Re:Verse passage – Matthew 20:29-34 (day five)
“and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him.”
For many years (as a Youth Pastor) I had the privilege of watching High School Seniors graduate and enter into a new chapter of their lives- filled with opportunities for learning and growth as well as freedom (socially, spiritually, and academically). It is always telling how these recent high school graduates react and respond to their newly found freedom. Much in their lives was recalibrated. Freedom is a “funny thing”- freedom is life changing.
Make no mistake, the blind men were asking for freedom. Freedom from their physical condition. Freedom from their social condition. All kinds of implications. New opportunities would come their way upon being healed. Yet, it’s very telling how they immediately used their freedom. They followed Jesus. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. How will you use the freedom Christ gives? Any recalibration needed?
Re:Verse passage – Matthew 17:24-27 (day five). “However, so that we do not offend them…Take that and give it to them for you and Me.”
I love how God communicates to different kinds of people. As you read through the scriptures there will be truths and wisdom that may jump off the pages to you- because of your experiences, or profession, or interests, or personality. Remember how God communicated the birth of His son to the Magi (astrologers)? He placed a star in the East to grab their attention and guide them to Jesus. The text we read this week (paying taxes) is only found in Matthew (former tax collector). Matthew remembers this experience and teaching decades later when He writes His gospel. Not a coincidence. God can and will use the scriptures to teach and guide each of us (because He knows us) to learn more about Jesus and love Him better. Isn’t that good news?
Re:Verse passage – Matthew 17:14-21 (day five)
Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
The disciples were clearly perplexed. Jesus had previously given them authority to cast out demons (Matthew 10). In fact, according to Mark’s gospel, they had actually already done just that (Mark 6:13). At least they are asking the right question, “Why?”
Jesus’ answer was telling. It’s not the quantity (even a mustard seed amount is enough), but rather the quality of your faith that is the problem. They had at least a mustard seed’s worth or they would have even tried to cast out the demon.
Much like us, the disciples believed that if they did the right things and said the right things, that would equate to faith and power. Jesus is teaching them (us) that genuine faith is not a byproduct of a ritual or mechanical actions and words. Going to church, reading the scriptures, reciting prayers, teaching, preaching are not enough on their own. Faith is deeper. It is the byproduct of a continuing, dynamic relationship with Him. (Honest, constant, humble, engaging, and trusting)
Re:Verse passage – Matthew 15:21-28 (day five)
But she said, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”
What a humble and amazing response from this woman! No arguing or rationalizing. No convincing Him of her worthiness. Just honest confession. She knew who she was. She knew who Jesus was. And she knew only Jesus could meet her needs. That’s enough to find help and healing. That’s enough to experience the grace of God. That’s enough for Jesus to demonstrate His power, be glorified, and meet her needs. She found help. She found life. It could have only come through the grace of Jesus. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;”
Re:Verse passage – Matthew 14:22-33 (day five) After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.
Jesus must have been exhausted. News of John’s death, quickly followed by crowds of people pressing around Him- nonstop healing and interaction. Then, the miracle of the fish and loaves. Jesus meets their needs yet again. Finally, time to process and work through grief. Finally time to unwind from the intensity of the day. Jesus has to be physically and emotionally spent. So He retreats by Himself. Not to just relax and unwind, but to engage and interact with His Father (pray). If we pay attention to the rhythms of Jesus’ life, we can learn what He believed- His priorities- His “non- negotiables”. He believed that God’s Word was true. He believed that gathered worship was important. He believed that prayer was invaluable for direction, encouragement, peace, and wisdom.
What do the rhythms of our lives reveal about our faith, priorities, and “non- negotiables”?
Re:Verse passage – Matthew 14:14-21 (day five)
The disciples surveyed the crowd and then the resources. They came to the conclusion that there wasn’t enough to feed all the people. Then Jesus presses them, “You give them something to eat!” Two great lessons are working in concert here. The first is that in spiritual and supernatural matters we can do nothing without the power and help of Jesus. Remember Jesus’ teaching in John 15, “apart from me you can do nothing.” Just as true is the fact that God had given them something, and when placed in His hands was all that was necessary to accomplish His purpose. Be careful of a subtle difference. Nothing really means nothing. Sometimes in our pride and arrogance we tend to think we can at least do something and that all we need is some specialized help from Jesus.
“What can you do for Jesus? You know the answer to that as well as I do: nothing at all. But God has given you something that can be used effectively if you place it in Jesus’ hands.” JM Boice
Re:Verse passage – Matthew 12:9-13 (day five)
“But the Pharisees went out and conspired against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.”
The Pharisees witnessed a miracle. They heard prophetic authoritative teaching. They sensed wisdom, holiness, and divinity. Their hearts and souls should have been lifted and encouraged. They should have worshipped and praised God. They should have repented for their anger and their hypocrisy. But they didn’t. They were a personal witness to the work and ministry of Jesus Christ. Yet, somehow they missed it. Made me wonder about the effects of my own perceptions and priorities. My own sin and disbelief. What have I missed? What have we witnessed, heard, and sensed that we ignored or discounted? Forgive our busyness. Forgive our selfishness. Forgive our hardened hearts. Lord open our hearts, open our eyes, open our ears, open our souls that we might see and sense more of You at work in and around our lives, that we may praise and glorify You!!
Re:Verse passage – Matthew 9:20-22(day five)
“for she was saying to herself, “If I only touch His garment, I will get well.” Matthew 9:21 This woman’s needs were many. Physical. Personal. Social. Spiritual. She had been cutoff, removed, and isolated for so long. To give you perspective, twelve years ago from today, George W Bush was president. Can you imagine how long she had suffered? But there was still a glimmer of hope in her heart.
She had decided that touching Jesus was worth the risk of certain persecution. She had determined that the very thing she was not “allowed” to do according to society (be in public, interact with a rabbi, touch someone) was what would bring healing and wholeness. Imagine the reaction when Jesus didn’t rebuke her, but rather encouraged her and in fact healed her. What are you willing to risk (socially, religiously, and personally) in order to be near the presence and power of God? Is there still hope in your heart?
Re:Verse passage – Matthew 9:18-19; 23-26 (day five)
But Jesus turning and seeing her said, “Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.” At once the woman was made well.
Jesus teaches an amazing lesson in this text. Faith overcomes fear. Fear is still there, it just doesn’t have the priority and influence over her heart and desire to “get near and touch Jesus”. It’s all through scripture. God constantly reminds His faith-filled followers to be brave, be strong, have courage, do not fear. When fear overtakes faith, to God it looks like we don’t trust Him.
“To turn from him out of fear… is to discount all that God promises to be for those who fear him. It is a great insult. And in such an insult God can take no pleasure. On the other hand, when we hear God’s promises and trust him with courage… then he is greatly honored. And in that he has much pleasure. – John Piper
When we look and think of the present and future through the lens of the gospel, we are reminded of God’s love, power, and faithfulness. Then faith rightly overcomes fear and God is pleased. Strengthen your faith today- Look, listen, and think through the lens of the Gospel- God’s promises and power.
Re:Verse passage – Matthew 8:23-27 (day five) “The men were amazed, and said, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”” The disciples were constantly learning about the nature and character of Jesus. It must have been difficult for them in one moment to see the humanity (ordinariness of Jesus- asleep in the boat) and in the next to witness the true Divinity of Jesus. They, like us, were settled in a perception and perspective of who Jesus was. He shatters those in a powerful display with His words to the storm. I imagine the text of familiar words in Psalm 89 came quickly to mind. “O LORD God of hosts, who is like You, O mighty LORD? Your faithfulness also surrounds You. You rule the swelling of the sea; When its waves rise, You still them.”
They were learning (crash course) who Jesus was. Each day, moment by moment, we have that same opportunity to learn and discover more about the nature and character of our Lord and Savior- storms, victories, tragedies, and struggles. Will you look in His Word and look around so that you may learn and discover more about Him than you knew and understood yesterday?