Category Archives: Matthew

Genesis 44; Mark 14; Job 10; Romans 14

For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too.  So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.  Don’t tear apart the work of God over what you eat.  Remember all foods are acceptable, but it is wrong to eat something if it makes another person stumble.  You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God.  Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right.  But if you have doubts about whether you should eat something, you are sinning, you are sinning if you go ahead with it.  For you are not following your convictions.  If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.”  Romans 14:17-23 NLT

Am I being a stumbling block or  helping unity? How often do I judge what someone else is doing, but haven’t looked at my own heart?  It’s not my job to convict, but the Holy Spirits. I am reminded that I need to pray for others, before I open my mouth.  And ask the Holy Spirit for discernment.  Why am I voicing my opinion? Is it to bring the person closer to the Lord. Or will it just push them away?

“They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.”  He took Peter, James and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed.  He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death.  Stay here and keep watch with me…Then he returned and found the disciples asleep.  He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation.  For the spirit is willing but the body is weak.” Mark 14:32-38 NLT

I can relate to Peter.  Sometimes I ‘fall asleep’ when Jesus has asked me to be alert and pray. I get overwhelmed and burdened. I am more susceptable to temptation.  My mind drifts into old habits or ways of coping that are not giving God glory.

“While he was eating, a woman came with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from the essence of nard.  She broke open the jar and poured perfume over his head.” Mark 14:3 NLT

Lord, I pray that my life would be an offering to you.  That I would hold nothing back from you.  Help me to live with open hands towards you.  Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Genesis 29; Matthew 28; Esther 5; Acts 28

“Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb.  Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it.  His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow.  The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.  Then the angel spoke to the women.  “Don’t be afraid!” he said.  “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen.  Come, see where his body was lying.  And now, go quickly and tell the disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee.  You will see him there.  Remember what I have told you.”  The women ran quickly from the tomb.  They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message.  And as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them.  And they ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.  Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him-but some of them doubted!  Matthew 28 1-10, 16 NLT

My word for the year is Presence…intentionally seeking God’s presence, so that it overflows into the rest of my life.  The presence of the Angel at the tomb was enough for the women to believe. But, some of the disciples doubted, even after seeing Jesus.  I’m reading a book with my bible study called  Twelve Ordinary Men, by John McArthur.  He writes about how human the disciples were.  He says, “That’s because they were perfectly ordinary men in every way.  Not one of them was renowned for scholarship or great erudtion.  They had no track record of as orators or theologians.  In fact, they were outsiders as far as the religious establishment of Jesus’ day was concerned.  They were not outstanding because of any natural talents or intellectual abilities.  On the contrary, they were all prone to mistakes, misstatements, wrong attitudes, lapses of faith, and bitter failure.” They were just like me.  How often have I worshipped and had God reveal something to me and than doubt enters my mind?

“They left with this final word from Paul: “The Holy Spirit was right when he said to your ancestors through Isaish the prophet, ‘Go and say to this people: When you hear what I say, you will not understand.  When you see what I do, you will not comprehend.  For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannoth hear, and their hearts cannoth understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.” Acts 28:25-27 NLT

Am I listening to the Holy Spirit?  Or is my heart hardened?

Dear Father, I want to be like both Marys and run to you, lay at your feet, and worship you.  Forgive me when I run to lesser things.  I want to be filled with renewed joy of your resurrection power.  Thank you that you are always with me.  Amen.

“I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

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Genesis 23; Matthew 22; Nehemiah 12; Acts 22

When I was in seminary a rather famous religious figure turned his life over to Jesus in a new and fresh way. Then he felt as if he needed to learn the Bible and theology from a whole new perspective so he came to seminary. Well all at once they wanted this person to be speaking in chapel and representing the seminary in many venues. He had been a true follower of Christ for only eighteen months where I had been one for some eighteen years. I felt belittled and not appreciated for what I brought to the table in that seminary.

In today’s reading we have another dramatic conversion in the person of the Apostle Paul. We read it below:

6 An intense light from heaven suddenly flashed around me. 7 I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’
8“I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’
“He said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, the one you are persecuting.’ 9 Now those who were with me saw the light,
10“I said, ‘What should I do, Lord?’
“The Lord told me, ‘Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told everything that you have been assigned to do.’
11“Since I couldn’t see because of the brightness of the light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and went into Damascus. 12 Someone named Ananias, a devout man according to the law, who had a good reputation with all the Jews living there, 13 came and stood by me and said, ‘Brother Saul, regain your sight.’ And in that very hour I looked up and saw him. 14 And he said, ‘The God of our ancestors has appointed you to know his will, to the Righteous One, and to hear the words from his mouth, 15 since you will be a witness for him to all people of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now, why are you delaying? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’ (Acts 22:6-16 [CSB])

Now Ananias could have been like me and sulked because he was a devout follower of Jesus and here’s Saul, one who had persecuted and killed Christians, yet, no he went and even called Saul his brother.

We all have stories. Some are dramatic while others are quiet and deep. What is your story? How has God brought you to himself? Knowing where we were before Jesus — even if we were five or six years old when it happened — it’s a dramatic and awesome story to tell. Tell your story to someone today. I’m sure it will be an encouragement and may even draw someone into the kingdom.

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Genesis 16; Matthew 15; Nehemiah 5; Acts 15

How many times I have struggled with something and called it my “thorn in the flesh?” Abram’s wife, Sarai was no different.

Abram’s wife Sarai had not borne him any children. But she had an Egyptian slave woman named Hagar, and so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Why don’t you sleep with my slave? Perhaps she can have a child for me.” Abram agreed with what Sarai said. – Genesis 16:1-2 GNT

Though I try to hide it, there is pain from not seeing the hand of God moving in my life. If I leave it unattended, even the hope of prayers not yet answered leaves me. If I have been vocal, there is public shame. Then I come to the place where I blame God and that brings a different kind of pain in my life.

So I walk around and from time to time speaking audibly – “Lord have mercy on me” – just to clear my soul. No different then the woman looking to Jesus for healing.

Jesus left that place and went off to the territory near the cities of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman who lived in that region came to him. “Son of David!” she cried out. “Have mercy on me, sir! My daughter has a demon and is in a terrible condition.” – Matthew 15:21-22 GNT

It is a form of intercessory prayer.

That is what Paul and Barnabas wanted to do in their missionary journey – visit all the church plants, see what was going on, and then deliver a report so the whole church could be praying for them.

Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in every town where we preached the word of the Lord, and let us find out how they are getting along.”  – Acts 15:36 GNT

Am I rejoicing, am I secure in who I am in Christ, am I weeping and am I experiencing comfort in my salvation?  The offer is to come and pray together.

Father, even when I think You are not there, may Your Holy Spirit remind me of Your promise to always be there. Do let let me think too long or too hard on myself so that it hardens my heart towards You. I need Your mercy and if that is all I cry out to You for, give it to me in the largest measure possible. As long as I have You, You are all I need. Being strengthened, I can walk alongside others You send my way that need encouragement and hope just like I did. Thank You that I can talk to You at anytime. Amen

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

 

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Genesis 15; Matthew 14; Nehemiah 4; Acts 14

“Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can.  That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.  Then the Lord told him, “I am the Lord who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land as your possession” But Abram replied, O Sovereign Lord, how can I be sure that I will actually possess it? So the Lord made a covenant with Abram that day and said, “I have given this land to your descendants, all the way from the border of Egypt to the great Euphrates River.”  Genesis 15:5-8;18 NLT

In the midst of his faith, Abram still doubted.

“Don’t be afraid,” he said.  “Take courage.  I am here!” Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.  But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink.  “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.  Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him.  “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” Matthew 14:26-31 NLT

Jesus reached out for Peter in the middle of his doubt.

“While they were at Lystra, Paul and Barnabas came upon a man with crippled feet.  He had been that way from birth, so he had never walked.  He was sitting and listening as Paul preached.  Looking straight at him, Paul realized he had faith to be healed.  So Paul called to him in a loud voice, “Stand up!” And the man jumped to his feet and started walking.” Acts 14:8-10 NLT

Oh, to have faith like this man had.  To believe when everything in me is telling me to doubt.  How do I rise above the distrust that threatens to steal my hope?  I choose to remember God’s goodness.  His past faithfulness.  His unchanging character.  I cry out to him, knowing that he hears me.  I stay in his word and listen for his voice.  My faith has been tested this past year.  But, when I change my perspective, there is a shift in how I see.

“Faith is a prism we need to see hope when all seems lost, to survive the furnace of suffering, to grow despite the pain.  Faith is the prism we need to see hope when all seems lost, to survive the furnace of suffering, to grow despite the pain. Faith allows us to see that it’s okay to have doubt, but we doubt the doubt more than the promise of the One who never breaks his word.”(When it’s So Dark All You Can See is Faith,  Dr. Lee Warren, Jan 10, 2020, annvoskamp.com)

Dear Father, thank you that you are with me always.  Thank you that you are fighting for me and my family.(Nehemiah 4:20).  I praise you for who you are.  Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

 

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Genesis 11; Matthew 10; Ezra 10; Acts 10

It is easy for me to forget to spread the good news of the gospel, and it is even easier to delay that action because I am scared of what other people might think of me. In Matthew 10: 26-28 Jesus tells his disciples to

“have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10: 26-28 ESV).

Jesus is telling his disciples to not fear the men who might threaten and hurt them when they spread Jesus’s teachings. It is easy for me to worry too much about what other people think and do. Instead, I need to focus on my own walk with God and not worry about someone else’s opinion of me. Jesus further comforts his disciples by reminding them of how much God cares about them. He says

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10: 29-31).

This is a good reminder for when I am feeling down about aspects of my life. It reminds me that God cares about me even when I might not see how. I don’t doubt that it was a great encouragement for the disciples as well!

 

Dear God, please help me to follow You, and please help me to listen when You tell me to spread Your Word, without caring what other people might think of me. I know that Your approval is more important than the approval of anyone else in the whole world. Please help me to remember that. In Jesus’ Holy name, I pray, Amen.

Asher (AsherB)

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Genesis 7; Ezra 7; Matthew 7; Acts 7

The readings today caused me to remember God’s goodness, His provision, and His protection.

21 All the living things on earth died—birds, domestic animals, wild animals, small animals that scurry along the ground, and all the people. 22 Everything that breathed and lived on dry land died. 23 God wiped out every living thing on the earth—people, livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and the birds of the sky. All were destroyed. The only people who survived were Noah and those with him in the boat. 24 And the floodwaters covered the earth for 150 days. (Gen. 7:21-24 NLT)

What must it have been like on that ark knowing everything around you was being destroyed while you trust God for your life? I have been inside my house when really fierce winds and rain raged outside—it was the kind of storm that take down trees and rips off roofs. I must admit to feeling a sense of fear as to my fate. What struck me most reading the chapter this time was how God not only protected them but also provided for the needs of the eight passengers and all the livestock, animals, and birds contained safely within. Noah had no idea how long they were going to be afloat and he was told by God to load enough food for all of them. Only God alone could have made the food last for the year from the time they got on the boat until the time they got off! God’s goodness, His provision, His protection.

27 Praise the Lord, the God of our ancestors, who made the king want to beautify the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem! 28 And praise him for demonstrating such unfailing love to me by honoring me before the king, his council, and all his mighty nobles! I felt encouraged because the gracious hand of the Lord my God was on me. And I gathered some of the leaders of Israel to return with me to Jerusalem. (Ezra 7:27-28 NLT)

The Israelites were finally able to go home after their long exile. God caused the King of Assyria to favor them to the point he even provided the means with which they could rebuild their Temple. He had protected a remnant of his people and sent them back to their own land. God is good!

24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” (Matt 7:24-27)

As I thought back to the worst storm I could remember, I was thankful God had protected me and my home. The neighbor’s roof had shingles blown over the neighborhood, there were downed trees, and lots of debris. That is such a physical example of what Jesus is talking about—the other type of storm that enters our life. His teachings are the bedrock we build upon. He is that safe harbor in a storm. I’ve lived through several storms of that type—the kind that almost take you out because of the pain they cause to your spirit. I am not sure I would have survived the storm without Jesus to cling to. I truly learned of God’s sovereignty. I learned of his protection, his provision, and his goodness. I can trust he will be there again whenever the next storm hits.

55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 56 And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!” (Acts 7:55-56)

Lord Jesus, I look forward to seeing your face one day as Stephen did. I will be able to thank you in person for your protection, your provision, and your goodness in my life. I thank you for the storms I’ve endured so far because they drew me closer to you. I know it was only after the storm had blown over that I could see your purpose in it and it was always for my benefit. I lift my voice with Ezra’s and sing, “Praise the Lord”. In your precious name I pray, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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