Monday, January 7, 2019

Matthew 13-14~ Day 7~ Riddle= Parable- explanation

I often find myself using analogies to relay a message to people. For example, being asked to “guest author” this blog was like being coaxed into giving an impromptu toast. I would be eager to toast and encourage the honoree, but would be nervous that the right words may not come to my mind mid-speech. Using an analogy helps better demonstrate the message which is being delivered.

Parables are like analogies. While reading Matthew 13, we read parables that Jesus told crowds of people, and then we immediately get to hear the explanation of the parable which was requested by, and then given to, the disciples. While doing today’s reading I did contemplate however, whether the crowds of people listening to Jesus appreciated the parables as much as I do.  From the verses I read, it does not appear as if an explanation was immediately given to the crowds. It would not be as fun to hear that “life is like a box of chocolates” but then to receive no explanation. Similarly, I would imagine that the parable of the seeds or the treasure in the field, left some listeners with more questions than answers. I believe that these parables still blessed the crowds that got to hear and see Jesus in person, but this chapter made me deeply appreciate God’s Word and the exhaustive depths it goes into in order to give readers a clear understanding of the God we pursue.

On this post, I would love to provoke some comments regarding Peter getting out of the boat and walking on water towards Jesus. I have read these verses several times but something new that stuck out to me was the fact that Peter seemed to show more faith then other disciples by requesting to be called out to Jesus. Although Peter’s fear and distrust caused him to sink, stepping out of a boat expecting to walk on water requires some faith! I wonder what tone of voice Jesus used while saying, “You of little faith. . . why did you doubt?”

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Matthew 11-12~ Day 6~ Witnessing Miracles!

I often find myself thinking that if my non-believing friends were able to witness a miracle, then they would surely believe. It would be so clear if we were witness to such power! However, in reading Matthew 11-12, we see that witnessing miracles was not an immediate cure for peoples hard hearts. In fact, seeing miracles and then continually denying Jesus appears to be more detrimental for individuals on the day of judgment, for what excuse can then be had?

“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.  But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.”

As the disciples watched Jesus perform miracles repeatedly, I imagine they were appalled that people would still leave unsatisfied or unimpressed. Similarly, the Disciples themselves would go on to heal, giving the glory to Jesus, and people would  still leave unpersuaded. Reading these chapters gives me a heavy heart for those that remain blind after being introduced to Jesus’s grace and power. However, I am also overwhelmed with thankfulness that I have witnessed the greatest miracle, the one alluded to by story of Jonah, Jesus’s resurrection, and I can proudly proclaim that I witnessed the miracle and believed. I hope all the readers of this blog witness Christ’s miracle of atonement and accept it as opposed to leaving still blinded like those in Chorazin and Bethdaida.

“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Matthew 9-10~ Day 5~ Check your gear!

Believe it or not, I think the question the Pharisees ask Jesus was a fair one. “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Matt.9:11)  There are many lessons that can be learned from this section of scripture, but a new angle on it struck me today.

Picture these devout teachers of the Old Testament.  They would know Psalm 1:1, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners nor sit in the seat of scoffers.” They were living that Psalm literally.  The same teaching of Psam 1:1 is found in Paul’s writing in the New Testament, “Do not be deceived; ‘Bad company ruins good morals!’ (1 Cor. 15:33  So, if the writings of the Bible, no matter where they are placed (Old or New Testament) stand as truth, how do we reconcile two concepts that seem to contradict each other?   I think I would be asking Jesus the same question, do we “sit” with sinners or not?

Well, if you look closely at what Jesus says, he refers to the sinners as sick people (vs.12). As a nurse, when I had a patient in isolation, I had to garb up in full gear to protect myself before entering the room to give help to the sick one.  I had no business entering that room if I didn’t “gown up”.  In fact, I would be fired from my position if I entered “as is" and came out contaminated.  Being irresponsible by putting myself in danger and everyone else I came into contact with when I exited the room would cost me my job. 

In the same way a Christian needs to wear their full gear (Eph. 6:10-17) everyday, as they go about their life encountering “sick” people and eating with them.  If one is to hang out with sinners as Jesus did, one better know the Bible really well (belt of truth and use of the sword), they better be walking the walk (breastplate of righteousness) and whole heartedly believe in God’s character and redemption plan, with no wavering (shield of faith).  Jesus was all that!  He was dressed and ready to help the sick.  Consider that the next time you want to “be like Jesus” and hang out with a friend or family member who is not a believer. Are you really loving that sick one like Jesus would?  Check your gear!

On another note, I am going out of the country where there will be no Wi-Fi, so there will be a fabulous guest writer for the blog while I am gone.  Have a great week reading!  I will be reading too and look forward to reading the comments when I get back!

Friday, January 4, 2019

Matthew 7-8~ Day 4~ Is Jesus in your boat?

I started an Instagram account for the first time! (walkingwiththeway) Now I see how people end up staring at their phones for hours on end.  It’s amazing how you start looking at a friends account and end up laughing at a meme on a complete stranger’s account.  “How did I get here?“ 

Anyway, I was looking at a post from a fellow Christian who was reviewing her year.  She stated that she had gone to the hospital a couple of times thinking she was having a heart attack, only to find out that she was suffering from stress.  After I read her post I started my reading for today.  This stood out to me, “The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us!  We’re going to drown!” (8:25)

My Cristian Instagram friend (and all of us Christians at one time or another) are like the disciples in the boat!  After all, we have Christ with us!  He is in our boat, so to speak.  Yet we are all guilty of freaking out thinking things are out of control, Jesus is asleep and we will perish!

What a great response Jesus gives!  “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” (8:26)  He is asking us a question to get us to think of the obvious answer.  The disciples had to evaluate; would Jesus let them drown?  Did they really think he came into their lives, did a bunch of miracles just to bring them on a boat to let them die?  We can look at the story and say to ourselves, “No, of course not!”. 
In the same way, we need to learn to ask ourselves questions when we find ourselves in stressful situations. Think about what is causing the fear. Remember Jesus is in my/your boat! Will he let me drown? Am I going to perish?  
Of course not!  (See Romans 8:28) 
So then, in the words of Jesus, “Why are you so afraid?”  If you know truth, remind yourself of the truth and the Truth will set you free (John 8:32) from stress as well!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Matthew 5-6~ Day 3~ Do what the Word says!

So, I have an extended family member who is mad at me.  Not to bog you down with the details of a complicated story, just know, it’s not my fault (No, really!). My natural response to the situation is to say to myself, “Since I didn’t do anything wrong, that person needs to get over it!  I should not be blamed for their problem!”

Well, it’s a good thing I am reading Matthew again!  I’ve read the beatitudes before.  I can easily glaze over this section thinking, “Yeah, yeah, heard this before…blah, blah, blah.” 
HOWEVER, God’s Word is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12) and when things are happening in one’s life, the words hit hard.  That’s why I need to keep reading his Word over and over.  Different things hit hard each time I read!

Today was no acceptation.  This hit me, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the alter and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the alter.  First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”

I have a family member who has something against me!  This verse says I need to be the one to go and reconcile.  I’m not to wait for them to “get over it” and come to me to apologize.
.........Shoot, this wasn’t in my plans today at all!!….Arg…..OK, fine,….I’ll go over there today….After all, I can’t just be a “hearer of the word”, I need to be a doer of the word (James 1:22).
So,…can you pray for me today that the encounter goes well?


Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Matthew 3-4~ Day 2~ Good food!

I need to eat three meals a day (at least) or I become the classic “low blood sugar” girl.😠  I think if you look up in the urban dictionary what “hangry “ means, you will see my picture as an illustration! 

If that is how I (and I’m sure most others) respond to lack of food, what is my response to lack of spiritual food? 
The funny thing with food, going without it, as in the case of anorexia, leads to a further decrease in appetite.  That is the same with spiritual food.  One doesn’t even realize they are starving, and they have no appetite for reading God’s word.

Jesus put it perfectly when he said, “Man shall not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matt. 4:4)  Jesus (God) created our physical appetites to mirror what our spiritual appetites need; a constant filling.

I’m so glad you made a commitment to read God’s word this year! You are going to get on a healthy diet that is going to lead to wanting more! 

Hopefully with this daily reading there will be a few less spiritual “hangry” people walking around!  Haha!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Matthew 1-2~ Day 1~ God's perfect time.

Welcome to reading the New Testament in four months!  I am looking forward to new insights from my reading and hearing your thoughts on the reading! 
So, let’s get started!

Have you ever thought that Jesus is taking too long to return to earth to bring his people home?  I’ve thought that.  But, today’s reading was a good reminder for me that God has his perfect timing.

God obviously doesn’t think that 1000’s of years was too long to take to fulfill his promise to Abraham.  I recently read Genesis so that promise is fresh in my mind, “Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.” (Gen. 18:18)  This is a clear reference to the Messiah for whom the Jewish people were/are waiting.  So, when I read the first chapter, in today’s reading, the lineage of Jesus (1:1-17), It stood out to me that those names represent over 2000 years of Jewish history!  God’s promise of a Messiah was fulfilled 2000 years after he told Abraham!

So back to what I mentioned earlier, Jesus tells us he is going to return someday (we will read that when we get to Matthew 24:27).  It shouldn’t come as a surprise that 2000 years has passed since he said that.  It seems to me, it’s God’s M.O. (modus operandi). 😉  So, if God kept his promise to Abraham, you can bet he is going to keep his promise to us about returning and it will be in his perfect time.

What stood out to you?