Are You able?

Scripture reading for July 26th: Matthew 20

Key Scriptures: Matthew 20:17-22 “And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way He said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and He will be raised on the third day.” Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before Him she asked him for something. And He said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in Your kingdom.” Jesus answered, “You do not know what your are asking. Are you able to drink the cup I am to drink?” They said to Him, “We are able.””

Jesus was leading His disciples to Jerusalem for His final Passover with them. While on the way, He again takes them aside and carefully explains in even more detail His coming betrayal, trial, flogging, and death by crucifixion to be followed in three days by resurrection. It is not clear if the mother of James and John overheard this conversation, but clearly she suspects the coming kingdom of heaven and asks Jesus a favor for her boys. She asks for positions of honor in the kingdom. Jesus did not deny this request, but stated that she did not know what she was asking! There would be a cost involved, the drinking of a cup! What was in this cup required God’s grace and empowerment. They replied, “We are able!” Jesus stated that they would indeed drink His cup but the honor of seating belonged to the ones chosen by His Father alone. Their boldness was not condemned by Jesus, but it aggravated the other disciples. Jesus admonished them all to not seek greatness but to become slaves to God, chief servants.

Matthew 20:23 “He said to them, “You will drink My cup, but to sit at My right hand and at My left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father.””

Faith confession and prayer: Father, all reward and glory belongs to You alone! I am blessed to be Your son and a servant of others for Jesus’ sake. Give me grace to drink Your cup and enjoy the fellowship of Your sufferings with a grateful heart. Being with You for eternity is my most amazing gift!

Matthew 20:26-28 “It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.””

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Jesus explains marriage and divorce

Scripture reading for July 23rd: Matthew 19

Key Scriptures: Matthew 19:3-9 “And Pharisees came up to Him and tested Him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that He Who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to Him, “Why did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.””

Marriage issues have been around for a long time, even in and amongst God’s chosen people! The Law of Moses contained instructions about marriage and divorce. Jesus pointed the questioners to God’s written Word for help and then explained to them God’s plan for marriage. God made humans in two sexes–male and female. Marriage was to be between a man and a woman. They must leave their father and mother and cleave to each other, forming a new family entity of ‘one flesh’. God, Himself joins them together and man is commanded not to separate. God would use the union to bring godly offspring into the earth to fill and care for it. Jesus went on to explain that Moses was given instructions about divorce because of man’s harness of heart, not because it was God’s plan. Jesus emphasized that sexual immorality was the only ground for divorce. Getting married to another after a divorce for any other reason resulted in committing adultery. Broken marriages sow violence into our lives. God’s plan is simple for marriage. Man’s hard hearts make it complicated. Godly marriage is a reflection of Christ and His Bride the Church.

Ephesians 5:31-32 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the Church.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father God, thank You for Your plan for godly marriages and the raising of godly children. Thank You for grace when marriage is broken by hardened hearts. Have mercy on our land and Your people as many have not believed Your plan for marriage–one man and one woman till death parts. Heal us from the violence sown from broken covenant marriages. Protect those living according to Your plan.

Malachi 2:15-16 “Did He not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife or your youth. For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of Hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit and do not be faithless.”

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Biblical conflict resolution

Scripture reading for July 22nd: Matthew 18

Key Scriptures: Matthew 18:15-20 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in My Name, there am I among them.””

Our Father is a God of order and hates dissension between brothers. Here Jesus outlines a way to deal with conflict caused by sin against a brother or sister in the Church. If you are wronged, the first step is to go alone, privately, to the brother and tell the wrong. The other party may not even be aware of the wrong. This should be done privately so that none of it would be gossiped about or shared but forgiven and forgotten quickly with little or no disruption of relationship. If there is refusal to even listen, the next step is to take along one or two others who are godly and respected and try to get the problem resolved. If this brings no results, then the matter can be shared with the Church. This may by the whole body of Christ or possibly just the elders. They then confront the party and if there is refusal to repent, then discipline can be taken. Whatever is bound on earth will be bound in heaven. Agreement is a powerful thing for Jesus is there too! The whole goal is forgiveness and restoration with as little fuss as possible.

Matthew 18:21-22 “Then Peter came up and said to Him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father, thank You for clear instruction in resolving conflict between brothers or sisters. Help me to always practice and obey Your teaching. I want to be a peace-maker, following the example of Jesus Christ. May Your Word bring glory to Your Name and peace in Your body, the Church!

Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

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Struggling with unbelief

Scripture reading for July 21st: Matthew 17

Key Scriptures: Matthew 17:18-23 “And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day.” And they were greatly distressed.”

Jesus and Peter, James, and John had just come down from a spiritual high on the Mount of Transfiguration to find the rest of the disciples faced with a demonically possesses boy that they were unable to help. Jesus rebuked the disciples for their lack of faith and cast the demon out with instant success. The puzzled disciples came privately to Jesus for an answer. Jesus plainly stated it was unbelief–a lack of faith and trust in God’s Word. Jesus further stated that it wasn’t necessary to have ‘big’ faith, but even just a small amount of faith would produce mountain-moving results. In fact, nothing would be impossible! He then shared with them again about His coming death and resurrection on the third day. This brought distress and anguish to His disciples because they struggled with unbelief here as well. Jesus also struggled with His disciples unbelief after three years of teaching and example! How slow to learn we are at times!

Matthew 17:17 “And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father, forgive me for reading and hearing Your Word and yet often living like it is not true. I struggle with unbelief like the disciples but thank You for the power of the Holy Spirit to bring boldness and Your Word to my understanding. Increase my faith as I study Your Word, trusting that all things are possible for those who believe.

Mark 9:23-24 “And Jesus said to him, “If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!””

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The keys of the Kingdom!

Scripture reading for July 20th: Matthew 16

Key Scriptures: Matthew 16:15-22 “He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father Who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then He strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that He was the Christ. From that time on Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord. This shall never happen to You.””

Peter responded to Jesus’ question for His disciples concerning Who they thought that He was. “Your are the Christ the Son of the living God” was Peter’s response that Jesus attributed to revelation from God the Father. Jesus went on to say that through this revelation, His disciples would receive the keys to the kingdom of heaven. They would obtain authority to unlock doors and shut doors in the spiritual realm on earth. On the “rock” of Peter’s confession, Jesus would build His church, a called out people of faith who would believe on Jesus the Christ by revelation through the Father. As Jesus further shared how His life on earth would end, Peter rebuked Him as He shared about his death and resurrection. Jesus then rebuked Peter and Satan for denying God’s plan for Jesus sacrificial death. We must be careful to listen to Jesus and believe, because we may be listening to another spirit instead–Satan!

Matthew 16:23 “But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a hindrance to Me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.””

Faith confession and prayer: Father God, thank You for revealing Your Son, Jesus, as the Christ to me. I believe in Jesus Christ and want to hear His voice and obey but sometimes allow the flesh and Satan to bring confusion. Forgive me, Father, and help me focus through the Holy Spirit and Your Word on the things of God not the things of men or Satan, the fallen angel.

Ephesians 6:12 “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

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All Glory to the God of Israel!

Scripture reading for July 19th: Matthew 15

Key Scriptures: Matthew 15:27-31 “She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. Jesus went on from there and walked beside the Sea of Galilee. And He went up on the mountain and sat down there. And great crowds came to Him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and they put them at His feet, and He healed them, so that the crowd wondered, when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel.”

Jesus had just healed instantly the Canaanite woman’s daughter who was oppressed by a demon. Her faith had brought Jesus’ mercy and healing power. Jesus then walked by the Sea of Galilee and went up on a hillside as great crowds of people brought to Him all manner of sick and hurting people. He healed them all and brought great awe and wonder as He performed miraculous healings and restoration. The people began to praise the God of Israel for what they were experiencing! God was in their midst as the Son of God, Jesus Christ shared the Father’s love and mercy, and had compassion on the hungry people.

Matthew 15:32 “Then Jesus called His disciples to Him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they gave been with Me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to sent them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father, thank You for Your great compassion on those wounded by sin and sickness and hunger in this fallen world. As You called Your disciples to share Your compassion, fill me with love and compassion and use me to bring healing and restoration and food to the hungry! All glory to the God of Israel!

Psalm 57:5, 11 “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let Your glory be over all the earth!”

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Truly the Son of God

Scripture reading for July 16th: Matthew 14

Key Scriptures: Matthew 14:26-33 “But when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out His hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.””

Jesus sent His disciples across the lake by boat while He dismissed the crowd of five thousand that had just been fed with the five loaves and two fish. Jesus went up on the mountain alone to pray. During the fourth watch of the night, Jesus came to them walking on the rough waves of the Sea of Galilee. The disciples were afraid and cried out that it was a ghost. Jesus calmed their fears by speaking to them. Peter, still wanting more confirmation that it was Jesus, asked to come to Him on the water. Jesus called him to come. Peter got out of the boat and began to walk until the wind and waves got his attention off of Jesus. He began to sink and called out to Jesus to save him! Jesus quickly took him by his hand and lifted him out of the water and escorted him back to the boat. The wind ceased and the rebuked disciples worshiped Jesus as “Truly the Son of God!” Arriving at Gennesaret, a great crowd brought sick and asked for a touch and were healed.

Matthew 14:35-36 “And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent around to all that region and brought to Him all who were sick and implored Him that they might only touch the fringe of His garment. And as many as touched it were made well.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father, thank You for Jesus Christ, truly the Son of God! Forgive my “little faith” and doubting Who You are in all the trials and storms of life. Reveal Yourself to me and those You send me to love. May I touch them in Your Name and see healing and salvation and multiplied disciples, to Your glory.

Acts 5:15-16 “. . .so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.”

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Remove the weeds!

Scripture reading for July 15th: Matthew 13

Key Scriptures: Matthew 13:37-42 “”. . .explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” He answered, “The One Who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Jesus loved to use parables, stories that used common, everyday elements but have deeper meaning and bring understanding of spiritual truth to those that seek it. The parables also hide truth from those who scoff at them. He had told a parable about weeds in a field sown with good seed. The weeds were allowed to grow among the good seed until the time of the harvest. But then the owner of the field commanded that the weeds be removed and burned and the good seed gathered into his barn. Jesus’ disciples asked to have this parable explained to them and Jesus obliged. The good seed were those who believed on Jesus and were adopted into God’s family. The field was the world. The weeds were unbelievers sowed by the devil. The Son of Man owns the field and sends angels as harvesters at the end of the age. The weeds will be gathered and burned but the wheat (good seed) will be gathered into His barn. The meaning is simple if you have ears and you are willing to hear!

Matthew 13:43 “Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father God, thank You for clearly revealing truth to those You have given ears to hear. May I not only hear but apply this truth and preach it to those You send me to. Lord Jesus, have mercy on those who are currently ‘weeds’ and give them more time to repent and become ‘children of the kingdom’! Open deaf ears and blind eyes to Your truth today.

Matthew 3:12 “His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor and gather His wheat into the barn, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.”

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The sign of Jonah!

Scripture reading for July 14th: Matthew 12

Key Scriptures: Matthew 12:38-40 “Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered Him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But He answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.

People are curious about the future and the supernatural. Jesus had just healed a man who was demon-oppressed with blindness and inability to speak. The religious crowd had attributed the miracle to Beelzebul, prince of demons. Jesus had patiently explained that a house divided could not stand. He warned those making these rash statements that they would have to give an account to God on the day of judgment. They then asked Jesus for a sign and Jesus rebuked them, saying that an evil and adulterous generation seeks a sign! The sign they must learn from was Jonah, an Old Testament prophet. Jonah had rebelled against God and was thrown overboard from the ship as he was fleeing from God. He spent three days and nights in the belly of a great fish before repenting and agreeing to do what God asked. It was like Jonah had come back from the dead and preached repentance! His message awakened a nation and they were spared. Truly Someone greater than Jonah stood before them. He would rise from the dead after three days in a tomb. Repentance would be proclaimed throughout the earth in His Name!

Matthew 12:40-41 “For just as Jonah was three days and three night in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

Faith confession and prayer: Father God, Help me to continue to learn Who You are and Your saving work through the study of Scripture. I desire greater understanding and how to apply Your truth to bring repentance and faith to those who seek signs in my generation. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and power to declare the Greater One, Jesus Christ, crucified, buried and raised from death on the third day!

Jonah 3:4-5 “Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. and he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.”

Acts 16:30-32 “Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, you and your household.”

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Our Father’s gracious will!

Scripture reading for July 13th: Matthew 11

Key Scriptures: Matthew 11:25-28 “At that time Jesus declared, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was Your gracious will. All things have been handed over to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him. Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

John the Baptist had been Jesus’ forerunner, proclaiming repentance and baptismal cleansing in preparation for the One to come, the Christ. John was imprisoned and heard of Jesus’ ministry and sent disciples to ask concerning Jesus, if He were truly the Christ. This is curious, because John proclaimed Jesus the Christ and heard the proclamation of the Father after Jesus’ baptism. But many had seen Jesus’ signs and miracles and had failed to respond with repentance just as many rejected John’s message. Jesus prayed to His Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thanking Him for hiding the truth from the hard of heart and revealing truth to humble and repentant believer, whom Jesus likened to ‘little children.’ He declared that only He, God’s Son, truly knew the Father and it was His mission to reveal the Father to those He chose through divine foreknowledge. He then issued an invitation to those under heavy loads and burdens to come to Him and find rest. This rest would involve a deep knowledge of Christ Himself and the Father’s heart to save the repentant and humble! Amen! Let it be so for me and my household!

Matthew 11:29-30 “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank You for Your gracious will of revealing Who You are through Your Son Jesus. I have responded to Your call to come to Him and learn of Him. I have found rest for my soul from my own efforts to be successful and now delight in sharing the rest in Jesus the Christ. Open doors today to share this “Good News!”

Isaiah 66:1-3 “Thus says the Lord: “Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool; what is the house that you would build for Me, and what is the place of My rest? All these things My hand has made, and so all these things came to be,” declares the Lord. “But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at My Word.”

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