Category Archives: Matthew

Judges 1; Acts 5; Jeremiah 14; Matthew 28

So my advice is, leave these men alone. Let them go. If they are planning and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. But if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God!” The others accepted his advice. They called in the apostles and had them flogged. Then they ordered them never again to speak in the name of Jesus, and they let them go. The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus. And every day, in the Temple and from house to house, they continued to preach this message: “Jesus is the Messiah.” Acts 5:38-42 NLT

Is my walk so close with Jesus that I can truly rejoice in my sufferings? Usually not when I am in the midst of it. My own humanness wants to complain. But, looking back I can see that those were the times that have strengthened my faith. And where God has shown himself most clearly.

Lord, we confess our wickedness and that of our ancestors, too. We all have sinned against you. For the sake of your reputation, Lord, do not abandon us. Do not disgrace your own glorious throne. Please remember us, and do not break your covenant with us. Can any of the worthless foreign gods send us rain? Does it fall from the sky by itself? No, you are the one, O Lord our God! Only you can do such things. So we will wait for you to help us.” Jeremiah 14:20-22 NLT

Sometimes it seems that he has left me in the waiting. And there is a drought in my soul. But, he reminds me that he is right there when I call out to him. He promises to be with me.

And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20 NLT

I can still remember back to six  years ago when the Father spoke this verse into my clouded and fearful  mind. Never did I sense His presence more. If I hadn’t gone through that dark time, it wouldn’t have the meaning it has today. When worry strikes again, that day is a much needed reminder to my weary heart. He was with me than and is with me now.

Thank you Father for making a way to always be with me. Thank you for meeting me where I am. I praise you for who you are. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Joshua 23; Acts 3; Jeremiah 12; Matthew 26

My attitude toward God is often one of asking him to do something for me, or to do something for someone else. Indeed, God wants us to pray for ourselves and others. He wants us to make the desires of our hearts known to him.

And yet there are times when I fail to act when God asks something of me. Now, it is true that it is not always easy to know when God is asking something of me. Is it God speaking? Is it a trap set by Satan to tempt me away from God’s true intention? Is this my own selfish desires? But sometimes I analyze too much and act too little.

Other times, what He is asking takes effort. To be honest, the effort is more than I am willing to give. Oh, how that hurts to realize its truth.

In Gethsemane, Jesus asks Peter, James and John to do something. He asks them to pray. Jesus is clear in his request. However, to pray they must stay awake. They fail.

“Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’” Matthew 26:36-37

“Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?’ he asked Peter. ‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.’” Matthew 26:40-41

Jesus goes away to pray and comes back to find them again sleeping.

Peter, James and John loved Jesus. Why could they not do what Jesus asked of them? I do not know.

Dear Lord, I love you and want to please you. When you ask something of me, I want to be willing to act. I am weak. My spirit is willing but my body is weak. I need you to overcome my weakness. You are able. Thank you for going through the agony of Gethsemane and paying the price for my salvation. Amen.    

Diona

 

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Joshua 11; Psalm 144; Jeremiah 5; Matthew 19

God instructs Joshua to decimate his enemies: hamstring the horses and strike down every breathing enemy–man, woman and child. It’s a blood bath…  the stuff of nightmares. These pages of the Bible leave me with far more questions about God than answers. Where is the God of grace and mercy that I cling to? But who is God if I disregard these pages? I am made in God’s image, not He in mine.

And what would Joshua think of the sanitized bubble that I live in? Perhaps he would be envious; war and violence are realities on television and far from me. Perhaps he would be appalled at my comfortable, complacent living.

David, also a man of war saw the horrors of war first hand and sings this: “Blessed be the Lord, my rock who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; my rock and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues the people under me… I will sing a new song to you, O God; upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you, the one who gives victory to kings, who rescues his servant David.” Psalm 144:1,2…9,10.

It’s no wonder that the Jews didn’t understand Jesus. They were looking for a warrior king whose hands were dripping with blood and taking revenge. Instead, comes a king who says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” Matthew 19:14  They wanted a kingdom that they could see, a kingdom where they would be in power.

Who is this God we serve? He can wipe nations from the face of the earth and yet calls the youngest and weakest to draw near to him. Are we are in a spiritual war that is just as deadly and God spares us the horrors of seeing all that is going on around us? Paul says as much and repeats the message God spoke to Joshua and the people of Israel: “Finally be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:10-12.

Dear Lord, keep me from being complacent and naive in thinking that what I see is all that is going on. May I be ready and not deceived by the evil one. Heal me from distraction and chasing from false idols so that I may be your woman and follow hard after you. 

Kathy

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Joshua 9; Psalm 140, 141; Jeremiah 3; Matthew 17

Josh 9:14 The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the LORD.

 

Matt 17:19-21  Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move.  Nothing will be impossible for you.”

What is missing in both of these passages? I believe it is prayer.

In the first passage, the Israelites were deceived by the Gibeonites.   In fear of God and what he had done in Jericho and Ai, the Gibeonites did not want to be destroyed so they pretended to have come a long distance and that they were not a neighbor in the land of Canaan—the land God had promised to the Israelites.  I think because of their previous victories in these countries, there was a little pride in them.  They knew God was with them.  They looked at the evidence presented and believed what they saw and what the Gibeonites said.  So, they made a treaty with them not to harm them.  They swore by the name of God.  It tells us no one ever stopped to pray to God to see what He had to say about all of this.

In the second passage, the disciples had been healing people and driving out demons in Jesus name. Yet they faced one demon in particular that they were unable to rebuke.  The father was desperate and came to Jesus with his son when the disciples were unable to help him.  Jesus healed the boy immediately.  Later they asked Jesus why this one was difficult for them.  His reply was “Because you have so little faith.”

Paul tells us in 2 Cor 5:7 “for we walk by faith, not by sight.” (ESV)  I found this definition of what it means to walk by faith that really gave me a better understanding of this: To walk by faith is to walk in a spirit of prayerful dependence on the Lord and His guidance. (Commentary on Joshua 9, Bible.org)  It is how Jesus daily lived his life.  He was in constant contact with God and he tells us many times he does only what he’s instructed to do by the Father.  Prayerful dependence.

The Israelites believed what they saw and they were deceived. That can easily happen to us.  We have an enemy who wants nothing more than to deceive us and keep us from living the life God has planned for us.  We need the Holy Spirit to be active in our lives and that only comes from prayer.  Each day we need to be on alert.  We need to get our marching orders from God and never trust things to be as they appear.

The disciples started doubting their ability to do what Jesus had told them to do. What they had done for others was not working this time.  They were walking by sight (I can’t do this). Their faith was weak in the power Jesus had given them. Isn’t that just like something I would do?  I have been blessed by God to do something and soon I am trying to do it in my own power instead of including Him, by praying first?  And then I wonder why I am not succeeding?  I don’t believe Jesus was talking about a literal mountain in this verse (although he could have been) but I think he was referring to the trials we face–the ones that seem insurmountable, like mountains, looming before us.  When we are walking by faith, in prayerful dependence of God, we can handle anything that comes our way.  As Jesus said, “Nothing will be impossible for you.”  I fall short of believing in the power I have been given as well.  Without prayer, I have no faith.

Lord, sometimes I forget how very much I need you and try to live life on my own. It never works.  Instead of moving mountains, I keep walking around the same ones and get stuck.  Only through prayerful dependence on you can I accomplish anything.  Only by constant contact with you can I avoid deception.  Lord Jesus, be ever near.  Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

 

 

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Joshua 7; Psalm 137-138; Jeremiah 1; Matthew 15

How hard is it to understand the hand of God in my life?  How many times to I misunderstand the elements of my life and miss the message that He has for me?  Doubt is my enemy.  I do not take the time to examine my own life as the source of my struggles and instead, begin to wonder if the Lord has changed His mind or I have misread His directions.  I am no different than Joshua after his defeat at Ai.

Joshua said, “Ah, Lord God! Why have you brought this people across the Jordan at all, to hand us over to the Amorites so as to destroy us? Would that we had been content to settle beyond the Jordan! – Joshua 7:7 NRSV

I remember vividly the first time I heard Boney M sing By the Rivers of Babylon. I was sixteen, in Germany visiting my aunt and uncle, alone and missing my family.  My life up until that moment was used to singing songs to God in the middle of the night and crocodile tears were part of my nights ritual.  How many times I thought that God might have forgotten me.

By the rivers of Babylon – there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion.  Psalm 137:1 NRSV

This is why God’s Word is so powerful.  God’s call to Jeremiah became my call to intimacy with Him.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” – Jeremiah 1:5 NRSV

The Canaanite woman’s expression of faith became my model of perseverance and of hope.

“Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” – Matthew 15:27 NRSV

Lord, I thank you for the power of Your Word in my life and for the hope that You give me in the midst of my own doubt as to Your presence in my life and to the purpose You have called me.  Without You my life would be lost.  Thank you for calling me every day to a new walk with You.  Thank you for Your grace that calls me and renews me each day to serve You.  May I offer to You today my life that You may use me to glorify Your name. Amen.

evanlaar

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Joshua 5-6:5; Psalms 132-134; Isaiah 65; Matthew 13

Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; It grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.” Matthew 13:31 NLT

I can still remember the tiny pin that my bible study leader was wearing. It had a mustard seed inside it. I didn’t realize how minuscule a mustard seed was until that day. She gifted it to me at a time when I was getting weary of my continual prayer request…week after week, for a house. It  spurred my faith on. So, I kept on asking. God answered. Not in the way I thought, but He provided a house for my family.

I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!” Isaiah 65:24 : NLT

Even after I see God answer big prayers in my life, I can become forgetful. Sometimes my prayer life gets stagnate. I know in my head that God is faithful. Yet, I become like the Israelites and turn to other things. The summer bible study that I am doing says, “We often do everything but pray” (Beth Moore, Breaking Free).

The Lord says, “I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’ to a nation that did not call on my name. All day long I opened my arms to a rebellious people. But they follow their own evil paths and their own crooked schemes. All day long they insult me to my face by worshiping idols in their sacred gardens. They burn incense on pagan altars.” Isaiah 65:2&3 NLT

Because more than anything, I sacrifice peace when I fail to be in His presence. My belief in God’s promises can start to waiver. Instead of focusing on all of His miracles, I can become prideful and my heart can harden.

Where does he get wisdom and the power to do miracles?” Then they scoffed, “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers…Where did he learn all these things? And they were deeply offended and refused to believe him. Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family.” And so he did only a few miracles because of their unbelief.” Matthew 13:54-57 NLT

Thank you Father for pursuing me. Forgive me for when I look to other people and things to fulfill me. You are my only true source of peace. I want to be found in you. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Joshua 5, Psalm 132-134, Isaiah 65, Matthew 13

13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:

“You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
15 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.17 For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. Matthew 13: 10-17

 

There are many times I wonder why God’s word can be so plain to understand for some and not for others. I wonder about that in my own life and with my friends. How is it that I can read God’s word and understand the stories told by Jesus and yet others don’t make the same connections?  There were some parables that Jesus told that were later explained but many were left a mystery.

Truly understanding God’s word doesn’t just happen overnight but through many years of studying, reading, memorizing, and praying. When I was younger, I would read the parable of the sower and wonder which type of seed I was like. I would wonder if I was missing something or if my understanding of the parable was wrong. I was always wondering if I had understood enough of God’s word and believed “enough” to have salvation. Then reading one tiny little line at the end of that story changed everything. Sandwiched in between the story of the sower and Jesus’ purpose for speaking in parables was an important line that changed my thinking.

“Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundred-fold, some sixty, some thirty.” Matthew 13: 8-9

All my life I have felt like I wasn’t doing enough or being enough for the Lord. I believed that if I was really a believer I would be “doing” more than living a mundane, simple life. So, naturally that must mean my soil was bad, my roots not deep and my faith not good enough for salvation. There has often been so much second guessing that I torment myself but this line is a game changer. Jesus said that the seeds that fall in the good soil produce different amounts. He didn’t say one was better than the other for his kingdom or that a greater reward was offered for one or the other. The seed that produced one hundred-fold was not promised anything better than the one that produced thirty.

Our understanding of God’s word (and Jesus’ parables) increases with time as our relationship grows. Our walk with the Lord is not something attained at once or overnight but over many years of study and prayer. The truth is, my faith is never good “enough” and my works are never good “enough”.

Why does the Lord reveal his mysteries to some and not others? Because he is the Lord! That is not for me to understand but I can thank him and praise him for revealing them to me!

Father, thank you for revealing your mysteries in your word through your Holy Spirit. When I am tempted to believe a lie that my faith is too small, remind my heart that Jesus’ death was sufficient, not my works. Amen.

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