“And when Jesus went into Peter’s house, He saw his mother-in-law lying ill with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her; and she got up and began waiting on Him. When evening came, they brought to Him many who were under the power of demons, and He drove out the spirits with a word and restored to health all who were sick. And thus He fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, He Himself took [in order to carry away] our weaknesses and infirmities and bore away our diseases.” Matthew 8:14-17 ->me: When I read this passage this morning, I am reminded of Jesus’ compassion and love for everyone. Yesterday was the story of Jesus healing the Centurion’s servant. In that case, it was the faith of the Centurion that prompted Jesus to heal the boy. Here He helps Peter’s mother-in-law and then casts out demons and heals more sick. In the same story, as told by Mark, Jesus did not allow the demons to talk as He threw them out since they knew Who He was. Jesus is so casual and loving in these passages. To spend time with Him in person was to be around love, compassion, and help. What can I take away from this passage in my plight to be more like Him? How can I be more loving, compassionate, and helpful to those I come in contact with. His work showed Who He was, He didn’t need the demon’s to say Who He was. Jesus, by His actions alone, was performing His ministry. His greatest act of love is yet to come.
“I tell you, many will come from east and west, and will sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, While the sons and heirs of the kingdom will be driven out into the darkness outside, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.” Matthew 8:11-12 ->me: Today in my reading was the story of the Centurion who asked Jesus to heal his sick servant boy in his home. Jesus said He would come to the Centurion’s house but the Centurion said that he was not worthy to have Jesus come into his home and that if Jesus just gave the word, the Centurion knew (had faith) that Jesus could heal his servant boy with just saying so. This is one of only 2 times in the bible that it says Jesus ‘marveled’, in this case, at the Centurion’s faith (the other is Mark 6:6)…so much so that Jesus took the time to explain that Jews are not the only ones who have a seat at the feast in heaven with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Here is where we come to my verses above. Reading the whole bible, taking in God’s character through Isaiah, the Mosaic law in Leviticus, and then the role of Jesus in God’s entire plan, humbles me. To think that I have a place in the Kingdom of heaven and yet some ‘sons and heirs (Jews)’ may not, calls for a reverence and gratitude that is hard to describe. I pray that I would have faith like this Centurion; a faith that ‘marvels’ Jesus. A faith that ‘knows’, living with a daily belief that my King has selected me for His Kingdom. A faith that grows everyday that I am in His word to learn and apply His teaching.
“And behold, a leper came up to Him and, prostrating himself, worshiped Him, saying, Lord, if You are willing, You are able to cleanse me by curing me. And He reached out His hand and touched him, saying, I am willing; be cleansed by being cured. And instantly his leprosy was cured and cleansed.” Matthew 8:2-3 ->me: This is one of those passages where it is important to do a little deep diving into what is going on. Leprosy (and many other skin conditions for that matter) was cause for quarantine during biblical times. Not only were you thought to be super contagious but you were also ‘ceremonial unclean’ (Leviticus 13-14). Other diseases are healed in the New Testament but a leper is ‘cleansed’. The disease was regarded as incurable (1 Kings 5:7). The posture and faith of the leper is what moved Jesus to heal him. In the next verse, Jesus instructs the cured leper to not tell anyone about what has happened and to go straight to the priests and offer the offering of cleansing commanded by Moses; in this way he would be a testament to the healing and as evidence to the people. This whole section of Matthew (miracles) has really one topic -> the power and authority of Jesus. I am most drawn to the ways in which people approach Jesus that move Him to heal them or their loved ones. Posture (acknowledgement of Christ’s position in their lives) and Faith (that Jesus can do the impossible). What is even more is that the leper was ‘cleansed’ as well as ‘cured’. The law was not needed, Jesus Himself is sufficient.
“So everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts upon them [obeying them] will be like a sensible (prudent, practical, wise) man who built his house upon the rock. And the rain fell and the floods came and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.” Matthew 7:24-25 ->me: As you know – Jesus goes on to continue the story talking about the foolish man who built his house upon the sand. When the rain, floods, and wind came and beat against that house, it completely collapsed and was demolished. Everyone will have rain, floods, and winds in their life. The mental state, that living on the Rock gives me, is one of the reaffirming aspects of my faith. How do I explain away the solid trust I have when I lean against the Lord, countered by the dread I feel when I am trying to solve all of my problems my own way? Right now I am reading ‘Trusting God’ by Jeff Bridges. This book lays the ground work for what it means to trust God through life; in the great times and the biggest trials. The author speaks of God’s Sovereignty, God’s Power, and God’s Rule; to which all of these we have a response – a committed reliance on the Truth of God’s word and that He takes care of His children, or a struggle of power to lift God’s hand and tell Him “I’m taking this…”. When we take things on ourselves we turn to idols through pride and unbelief and God releases us to feel the crushing weight of our circumstances. I have learned that depending on Him is a beautiful place to be regardless of my situation.
“Many will say to Me on that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name and driven out demons in Your name and done many mighty works in Your name? And then I will say to them openly (publicly), I never knew you; depart from Me, you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands].” Matthew 7:22-23 ->me: Reading through Matthew verse by verse for my Quiet Times has helped me understand this verse so much better. It has not lost it’s scariness, but it has gotten less unpredictable. How can you know that the Lord Jesus won’t say these words to you at the Day of Judgement? Its all about my heart. Looking back to chapter 6:1-24 is an explanation of how to avoid hearing this terrible phrase “I never knew you…”. When I play Xbox games I tend to be very achievement driven (those of you who play know what I am talking about). I will play a game to get the easy Gamer Points to up my score and affect my cred…but it doesn’t mean I love the game I am playing. I am just playing the game to get the points that make me look better to others. I know this is a weak analogy but it is the best one I can come up with this morning. 🙂 The people in these verses have already received their reward; they likely were prophesying, and driving out demons in Jesus name because they got recognition for it…not because it brought glory to the one and only person Who deserves ALL the glory. Lord please help me to keep my heart directed at You, seeking to do only Your will and in that giving You all the credit and recognition for all that I do in Your Name.
“You willfully recognize them [False Prophets] by their fruits. Do people pick grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? Even so, every healthy (sound) tree bears good fruit [worthy of admiration], but the sickly (decaying, worthless) tree bears bad (worthless) fruit. A good (healthy) tree cannot bear bad (worthless) fruit, nor can a bad (diseased) tree bear excellent fruit [worthy of admiration].” Matthew 7:16-18 ->me: Jesus’ warning of false prophets, and this whole section, quite honestly, is very scary. Yesterday I was listening to a Piper message on the “The free will of the Wind [Spirit]” and how Flesh is borne of Flesh and Spirit is borne of Spirit. Profession in Jesus Christ alone is not evidence that someone is destined for heaven. The fruit of that person will identify the genuineness of their conversion. Change is possible, but if it is to be real, it must be RADICAL, resulting in a new kind of person; not just a new behavior pattern or profession. Profession of discipleship alone will be no protection from the coming judgement. The true judge of one’s conversion is God alone, but a person’s fruit is a good indicator. My take away from the passage today (Matthew 7:15-20) is that I need to search my heart everyday to ensure it is focused on Jesus alone. Focused on understanding His will and purpose for my life and then making that MY purpose. For me, I can very easily become distracted by this world’s matrix of living -> career, family, things, reputation, good works, and tolerance. True living means living for my real home -> an eternity with my Savior in heaven. True living also means being the spiritual head of my home and doing all that I can to prepare my family to see the face of Jesus.
“Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and spacious and broad is the way that leads away to destruction, and many are those who are entering through it. But the gate is narrow (constrained/restricted) and the way is straitened and compressed that leads away to life, and few are those who find it.” Matthew 7:13-14 ->me: I have grown up with the story of the gates but several questions always come to my mind. 1) Is the gate at the beginning or end of the roads, or different places for each road? 2) Does there even need to be a gate for the ‘Broad’ way? Since we are all born into sin we all start on the ‘broad’ road so the ‘narrow’ way must be an option presented along the ‘broad’ road. The ‘narrow’ gate is a deliberate and costly decision (Luke 13:24). This little metaphor Jesus uses gives some complications to pre-destination. Are some people never presented with the ‘narrow’ gate? Are only some people called to see it? For the Calvinist, is the ‘narrow’ gate at the beginning of the ‘narrow’ way and it only swings one way? I’d like to think that everyone sees the ‘narrow’ gate but not everyone desires to accept what’s at the end of it, and the cost of what it is to travel through it, so they never investigate. There is a sidewalk on the ‘broad’ way that feels safer than being in the street but the sidewalk still ends at death and destruction (this is the ‘faith through works’ traveler). The ‘narrow’ way is also straight uphill but God has positioned Himself all along the way to provide the runner with water and encouragement as they go.
“For everyone who keeps on asking receives; and he who keeps on seeking finds; and to him who keeps on knocking, [the door] will be opened. If you, evil as you are, know how to give good and advantageous gifts to your children, how much more will your Father Who is in heaven [perfect as He is] give good and advantageous things to those who keep on asking Him!” Matthew 7:8&11 ->me: These verses sum up how I have learned to pray. Be persistent in prayer. The Lord knows what is best for me and those that I pray for, so the first thing I ask for is that His will and purposes be perfectly completed, and then within that context I ask for what I ask. With Jesus’ words here about the Father giving us ‘good and advantageous things’ I must remember that I would not give Bella, Sophie or Prim something they ask for that I know would harm them or keep them from achieving their goals…well, I know the Lord doesn’t treat me any differently. When I make a request to the Lord and I am persistent in that prayer, I can trust that the Lord will answer that prayer in the best way possible for myself or the person I am praying for. When I have a prayer life that is bathed in daily time with Him and His word, there is huge peace in the faith that God will hear and answer my prayers perfectly; when I am in this place I can not mess it up.