They Understood More

Today’s Reading: Matthew 16:5-28; Mark 8:14-9:1; Luke 9:18-27


Later, after they crossed to the other side of the lake, the disciples discovered they had forgotten to bring any bread. “Watch out!” Jesus warned them. “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

At this they began to argue with each other because they hadn’t brought any bread. Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said, “You have so little faith! Why are you arguing with each other about having no bread? Don’t you understand even yet? Don’t you remember the 5,000 I fed with five loaves and the baskets of leftovers you picked up? Why can’t you understand that I’m not talking about bread? So again I say, ‘Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’”

Then at last they understood that he wasn’t speaking about the yeast in bread, but about the deceptive teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. – Matthew 16:5-12

Have you ever met someone who takes everything you say literally? The use of sarcasm goes right past them and they look at you with a puzzled expression, trying to figure out why you said what you said. Then there is that person that uses the term “literally” while exaggerating, making their statement impossible. For example, “I have literally told you this a million times!” Oh, if they only literally understood the definition of the word “literally”.

The disciples were struggling with distinguishing when Jesus was speaking to them in literal terms and when he was speaking figuratively. He often spoke to them in parables but they still have not figured out how to relate the words of Jesus to real life situations. They are missing the meaning of what Jesus is trying to teach them because they are thinking in human terms instead of spiritual concepts.


Jesus understands their confusion and patiently goes back to square one with them:

“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
“Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”
Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”
Simon answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being…”
– Matthew 16:13b-17

You can almost hear Jesus patiently saying – Okay, I was just checking to make sure you remember who I really am because it seems to me like you still do not get it. How often do we need reminded of who God is when we are going through a time of uncertainty? Our Heavenly Father is revealing Himself to us if we will simply look beyond our earthly understanding to see things from God’s perspective.

When they arrived in Bethsaida, some people brought a blind man to Jesus, and they begged him to touch him. Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village. Then, spitting on the man’s eyes, he laid his hands on him and asked, “Can you see anything now?”

The man looked around, “Yes,” he said, “I see people, but I can’t see them very clearly. They look like trees walking around.”

Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again, and his eyes were opened. His sight was completely restored, and he could see everything clearly. – Mark 8:22-25


Jesus knew that the disciples’ understanding was blurry, just like the man’s vision. He had taken them from complete darkness to a fuzzy understanding. Now it was time to speak plainly. Now it was time for Jesus to reveal to them what was ahead.

From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples PLAINLY that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.

But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!”

Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” – Matthew 16:21-23

My prayer for all of us is that God would reveal much to us today. I pray that God will help us to see beyond our limited, human point of view to His heavenly perspective. I pray for moments today when we are reminded of whom we serve and how powerful He is. No situation or circumstance is too big for Him.

Heavenly Father, give us eyes to see beyond our human point of view and increase our understanding of how things look from YOUR perspective. We love you and we trust you today – literally! Amen.

They Demanded More

Today’s Reading: Matthew 15:1-39, 16:1-4; Mark 7:1-37, 8:1-13

One day some teachers of religious law and Pharisees came to Jesus and said, “Teacher, we want you to show us a miraculous sign to prove your authority.” – Matthew 12:38


The Pharisees demanded miraculous signs from Jesus. There was a popular expectation in Jewish tradition that the Messiah would perform spectacular miracles on demand when he arrived. So to test whether or not Jesus was the Messiah, the Jewish leaders demanded that he perform for them.

But Jesus replied, “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights…” – Matthew 12:39-40


Here Jesus was revealing to him THE most incredible thing that would happen in all of history and they missed it. The people of Ninevah had repented when they heard Jonah’s message but the Jewish leaders refused to repent when they heard the gospel message straight from the Son of Man’s lips. The queen of Sheba had traveled a great distance to hear words of wisdom from Solomon and she was not disappointed at what she found, yet the Pharisees refused to listen to the words of wisdom spoken by someone SO much greater than Solomon (12:41-42).

Jesus told the religious leaders that he would spend three days and three nights in the heart of the earth or the grave, and it was as if they never heard him. Instead of listening closely and finding the miracle Jesus was revealing, the Pharisees DEMANDED AN EXPLANATION from Jesus.

“Why do your disciples disobey our age-old tradition of ceremonial hand washing before they eat.” – Matthew 15:2

Jesus answered their demanding question with a demanding question of his own: “And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God? For instance, God says, ‘Honor your father and mother,’…” (Matthew 15:3-4a).

Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “Listen,” he said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.”

Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?”

Jesus replied, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted, so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.”

Then Peter said to Jesus, “Explain to us the parable that says people aren’t defiled by what they eat.”

“Don’t you understand yet?” Jesus asked. “Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer. But the words you speak come from the heart –that’s what defiles you. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying and slander. These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.” – Matthew 15:10-20


Then Matthew gives us a direct contrast between what is in the heart of the Jewish leaders and what is in the heart of one Gentile woman. Her daughter was possessed by a demon who was tormenting the daughter severely. With the intense love of a mother whose daughter is suffering, this woman continued to beg Jesus to heal her daughter – even to the point that the disciples begged him to make her go away. The Jewish people, including the disciples, did not want to share Jesus with the Gentiles, whom they considered below them. Jesus, knowing their hearts, had this conversation for their benefit:

Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep – the people of Israel.”

But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!”

Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”

She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their master’s table.”

“Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed. – Matthew 15:24-28


While the Jewish leaders were demanding miraculous signs and explanations (Matthew 16:1-4), this Gentile woman was simply worshiping Jesus and HUMBLY BEGGING for a miracle. She received what she wanted because she came to Jesus with words that revealed her heart – a heart of faith.

This woman was not the only Gentile to display a heart of faith. Many brought their lame, blind, crippled, mute and sick to Jesus to be healed. They were amazed when Jesus healed them. Word spread fast among the people of how wonderful Jesus was. For three days they stayed near Jesus in anticipation of what he was about to do. Jesus had compassion and fed 4000 men, along with the women and children, with only seven loaves and a few small fish. They displayed a heart of faith and experienced the miracle of satisfaction.

So where do I sit on this continuum between those who try to serve a “Jesus on demand” and those whose life reveals a heart of faith? Do I ever demand a miracle from God or demand an explanation for something He has allowed in my life?

Lord, give us a heart of faith as evidenced by the life we live and the words we speak. As we worship you, may you be pleased with the heart of our worship. We thank you for giving your life on a cross for our salvation. We worship you today with hearts wide open so that you can reveal in us anything that needs changed and transplant your own desires into us. We love you! Amen.

They Wanted More

Today’s Reading: Matthew 14:34-36; Mark 6:53-56; John 6:22-71

“Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do?” – John 6:30

This was the ridiculous comment the crowd said to Jesus just after he had fed the 5000 with only five barley loaves and two fish. They were following Jesus that day because they saw his miraculous signs as he healed the sick. Then God provided for their physical needs in an amazing way, similar to when He provided the manna from Heaven for their ancestors. But apparently healing the sick and feeding 5000 people with a child’s sack lunch were not enough for this group.


They wanted more and so do we. How often does God provide over and over again for us, yet we sit back and say, “I’ve never experienced a miracle” or “I wish God would move in a mighty way”? God provides for our needs yet we desire more. We look at what others have around us and see what we do not have, rather than focusing in on what God has so generously given us.

Jesus calls out to us today just as he did to the crowd in John 6:35: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” He says to stop getting caught up in the perishable things this world has to offer – these things do not even last. “Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you” (John 6:27).

Then, it wasn’t enough that the crowd was able to witness miraculous signs in the lives of others, they wanted the ability to perform these miracles themselves – they wanted power and glory.

They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?”
Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”
– John 6:28-29

At times our focus is on the desire for God to do something great and mighty through us for others to see, just as this crowd requested the ability to perform God’s works. But God’s response to us may be the same as it was to the crowd – to first seek Him, consume Him, believe in Him and fully experience life through Him.

“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.” – John 6:47-51

“I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. I live because of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on me will live because of me. I am the true bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever.” – John 6:53-58


It is as if God is saying – I can answer your prayers and provide for your needs here on earth, I am capable of that. I can once again show you my generosity and you can experience the miracle of My provision, but I want to provide you with so much more than what you are asking for. I can heal you of your physical problems or diseases but you will still die eventually. I am offering you something so much greater – I am offering you eternal life!

Perhaps the miracle is not in the provision but in the satisfaction. We know that God is able to provide – the moment of surprise is when we rest in His care, trusting and believing in Him whether or not He provides as we have asked. The miracle is in our satisfaction with what God has done and will do according to His will. Consume the Bread of Life and you will experience the miracle of satisfaction.

For some, this was too much. For some, they would not allow themselves to be satisfied with who Jesus was and what Jesus asked of them.


At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?”

Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.” – John 6:68-69

For these twelve apostles, Jesus was enough. They were satisfied that he truly was the bread of life and they were determined to follow Him in pursuit of the answers instead of walking away when they didn’t fully understand. Jesus was enough. Or at least he was for eleven of them. It was at this point that Jesus identified the dissatisfaction of Judas, the Iscariot.

And what about us? Will we be satisfied with all Jesus has to offer us or will we turn away and desert Jesus?

Faith to Walk on Water

Today’s Reading: Matthew 14:1-33; Mark 6:14-52; Luke 9:7-17; John 6:1-15

“Give as freely as you have received.” – Matthew 10:8b

After giving these instructions to his disciples, Jesus received some heartbreaking news. Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee, had promised the daughter of his favorite wife anything she wanted because she performed a dance that greatly pleased him. She chose the head of John the Baptist on a tray. Pressured by the fact that he had made this vow in front of all of his guests who were waiting for his answer, Herod ordered her wish to come true and John the Baptist was beheaded.

As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone… – Matthew 14:13a

Can you imagine how Jesus must have felt when he heard of the death of his cousin? The man whose purpose in life was to prepare the way for him had just been killed in a brutal and dishonoring way. Jesus, feeling the same emotions any of us would have felt, retreated to an area where he could grieve alone. He had spent so many days reaching out to others and taking care of the needs of many but now it was time for him to take care of his own needs. Or was it?

But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns. Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. – Matthew 14:13b-14

Having more compassion for others than he had love for himself, Jesus reached out to others in response to their reaching out to him. This is who Jesus was and this is who Jesus is today. When we reach out to him, he responds to us. Jesus responds to our needs with compassion, which is exactly what he did next.

That evening the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” – Matthew 14:15

This is your chance, Jesus! It’s getting late and the crowd is getting hungry. This is the perfect opportunity for us to lose this crowd and have some alone time.

But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary – you feed them.”
“But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” they answered.
“Bring them here,” he said. Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up from heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. About 5000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!
– Matthew 14:16-21

Instead of sending the people away, Jesus invited them to sit and allow him to supply their needs. He broke bread and they ate as much as they wanted. The great love of our Savior was displayed that day. At a time when tradition and human reasoning both gave him a reason to pull inward and enter a time of grieving, Jesus had compassion on others and thought more of their needs than his own. What a great example for us today. But now the crowds have been fed and Jesus can spend some time alone with his Father – not just apart from the crowds but even apart from his disciples.

Immediately after this, Jesus insisted his disciples get into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.

Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”

But Jesus spoke to them at once, “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”

Then Peter called out to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
“Yes, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over to the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him, “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” – Matthew 14:22-31

Jesus took time to be alone with God but did not turn away from the needs of others. I strongly believe in taking time to grieve, I strongly believe in spending time alone in God’s presence. God calls us to this. But He also calls us to walk away from that time filled with Him in such a way that we are ready to care more about others than we do about ourselves. Ouch! This is not always easy to do.

Lord, thank you for the compassion you daily show on your people. You are a God who supplies our needs and meets us at our time of crisis with the words, “Don’t be afraid. Take courage. I am here!” Only you know what lies before us this week. As we fill ourselves with Your presence, please go with us. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear the needs of others around us. May we focus on you and in doing so see others, rather than focusing on our own needs. In your power, may we experience the kind of faith that has us walking on water – believing that you will supply our needs so that we can turn our eyes off our own situation and see the opportunities around us. Amen.

Working in His Fields

Today’s Reading: Matthew 10:1-42; Mark 6:7-13; Luke 9:1-6; Psalm 94

“The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” – Matthew 9:37b-38

Right after saying this, Jesus called his twelve disciples together and equipped them for ministry. He gave them the authority to cast out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and illness. He gave them instructions for ministry that are still helpful to us.

Be generous.

“Give as freely as you have received.” – Matthew 10:8b

Be wise.

“Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.” – Matthew 10:16

Be opportunistic.

“But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me.” – Matthew 10:17-18

Be filled with the Spirit.

“When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. For it is not you who will be speaking – it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” – Matthew 10:19-20

Be a humble follower of Christ.

“Students are not greater than their teacher, and slaves are not greater than their master. Students are to be like their teacher, and slaves are to be like their master. And since I, the master of the household, have been called the prince of demons, the members of my household will be called by even worse names!” – Matthew 10:24-25

Be strong.

“Don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all.” – Matthew 10:26

Be a voice.

“What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear!” – Matthew 10:27

Be God-fearing.

“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both body and soul in hell.” – Matthew 10:28

Be aware you are valuable to God.

“What is the price of two sparrows – one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” – Matthew 10:29-31

Be loyal and true.

“Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.” – Matthew 10:32-33

Be faithful and put God above everyone else, including yourself.

“If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” – Matthew 10:37-39

Be the body of Christ.

“And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.” – Matthew 10:42

When Jesus had finished giving these instructions to his twelve disciples, he went to teach and preach in towns throughout the region. – Matthew 11:1

Jesus did not just set up a classroom and teach his disciples by what he said, he taught them by how he lived. He ate with them and walked with them. By doing life with the disciples, Jesus was strategically positioned to teach them and to show them love. Jesus became an example of what it means to truly BE about the Kingdom of God – how to BE a servant and how to BE a follower. Now it is our turn to BE all God calls us to BE.

Psalm 94:12 – Joyful are those you discipline, Lord, those you teach with your instructions.

Going Back Home

Today’s Reading: Luke 4:16-30; Matthew 13:53-58; Psalm 14 & 46

When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came.
Then Jesus returned to Galilee, filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. Reports about him spread quickly through the whole region. He taught regularly in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
– Luke 4:13-15

After 40 days of being tempted by the devil in the wilderness (4:2), Jesus returns home – not worn out and beat up by the devil’s attempts to destroy him but rather “filled by the Holy Spirit’s power.” I love this! With the same love, God strengthens us through the power of the Holy Spirit as we go through difficult times. At the end of our trial, we are often stronger than we were before the hard times arrived.

By this time, word has spread throughout the region about Jesus and everyone seems pleased with what he is teaching in their synagogues. He is in his homeland, but now it is time to return to the village where he grew up – Nazareth. It is TIME TO GO HOME.

When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”

He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”

Everyone spoke well of him and was amazed by the gracious words that came from his lips. “How can this be?” they asked. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”

Then he said, “You will undoubtedly quote me this proverb: ‘Physician, heal yourself’ – meaning, ‘Do miracles here in your hometown like those you did in Capernaum.’ But I tell you the truth, no prophet is accepted in his hometown. Certainly there were many needy widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the heavens were closed for three and a half years, and a severe famine devastated the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them. He was sent instead to a foreigner – a widow of Zarephath in the land of Sidon. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, but the only one healed was Naaman, a Syrian.”

When they heard this, the people in the synagogue were furious. – Luke 4:16-28

Jesus was revealing to them that he was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah. Jesus knew their hearts and their struggle to see him as anything but the son of a local carpenter. They had watched him grow up, watched him play in the streets with the other kids. They were excited that he had come home and amazed at what a good teacher of the Law he had become, but they did not see him as the promised Messiah.

Jesus laid out his calling for everyone. He was anointed by the Spirit to bring good news to the poor. He was sent to proclaim that captives would be released, the blind would see and those who were oppressed would be set free! The time of the Lord’s favor had come, but Nazareth was not going to experience all that God had for them because they would not accept all of who Jesus was.

I know several people who grew up in the church but who still struggle to fully believe in Jesus. My heart aches for them to have faith – to fully accept Jesus for who He is! They spent so much time in the presence of the Church without taking the time to truly seek God. When eyes are focused on religion, we miss out on seeing God Himself revealed.

The village of Nazareth was going to miss out on all of the miracles because they wanted to define Jesus one way instead of listening to what he was trying to teach them. How much do we miss out on when we decide to define Jesus from our own perspective and make him who we want him to be?

This is who Jesus wants to be in our lives today if we will just stop trying to contain Him in a box and truly allow Him to be Lord:

He wants to bring good news into the areas of our faith where we are lacking, where we are poor.
He wants to set us free from the bondage of sin and from the oppression of this world.
He wants to open our eyes today and allow us to truly see Him.
He wants us to stop deciding we already understand him and daily open up to what He wants to reveal to us today.
He wants to open the eyes of our heart so that we can truly see Him.

Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions. – Ps. 119:18

Lord, we are sometimes so blind to what you are showing us. Will you open our eyes to your truth today? Will you help us to truly see you?

Coffee With A Little Room

Today’s Reading: Matthew 9:27-34; Mark 6:1-6; Psalm 92

After Jesus left the girl’s home, two blind men followed along behind him, shouting, “Son of David, have mercy on us!”

They went right into the house where he was staying, and Jesus asked them, “Do you believe I can make you see?”

“Yes, Lord,” they told him, “we do.”

Then he touched their eyes and said, “Because of your faith, it will happen.” Then their eyes were opened, and they could see! Jesus sternly warned them, “Don’t tell anyone about this.” But instead, they went out and spread his fame all over the region.

When they left, a demon-possessed man who couldn’t speak was brought to Jesus. So Jesus cast out the demon, and then the man began to speak. The crowds were amazed. “Nothing like this has ever happened in Israel!” they exclaimed.

But the Pharisees said, “He can cast out demons because he is empowered by the prince of demons.” – Matthew 9:27-34

Here are two completely different reactions with two distinct endings. The two blind men believed and their faith led to their healing. Once healed, the men who had once been blind had a story to tell and traveled the region praising the man who had healed them. The Pharisees saw God moving in the midst of other people and their jealousy caused unbelief. Instead of praising God, gossip and criticism were on their tongues.

When a community or group of people or Church family have a strong faith in God and spend much time rejoicing and praising God, God moves in their midst and the evidence of His presence is marked by miracles and healings. When negativity, pride and jealousy are stronger than our praise and faith, we miss out on what God could be doing in our midst.

Jesus left that part of the country and returned with his disciples to Nazareth, his hometown. The next Sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. They asked, “Where did he get all this wisdom and the power to perform such miracles?” Then they scoffed, “He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us.” They were deeply offended and refused to believe in him.

Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.” And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their unbelief. – Mark 6:1-6

It saddens me how often I run into people who are “deeply offended” because it affects their ability to experience what God has to offer them. Their focus turns inward and they spend more energy feeling sorry for themselves and expecting an apology from someone else than they spend focused on God. I know I have been guilty of this myself and it is a miserable existence.

This morning, I choose to praise God and not worry about who has offended me. I want my coffee with a little room – room for faith and praise, not room for self-pity and pride. I want my coffee to be sweet with grace instead of bitter with unforgiveness. Lord, empty us of all that blocks your presence in our lives today. Forgive us for believing in our own rights more than just trusting in you. We love You, precious Father. Amen.

It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning,
your faithfulness in the evening…
You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me!
I sing for joy because of what you have done.
O Lord, what great works you do!
And how deep are your thoughts.
Only a simpleton would not know,
and only a fool would not understand this…
“The Lord is just! He is my rock!
There is no evil in him!”
– Psalm 92:2,4-6,15

More Powerful Than the Problem

Today’s Reading: Matthew 12:38-45, 8:28-34, 9:18-26; Mark 5:1-43; Luke 11:24-32, 8:26-56

“Who is this man?”

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them.

When he saw the storms, he silenced them.

When he saw evil, he commanded it to flee.

As Jesus was climbing out of the boat, a man who was possessed by demons came out to meet him. For a long time he had been homeless and naked, living in a cemetery outside of town…This spirit had often taken control of the man. Even when he was placed under guard and put in chains and shackles, he simply broke them and rushed into the wilderness, completely under the demon’s power. – Luke 8:27,29

This man may have been under the demon’s power, but Jesus had authority over the demon. He cast them out of this man, who was made to live among the dead. He freed him from this bondage and gave him new life. No power was too large for Jesus to control. He could calm the storm, overcome evil with good and Jesus could heal the dying.

When the sick reached out to him, he healed them.

Then a man named Jairus, a leader of the local synagogue, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come home with him. His only daughter, who was about twelve years old, was dying. As Jesus went with him, he was surrounded by the crowds. A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding, and she could find no cure. Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of his robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped.

“Who touched me?” Jesus asked.

Everyone denied it, and Peter said, “Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.”

But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.” When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed. “Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” – Luke 8:41-48

What a lonely, isolated life this woman must have experienced. She was considered unclean for twelve years and forced to live away from her family in the tent set aside for women during the time of bleeding. Only her bleeding never stopped. That is until she reached out to Jesus. In the midst of her suffering and sickness, she reached out to touch the hem of her Savior’s garment and her life was forever changed.

When death threatens to undo us, Jesus takes us by the hand and says, “My child, get up!”

While he was still speaking to her, a messenger arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. He told him, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.”

But when Jesus heard what had happened, he said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith, and she will be healed.”

When they arrived at the house, Jesus wouldn’t let anyone go in with him except Peter, John, James, and the little girl’s father and mother. The house was filled with people weeping and wailing, but he said, “Stop weeping! She isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.”

But the crowd laughed at him because they all knew she had died. Then Jesus took her by the hand and said in a loud voice, “My child, get up!” And at that moment her life returned, and she immediately stood up! Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. Her parents were overwhelmed, but Jesus insisted that they not tell anyone what had happened. – Luke 8:49-56

“Who is this man?”

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them.
When he saw the storms, he silenced them.
When he saw evil, he commanded it to flee.
When the sick reached out to him, he healed them.
When death threatens to undo us, Jesus takes us by the hand and says, “My child, get up!”

I don’t know what you are facing or how you are feeling but my Jesus knows. The One who can heal, who can calm storms, and who can bring back the dead knows. Reach out and touch the hem of his garment. Stretch out your hand and hear him say, “My child, get up!” It’s time to be fed. It’s time to be strengthened again. Jesus is here to restore and it’s your turn to receive.

Mightier Than the Sea

Today’s Reading: Matthew 8:23-27, 9:35-38; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25; Psalm 48 and 93

Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. When he saw crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” – Matthew 9:35-38

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them.

When Jesus sees our needs he has compassion on us. But how often do we feel like God does not care about what we are going through? How often does it feel like Jesus is in the back of the boat asleep during our storm?

As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.

Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, DON’T YOU CARE that we’re going to drown?”

When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!” – Mark 4:35-41

When he saw the storms, he silenced them.

The disciples had watched Jesus do many miraculous things for other people. Now it was their chance for Jesus to do something miraculous for them. The disciples thought they were simply crossing the lake but Jesus knew there was more for them to learn. He wanted them to see things from the other side of the lake, see him from another perspective.

“Who is this man?”

Jesus knew his disciples were not fully aware of who he was, that they still underestimated him. I heard a friend recently say that Jesus probably knew it was storming. He chose to sleep while his disciples tried everything they knew how to do. They were fishermen and had been in storms before. Jesus was simply waiting for them to ask, waiting for them to stop trying on their own and call on him for help.

Oh, how often we are guilty of this! Troubles come into our lives and we try to take care of them in our own strength first. The winds and the waves threaten us and we grab a bucket and start throwing water overboard. When we have tried everything we know to do, we finally fall to our knees and do what we should have done first – we pray.

By calming their storm, the disciples began to better understand Jesus, which strengthened their faith making them more effective workers in his harvest fields. Now they understood that Jesus had power over creation, over the elements and over the storms.

The floods have risen up, O Lord.
The floods have roared like thunder;
the floods have lifted their pounding waves.
But mightier than the violent raging of the seas,
mightier than the breakers on the shore—
the Lord above is mightier than these!
– Psalm 93:3-4

Jesus has power over the things going wrong in our lives, whether it is natural circumstances of this broken world such as storms or illness or whether it is the consequences of our own sinful decisions. Jesus is bigger than all of it. Let’s not underestimate Jesus today. Let’s PUT DOWN THE BUCKET and make our first reaction to today’s situations prayer. The harvest depends on it.

“The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” – Matthew 9:38

Sold Out for Jesus

Today’s Reading: Matthew 13:44-46; Psalm 24 and 47

Who is this King of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty;
The Lord, invincible in battle…
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies –
he is the King of glory.
– Psalm 24:8,10

How is Jesus affecting your life? What is your response to his teaching and to the difference he is making in the world around you and in your own life?

Word about Jesus was spreading all over the region. When he taught in the synagogue, people were amazed by his teaching. When he healed the demon-possessed, people were again amazed! Everyone was talking about this Jesus from Nazareth. Lives were touched and hearts were encouraged from far and near.

Amazed, the people exclaimed, “What authority and power this man’s words possess! Even evil spirits obey him, and they flee at his command!” The news about Jesus spread through every village in the entire region. – Luke 4:36-37

Jesus was making a difference in the ENTIRE region. Wherever he went, he was surrounded by crowds of people – people coming to hear his teaching or bring their sickness to him for healing.

When they came down from the mountain, the disciples stood with Jesus on a large, level area, surrounded by many of his followers and by the crowds. There were people from all over Judea and from Jerusalem and from as far north as the seacoasts of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and to be healed. Everyone tried to touch him, because healing power went out from him, and he healed everyone. – Luke 6:17-19

Everyone. Every person who came to Jesus for healing was healed. There was no sickness too great, no disease too complicated, no demon too powerful. Jesus was surrounded by crowds yet he took the time to heal each one.

Jesus traveled throughout the region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. News about him spread as far as Syria, and people soon began bringing to him all who were sick. And whatever their sickness or disease, or if they were demon-possessed or epileptic or paralyzed – he healed them all. Large crowds followed him WHEREVER HE WENT – people from Galilee, the Ten Towns, Jerusalem, from all over Judea, and from east of the Jordan River. – Matthew 4:23-25

Large crowds of people were so taken by Jesus that they were willing to follow him wherever he went! Now that’s passion! But it is very similar to our reaction after Jesus radically changes our lives, isn’t it? We fall SO in love with this Jesus, who would heal us or love us or die for us, we would do whatever he asks us to do. We would go wherever he leads us. We give whatever he stirs our hearts to give in order to fund the mission of spreading God’s word.

Soon afterward Jesus began a tour of the nearby towns and villages, preaching and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom of God. He took his twelve disciples with him, along with some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases. Among them were Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons; Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Jerod’s business manager; Susanna; and many others who were contributing from their own resources to support Jesus and his disciples. – Luke 8:1-3

They were so excited about what Jesus was doing that they were willing to LIVE SACRIFICIALLY and GIVE SACRIFICIALLY. As they traveled with Jesus, they heard the same message over and over again and it was changing their lives – the message of the Good News about the Kingdom of God.

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.

“Again, the King of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!” – Matthew 13:44-46

To want something so much that I am willing to lose all else that I might gain that one thing.

To value something so much that I am willing to forfeit everything in the pursuit of it.

To care about something so much that nothing else matters except that one thing.

This is what God is calling us to.




Do I value the Kingdom of Heaven more than my own earthly kingdom?

Do I value heavenly treasures more than earthly treasures?

Do I value spiritual rewards more than physical rewards?

Do I value my relationship with God above all other relationships?

What will be MY response to Jesus?

Holy Spirit, move in me today. I long to hear from you. Empty me of all that is sin and all that is self and fill me with you. Amen.