we're going through in our lives, whether it's sadness or joy, you're there to cry with us and to celebrate with us.

And father, it's because of you that all good things happen in this world and we praise you and we thank you for loving us and for bringing us back together again. Please be with our speaker. In Jesus' Name, amen. Well it is good to be studying together again today. We're continuing our journey through the Gospel of Matthew - Matthew's book that records the life of Jesus.

And the lesson that we're looking at now is lesson #7 - Lord of jews and gentiles - Lord of jews and gentiles. As a physician, one of the most difficult things that I have to deal with is a patient with undiagnosed illness. And I say it's difficult because we're always trying - at least I am - and many of my colleagues, as physicians, we're trying to minister to people - we're trying to care for them - and we share in our patient's frustrations. And so, when someone has had a problem and has reMained undiagnosed for a period of time, this is very challenging. Now, sometimes, those individuals end up in my office, seeing me for the first time, and that's not quite as bad as if I've been working with them for some time and we're still trying to pin down what's the matter.

But sometimes I try to encourage people as they're going through this process, and I say, 'one good thing about all these tests you've had that have still shown up nothing, is that, as physicians, we're trained to exclude the most dangerous things first. So we know, by the mri of your head, you don't have a brain cancer. You know, you've seen the cardiologist - we know you don't have a heart condition. We've done x, y, and z.' Now, but you know, that's still not always all that reassuring if you're having pain or if you're having suffering and no one can pin a diagnosis. Well, I'm taking time with that illustration today because, not only are there physical diseases, but there are spiritual diseases.

And in Matthew chapters 14 and 15 - chapters 14 and 15 of Matthew, where we're focusing today, Jesus actually deals with one of the most lethal spiritual diagnoses and that diagnosis is spiritual pride - spiritual pride. So with that background, we want to jump right into the heart of Matthew 14 and 15. And if you're following along in the lesson study, this is actually from Tuesday's lesson, it's called the hypocrite's heart. And I think you will, hopefully, see, as we go through the lesson, why I'm starting on Tuesday and kind of in the middle of the lesson. It actually is, pretty much, the middle of Matthew chapters 14 through 15 and so we're going to pick up the background here - by the way, many of these stories, as you've been reading through the Gospel accounts of Matthew, you realize there are parallel accounts in the other Gospel writers - and it's true - in Matthew 15, as that chapter opens, with this very telling story.

So Matthew 15, beginning with the very first verse. It says, "then the scribes and pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, 'why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.'" That would be easy for me, as a physician, to digress right now and tell you about how important it is to wash your hands. Do you realize this? I have, actually, a public health degree as well as a medical degree and, really, I'm having to restrain myself because so many diseases are transmitted by poor hand hygiene. But this is not the subject of what's going on in Matthew chapter 15. It's not a discussion about hygiene, it's a discussion about ceremonial impurity.

And so, look at what happens: they're making an accusation about Jesus and his disciples and Jesus answers, in verse 3 of Matthew 15, "he answered and said to them, 'why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, 'honor your father and your mother'; and, 'he who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.' But you say, 'whoever says to his father or mother, 'whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God' - them he need not honor his father or mother. Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.'" What's going on here in this story? The scribes and pharisees had a series of laws - extensive laws - about ceremonial purity and they were watching to see who was following these laws. Now think about it for a minute, if you're following all the rules, or at least you're telling yourself you are, and you look around and someone else isn't, what does this give you an opportunity to do? 'Well, I'm much better than those people. Lookit, I'm following all the rules and they're not.' Do you see? This is an example of spiritual pride. That's what they were cultivating by all these tedious laws and ceremonies, they thought they were doing everything right by the letter that they had penned out.

That's what Jesus is showing here. He's saying, 'you have penned out all these laws - your own traditions - so that you actually are setting aside the commandments of God.' What they would do is they would say, 'well, I'm going to put - when I die, all my money goes to the temple. It's corban - it's all going to God, so I can't help you, mom and dad, because I've donated all this money to God.' But you're living off it the whole time. Do you see what they were doing? They were setting aside God's laws - honor your father and your mother - right there in the heart of the Ten Commandments - and they were doing what? Elevating their own traditions. Jesus puts it this way, as he continues in Matthew 15, verse , "hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 'these people draw near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.

And in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'" So we're confronted here, at the very outset of our journey through Matthew 14 and 15, with a question. I mean, we may not feel that we're spiritually disconnected, but we may today. We may have, like that opening medical illustration, we may have an undiagnosed spiritual disorder. And the point is, sometimes that spiritual disorder - what's keeping us from blessing - what's keeping us from fully fellowshiping with God is what? Spiritual pride. We're looking around, seeing how we measure up, and think we look pretty good.

'How come things aren't good? I'm better than everybody else' - or most other people. What did the pharisees say? 'Lord, I thank you that I'm not like other men.' You get the picture? We're looking at Jesus being the Lord of the jews and the gentiles. Who were these religious leaders that were putting these barriers up? They really were barriers. Who were they? What background were they as far as their ethnicity? They were jews. They were jews.

So is Jesus the Lord of the jews? Most definitely, but Jesus is also the Lord of the gentiles. Let's go to the very beginning of the Gospel of Matthew. Let's just, kind of, refresh our vision here. Matthew is a jew and he's writing especially to Jewish believers and we saw, early in this journey through the Gospel of Matthew, that when Matthew records the genealogy of Jesus, he intersperses, in that genealogy, names like 'tamar' in Matthew 1, verse 3. And he mentions names like, you see it there, you catch it there in verse 5? 'Rahab' and 'Ruth'.

Who are these women that are being mentioned? They're gentile women, okay? And so, from the very beginning of his Gospel, he's connecting us with a principle. Someone has one of our Scriptures that we're going to read in just a moment, from Genesis chapter 12, verses 1 and - Genesis 12, 1 and 3 - 1 through 3 - who has that Scripture? Okay, so right up here in front - we're going to be going there in just a minute, but we're trying to get the picture here of what's happening as we're reading through the Gospel. Matthew, the jew, is writing about Jesus and, as you read what happens here in the very beginning, we're talking about someone, God himself, who is reaching out to all nations. Who is it in chapter 2 of Matthew that has a special call to come and see the Messiah? Who was discerning the prophecies of balaam, about the star rising up, and came looking for the King of the jews? Who was it? Three wise men - or we don't - it's not mentioned the number - we traditionally think of three - but the point is, who were they ethnicity-wise? They were gentiles. And so, from the beginning of Matthew's Gospel, we catch this picture and it reconnects us with Genesis 12, verses 1 to 3, please.

"Now the Lord had said unto abram: 'get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from they Father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.'" Thank you. Do you catch this picture? The call of Abraham - The Father of the Jewish nation - the picture is not just of a blessing of the jews - that's intrinsic there, isn't it? His family is going to be blessed, but who else was going to be blessed in Abraham? All nations. All families of the earth would be blessed. So when we study the Bible, we often speak of God being a missionary God. God is not a God who is narrowly focusing his blessings on just a select group of people.

The Jewish nation was called to extend this missionary call of a missionary God of reaching all nations. And so Matthew, as he begins his Gospel, we catch this picture of a God who is reaching out to all nations. And so now, back in Matthew 15, instead of seeing a Jewish leadership who is focused on bringing a Gospel message to all nations, what are they doing in the very presence of Jesus? They're finding fault with Jesus. They're so focused on themselves that they can't see the Messiah in their midst. They have so much spiritual pride that God cannot communicate with them effectively because, in essence, that pride is plugging their ears.

You following along with me? Well, if that's the problem, in the heart of these two chapters, Matthew 14 and 15, there is a solution. And the solution - we grasp the solution by looking at three bold requests - three bold requests that find themselves right in our faces, if you will, as we read through Matthew 14 and 15. So in Sunday's lesson we're encouraged to look at the background in Matthew 14, to an amazing story. And we're going to find here an amazing request. Let's paint the setting here.

It's a familiar story - chapter , beginning with verse 1 of Matthew. John the baptist has been killed at this point and we receive the background of how John met his untimely end. It says in verse 3 of Matthew 14, "for herod had laid hold of John and bound him, and put him in prison for the sake of herodias, his brother Philip's wife. Because John had said to him, 'it is not lawful for you to have her.' And although he wanted to put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him" - referring to John the baptist - "as a prophet." So here's the background for the story: herod has actually taken his brother's wife. Herodias is now living in an adulterous relationship with herod.

And it says here, as Matthew recounts the story, that herod, on a certain level - verse 5 - wanted to put him to death, but he did what? It says he feared the multitude. Now Mark's Gospel, in Mark chapter 6, gives us a little bit more detail, and if you want to turn there with me to Mark 6, beginning with verse 14, we get Mark's picture of what was going on. We get a little bit more detail as to why herod was reluctant to take the life of John. It says, in verse 19, "herodias held it against him" - speaking of John the baptist condemning her illicit relationship - she held it against John - "and wanted to kill him, but she could not;" - verse 20 of Mark 6 - "for herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man, and he protected him. And when he heard him" - that's herod when he heard John the baptist - it says, "he did many things, and heard him gladly.

" So as we're reading through this story in Matthew chapter 14, we would say that at the outset of the story there is no way that John the baptist is going to die on herod's watch because herod is protecting John. He values John's preaching. There's a certain sense, 'yes, I'd like to be rid of him. My 'wife' is very upset. I don't like what he's saying.

' But on a certain level the Holy Spirit was speaking to his heart. That's the sense that I get as I read through these Gospel accounts. And so we come to our first bold request in these chapters. It's a bold request that we're going to read about and I think you know the story. For in Matthew chapter 14, verse it says herod's birthday comes.

There's a celebration and "the daughter of herodias" - salome - "danced before them and pleased herod. Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask." Now remember, we're trying to find three bold requests that I believe help us get a better handle on this problem of spiritual pride and here's the first one in these two chapters. I think someone actually has for us that bold request found in Matthew 14, verses 6 through 8 - does someone have that? Okay. We'll go there in just a minute. Now remember, we're looking at a picture.

We're looking at a problem - a spiritually destructive problem - it's spiritual pride - and we're looking at three requests that come in this context. We've seen this illustration of spiritual pride in Matthew 15 - people that were - their relationship with Jesus - with God - was so impaired because they were so focused on themselves and how they were keeping all the rules that they couldn't even see and recognize Jesus in their midst. Now we're going to tie that in with this story here, by God's grace. So let's look - we'll pick up, again, the context as our sister reads for us from Matthew 14 beginning with verse 6. "But when herod's birthday was celebrated, the daughter of herodias danced before them and pleased herod.

Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. So she, having been prompted by her mother, said, 'give me John the baptist's head here on a platter.'" Now just from what we've read to this point in the story, just what we know about the context of John the baptist and his relationship with herod, how likely do you think that this request would be honored? You all know the story - we know what happens, but from the context of the story we would say, 'this is a crazy request. There's no way that herod is going to take John the baptist's head.' But the context was such - the revelry, no doubt, of his birthday party, the honored guests that are there in his midst - that he makes this bold promise. And so when the bold request comes, what is the result? Herod does it. He gives the word and John the baptist is beheaded.

The magi in Matthew 2 came to see who? Do you remember? Who were they looking for? They didn't say they were looking for Jesus, who did they say they were looking for? They were looking for the King of the jews. Who was herod? He was the King of the jews. This young lady makes a request of the King of the jews. Now I don't want to take this too far, but she has a bold request made of the King of the jews and her request is answered. Have you ever met someone who just seems like everything they pray about happens? Have you met people like this? And you've got problems, they pray for you - wow - and they do - and you hear - they may even be up front in a church saying, 'I prayed for this person and this happened.

' 'I prayed for that person' - and what are you starting to think? 'Wow, I wish I had a connection like, you know - I mean, that person is so holy, whatever they pray for just happens.' Now here's a story about someone who - and, again, I'm speaking a bit metaphorically here, but she prays something of the King of the jews, and what happens? She gets it. They say, 'well, listen, herod is not Jesus.' God never wanted a king on this earth. He wanted everyone looking to king Jesus, right? Never wanted a king on this earth. Here's where I'm going with this - spiritual pride - you know, sometimes we can be praying for things God doesn't want us to have. Are there examples in the Bible of people praying for things that God didn't want them to have and God, actually - you're giving them permission and allowing them to get that? Can you think of any illustrations like that? I mean, something that comes to my mind, maybe because we've spoken his name already and that's balaam.

Balaam was the one that gave that amazing prophecy about the star and the wise men actually knew of balaam's prophecy. Who was balaam? That's right, he was a true prophet, at one time, who had apostatized. He turned away from God. And one day, when those moabite leaders come wanting him to curse God's people, he really wants to go - I mean, they're offering a lot of money. And God doesn't want him to go.

But, ultimately, at the end of the story, God lets him go anyway and, instead of allowing balaam to prophesy against God's people, what comes out of his mouth? Blessings, okay? Here's what I'm getting at: sometimes in our prayer life, things happen and we somehow think we are on a higher plane than other people. Do you realize that even answered prayer, if we don't understand that the answered prayer is not about my prayer, it's about the God I'm praying to? Are you following along? So when God answers prayer, it's about God's goodness, not about how great I am that I have some kind of power with God. In fact, when Paul speaks about this, he says the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us with groanings that can't be uttered. We can't even pray right. So stop focusing on how well you're doing in your prayer life - 'oh, I wish I could pray like that person.

' By the way, our special offer this week, steps to Christ, has an entire chapter - guess what the chapter's on. Yeah, it's on prayer. It's on prayer. It's on connecting with our father in prayer. Well, let's go on then, because we see a bold request here we'd say, 'this was a bold request.

It wasn't of God.' Yes, it came true, but now we want to look at another bold request, because we're going to a story that is also in Matthew chapter 14. We have someone who's going to read this bold request in just a moment. It's from Matthew 14, verses 25 - 28 - Matthew 14:25-28 - we'll go there in just a moment. Now, I've skipped over one very critical story. We'll come back to that.

But in Matthew chapter 14, a number of things have happened. We've seen this recounting of John the baptist's beheading. Then we'll see, in a moment, Jesus preaching and doing some, really, one of his most, perhaps, amazing miracles. We won't get into an argument of what's the most amazing of Jesus' miracles, but now when we come to Matthew 14, verse 22, Jesus we see sending his disciples away across the sea of Galilee. And it says in verse 23, "and when he had sent the multitudes away, he went" - that's Jesus - "went up on the mountain by himself to pray.

Now when evening came, he was alone there." So we see the picture fading from Jesus and now the picture comes and focuses on the disciples apart from Jesus, there on the lake. And we're going to hear from Matthew 14 beginning with verse 25. "Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, 'it is a ghost!' And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'be of good cheer! It is i; do not be afraid.

' And Peter answered him and said, 'Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.'" Okay. We're talking about bold requests and we're suggesting, as we look at these bold requests in chapter 14 and 15 of Matthew, we're going to gain some special insight into this problem of spiritual pride which has kept God's people back, historically, from doing the full work we've been called to do, of ministry. So what is the bold request in this portion of Matthew's Gospel? Did you pick up on a bold request? Yeah, Peter! He says, 'Lord, if it's you, tell me to come to you.' I mean, this is walking on the water. Again, we know the story. So we may lose some of the power of what's going on here.

But what would you be thinking if you were one of the other eleven on the boat? What would you be thinking? Yeah, he's crazy - I mean - what? Have you ever been around people like this? That just are wanting something from God that's just crazy? I remember some years ago there was someone - a lay person - humble position in life - and they were talking with me and a number of other people and they had these grandiose plans of what they were going to do for God and how they were going to get all these people working together and they were going to do this dramatic thing and make this huge impact for God and the Gospel. What do you think I'm thinking as I'm listening to this person? I wasn't even thinking, 'we'll see.' I was thinking, 'there is no way this is going to happen.' And I want to tell you how gracious God was. God helped me to keep my mouth shut. (Laughter) really, just kept my mouth shut. And you know what? the Lord blessed that vision.

It came together better than that person even envisioned it. Now, if I were tempted to say anything, I would have said what? 'Oh come on. Why don't you pray to God for something that really could happen?' You know - 'don't set your standards so high. This is not - I mean, come on, get real.' You've heard that expression, right? But it all comes together - God blesses it. What happened with Peter? I'm in Matthew 14 with all of you.

That's right, Jesus says, 'come.' In verse 29. And you know what Peter does? He actually comes. I mean, it's almost like Peter's beside himself. They're struggling in this storm and they're afraid. They see what they think is an apparition - some kind of ghost - and Jesus identifies himself and he's so - I mean, I don't think Peter's processing it all.

'Is it really you, Lord? Tell me to come to you.' And Jesus says what? 'Come.' And Peter listens. He listens. I mean, how easy is it to walk on water? I mean, it's one thing to make a bold request. You know, sometimes we pray for things. And God actually starts opening the doors and what do we do? Has that ever happened to you? You're praying for something.

God starts - you're saying, 'Lord, help me make a bigger difference for you. And then you get a call, 'you know, Pastor Doug is sick, will you preach today?' 'Preach? I've never preached before.' I don't know of that happening here. If that happened to you, I'm not using your story. But you understand what I'm saying? You say, 'I can't do it.' But you've been praying for something and the Lord says what? 'Come.' And what do you do? Wait. Yeah, that's what we often do.

'I can't do this.' You see, we have these preconceived ideas and we hold each other back or we hold ourselves back. And so - but Peter, though, he comes, to his credit. And as he's walking out there to Jesus, what happens? Yeah, somehow he loses his perspective because, in verse , it says, 'but' - "but when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, 'Lord, save me!'" When he's looking at Jesus, he's safe, right? But when he starts looking at the waves - why did he look at the waves? Why didn't he keep focused on Jesus? I mean, is it possible he was - as he realized what he was doing, do you think maybe with a little smile he kind of glanced back at the other eleven? You know, they were always arguing what? Who's the greatest. Now - 'hey, look! Hey, you guys are all in the boat. I'm' - is that possible that was running through his mind? Well, the Bible doesn't give us all that detail, but he takes his eyes off of Jesus.

And in the context of spiritual pride, I think the setting is definitely there. I think there's also some other evidence that there was some element of spiritual pride there. Not only did Jesus later rebuke Peter for being of little faith - that's in verse 31 - boy, I don't know, if that's little faith - asking to walk on water and actually starting to do it? I don't know. How many of you would do that? I don't know that I would have done that. Little faith.

But here's the other evidence, I think, that there was likely some spiritual pride involved. Do any of you know that Peter has a Gospel? Are you aware of that? Many theologians speak of one of the four Gospels being Peter's Gospel. Do you know which one they often refer to as Peter's Gospel? Yes, the Gospel of Mark. If you read 1 Peter chapter 5, verse 13, you will see that Peter referred to Mark - or John Mark, as he's commonly known, as his son - his own son. There was this intimate relationship between Peter and Mark.

And so many believed that as Mark was writing his Gospel - he wasn't there on the sea of Galilee, how did he record this story? He wrote about this story, but there's something not in it in Mark's Gospel. No record of Peter walking on the water. Now why would that be evidence that there might have been some spiritual pride involved? Well, if Peter was telling the story, why would he not want this story told? We say, 'well, Jesus rebuked him for having little faith. He didn't want it in Mark's Gospel because it didn't put him in the best light. But can you imagine, if you're writing a biography about all of the amazing things that Jesus did, wouldn't you want to include that Jesus actually had someone walk on the water? I mean, today we have this whole book - I mean, probably more people refer to it electronically, but we call it the guinness book of world records, right? Any of you know off hand what is the world's record for number of steps taken on the water? Do any of you know? Someone says 'one'.

I don't know if there's a record like that. But without any human assistance, Peter would have to have the record. I mean, wouldn't that be hard not to include that? I mean, he knew the story, obviously. But I think Peter would say - you know, at this point in Peter's life he's been freed of this spiritual pride and he says, 'you know, don't put that in there, Mark.' I can imagine him saying that. Again, this is conjecture, but I can imagine Peter saying, 'mark, don't put that in there.

Don't tell about how I walked on the water and - don't put anything in there that elevates me above my brothers.' Okay, we skipped over a story that has another bold request and that is the miracle that we call the feeding of the 5,000. So, again, let's put this now in its chronological sequences - Matthew reveals the story. Jesus gets word of John the baptist's death. If you compare the Gospel accounts, he comes apart with his disciples - they've just come back from their first missionary journey and Jesus goes, in verse 13 of Matthew 14, to a deserted place. It's some time for r&r for Jesus and the disciples.

But they're really not alone because the crowd's just flocked to Jesus. How do you do? How do you do when you need a break and there's more demands on your time? How is it if you're a young mother and you finally put that baby to bed and you breathe that sigh of relief and then he starts crying again? How are you in the workplace if you're ready to leave and 'oh no, there's one - we need you to - can you stay late?' But you've got other plans? Or in the church when someone says, 'we really need help with this'? Can you relate? What is Jesus' attitude? Verse 14 - "and when Jesus went out" - Matthew 14, verse 14 - "he saw a great multitude; and he was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick." We're talking about this tension between jews and gentiles - and we may not see how this is all coming together, but we're looking at a series of bold requests. Some times prayers are answered - prayers, maybe, that should never have been prayed. Maybe we think we're praying to God when we're really not. That doesn't make us any better than anyone else, even if God answers our prayers.

We looked at that illustration. We saw how Peter - amazing request - God answers it. Does that make him better than anyone else? No, ultimately Peter lays his pride in the dust. But now, we're going to look at another request - another bold request. Perhaps the most bold request of any because the disciples, when they size up the situation, they see that there's - I mean, these people, they have compassion too - these people are going to be starving.

And they ask Jesus, in verse 15, to do something - to send them away. Whoa, now is that a bold request or is that a bold request? How many people are there? That's right, verse 21 says there "were about five thousand men besides women and children." And what did the disciples have in hand? Yes, it says, verse 17, when Jesus said for them to give them something to eat, they said, 'all we've got, in essence, is five loaves and two fish.' How many of you are good with math? Say, maybe, ten thousand people - there's got to be more than that if there's women and children as well, but just say, you know, one child or woman for every man - probably more like 15,000 - how much fish and bread do you get if you divide that into equal portions? Yeah, bigger question is could you even see what you're getting? But what happens? This, to me, is - this is one of the central verses in these two chapters - it's verse 18. Because what's happened here is the disciples have said, 'we can't do it.' - Just like Peter really couldn't walk on the water - 'we can't do it. We don't have it. We don't have the resources.

' Verse 18 - Jesus makes a request of them: "bring them here to me." Bring them here to me. And what do they do? The implication is they brought them to Jesus because, in verse , he takes those five loaves and two fish, he looks up to heaven, he breaks them, he gives them to the disciples and the disciples have the privilege of ministering to that vast throng with their totally insufficient resources. What does this story tell us about spiritual pride? Could the disciples, at the end of the day, say, 'I was so glad that I brought those loaves and fish.'? You know, you might realize, it's very likely that they didn't even bring them themselves. They managed to find them. You can read some of the other accounts that may make that very clear to you in the Gospel, but let's just leave it at that right now.

Even if they were tempted to take credit, 'we found someone here who's got food. Weren't we good?' Could they say that? No, when you allow God to work in your life - when we realize this dynamic that God is going to ask us to do things that are physically impossible for us to do. Really. So at the end of the day I can't get up there and say, 'look at how great I am.' Have you had reminders this week that what God is asking you to do is totally beyond your capacity? And I would suggest to you, if you're not having that experience, at least on some level, you may not have unimpaired hearing. I'm just suggesting, because God is continually pushing us out - trying to push us out of our comfort zone because we have this human nature that tends to fall into this deadly sin of spiritual pride and it was keeping Jesus' people, then, from doing his work and it's keeping us, today, as a Christian church, from doing it.

I don't know where you're at today. You might not feel that you're of the same class as some other people. Some may be joining with us by way of television, live-stream - they're not in church because they don't feel worthy. This story tells me that our greatest - our greatest claim on Jesus' love is our sense of need. If you feel that today, you have that essential qualification and Jesus is likely doing something with you that he did with Peter - he's trying to push you out of your comfort zone.

Can we all decide that we'll do what the disciples did? Give our meager resources to Jesus, come when he says come, give what he says to give him, and we'll see a miraculous end of the story. If you want more help - free offer - steps to Christ. You can get it by calling -study-more - 866-study-more - that's free offer #800. By God's grace, next week we'll continue our series on the book of Matthew. You've probably heard the expression before, 'if you don't like the weather in Texas, just wait; it'll change.

' And you've also heard, 'everything is bigger in Texas - the ranches, the belt buckles, the cowboy hats...' But the most famous slogan about Texas is 'remember the alamo!' The violent battles and bravery of iconic heroes, have been the stuff of legends, throughout which entire cultures often draw their identity and pride, even long after centuries have past. And in Texas, the story of the alamo has been a rallying cry of Texas independence for 200 years. One reason that texans love to brag that everything is bigger in Texas is, of course, because Texas is the largest of the lower 48 u.s. States. It's hard to believe that this massive state got its beginning in a very small Christian mission during the battle of the alamo.

Every year this famous mission museum receives over two and a half million visitors from all parts of the planet, that are eager to get a good look at this legendary site. The alamo played a critical role in the Texas revolution. In December 1835, texans and tejano volunteers battled mexican troops quartered in the city, forcing general martin perfecto de cos to surrender. The victorious volunteers then occupied the alamo and strengthened its defenses. Famous Americans like davy crockett, jim bowie, and colonel william travis made this location - this ancient mission - the beachhead - the last stand in an epic battle to win independence of Texas from Mexico.

On February 23, 1836, the arrival of general antonio lopez santa ana nearly caught them by surprise. Undaunted, the texans and tejanos prepared to defend the alamo. For this small rag-tag group of rebels, the youngest of whom was about sixteen and the oldest seventy-five, was against the well-trained and organized mexican army of six thousand-plus soldiers. It was a fierce and lopsided battle, yet the small force of rebels was able to repel the troops for thirteen days. Legend holds that with the possibility of additional help fading, colonel travis drew a line in the ground with a sword and asked any man willing to stay and fight to step over the line.

All except one crossed over. The final asSault came before daybreak. On the morning of March 6, 1836, the thirteenth day of the siege, canon and small arms fire from inside the alamo beat back several mexican attacks. Regrouping, santa ana's soldiers scaled the walls and rushed into the compound. The desperate struggle continued until the defenders were overwhelmed.

By sunrise, the battle had ended and the garrison was slain. You know, historians may debate some of the details regarding the battle of the alamo, but none of them question the incredible sacrifice that was made and the courage that was displayed during that intense conflict. They made the ultimate sacrifice - giving their lives - and this is why the story of the alamo is so inspiring and so encouraging, you know? And that's why the Bible is so inspiring, friends, because someone was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice and give his life so you could have freedom and eternal life. Don't you think you could trust your life to a friend like that, that would give everything? The story of the Gospel is a story of courage and hope. It's the story of God who will never leave you without defense and support.

Jesus is the good news and the Gospel is a story worth remembering. I grew up in a church-going family. I mean, we were at every meeting. I sang in four of the choirs there. I directed three - very involved - very active.

It almost seemed like busy work sometimes, you know? I went to Sunday school. I knew about God. I knew about Jesus, but I didn't have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. My senior year in high school I got the news that my father had been murdered. Now, I played it off well.

No one really saw that I was struggling with it. It just really felt like there was a hole that needed to be filled and I tried to fill it with drugs, with alcohol, with partying. After college, I just stopped going to church altogether. One day, on a Sunday, because I didn't feel like going to church with my mom, I thought, 'you know, I should get a little bit of word.' She had the satellite system hooked up and I'm flipping through channels and then the logo pops across - Amazing Facts presents. I've listened to a lot of different ministers, but here was - this was the first time that he's actually saying something where I had to grab my Bible and actually pick it up and I've never heard this before.

Let me look through and find this. I went through all the storacles. I went through all the study guides and I just couldn't get enough. And then the Sabbath came up and he's going through the appeal and I'm just going, 'Lord, I hear you. I have to go to church.

' So I show up - it was funny, I didn't feel like I was going to be judged - anything judgmental - anything. And I walked in the door and I just felt at home. But there's still a problem. I'm still partying. I was still going out to the bars.

At this time I was selling cocaine to pay my rent. Sixteen days later I find myself in a life or death situation. I had just come back from a liquor store and I grabbed a bottle of vodka. And there I am, high off cocaine, with my Bible in hand, trying to do a Bible study. And I heard an audible voice, 'just look at yourself!' And I did and I was like, 'what am I doing?' And I got on my knees.

I said, 'Lord, if you do not take this away from me now, I'm going to kill myself.' I was going to continue this lifestyle and I was going to end up overdosing, having a heart attack, whatever it was. 'You have to take this away - all of it.' And that day he lifted all of it away from me. It was all gone. When God does something in your life, he does it complete. Can't get enough Amazing Facts Bible study? You don't have to wait until next week to enjoy more truth-filled programming, visit the Amazing Facts media library at 'aftv.

org'. At 'aftv.org' you can enjoy video and audio presentations as well as printed material all free of charge, 24 hours a day 7 days a week, right from your computer or mobile device. Visit 'aftv.org'. (Thunderstorm sounds) (creaking door) throughout recorded history tales of ghosts and spirits can be found in folklore in nearly every country and culture. Egyptians built pyramids to help guide the Spirits of their leaders.

Rome sanctioned holidays to honor and appease the Spirits of their dead. Even the Bible tells of a king that used a witch to contact the spirit of a deceased prophet. Today, ancient folklore of spirits and apparitions have gone from mere superstitions to mainstream entertainment and reality. Scientific organizations investigate stories of hauntings and sightings, trying to prove, once and for all, the existence of ghosts. Even with all the new-found technology and centuries of stories all over the world, there is still no clear-cut answer.

So how do we know what's true? Why do these stories persist? Does it even matter? We invite you to look inside and find out for yourself. Visit deathtruth.com. For life-changing Christian resources, visit afbookstore.com or call 1-800-538-7275.

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