February 3, 2012

Today you should read: Matthew 15:21-39

Jesus is the Lord of the Impossible.

In today’s reading, we encounter 3 stories: (1) Jesus heals the daughter of a Canaanite woman, (2) Jesus heals many people through His journey, and (3) Jesus feeds the 4,000. All three of these narratives remind us of the power that Jesus had even in His earthly form.

The Canaanite woman had a daughter who was demon-possessed. She was following Jesus and the disciples, mourning over the state of her child. And what did the disciples do? Did they minister to her? Did they pray for her? Did they ask Jesus for help concerning this woman? Nope, they missed the boat again. The very thing they were being taught to do by Jesus was the thing they were trying to avoid in this moment: ministry. Jesus rebuked them by saying, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” In response to the woman’s faith, Jesus healed her daughter and gave the disciples renewed perspective. I think many of us can learn from this today.

Don’t be too busy or wrapped up in your “religion” to meet the needs of people around you.

I do want to address Jesus’ use of the word “dog” in this passage. Many Jews derogatorily referred to Gentiles as dogs, but I don’t believe that this is what Jesus was doing here. Here’s a study note that was helpful for me:

Jews frequently insulted Gentiles by calling them dogs, which in ancient Palestine were wild, homeless scavengers. But the form Jesus uses here (Gk. kynarion, “little dog”) suggests a more affectionate term for domestic pets. Jesus is not insulting the woman but testing her faith. ESV Study Bible

Now regarding the second mass-feeding of Jesus’ ministry…

I had the opportunity to share with you this summer on the feeding of the 5,000 which is found one chapter earlier. Today’s story is the feeding of 4,000 men, but if you include women and children, a better count would be between 7,000-10,000 people. Many of us forget that this is a different account than the one found in Matthew 14 (I did, until my first year of seminary). Jesus was so powerful that He did this twice!

The main thrust of my message was this: “Jesus used humble means to do a supernatural miracle.” He used fish and bread — enough for maybe one family — to feed thousands of people. While this is a great Bible story, the application is clear for us today. Some of you reading this may feel like you can’t be used by God, that God can’t possibly make much of your life. Maybe you think that you’ve made too many mistakes, you’re a screw up, your untalented, you’re too young, too old, your washed up, you have nothing to offer.

If God can use a few fish and a little bread to feed thousands, He can definitely use you. BELIEVE IT. Humble yourself as clay in the Potter’s hands and watch what He will do.

You can listen to my message on the feeding of the 5,000 here.

Posted by: Todd Thomas

February 2, 2012

Today you should read: Matthew 15:1-20

This passage rocks my world every time I read it! It is very convicting…

The pious religious leaders ask Jesus a question… although it’s not really a question. Like always, they are trying to trick and discredit Him.

Their accusation this time, centers around the fact that His disciples aren’t obeying their ceremonial hand wash law. When they ask Jesus why, He uses it as a time to expose their wicked hearts.

Jesus immediately replies by asking them questions of the heart…

Why do YOUR traditions violate the direct commandments of God?
…you cancel the Word of God for the sake of your own traditions.

Then Jesus really lets them have it! You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’”

It’s what Jesus says next that really cuts to my heart…

It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.”

For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander.

Ken Whitten, my friend and pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church always said, “What’s down in the well will come up in the bucket!”

When I began to think about this I came under deep conviction. I’m not always proud of what comes up in my bucket – but this reveals even a deeper problem.

All of that must come from somewhere! It does – my evil heart.

It leads us to pray what David prayed in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, 
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

What’s been coming up in your bucket? [ie your words, your actions, your habits]
Focus on the real problem – the problem’s not the bucket – it’s the well! Ask God to purify you through the Word (John 17:17) and change for His glory!

Posted by: Tim Parsons

February 1, 2012

Today you should read: Matthew 14:22-36

Do not be afraid…

Jesus has been with His disciples for some time now. Jesus has shown that He is Lord. He has healed sickness and spoken truth. Now, Jesus shows just how far His Lordship goes. He is Lord over everything, even nature.

Today’s “Walk-a-Way”

Knowing that Jesus is Lord isn’t some philosophical statement that we say as Christians. Knowing that Jesus is Lord over all things allows us to trust Him. It allows us to be bold. It allows us to take risks for God. It allows us to walk with confidence in a world that is against us. It allows us to attempt big things for God and to expect big things from God.

Here, the disciples are frightened when they see Jesus walking on the water. Jesus responds to them by saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” What calming and inspiring words from our Lord. Behind that statement Jesus is saying, “don’t worry, I control everything. Nothing is outside my control. No situation, no thing of nature, no evangelistic effort, no family problem; nothing. Nothing is outside my control.” So, He says…”DO NOT BE AFRAID!”

You see the command of “not to fear” is not hanging out there without a promise attached to it. It is not something that Jesus says without giving us a foundation of promise to rest on. His command not to fear is resting on the promise that He is Lord of all creation!

Then Peter steps out on the water. He had been with Jesus; He had seen Jesus’ Lordship. Jesus had done miracles over and over in his life. He had trusted and followed Jesus. And now, Peter sees the wind and the waves and begins to lose faith in Jesus. Then He begins to sink. He cries out in distress and distrust. Jesus looks at him and says, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

The same thing is true in our lives. We have followed Jesus, we have seen Him perform miracles in our lives, and we have trusted Him and watched His faithfulness to us. And then, what happens? We begin to doubt. We face a tough situation or a stretching scenario, and our unbelief begins. We focus on our situations and we doubt that Jesus is Lord and that He has everything under His control! We cry out with the same distress as Peter. But O US of little faith. He is in control!

Jesus is calling us not to be afraid! To not doubt! To trust that He is in control and is able to save us from any and all situations! Have faith. Do not be afraid! Trust Jesus and His Lordship! There are promises behind His command.

Posted by: Sam Cirrincione

January 31, 2012

Today you should read: Matthew 14:1-21

I saw something reading this passage today that I have never seen in the many times I have read it before. This passage really shows us both sides to Jesus.

One side (verses 13, 14, and 16) is Jesus’ humanity. Jesus felt sadness at the loss of His friend and cousin John. He also showed His compassion and love for the people who had followed Him for miles on foot. These people were probably poor and hungry but desired to see and hear Jesus so much that they made the trip.

The “flip” side is His power and authority as God. In this familiar story, Jesus takes a small amount of food and, after praying for it, begins to pass it out and feed the crowd. I don’t think we really grasp how amazing this story is. We here it so often and have told our children the story so many times it had lost some of its wonder to us. Jesus fed around 10,000 people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 small fish! That is something only God can do and we should be in awe and wonder every time we read this story.

Two things for us to take away from this passage today:

1. Jesus is both fully man and fully God. This gives us hope and assurance that Jesus both, understands us (Hebrews 4:15) and has the power to help us. (Hebrews 4:16) Jesus knows who you are and loves you anyway so don’t be afraid to go to Him with everything in your life, He wants you to lean on Him.

2. Jesus can use every little thing in our lives that we are willing to give Him and He can turn them into big things for His work. What are you holding back from God? Your time? Money? Service? Family? What are the things you need to give to Jesus so He can multiply them greatly? Take time today and tell Him what they are and that they are His. Then start giving them to Him.

Posted by: Robbie Byrd