Judging Others

Read Matthew 7:1-5

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

“Don’t judge me”
“You’re so judgmental”

The most famous verse in the bible used by nearly everyone who doesn’t want to hear someone tell him or her how to live his or her life.

“Well the bible says, “Do not judge” so I don’t want to say anything.”

We have so misinterpreted and misused this verse to basically either continue on in our sin, or become cowardice in speaking truth.   Somehow being “judgmental” has become the worst sin of our culture.

But in reality, we all judge. Every single one of us passes judgment on people every single day. Can I just come out and say, I don’t think all judgment is bad, and I don’t think Jesus did either.

Notice what He is instructing on in these verses? It’s not that we are to never judge, but to not do so as hypocrite. His instructions here are to avoid hypocrisy. Whatever standard of judgment we use with others, we better be sure we can stand up to it ourselves.

In other words, Jesus is warning us of judging others while we commit the same or even worse sin.

He’s referring to someone telling others not to “get drunk” while they have a hangover.

Or the person who speaks out against homosexuality, yet secretly watches porn at night.

Or the religious person who tells others to care for the poor, yet doesn’t lift a finger to help those in need.

How can we call out the speck in our brother’s eye and ignore the plank in our own?

Before we speak into another’s life about sin, we better be sure and search our own hearts for any hypocrisy. For some, this verse means we need to be careful to speak less, and search our hearts for hypocrisy first. For others, it means we need to speak up more, and call out sin if the plank in our own eye is removed.

Notice, the assumption here is not that we will never speak or judge. Jesus tells us; first we must remove the plank from our own eye. We need to speak truth to one another, not as hypocrites, but as fellow partakers in the Gospel.

1. What instructions does Jesus give before judging others?

2. According to this passage, is all judgment wrong? Why or why not?

3. Is there a plank in your eye? If so, what steps can you take to remove it?

What Do You Seek First?

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

If we learn nothing else from the Sermon on the Mount, let it be this.

In preaching, there is something called the C-Note (no not the $100 bill c-note). The C-Note is the main point, or in one sentence or verse a summary of the message. Matthew 6:33 is Jesus’ C-Note.

If we had to summarize Jesus whole Sermon on the Mount in just one verse, it would be this verse.

But seek first  . . . His Kingdom . . . His Righteousness

Just before this verse, Jesus spends nearly 12 verses telling us not to worry about earthly things, to trust in God and to think on heavenly things. In fact, it even seems as though he is reminding us that much of our anxiety and worrying comes from thinking about earthly things instead of heavenly things. We live in fear, worry, or doubt when we keep our eyes on earthly treasures and earthly circumstances rather than keeping an eternal perspective.

Our life is a battle for perspective. Jesus is showing us the remedy to worry is not control, but trust. If we can look beyond what’s in front of us, and remember to seek first His kingdom, all these things will be added to us.

When try to spin our wheels and make sure all of our earthly “ducks are in a row”, we end up consumed with control and our own circumstances. When we put God in His proper place and live for eternity, all the other things we worry about seem to fall in to place.

This is much easier said than done. I don’t know about you, but more often than not I am seeking first MY kingdom instead of God’s kingdom. I would say God has top priority in my life, but my worry-filled heart and busy hands would say otherwise.

Dr. Rick Taylor once preached to us “The opposite of faith is not doubt, but control”. When I am walking by faith, I can trust that God is for my good and pursuing Him takes away my worry and fear. When I am trying to control every one of my circumstances, I end up feeling like I need to fix everything and spiral into anxiety.

Someone once said, “Anxiety comes from not believing God has your best interest”. Others have traced worry and anxiety back to pride, which is really thinking you can control the outcome better than God.

Whatever the source of anxiety, it’s clear to me that Jesus is telling us a remedy:

Seeking first His kingdom.

When we focus too much on ourselves, and our circumstances, it usually breeds unhealth through fear, worry, doubt, and control. When we focus on God and seeking Him, it usually brings peace and comfort, a deep sense of trust and faith.

Let’s seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and trust that all these things will be added to us.

  1. Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. What does Paul tell us to focus on in these verses?
  1. How much of your fear, worry, and anxiety is rooted in seeking first your kingdom as opposed to God’s?
  1. What anxious thoughts and worry preoccupy your thought life? How can you preach truth to yourself in the midst of these thoughts?


Anxiety and Worry

Read Matthew 6:25-34

My friend Meghan Alanis shares her story here with anxiety.  This post was originally found on The Well Community Church’s blog and Self-Talk the Gospel’s website.  I’d love for you to hear her story and learn how the LORD set her free from anxiety.

From Meghan:

Do you ever struggle with fear or worry? Have you ever caught yourself spiraling down the “what if” trail that leads nowhere?

Many people fall into the trap of anxiety, yet the majority of us suffer in silence, longing for the hope of freedom. As our worries and doubts marinate in the darkness of our lives, Satan grabs a foothold and off they grow. Often our fears grow so fast we feel like we have lost all faith in the strength of our Savior.

Here is my story of finding freedom from the entanglement of anxiety. It was and still is a journey of relying on the immeasurable grace of the gospel and allowing God to have the reigns of my life. Through His power, a lot of counseling, and a couple of prescriptions, I was able to find the woman He designed me to be from the beginning. I am now a woman free from worry, living a life of Joy, and falling more in love with my God everyday. This can be you too.



1.  What are some things you found comforting from Matthew 6:25-34?

2.  Is there something you found comforting in Meghan’s story?

3.  When battling worry or anxiety, are their verses you can preach to yourself to remind you of God’s goodness?

Storing Up Treasure

Read Matthew 6:19-24

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

For many of us, we have grown up in a world where we have been told a true sign of success is owning a home, a nice car, and enjoying the luxuries that materialism has to offer. It’s kind of the goal or point of life, to finish school, get a mortgage, and work the rest of your life to pay off the mortgage so you can retire and travel.

Okay, maybe I’m trivializing here, or over simplifying, but really, what were you told as a child? What is this “American Dream”?

I used to teach 3rd grade and I remember telling my students over and over how important it was to get an education. One day, one of them asked me “Why? Why do we need to learn to read?” To which I replied, “So you can go to college and get a good job.” They asked, “Why do I need a good job?” My response: “So you can buy a house and pay your bills!”

And that didn’t suffice. I mean, really? Am I really telling kids they need to learn so they can to college, to get a good job, to pay their bills and buy all the things.

Is that really it? Is that life and life abundant?

Now, I know there’s more to learning and getting an education than just finding a good job, but this was the best response I could come up with. And it stopped me dead in my tracks.

That is NOT what life is all about. A job, a house, a car, and designer handbags. But for many of us, that’s why we get up and go to work every day.

Someone said:  “We work jobs we hate, to buy things we can’t afford, to impress people we don’t even like.”

I don’t want to work at a job just so I can build a home.
I want to work at a job and build the kingdom.

Jesus is telling us here to lift our perspective a bit. To lift our eyes from the temporal, earthly treasures, and begin to envision building the kingdom and investing in heavenly treasures.

Our time, talent, and treasures aren’t meant for us to hoard and build our own kingdom. Our time, talent, and treasures are meant to be stewarded and used to build God’s kingdom.

Just last week my seminary professor was teaching us about giving. We asked, “How much should we give, what percent of our income?” He responded, “you know some people say 10%, but I don’t see an exact percent in the New Testament. I see the principle that it’s not about how much you give, it’s about how much you keep.”

It’s not about building our earthly kingdom and giving God just enough. It’s about building a heavenly kingdom because God has given us more than enough.

  1. What does Jesus compare/contrast in verses 19-21?
  1. List some “earthly treasures” and “heavenly treasures” below.
  1. What is the greatest treasure in your life? Do you invest more in earthly things or heavenly things?

True and False Fasting

Isaiah 58

1 “Cry aloud; do not hold back;
lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression,
to the house of Jacob their sins.

2 Yet they seek me daily
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that did righteousness
and did not forsake the judgment of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments;
they delight to draw near to God.

3 ‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not?
Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’
Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,
and oppress all your workers.

4 Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to hit with a wicked fist.
Fasting like yours this day
will not make your voice to be heard on high.

5 Is such the fast that I choose,
a day for a person to humble himself?
Is it to bow down his head like a reed,
and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?
Will you call this a fast,
and a day acceptable to the Lord?

6 “Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed2 go free,
and to break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.

9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,

10 if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.

11 And the Lord will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail.

12 And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to dwell in.

13 “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath,
from doing your pleasure on my holy day,
and call the Sabbath a delight
and the holy day of the Lord honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;

14 then you shall take delight in the Lord,
and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

1.  Read Matthew 6:16-18.  What does Jesus say about fasting in these verses?

2.  How does Jesus’ teaching on fasting compare/contrast to the verses above from Isaiah 58?

3.  What are some right ways and good motives to fast?  What are some wrong ways or hypocritical motives for fasting?


Read Matthew 5:13
“And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]”

Wedged in between the verses on forgiveness (Matthew 12, 14-15) is the prayer many of us pray in our weakness:

Lord lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil.

Early in my Christian walk I would absolutely beat myself up over temptation. And my greatest temptation was alcohol. I hesitate to even write about alcohol because I know I’ll be labeled a legalist and this will automatically become controversial, so let me go on the record and say:

I have alcoholism flowing through my veins; it runs on both sides of my family. My relationship with alcohol was not, and is not healthy, and is not honoring to God. I am not referring to any and all drinking, I don’t think everyone needs to abstain from alcohol, and I make that disclaimer here: Am I a Legalist if I Don’t Drink?

I’m referring to the fact that I used alcohol for one reason only and that was to get absolutely drunk, which is why it was so tempting to me.

I would have physical cravings and desires to get drunk and I would feel absolutely awful that it consumed my thought life as much as it did. So much so, that my husband had to remind me that sin is not being tempted, it’s giving into temptation. In other words, my desire to drink or temptation to get drunk was different than going to the store and buying a bottle of tequila to drink that night at home, by myself.

Moving on . . .

I realized that part of my temptation was the fact that I was walking right into temptation and trying to white knuckle it. I would meet friends at bars and think I’d be fine to just withstand temptation, 2 hours later guess who’s taking shots and dancing on barstools?

I realized that Jesus doesn’t teach us to pray “Lord, make me strong during temptation”, he teaches us to pray “Lead me not into temptation.”

I didn’t accidentally end up in a bar, I willingly drove there. No one gave me 3 bottles of wine; I went to the store and bought them.

I had to realize that temptation starts with the first step. Either I’m pursuing a path of obedience or I’m pursuing the path of temptation. Instead of going to the bar, thinking I’d just say no to shots of tequila, I had to back up a bit and just say no to going to the bar. “Lead me not into temptation”, boom there, done. Surrendering my desire and stopping my feet from taking the next step is how I fight temptation and am delivered from evil.

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Temptation is like a lion. You don’t have to unlock the cage and willingly get in. You can just keep walking by. Once you’re in, you can call out for deliverance, sure! But isn’t it better to just keep out? Lead me not into the lion’s den, oh LORD.

While drinking isn’t a struggle like it once was, I can say this prayer for just about anything in my life. Lead me not into temptation. Let it stop before I’m delivered up.

I know that staying out of bars my whole life isn’t what removes temptation; it’s surrendering my life and my struggles to Jesus. Remembering that the Gospel that not only saves, but also gives me new life is the only way to surrender sin and be delivered from evil. Remembering what Christ has saved me from and what He saved me to is the way out. The Cross-and that alone is my way out.

1. How are sin and temptation different?

2. In what ways are you being tempted to sin right now?

3. Are there things you can do to keep from being led into temptation? Are there people in your life you can help you be accountable?


Read Matthew 6:12, 14-15
“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”

One of the hardest things to do, one of the greatest obstacles in life, is to forgive those that have hurt you. And yet, forgiveness is the key to the Gospel and freedom.

Jesus tells a story in Luke 7 that teaches much about forgiveness.

“36 Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, 38 and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.”

40 And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.” 41 “A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.” 44 Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. 47 For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” 49 Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?” 50 And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

If we have been forgiven most, than we should be the most forgiving. When we truly understand the Gospel, when we truly understand God’s forgiveness with us, we should have no response but to be forgiving toward others.

Those who have been forgiven much should love much.

1. List some ways Jesus talks about forgiveness in Matthew 6:12-15.

2. In what ways do you struggle to forgive others? Write out an action step you can take this week to forgive.

3. When did you understand God’s forgiveness toward you? Remember that today, and preach the Gospel of grace and forgiveness to yourself this week.

Our Daily Bread

 “Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matthew 5:11)

Many of us don’t know what it is like to live in reliance to just our daily sustenance. We may not be rich or well off, perhaps we’re even on a grocery budget, but praying for God to provide our daily bread is far from our tongues.

My friends tease me because I keep very little groceries in our house. We keep the minimum amount of food needed for 2 people, and we eat nearly all of the left overs so we don’t waste any food. And even in our home, if I didn’t go grocery shopping for a week, I’d still have enough food to survive. Sure we’d eat some weird meals, but I wouldn’t starve. I have a refrigerator and a pantry, and if I had to make bean burrito sandwiches and serve them with green olives, I could.

We as Americans really don’t know what it’s like to rely on God for our needs. I think when we can afford iPhones, cable TV, hair dye, and make-up; we’re a little out of touch of what “daily bread” really is.

Imagine for a moment you literally had no idea where your next meal was coming from. Not your next paycheck to make your car payment or credit card bill, but your next meal.  As in you have so little, you don’t know what you will eat for lunch in 3 hours.

This is how Jesus is teaching us to pray. He’s teaching us to pray for manna, not for Costco. He’s teaching us to rely on Him daily, to look to Him to meet our need each day.

Proverbs 30:7-9 says:

“Two things I asked of You, 
Do not refuse me before I die: 
Keep deception and lies far from me,
Give me neither poverty nor riches;
Feed me with the food that is my portion,
That I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the Lord?”
Or that I not be in want and steal,
And profane the name of my God.

Giving us abundance makes us self-sufficient. Giving us too little makes us beg, steal, and borrow. Giving us just enough makes us thank God and trust in Him.

Give us today our daily bread. Lord would you meet our need.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, 
“Therefore I have hope in Him.”

(Lamentations 3:24)


  1. What is the meaning of “daily bread”?
  1. What are some of the daily needs you have?
  1. In what ways do you trust God to provide? In what ways are you more self-sufficient?




Your Kingdom Come

Read Matthew 6:10

“Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.”

Paul Tripp has a line from his book on marriage “What Did You Expect” that says something like this:

 Are you more interested in building your kingdom, or God’s Kingdom?

 In other words, is your life, all that you’re pursuing, spending time on, fighting for and praying for, building up your kingdom or is it for God’s kingdom?

If I’m honest, a lot of what I do is about my Kingdom. My career, my house, my family, my preferences, my comfort, and my desires. Not that all of my desires are opposed to God and His kingdom, but at the forefront of my mind I pray more often for my kingdom than I do His.

When I pray for that new job, is it to further God’s plan for my life or is it to make a little more money so I can buy a little more stuff?

When I pray for God to remove my difficult circumstance, is it to further His kingdom and His work in my life, or is it because I’d rather be comfortable in my own little Kingdom?

When I pray for escrow to close on my dream home, is that really about God’s kingdom or my own?

I could make a list 1,000 miles long. I so often put myself and my desires at the top of my prayer list rather than “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

But I take heart, because we get a little glimpse into Jesus’s prayer life in the Garden of Gethsemane: “And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” (Luke 22:41-42)

Even Jesus asked God to remove His suffering. But, above that request, was “not my will, but Yours be done.”

So while I may ask for things that build up my Kingdom, ultimately I ask but not my will, but Yours be done.

We get to be a part of actively building into “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” I don’t know about you but getting to be a part of building God’s kingdom on earth and into eternity puts building into my own kingdom to shame. I’d much rather be a part of “Your Kingdom come” than building up my own.


1.  What are some differences between your kingdom and God’s kingdom?

2.  Is it a struggle to pray for God’s will to be done?  Why or why not?

3.  Take some time today to pray these verses above, with specific things you may need to lay down at the foot of the Cross.

Our Father in Heaven

Read Matthew 6:9

“Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven, 
Hallowed be Your name.”

Most of us, when we enter into prayer, are so focused on us and our circumstances, we dive right into our requests, our needs, our desires. Notice where Jesus teaches us to start?

Our Father, who is in Heaven, Hallowed be Your Name.

We start by focusing on who God is. We reset our hearts to a humble place and a slowed pace, and remember who God is, by knowing His name.

There is much to be said about a name. Knowing who God is helps us not only to worship Him, but to trust Him in faith. Take some time today and look up some of His names below.


Elohim (God, Mighty Creator) Gen. 1:1, Ps. 102
El Roi (The God Who Sees Me) Gen. 16:12-14, Ps. 33:13-15, 18-19
El Shaddai (God Almighty) Gen. 17:1-2, Ps. 91, Prov. 18:10
El Olam (The Everlasting God) Gen. 21:32-33, Ps. 90, Isa. 40:28-31
Yahweh Yireh (The Lord Will Provide) Gen. 22:13-14, 1 Cor. 10:12-13
Yahweh (LORD) Ex. 3:12-15, Ps. 103
Adonai (Lord, Master) Ps. 16:2, Ps. 62:11-12, Ps. 73:25-26
Yahweh Rophe (The Lord Who Heals) Ex. 15:26, Isa. 53:4-5
Yahweh Nissi (The Lord My Banner) Ex. 17:8-15, John 3:14-15
Esh Oklah (Consuming Fire) Deut. 4:23-24, Heb. 12:28-29
El Kanna (Jealous God) Ex. 34:14, Ex. 34:14
Qedosh Yisrael (Holy One of Israel) Lev. 19:1-2, Isa. 6:1-7
Yahweh Shalom (The Lord is Peace) Judges 6:22-24, Phil. 4:6-9
Yahweh Tsebaoth (The Lord of Hosts) 1 Sam. 17:45-46, Ps. 46:6-7
Yahweh Tsuri (The Lord My Rock) Ps. 144:1, 2 Sam. 22:2-4
Yahweh Roi (The Lord is My Shepherd) Ps. 23, Isa. 40:10-11
Hashem (The Name) 1 Kings 8:28-29, Ps. 30:4, Isa. 50:10-11
Melek (King) Ps. 72:1-3, Ps. 97:1-4, Mat.25:34
Ish (Husband) Hosea 2:16, 19-20, Isa. 54:5-8
El Chay (Living God) Deut. 5:26, Joshua 3:9-10
Maon, Machseh (Dwelling Place, Refuge) Ps. 91:1-2, Ps. 9:9-10, Ps. 61:1-3
Shophet (Judge) Ps. 94:2-15, Ps. 96:10-13
Miqweh Yisrael (Hope of Israel) Jer. 17:7-8, 13, Heb. 6:19, Ps. 46:2-3
Yahweh Tsidqenu (The Lord our Righteousness) Jer. 23:5-6, 1 Peter 2:24
El Elyon (God Most High) Dan. 4:34, Ps. 97:9, Luke 6:35-36
Yahweh Shammah (The Lord is There) Ezek. 48:35, Isa. 63:9, Ps. 139
Abba (Father) Luke 15:20, John 10:27-30

When we pray, let us start by remembering the One to whom we’re praying.  Let us call on His name with reverence and gratitude.  For His name is above all names, and He alone can answer our prayers.

1. List some of the new names for God you’ve learned above.

2. When you pray, do you take time to worship first and bless God’s name? Why or why not?

3. How can you slow your pace in prayer and begin to actively recall His goodness and His attributes in prayer?