Category: Gospels

‘Fear’ and ‘Fear not’!

Scripture reading for July 12th: Matthew 10

Key Scriptures: Matthew 10:28-33 “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear Him Who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges Me before men, I also will acknowledge before My Father Who is in heaven, but whoever denies Me before men, I also will deny before My Father Who is in heaven.”

There is a cost associated with following Jesus Christ. As Jesus was sending out the Twelve apostles on a mission, He carefully explained that they would be going out as lambs among wolves (10:16) and they would suffer persecution and hatred because of His Name. He told them to have no fear of those persecuting them but rather to have a reverent fear of God Himself, Who alone could destroy soul and body in hell. Jesus reminded them that God even numbers the hairs on our heads so He knows all things and holds His people closely. As followers of Jesus, His disciples must never be ashamed and freely confess Him before men, even our own family. Those that shrink back and deny Jesus will find that Jesus will deny them before His Father. Thus we have “fear not” men who hate and misuse you but “fear” Him before Whom we must give an account.

Matthew 10:34 “”Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.””

Faith confession and prayer: Father God, I hold You in awe and respect for Who You are. Thank You for this clear instruction on the cost of following Jesus, Your Son. Empower me today to boldly and without fear declare my faith with my own household and the harvest field You send me to.

Daniel 12:2-3 “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to everlasting contempt. And those that are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”

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Faith to ask and receive!

Scripture reading for July 9th: Matthew 9

Key Scriptures: Matthew 9:27-30 “And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed Him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” When He entered the house, the blind men came to Him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.” Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, “See that no one knows about it.” But they went away and spread His fame through all that district.”

Jesus had taught often on prayer. He encouraged His followers to ask, seek, and knock. He also stated that they would receive, find and have doors opened. He encouraged persistence and belief. As Jesus passed by, two blind men heard He was near and began to cry out with loud voices. They addressed Jesus with a messianic title, ‘Son of David’, and asked for mercy. Even when Jesus passed them by and went into a house, they followed Him. Jesus asked them if they believed He was able to heal their eyes. They responded in the affirmative. Jesus took them at their words, and declared that they would have what they believed for. Their eyes were immediately opened! Ask and you will receive! Have faith to ask and then receive according to that same faith.

Matthew 9:20-22 “And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch His garment, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her He said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.””

Faith confession and prayer: Father God, I believe in You and in Your Word. Fill me with the Holy Spirit and simple trust to act when You present opportunities to believe and act on Your Word. Help me to ask in faith always and receive by faith always. To You be all glory and honor and praise!

Matthew 10:1 “And He called to Him His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.”

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Jesus took our illness and disease!

Scripture reading for July 8th: Matthew 8

Key Scriptures: Matthew 8:14-17 “And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve Him. That evening they brought to Him many who were oppressed by demons, and He cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.””

Some in the church today declare that Jesus only came to forgive sins and that the healing miracles He did were just for the early church when He was with them. These gifts passed away with the first apostles. But Jesus clearly demonstrated the Gospel by healing the sick and delivering those bound with evil spirits. His authority to do these works was evident to all and was also evident in His disciples as they also were sent out on mission. This was all a fulfilment of prophecy recorded in Isaiah 53 and applied to Jesus and His ministry of healing and deliverance as He went into the places of need and where hurting people were. In fact, Matthew 8:2-3 records a leper with a statement for Jesus: “If you will, you can make me clean.” Jesus answered, “I will; be clean!” Jesus is willing and able and on His cross in His own body bore our sicknesses and diseases! Praise His Name!

Isaiah 53:4-5 “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed.”

Faith Confession and prayer: Father God, thank You for sending Jesus, Your Son, to bear our sins, sickness and disease in His own body on our behalf. Thank You for the full Gospel of healing and grace to forgive sins. Fill me with the Holy Spirit to preach that full Gospel and to see healing and deliverance and salvation from sins bondage.

Mark 16:15, 17-18 “Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation. . . And these signs will accompany those who believe: in My Name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues’ they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

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God loves to answer His children!

Scripture reading for July 7th: Matthew 7

Key Scriptures: Matthew 7:7-11 “”Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father Who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”

Is God really listening to us? In our world there are lots of voices and distractions. Not many people really listen closely to others. And we can’t see God so how do we know He is listening? These same questions came to the disciples who followed Jesus. Jesus gave them careful instruction and used examples that everyone could understand. Getting God’s attention is as simple as asking, seeking, or knocking. Those that ask, receive. Those that seek, find. And those that knock find the door opening. These verbs are all in a persistent voice that is full of faith in the answer coming. To help His followers with God’s willingness, Jesus pointed to children asking their parents for bread or fish for satisfaction of daily hunger. Would the parents spitefully give their own children stones or serpents instead? Never! Neither would the Father! He is a good, good Father who always listens and gives good gifts in response!

Luke 18:7-8 “”And will not God give justice to His elect, who cry to Him day and night? Will He delay long over them? I tell you, He will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?””

Faith confession and prayer: Father God, thank You for being a loving and compassionate and listening Father Who delights to hear and answer prayers. Forgive me for failing to believe this by not asking, seeking or knocking but instead trying to figure out how I can do it myself. Fill me afresh with the Holy Spirit and empower me to pray even when I don’t know how or what to ask for.

John 16:23-24 “”In that day you will ask nothing of Me. Truly truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in My Name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in My Name. Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be full.””

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The disciple’s prayer pattern

Scripture reading for July 6th: Matthew 6

Key Scriptures: Matthew 6:7-14 “”And when you pray do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven, hallowed by Your Name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.””

In this Sermon on the Mount, Jesus covered many topics, but focused in on prayer. Prayer was not to be endless repetitions of empty phrases, but should be short and concise and focused on the basics of everyday life. Prayer admits dependency and begins with worship. The disciple is to know and address God as “Our Father”. They are members of a family where the Father is the provider, protector, and mediator of trouble. The Father has plans and purposes that family members know and support in agreement and unity. The Father instructs His children to forgive others their debts just as each of them has been forgiven. If there is no forgiveness, there is no understanding of God’s amazing grace and God cannot give us grace either. It is not salvation by works however, but always salvation and forgiveness by grace alone through faith in God’s mercy offered through the Cross of Jesus Christ. Asking and receiving are all by faith.

Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.’

Faith confession and prayer: Father God, thank You for teaching us to pray simply for our basic needs. I need Your provisions for life and ministry, protection from evil and the evil one, mercy and forgiveness for my sins on a daily basis. I pray today this simple prayer: Our Father Who is in heaven, Hallowed by Your Name! Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom, power and glory! Forever and ever! Amen!

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Jesus linked hatred with murder!

Scripture reading for July 5th: Matthew 5

Key Scriptures: Matthew 5:21-26 “You have heard it said, to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.‘ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court; lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.”

Jesus was preaching to a crowd of people in what is one of the longest of His sermons in Scripture. Jesus was told His followers of the blessedness of life in the kingdom of God and explained what that life looked like. He took one of the ten commandments, “Thou shall not commit murder” and expanded on its deeper heart issue: hatred. Hatred is the root of murder in one’s heart and it must be dealt with urgently and in a timely manner or it will bring death and destruction. Hatred imprisons those who hold onto it and holds them fast. Our current culture and world is full of hatred and the resulting fruits of murder, destruction and imprisonment in bitterness and rage. Oh how we need to heed Jesus’ Word of instruction and warning! Many are locked in prisons and won’t be able to get out until they do. Some will end up in eternal suffering. Jesus paid the price to get us out if we will repent and ask forgiveness.

Matthew 6:43-45 “”You have heard it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father Who is in heaven. For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father God, forgive me for harboring hatred in my heart towards those who offend me. Cleanse me from all hatred and fill me with Your love and forgiveness. Use me to bring deliverance to those imprisoned by hatred and bitterness and to overcome evil with good.

Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirs up strife, but loves covers all offenses.”

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Preaching in the land of darkness!

Scripture reading for July 2nd: Matthew 4

Key Scriptures: Matthew 4:12-17 “Now when He heard that John had been arrested, He withdrew into Galilee. And leaving Nazareth He went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, and in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles–the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and the shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.””

Jesus Christ heard that John the Baptist had been arrested by King Herod for preaching repentance and confronting Herod’s sinful sexual life. Jesus withdrew to His own childhood region of Israel but moved to another town from Nazareth, Capernaum by the sea. This area was on a trade route where peoples from all over the world would visit on their way to trade in other parts of the world. It was known as “Galilee of the Gentiles” but had been the home property given to Zebulun and Naphtali, tribes of Israel. Isaiah the Prophet had spoken about this area in Isaiah 9:1-2, about 700 years before Christ’s birth. Jesus began preaching right where John the Baptist left off. He began where the land of the Jews was particularly darkened by the shadow of death and brought great light by preaching the Word of God. God’s Word would bring deliverance from death and its dark shadow and the dawning of a new day! Herod’s kingdom of darkness and death would be overcome by the kingdom of Light!

Isaiah 60:1-2 “Arise, shine, for your Light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon You, and His glory will be seen upon You. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of Your rising.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father God, thank You for sending Jesus to light up my world of darkness! Thank You for loving Gentiles as You loved Jews. Through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, Your light shines through me. Let the preaching of repentance, faith and miracles of healing flow through my life and today’s ministry opportunities.

Matthew 4:23-24 “And He went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the Gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. So His fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and He healed them.”

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A dire warning and a prophetic promise!

Scripture reading for July 1st: Matthew 3

Key Scriptures: Matthew 3:11-12 “”I baptize you with water for repentance, but He Who is coming after me is mightier than I, Whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 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.””

John the Baptist, was Jesus’ cousin and was called by God to be the prophetic forerunner of the Messiah. He lived in the desert and dressed in prophet’s garb. He called all the Jews to repentance and was noted as the one spoken of by the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 40:3, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.'” He was baptizing in the Jordan River all who responded to his message of repentance and preparation for the Messiah. But John never claimed to be anything but a ‘voice’ crying in the wilderness. He pointed everyone to the One that was to come, the Messiah. This Messiah would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. This Messiah would also come in judgment and reward towards His people. He would come to separate the wheat and the chaff to their eternal destinies. The ‘axe’ was laid to the roots of the trees that produced no fruit of repentance.

Matthew 3:10 “Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father God, thank You for preparing the way for me and all who will hear Your Word and repent. Thank You for Jesus Christ, Your beloved Son, my Savior Who baptizes with the Holy Spirit and fire. Fill me again with the Holy Spirit and the fire of Your passion and love for the lost and hurting. May I proclaim Your Word boldly and clearly in a manner pleasing to You as Your Son.

Matthew 3:16-17 “And when Jesus was baptized, immediately He went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on Him; and behold, a Voice from heaven said, “This is My Beloved Son, with Whom I am well pleased.””

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Home by another way!

Scripture reading for June 30th: Matthew 2

Key Scriptures: Matthew 2:7-11 “Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose, went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary His mother, and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

Matthew alone records the visit of these wise men from the East, probably ancient Persia. These wise men were seeking one born “King of the Jews” and had come to Jerusalem seeking this child. They had followed a star that appeared to lead them there. King Herod and the city and temple officials were troubled by this entourage and their request. The temple officials stated that the Christ was to be born in Bethlehem. After inquiring, King Herod sent for them and questioned them about their mission. He told them to search diligently and report back to him so he might worship too. They listened and went to find the child, again following the star that led them to the exact place. These men rejoiced and when they saw the child, immediately fell down in worship. They opened their treasures and gave freely to honor this Child. But God warned them in a dream not to return to Herod. These Gentiles found another way home to their country, made truly rich by now seeing the “King of the Jews”. They went on their way rejoicing!

Matthew 2:12 “And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country another way.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father God, thank You for revealing Your Son to all nations, tongues and tribes and bringing the joy of salvation to all the lost of mankind. Help me to proclaim clearly the way home to “Father’s House” to those in my family and sphere of influence. Jesus alone is the Way to our eternal home!

John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Isaiah 35:10 “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”

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God’s amazing plan for a Savior!

Scripture reading for June 29th: Matthew 1

Key Scriptures: Matthew 1:18-23 “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son, and you shall call His Name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call His Name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).”

Matthew’s Gospel account of the life of Jesus was written primarily to a Jewish audience and contains many references to Old Testament Scriptures. This first chapter includes a genealogy of Joseph all the way back to Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation. (Mary’s genealogy is in Luke, and goes all the way back to Adam and the first prophesy of a coming ‘Seed of woman’ Who would crush the serpent’s head.) Matthew’s account stresses that Mary was found with child before having any relations with Joseph, but conceived by the Holy Spirit. Joseph, not wanting to shame Mary, was ready to divorce her quietly, but an angel gave him clear instructions regarding the child Mary was carrying. The angel confirmed the Holy Spirit as the One bringing conception. Before ultrasounds, the angel declared Mary would bear a Son, Who would be named “Jesus”, for He would be Savior of His people! This is the One announced by Isaiah the Prophet as “a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name “Immanuel”. God’s amazing preparation and planning is evident from the Holy Scriptures!

Matthew 1:24-25 “When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a Son. And she called His Name Jesus.”

Faith confession and prayer: Father God, Thank You for this amazing record of Your plans to bring Your Son Jesus Christ into this world through a virgin birth. Thank You for recording the prophetic words given proclaiming Your plans beforehand and for allowing me to hear and understand and proclaim this Good News of a Savior!

Acts 4:11-12 “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the Cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

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