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Matthew 9: The Compassion of Jesus

Read Matthew 9:9-38

A Willing Man

After Jesus heals this man and handles the criticism of the Pharisees, He meets Matthew. A tax collector. A despised tax collector. The religious saw this man and those like him as someone who was dirty. “Is he really going to eat with them?” This is what sets Jesus apart.

Jesus is not someone who is afraid of our dirtiness!

Jesus has never been afraid to even touch a leaper. Why would a tax collector make Him shy away from the Father’s Will.

I want to courage of Jesus.

“God, make me much more bold than I have a tendency of being…”

I love how the Voice translation words what is happening right here between the Pharisees and Jesus. He redirects them right back to the Scriptures they would have known and studied. He is reminding them of the eternal truth.

This is why Jesus came. He came for us. He came for the broken. He came for the dirty. He came for sinners like you and me.

“Look, who needs a doctor—healthy people or sick people?
I am not here to attend to people who are already
right with God; I am here to attend to sinners. In the book of
the prophet Hosea, we read, “It is not sacrifice I want, but
mercy.” Go and meditate on that for a while—maybe
you’ll come to understand it (vv. 12-13).”

Jesus proves this truth repeatedly in the New Testament. Read Matthew 9:18-38, and you will get just a glimpse of this.

The Joyful Healing

There is no better way to describe what happens in a person’s spirit when they call upon the name of the Lord and experience His healing. It doesn’t matter if it is physical, emotional, or spiritual healing. The inward change is the same: Absolute joy! How do you stand in need of His healing touch today?

Just in this small portion, we are reminded of quite a few number of families that are forever changed! For the full list, visit Matthew 9:18-33 found in your Bible. Stories like this one, where Jesus drives out the demons and a mute man may speak – leaving the crowd in utter amazement (see vv. 33).

We know the heart of our Savior. He is the One who utterly cares. Even when we are at our worst, He is at His best!

“Whenever crowds came to Him, He had compassion for
them because they were so deeply distraught, malaise,
and heart-broken. They seemed to Him like
lost sheep without a shepherd (vv. 36).”

At This Point…

Jesus directs His disciples to the position they should take. To pray. Jesus instructed His disciples to pray that God would send more workers. There are plenty who stand in need, but no one to go to them. Like the Pharisees, we want to keep our distance. But, Jesus calls us to GO! We need to begin in prayer. “Lord, send the right workers – so others know You and the power You hold!”

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Devotions

Matthew 8: When God Heals…

A man with leprosy came and knelt before him
and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you
can make me clean (Mt. 8:2, NIV).”

The truth of Matthew 8 is – our God is a healer! Not only is our God the One gives life its power, He is the One who stands willing to heal.

A leaper is healed.

A paralyzed servant is made well.

Peter’s mother in law goes from sick in bed with a fever to actively serving and waiting on Jesus.

Many go from demon-possessed to fully sane and now well – no longer being tormented by the evil one.

By a word from Jesus, all these who were once sick were made well.

By a word from Jesus, there is spiritual, emotional, and physical healing taking place. How have we come to Jesus for His healing in our circumstances, relationships, emotion well-being, and many other areas that need healing? We don’t have to settle for “good enough” when we could have the absolute BEST!!

In the Scriptures…

There are a few particular verses that stand out to me. I love the truth found in the Words of God. God, though is holy, is speaking life into our dead – sin – induced situations. He is pouring His life into ours, so we don’t have to walk through a bottomless pit anymore! God is bringing life and healing to us. Though we are needing healing, we often don’t go right to the Source.

He took up our infirmities and bore
our diseases (Is. 53:4).”

In these Scriptures, we learn that healing is found in Jesus alone! We are reminded of the prophesy given to us by God’s prophet Isaiah that – God’s Son (Jesus Christ) bore our sins, its death, and diseases. He took everything to the cross. We don’t have to wait around for God to heal us, because He is doing His healing work right now IF we will just come before Him!

‘But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead
bury their own dead (vv. 22).”’

Jesus came to give us life and healing, but we need to recognize where the freedom and healing lies. It is found in Jesus alone. What is keeping you from choosing to follow Jesus in your daily life? What is keeping you from surrendering that relationship or job to God alone and how He is teaching you how to handle it through His Word, prayer, and the Holy Spirit?

When we come to Jesus… for life and healing, we need to stay with Jesus. When we stay in His Presence, we are reminded of just how much more God can do on our behalf than what we can do. But, we gotta keep the faith. We need to keep seeking. We need to keep trusting Him. That’s one thing that He rebuked His disciples for. When the storm came, they got scared and misplaced their faith in whom they were with. Jesus is all-knowing, as well as all-powerful. He will take care of us, just like He took care of them!

‘The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man
is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him (vv. 27)!”’

His Care

Read Matthew 8:28-34.

As we remember that Jesus will take care of us, we need to keep this reminder close – He won’t always do things our way. There will be time in our lives, when things are done the very opposite of our way. But, it’s okay. This is about the good work God is doing in you. This is not about how close you can achieve this world’s version of perfection in your life. Perfection isn’t possible. We are human. We need to keep our focus on Jesus and the out-of-this-world things He is wanting to do.

Life is messy.

God sent His Son Jesus Christ on a bloody rugged cross to take yours and my sins off our shoulders, and to pay the brutal price. If Jesus is willing to go through all that on our behalf, He has AMAZING things in store.

But, we have to count the cost of following Him.

And, let Him lead in our lives.

Knowing – the blessings that will result.

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Devotions

Matthew 7: Selecting the Sacred

“Don’t give precious things to dogs. Don’t cast your pearls
before swine. If you do, the pigs will trample the pearls with
their little pigs’ feet, and then they will turn back
and attack you(Mt. 7:6, VOICE).”

As soon as we begin reading Matthew 7, we are met with this realization that we need to utilize standards. God-given standards. We need standards of grace and right living, if we want to receive that kind of critique from others (see Mt. 7:1-2). People are imitators by nature. This is why scaffolding is such a highlight in the education department. We are taught that others repeat what they see, the same is true when it comes to issuing judgment: “What we do to others, will be done to us (vv. 12).”

God-Given Standards

Scripture makes it clear that the sacred is not reserved for animals. If we give the sacred to the unworthy, it is like tossing these things in the trash. Instead, we are called to be in prayer and allow God to set our standards.

“Just ask and it will be given to you; seek after it
and you will find. Continue to knock and
the door will be opened for you (vv. 7).”

In verse 6, we learn that… things treasured by us aren’t treasured by everyone. We know that there are those who trample over the truths of Jesus found in God’s Word and seek to attack it any opportunity they get.

Bottom line for us as believers, we need to choose the sacred. We need to choose Jesus. We need to allow God to cultivate the standards that we have for our lives. We need to make God’s Word our solid foundation, by simply being with Him and taking the time to allow His Word to get in our spirits – even beginning the work of our transformation given to us by God through His Holy Spirit.

Application: Choosing Sacredness…

When I consider this verse, it is home-hitting. How often have I squandered the things meant for God, and given them away to just anyone?

Know Your Treasure

The first step lies in valuing the sacred. These are the things of God. We need to hold them closer than anything else. God, His Word, prayer, His Church, and His commandments. We need to hold them close! And, know the value of what you hold close. When we know the value, we won’t toss the sacred to pigs who don’t know its worth.

Wisely Decide

When I think of this verse, it makes me hesitate my life decisions. I need to think and pray, not run to just… whatever. Whether it is a guy, new friend opportunity, or something else. I need to keep Jesus closer. Keep His plans and promises closer than anything else. The real worth is in His, and I can’t keep giving away to sacred (time, talents, thoughts, emotions) to whatever comes my way. I need to know the worth of my Savior, and let Him fully direct my decisions!

How about you? Where do you find yourself today?

In Closing….

I encourage you read the Word of God, pray (talk with Him), and begin handing over the contains of your life. Maybe, God has given you time – but you have squandered it on the things of this world. Perhaps, you have tossed your God-given standards out the window over a friend/family. Begin giving it over to Him.

In verses 13-27, we are reminded that Jesus wants us to meet Him one day in heaven. He wants us to avoid the road of death, and keep choosing the sacred (Him) over the things of this day – the sinful things. We need to resolve to keep choosing Jesus. We need to keep pursuing the sacred, over the sin we are tempted by.

We need to allow God’s standards to be the foundation for our lives!

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Devotions

Matthew 6: Motives and Motions of Worship

“But when you do these righteous acts, do not do
them in front of spectators
. Don’t do them where
you can be seen, let alone lauded, by others. If
you do, you will have no reward from your
Father in heaven.” – Matthew 6:1, VOICE

Scripture reminds us that we need to be careful how we worship God. A lot of times, we can get caught up in the motions and end up gloating about our “worship practices”. Jesus makes it clear that if we do our righteous acts (praying, fasting, charity, serving) with the intention of receiving praise from others, then that is our reward.

We will have lost our true reward, given to us by God alone!

This may be an intentional act, or perhaps not-so-intentional. It can be “easy” to get caught up in wanting others’ attention, but we lose our reward. Our heavenly reward is why we offer praise and worship to God. We need to guard our hearts, and be careful how we worship.

We need to keep our gaze heavenward, by staying focused on Jesus Christ – the One whom has given us life!

The Difference?

Outwardly, our worship may look the same.
But inwardly, the difference between heart-felt worship and vying for human attention – well, it makes all the difference. Doesn’t it?

Deliberate

We need to get deliberate in how we worship. How is the worship we do for God alone? Be careful not to get caught up in the motions and letting people know what you are doing.

In verse 24, we are reminded that we can’t serve two masters. It doesn’t matter if it is money or something else. Our hearts are still revealed by whom we will serve. Will we become self-seeking/serving, or live for our audience of One?

“For where your treasure is,
there your heart will be also (vv. 21).”

Focus

We are called to keep our eyes on God.

Not to our left.
Not to our right.
Nowhere, except for on Jesus Christ and His Word.
Keeping our focus on God alone!

Today’s highlighted passage focuses our attention on considering the kind of worship we offer to God. How will we choose to worship God, and do it solely for Him today? Don’t get caught up in the motions today. Choose God alone, and seek His face.

What Are You Looking At?

Remember, as you focus on the Lord Jesus today, that He loves you. He will provide for you. When we worship, it is about choosing to give to God all that we are, knowing that when we do it for Him – we don’t miss any rewards. And, His rewards – are far better than anything this world could ever offer us.

More than the rewards, it is just about being with our Savior and presenting our offering. It is making the deliberate decision not to become Cain-like and offer our left-overs. It is choosing to glorify God with our minds, hearts, souls, and body. Knowing, God will honor every single sacrifice we bring to Him.

When Jesus speaks of eyes and light, He means all
people should keep their eyes on God because the
eyes are the windows to the soul (VOICE Commentary)…

“Seek first the kingdom of God and His
righteousness, and then all these things will be
given to you too. So do not worry about tomorrow.
Let tomorrow worry about itself. Living faithfully is a
large enough task for today (vv. 33-34).

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Devotions

Matthew 5

Read Matthew 5.

The Setting

Matthew 5-7, commonly known as the “Sermon on the Mount”, is one of the most well known teaching of Jesus. I use the term well known loosely. Why loosely? Because I can know what Jesus teaches me and not apply it to my daily life.

The things discussed here in this chapter are important things that we need to not only know in our hearts, but apply to our daily lives. They are relational things. Thus, important things. How we relate to God and one another, are pretty important stuff.

And, this is how it all began:

“When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. He opened His mouth and began to teach them… (Mt. 5:1-2, NASB)”

It is here that Jesus boldly proclaims the truths about His Awesome Kingdom. It is here that Jesus reminds us that His Kingdom is nothing like this world!

The Kingdom of God

We just heard that the Kingdom of God had come near. Jesus is about to rock our world, with just a small glimpse of what He means. We are reminded of this Kingdom (or way) of God with John the Baptist in chapter 3 where we are reminded of a great need we have.

We have a great need for our God!

“Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near (Mt. 3:2, NLT).”

The Ways of God

Jesus reminds us that He didn’t come to bring peace, but a sword (see Mt. 10:34). Jesus has not come, so that we may live comfortably (see Mt. 16:24). Those who choose to follow Jesus will have to decide whom they will follow. They must answer the question – “Whom shall I serve?” (see Josh. 24:14-15).

See each day, we make this choice. Jesus’ Kingdom and our world have opposing values (IE. 1 Jn. 2:15-17).

This World

From Matthew 5, we read that we are to love our enemies. This is just one of several important truths we are met with today from our time spent in the Word of God. We know that this world celebrates when we retaliates over our enemies. But, God has a very different way, a very distinct way.

While this world celebrates retaliation over our enemies, Jesus teaches us that He loves them… He loves them, just as much as He loves us. He has demonstrated to us His kind of love, that extends to all of the human race. Just as the Father loves them, we are called to exit this ideal that it’s somehow okay to bully our enemies and to love them instead.

When we operate our lives based on God’s Kingdom, many things change as a result! Before we can change the world or be a light to the outside world, we must first turn to God ourselves, confess and forsake sin (turn away from it), and allow His Kingdom ways to rock our world!

But, He…

… has come to reconcile us to Him. He has come, so that we might taste and see that He is both fully God and good! The ways of God’s Kingdom are of such great importance for us, as believers in Christ Jesus! But before anything else happens, we have to be willing to step into His Kingdom. Coming to Jesus, is step one. The most beautiful step of them all.

The Hard Things

In Matthew 5, Jesus covers a few topics. Each are important for us to grasp and to help us in our relationship with God through Jesus Christ! These are not fluffy truths for us to share to others, but not allow God to use them to shape our lives in His Kingdom. These truths are not comfortable. Ever try  loving your enemy in the way described in the Word of God? But, this is where the God of the universe shows us who He is. It is in the really hard things, that God gets the glory!

Question –

How is God revealing to you the ways that His Kingdom is different from this world? What will your response be to the different values – cleave to Christ or the things of this world?