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I love Joseph’s obedience. We don’t hear much about him in the story of Jesus’ life, do we? Yet, when he “ did what the Lord commanded him”(v.24) , the world was radically changed! He could have done what he thought was right in his mind, and the law of that time justified it, but God’s plan was so much bigger than Joseph’s understanding. Rick Warren says; “Obedience unlocks understanding.”

It makes me ponder… how obedient am I when I don’t understand the circumstances?

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I am amazed at what lengths people will go to in order to get what they want! Herod wanted to get rid of his competition, so he did things in secret, lied about his motive, and pretended to be something he is not (a worshipper of Christ)! 

What kind of deception am I capable of using to get my way?

What a different concept it is to go out and confess our sins (v.5-6). Today we do it quietly and in our “prayer closet”, but I wonder how it would change my actions and behavior if I knew I had to confess my sins publicly! What do I need to confess today?

Satan’s attacks hit us where it hurts us most… Jesus’ temptations were real and hurtful for him, but ours may be different. He knows where you are the weakest, and he will tempt and hit you at that place. Satan often attacks me when someone questions my motives and does not assume that I have their best interest and God’s Will as my primary motivation.

What temptations seem to be the most difficult for you to overcome?

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There is so much great stuff to read in this chapter…but what stands out to me is that… WOW, we can see God!!! We are allowed in on that awesome secret!!! How do we get to? By having a pure heart… and a pure heart comes from washing in the WORD (Eph. 5:26)!!! Good thing we are reading our Bible daily to keep washing our hearts and making them pure!!! Get ready to see God!!!

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Prayer is such an amazing concept! We get to talk to the Creator of the Universe! But I was confused when I first read verse 8. It says that God knows what we need before we ask Him, so… why does He want us to pray? Well, as we read in the next few verses, we see that as Jesus teaches us to pray, it is all about getting ourselves in a right place. When we recognized God as God and ourselves as His children that need forgiveness and help through temptation, we realize that He is able to do all things, so we can rest in him. Prayer is a conversation with someone who loves us unconditionally! Think about that as you talk to God! He knows what you need and He just wants you to realize that He’s got things under control!!!

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Did you learn the Golden Rule as a kid? What would I have others do unto me? I love to be encouraged, loved, thanked and even hugged. Well, if I like to receive all of those things, then the Golden Rule teaches me that I should first share those things with others. Conversely, there are things that I don’t want others to do unto me like gossip, ignore, or criticize unfairly. I should therefore not do any of these things to others. How are you living out the Golden Rule?

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This is a chapter of miracles! First Jesus shows his authority over sickness when he heals a leper, a servant, and a mother-in-law! Then he shows his authority over the weather by calming the storm. And finally, his authority is revealed over Satan by casting out demons in order to heal two men. Jesus is Lord over everything!

One interesting point to ponder is in verse 34: After hearing about the demons being cast out, the whole town went out to meet Jesus. When they saw that it really was true, they begged him to leave! Some people are so content in their same old sinful and messy lives that they are too scared to have Jesus change them. So they will refuse to allow Him into their lives! Compare this to the next chapter in Matthew 9:8, where the crowd saw another healing and they were all in awe and praised God! The truth is that some people will push Jesus away while others will praise Him!

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I love it when Jesus puts the Pharisees in their place! Those righteous know-it-all’s who were constantly trying to “do the right thing“ by getting rid at Jesus. But as hard as they tried, Jesus always had a way of opening their eyes. In verse 12, He reminds them of His purpose… To save sinners! And in order to save sinners, you have to hang out with them! How many “sinners“ are in your life that you can share Jesus with? So often as churchgoers, our whole world revolves around hanging out with the “righteous“. But don’t forget to foster relationships with the unchurched. 

In verse 34 Jesus tells us that there are so many that need “saving“, so pray for workers to do that! Will you be one of those workers?

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Matthew 10 is all about the need for the world to hear the Word of God. And that many, including our families, neighbors and governments will not believe it, and even hate us for it. Often that makes us afraid to say anything, yet the fear should be of v. 28 “ the one who is able to destroy both the soul and body in hell. “ Where do we find peace from this pressure and fear? In verse19 “Do not worry about how or when you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should say.”
Lord, grant me the courage to share your love with just one person today.

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That nagging doubt will never let us go! John the Baptist had just baptized Jesus. Before he did, he acknowledged that he was not worthy to even tie Jesus’ sandals, then saw a dove come over Him, and heard God’s voice claiming Jesus as His beloved Son! And yet… John in prison doubts...”Are you the one??? Or should we expect someone else?”

This makes me feel better about the doubts I sometime have. When there are circumstances that make me question God, those doubts can sneakin. But how did Jesus dispel John’s doubts? He told John to remember the past… All the amazing things he had done! And then he basically says in verse 6, “you will be blessed if you don’t trip and stumble over the things I do, that you don’t understand! Have faith and don’t doubt!”

Are you having doubts today? Look back in your life at all the times God has done great things and trust that He will continue to be Lord of your life!

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This reminds me that mercy is more important than sacrifice. The Pharisees kept trying to get Jesus in trouble because he wasn’t following the law prohibiting work on the Sabbath. While the Sabbath is a day to rest we are also assured that loving our fellow man with mercy and grace always takes precedence over regulations. Do I love people more than I love being right?

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- just a few birds v. 4
- just some rocks v. 20
- just a few thorns. v. 22
- just a few weeds. v. 26
-just a little mustard seed. v. 32
-just a little yeast v. 33
Just a few good words spoken or a few harsh words spoken. Just a few positive thoughts or just a few negative thoughts. “Just a few “ changes your day. Or even the path of those you encounter. Will I be a mustard seed or thorns to the one God puts in my path today?

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How many miracles and incredible encounters with Jesus does it take until we finally stop doubting? If we look at Peter’s life, the doubting never seems to stop! In verse 28 Peter wants Jesus to prove himself again! “Let me walk on water“. Jesus lovingly proves Himself again and allows Peter to walk to Him. But even in the midst of that miracle, Peter doubts; taking his eyes off Jesus he begins to sink. Yikes! How often will I allow myself to ask God to prove Himself to me? When will I stop doubting in the middle of a storm? Lord, help me to have BIG faith!

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In Matthew 15:18 Jesus tells us that the things that come out of our mouths come from the heart. He reminds us that the things we say expose our true thoughts. Sadly, too often our hearts have evil, selfish thoughts. 

This chapter also has many healings. And it struck me that the first words that were spoken to Jesus were always “ Have mercy on me” or  “Lord help me.”  Maybe we need to ask Jesus for mercy to change our hearts so that we speak life-giving words not self-centered words. 

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Sometimes the things that Jesus says seem confusing. For instance, in verse 6 Jesus warns; “take heed and beware of the leaven...”

What is leaven?  It is the yeast that makes the bread rise. If you’ve ever baked bread, you know that just a tiny bit of yeast changes the whole dough. 

  Jesus was telling us to be careful; just a little bit of something bad can create a lot of chaos in your life. What little belief am I allowing in my life that is filling me with conflict. Can I ask God to take it away and fill that spot with acceptance and joy?

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What an opening: Peter, James, and John went up on the hill with Jesus and he was transfigured before them. They fell on their knees as they saw His face shine like the sun. And then they heard God, yes God, say, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased. Hear him.” 

  Can you even imagine being there and seeing Jesus? How would you even describe it?  We know for sure it was life-changing for these three. They were not afraid to live and die to share the good news. Peter was crucified upside down, James was stoned to death, and John was left on a deserted island. They were not afraid. They had seen the truth. 

   When have you seen Jesus? How has He changed you? Don’t your friends deserve to know this life changing news? 

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“Who is the greatest?” Isn’t that so typical of us humans. We always want to know who is the best, and find out how we can be the best! But really… can it be true that to be the best in God’s kingdom, we have to be like a little child. So I wonder, what is it about a child that God wants me to be like?

Is it that they believe so easily in the unseen without proof? Or is it that they love so unconditionally or wholeheartedly? Is it the way that they sing and talk about Jesus without any shame? Or maybe that children trust God and pray so easily for little and big things in their lives?

Oh, to have that childlike faith everyday… and to not be the one that causes others to stumble because of my lack of faith!

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I laughed out loud this morning as I read this chapter! Just yesterday in Matthew 18, we read about the children being the greatest in the Kingdom and how we are to be like them! Now, just a few verses later, the disciples are sending children away and getting mad at those who brought them to see Jesus! (v.13) How often am I just like those disciples… forgetting so quickly what God has taught me. Sometimes it is because the lesson makes me uncomfortable, and sometimes its just because I am too busy to meditate on the new lesson, and it is easily forgotten in the business of life! Lord, open my ears to hear, and my mind to learn the things you want to teach me.

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Who likes Matthew 20? Not me, I never liked that parable about the laborers working in the morning and getting paid the same as the laborers who were picked late in the afternoon. It just wasn’t fair! But the more I read it, the more I understand Jesus’ is teaching us that we all get to go to heaven whether we accept Christ early or late in life. No matter when we accept Him, the reward is heaven for all of us. 

The second thought is that these laborers who were picked up later in the afternoon were not necessarily lazy, they may have been looking all day for work and nobody hired them.  They might have been the unwanted, the unclean, the lowly, the immigrants, those with bad reputations or those we overlook. But they were willing to work. These are the exact people whom Jesus loves. People like us - the ones who are sinners who are now forgiven. Who can we smile at, with the love Jesus has for them, today?

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Jesus knows his time on earth is coming to an end, so in this chapter he spends a lot of time teaching that the religious people are not necessarily the ones that have a saving relationship with Him. He is being challenged again and again by the Pharisees, because they just can’t believe that Jesus is who He says He is! He is getting fed up with them, and finally tells them that if they can’t tell who He is by now, then He is not going to tell them anymore! (v.27)   Jesus really wants those left behind after his death to not rely on the teaching of the “ religious one, but to rely on the things that Jesus taught them.

His parables teach us that even though some people have been “religious” all their lives, they can still totally miss the understanding of who Jesus is and what God has prepared for us. It was those people who wanted to get rid of Jesus because He turned their rule-driven, ordered world on its head!  

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Over and over again, the Pharisees keep trying to trick Jesus with questions to prove He is not the One. And over and over again, He gives them an answer that sears their heart. Is this not like today’s world? Time and again we tell people about Jesus, yet the culture finds excuses and reasons why it’s not for them. Jesus gives us the parable of the wedding feast, where all are invited to an amazing wedding, yet they all have excuses why they choose to ignore “The Event” of the year. It can be discouraging, as we know so many we love who will not be coming to the feast. However, Jesus always picks us up. He reminds us of the most important things; Love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.” v.37-39. If we keep these at the center of our hearts and minds, we can know that we are honoring Him and that we can trust Him. Who are you specifically praying for this week?

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If you ever wondered if Jesus had a passionate temper- this chapter should clear that up! Six times he calls out the hypocrites and the vipers. Is He talking to the tax collectors, prostitutes, the down and out? No, He is talking to those who knew the Bible extremely well.  “Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel.” v.24 Wow, pretty harsh stuff. Let that sink in.

Let’s not just look like good Christians who know all the answers, yet judging others, believing that we are always right. Let’s really go the extra mile and help the one we desire to ignore. Who or what is giving you a hard time, how are you judging them? Let’s ask God for grace.

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The End Times…Questions, questions and more questions. We are just like the disciples. We too want to know when, where and how? Jesus made it clear, “ No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven.” v 36 but “ you also must be ready for He will come at a time when you do not expect Him.” v 44.  

But He gives us some hints: do not be deceived by false prophets v.4, you will be persecuted v.9, take the Gospel to all nations v.14, treat others well v.48, and my words will never pass away v.35.
 Whether we meet Jesus at the end of the world, or at the end of our world. We will meet Jesus. Lets keep our eyes on Him and not worry about the future. When you meet Him, what will be your first question?

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Three amazing parables that at first glance seem to be very different, but if you read them over and over again, the thread that runs through them is this…Our actions today WILL reap consequences in the future. And not only will the consequences be here on earth, but they will affect our future in God’s Kingdom!

Are you preparing yourself to see Jesus? Or are you enjoying yourself too much to be ready for His arrival?

Are you investing wisely and making the most of the talents that God has given you?

Are you helping and ministering to others?

Ask God to reveal to you how you are doing in these areas today.

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In verse 2, Jesus says, “as you know…” the Passover is in 2 days and by the way, I am about to suffer through the cruelest of deaths! It is almost a statement that he made in passing, and I don’t understand why the disciples didn’t scream; “Wait! What are you talking about?” Yet, so begins the last days of Jesus’ life. He goes to the garden to pray, asking God to help Him be able to withstand what is to come. Oftentimes I convince myself that the hard way can’t be God’s will for me. Surely He wouldn’t want me to suffer so much. However, the reality is, out of suffering can come the most glorious of changes.

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In verse 18, Pilate says that he knew that it was “out of envy” that the Jews had handed Jesus over to him. That reminds me of what a powerful motive envy can be. Some of the worst crimes are committed out of envy. Families fall apart because of envy. James 3:16 says; “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”

Pray to guard your heart against envy. You can even practice by being happy for others and rejoicing with them in their good fortune. We find freedom when we release the hold that envy has on us!

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Incredible things happen when we just want to be near Jesus! Mary and Mary knew that Jesus was dead, but they still just wanted to be near Him. They went to the tomb, maybe to feel His presence, but what they got instead, was incredible news! Jesus was raised from the dead!!! The angel says, “I know you are looking for Jesus”… but He’s got something amazing planned!!

What a great reminder that when we look for Jesus and strive to get near to Him no matter the circumstances, incredible things happen!

Maybe we will hear a great word from God. Maybe we will be sent on a grand mission. Or maybe we will just find the peace that passes all understanding. Be assured, when we earnestly seek Jesus, the experience will be life changing, attitude changing, and soul uplifting.