Read Matthew 14

In the first 12 verses, it explains what led to John the Baptist’s death. Immediately in verse 13, you see that Jesus goes by himself to mourn. Obviously Jesus was sad, he went on a boat by himself, but even in the midst of his mourning, he had compassion on his people.

So many times when we’re hurting, whether that be from the loss of a loved one or something we’re personally struggling with, we tend to think of ourselves and our problems. We don’t always realize that someone could potentially need our help.

As Christians, we strive to be more like Christ, and he sets a perfect example for us here. Jesus portrays so much of his character and how we should be in just two verses, verses 13 and 14. It says “when Jesus landed [he] saw a large crowd…” Multitudes of people flocked to Jesus for help, and he did not forsake them. He could’ve sent them away like his disciples suggested so he could continue mourning, but Jesus didn’t leave his people until their needs were met.

Jesus was selfless; he didn’t let what he was going through stop him from helping people that needed him. We should strive to be the same way. No we can’t heal sick people and feed 5 thousand men like Jesus can, but we can show love through our love of Christ in the midst of any suffering.

Matthew 14 is full of different lessons, like that danger of letting your sinful desire overtake you (verses 1-12), or how powerful our God truly is (verses 17-36). I only focused on 2 verses, but too often do we read those 2 verses and just pass over them. There is so much to learn about God, even in 2 simple verses.

Today’s author: Alandra Sales

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Read Matthew 17

Peter, James and John get to go on a field trip with Jesus up on a mountain. As part of the experience they get to see some pretty amazing things. First Jesus is transfigured. The best I can understand that word is that He became something else that He was not before. As a part of the process, His face began to glow and His clothes became dazzling white. Then to top it off, Moses and Elijah show up. (In case you’ve forgotten, they died back in the Old Testament.)

Do you wonder how the disciples knew it was Moses and Elijah? The disciples certainly had never seen a picture of them. Do you think Jesus introduced them? “Moses this is Peter. James this is Elijah. etc” Or perhaps they had on a couple of those “Hello My Name Is” stick on badges.

Ridiculous thoughts, huh? It kinda misses the whole point of what was going on. But it is similar to what the disciples actually did. Rather than watching and listening to this amazing encounter, they start talking about building monuments to honor the occasion. They traded the triumphant for the trivial. In fact, they were even reprimanded by God Himself. “Guys, you are in the presence of the Everlasting. Shut up and listen!”

I think there are probably times God wants to tell us the same thing. Sometimes it may be as we pray. God may want to say, “Just listen. Quit talking and hear Me.” Or maybe during a time of worship. We may let our thoughts begin to trail away from focusing on God. The noise of our cluttered lives begin to fill our mind. And God calls out, “Listen! Hear My Son.”

I’m reminded of the Old Testament verse where God says, “Be still and know that I am God.” A hard task for us. But a task, nevertheless, that we need to learn how to do.

Today’s author: Monty Pierce

Read Matthew 7

7 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

This is a famous passage from Jesus’ sermon on the mount. He addressed the issue of judging others because he knew that is one thing that humanity is very good at, comparing ourselves to others.  We like to evaluate ourselves compared to others so that we can see how we are doing.  We love to look for the faults in the lives of others so that we can feel good about ourselves by comparison.  When meeting someone for the first time we make thousands of judgments about them just from the first encounter.  This teaching from Jesus reminds us that we are all sinful people and that we should not judge others to feel better about ourselves.  We need to do reflection on our lives in order to determine what we need to improve and/or change.

Later in the chapter Jesus provides the golden rule “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.”  This rule can apply specifically to our evaluation of others.  If we do not want others to judge us we should not judge them.  In reality we all have things in our lives that are inferior and need to improve and/or remove.  We would prefer that others would look upon us with compassion and not judgment when our faults are on display.  We would do well to apply the golden rule and do the same for others.  Let us look at others with compassion and not judgment.

Today’s author: Scott Bryant

Read Matthew 13

Matthew 13 is a series of parables told by Jesus that left his audiences dumbfounded. Two thousand years later, I alike am dumbfounded when reading these parables. What is insane to me is that this is Jesus, the actual Son of God, giving exclusive information about the Kingdom of Heaven directly to us humans. I mean that is crazy. God himself, in human form, sitting in a boat at a lake, telling us things that are true about Heaven. One might read these parables and think that they are not a huge deal and that Jesus was just some guy and was just saying some stuff. But if you read these parables with the mindset that you are listening to God himself, directly, then they will indeed blow your mind.
I started out reading Matthew 13 with a bad mindset. A mindset that Jesus was simply telling symbolic stories. And He was doing that, but there is so much more to Matthew 13 than just symbolic stories. Jesus was not only telling parables, but also fulfilling a prophecy! In fact, two prophecies were addressed by Jesus in Matthew 13. The first, in verses 12-15 and the second in verses 34-35, both explaining why Jesus taught in parables. Jesus knew of the prophecies and knew exactly what He was supposed to accomplish in this world. I mean He really does not miss a thing. He was on a mission and He never missed a prophecy. He never contradicted, never sinned, never forgot, never missed a thing. He was simply perfect and so obviously the Son of God. The fact that He was aware of the prophecy He was said to fulfill is proof enough that He was the one prophesied. He was the one and He still is. Matthew 13 personally increased my confidence that Jesus was truly the Son of Man.
​There are five parables in Matthew 13, but I am going to focus on The Parable of The Net because that is the one that frightened me the most. Verses 47-48 says “the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away.” So, the good fish and the bad fish are you and me. And one day, we are all going to be collected by God and separated out to be either tossed into a fire or tossed into an eternity with Christ. When I read this first, I thought “what if I am the bad fish?” I mean what if I was? What if you are? But then I thought about it. Jesus wants the lowest of the lows, we all know that. So maybe what makes a fish good is having the mindset that he is a bad fish. Maybe the fact that I was so quick to think I was unworthy is exactly what Jesus wanted. Those who think that they are worthy are unworthy, and those who think they are unworthy are worthy. Spoiler, but there is no fish that could ever be on the same level as a fishermen, and we will never be on the same level as God. We will always simply be fish. The only thing it takes to be a good fish is to realize how crappy you actually are in comparison to Christ, and a desire to be like Him. With that said, be a humble fish! Recognize how amazing the Son of God was and still is! Realize the relevance of these parables even today, two thousand years later.

Today’s author: Jade Hart

Read Matthew 12

This chapter really attempts to establish that Jesus is not just a great teacher or a moral example for others to follow. Through his teaching and his actions in this chapter Jesus is demonstrating that he is the Son of God.

The Pharisees question Jesus when his disciples pick grain on the Sabbath and Jesus gives them additional ammunition against him as he heals on the Sabbath. In response to their questions and critique, Jesus responds that Sabbath laws are not to be observed so strictly that the physical needs of people have to be ignored. Very simply, Jesus’ disciples are hungry because they have been traveling and they are not near home to enjoy a meal. As a result of their situation Jesus approves of them picking grain on the Sabbath.

The same is true of the physical needs of the people Jesus encountered. What is more important, that the Sabbath law be strictly observed or that human beings can be liberated and freed from their physical pain. Obviously for Jesus, it is far more important that the people be physically restored to health.
To further confound and outrage the disciples, Jesus goes on to quote from the prophet Isaiah and heals and demon possessed man. These actions also indicate to any observer or reader that Jesus is not just a regular man. He has authority to override the laws of God and the power to heal physical deformities. Do we recognize and acknowledge the authority and power of Jesus?
You can almost sense the frustration of Jesus growing as the chapter continues. He finally urges them to look at what he has done. “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.” His actions are proof that he is the Son of God. He brings healing and restoration to others. Healing and restoration that only the Son of God can provide.

Today’s author: Scott Bryant 

Read Matthew 11

People are looking for a Savior today. Oh, not for THE SAVIOR unfortunately. They want a Savior that fits their particular idea of that concept. Maybe it is a politician, diplomat, businessman, or even religious leader. In our passage today, we see that even John the Baptist got confused along with his “disciples”. Jesus reminds them of the evidence of His identity, but it was not necessarily what they wanted to see. Jesus then addresses the confusion in the “crowd” for they also had expectations about John the Baptist that did not pan out the way they thought they would. He was in prison after all. Many had thought he would be able to bring about a great “revival” in the land.
Jesus then says the evidences he points out to John and his disciples are exactly the same as those (vs 21: mighty works) he displayed in the cities and villages where He had been. Although, some had accepted them and Him through childlike faith, most had been expecting something and someone else because they thought themselves wise with better perception (vs. 25). They wanted a Savior, but not one like Jesus. He was too humble, kind, and compassionate to be the anticipated Messiah, the Anointed One. Yet, Jesus was and is He; God’s Son, who in the Father’s gracious will has made Him known to those who will accept Him as He is. He extends the invitation for “all” to come trade their confusion and anxiety about life for a life of peace in Him alone, the only Savior. Where will that peace reside? In the core of our beings, that which we call our hearts or “souls”. He resides in us through the Holy Spirit.
Do you have that peace that comes from being a follower of Jesus? Only He can calm the waves of uncertainty, confusion, and anxiety that the world brings through its self-professed wisdom and understanding.

Today’s author: Randy Babin

 

Read Matthew 10

It was the call that no one wants to get.  “Mom has cancer,” my dad told me.  I was floored.  We ALL were floored.  It came out of nowhere and all of a sudden my family started talking about treatment options, doctors, chemotherapy, insurance claims, wigs and various other cancer-related topics.  It was a difficult time for my family.  Surely you, someone in your family or someone you know has faced cancer as well so I’m sure you can relate.  Today, praise the Lord, my mother is in remission after fighting hard and battling through six rounds of chemo.

I smiled when Monty informed me that I had been assigned to write the devotional for Matthew 10 because this passage served as a timely reminder for my mother during her treatment.  The day she noticeably began losing her hair, in the course of her daily Bible reading, she was directed to this passage:

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.[b] 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

Isn’t it incredible how God works?  In the middle of one of her darkest days, God used His word to remind my mom of His character and love for His creation.  I love that.

Today’s author: Kevin Slocum