Daily Word

Matthew 18

Read Matthew 18 – Time with Jesus…. One never knows what kind of wisdom they will receive when time is spent with our Savior. I’m just coming home from a retreat. For five days I learned and leaned into Jesus on levels that were unexpected and precious.

Jesus imparts great wisdom and tenderness in Chapter 18. Did something touch your heart in a brand new way?

For me Jesus’s answer to the disciples swirled with the lost sheep parable and I found myself somewhere in the middle.

“So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” :4

When I first accepted Jesus as my Savior I was very young… maybe 4 or 6 years old. My neighbor asked me if I wanted to go to heaven or hell. I said heaven, repeated her sinners prayer, and that was that. Unfortunately, no one I knew went to church or read the bible, so I had little comprehension of what my faith was and had all but forgotten it when I began to investigate Christianity as a worldly 36 year old. I was so skeptical and about ready to dismiss Jesus all together when I began my quest for truth.

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost?” :12

Well, hallelujah! Because I was that lost sheep and Jesus went to great lengths to rescue me back to the flock. We’ve both been celebrating ever since.

Beloved, may you find yourself in Jesus today.

Daily Word

Matthew 17:9-22

Read Matthew 17:9-22 – Repetition is key. Jesus spoke about his death in Matthew 16:21, 17:9-12, and :22. He was preparing his disciples for what comes next.

After this, they came down the mountain to the crowd. A man asked Jesus to heal his demon possessed son, stating that his disciples tried unsuccessfully. Jesus rebukes the demon, and the boy is healed. He rebukes his disciples too, calling them unbelieving, perverse and stating that they have little faith.

Ouch, right? And if they had little faith, what does mine look like? Jesus says with faith just the size of a mustard seed, nothing will be impossible for us. (:21)

Jesus’ death and resurrection is everything to Christianity. Jesus knew time was of the essence, perhaps that is why he comes down so firmly on the disciples in verses :14-20.

Beloved, Jesus forewarned his disciples about his death, and we have the privilege of hindsight to know things happened exactly as he said. Jesus is coming back, and has told us so. We look expectantly for the day. May your faith increase as your heart, soul, mind and strength stay focused on Jesus.

Daily Word

Matthew 15

Read Mathew 15 – Jesus,  Jesus,  Jesus…. What a wonderful name. Today, we get to walking with him on the lakeshore…. We get to watch as he takes no bologna off the Pharisees over hand washing, and teaching us what he meant in the exchange. (:1-9)

Jesus gave them (us) courage to offend the Pharisees (false teachers)  by shedding this light on them.  “It’s not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out; this defiles a person. ” :11 And regarding these hypocrites he says,  “Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into the pit.” :14

The passage with the Canaanite woman is amazing whenever one is feeling insignificant. :21-28 She has been made to feel insignificant by society and Jesus kind of lets that play out. But she doesn’t let go. She reminds him that even the dogs get the crumbs that fall to the floor…. With Jesus, even a crumb is more than enough! And Jesus answers,  “O woman,  great is your faith! Be it done as you desire.” :28

We walk with Jesus beside the Sea of Galilee, and up a hillside as he teaches and heals people for three days.  Then he feeds them by once again giving thanks for the seven loaves of bread and a few fish. Gratitude can turn not enough into plenty with Jesus. 

Beloved, what do you need to seek Jesus over today? Will you carve out some quiet time to be with him?

Daily Word

Matthew 12

Read Matthew 12 – Legalism in practice is the craziest thing. My husband and I traveled to Israel in 2019 and had a peek at life under the law. As travelers, we stayed in very nice hotels, but on the Sabbath odd things happened. One of the strangest things to me was the elevator. It had a Shabbat mode where it operated without lights and stopped on every floor so that one would not be guilty of doing the work of pushing the elevator button.

In our chapter, the disciples got hungry, plucked and ate some heads of grain on the Sabbath. The Pharisees accused them of acting unlawfully because of this.

Jesus brings reasonableness to the law with Old Testament accounts of grace, and plainly states. “And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” :7-8

The Pharisees took God’s good and perfect law and imposed ridiculous levels of legalism into it – while considering themselves above the law. What a discouraging way to live.

But the crowds sought Jesus for healing and he did heal ALL on the Sabbath. :15 (ALL is a very cool word in the bible…it doesn’t mean most or some or a few, all means all and that’s all that all means.) Their faith took the action of coming to Jesus believing he could heal them and he blessed their faith with healing. It was a spectacular day!

And that’s why we’re all here, reading the Word. We show up in faith to know real Jesus in truth and love. The world is like the Pharisees, pointing fingers and making accusations about Jesus. Yet here he is in Scripture, saving a wretch like me.

Daily Word

James 2

Read James 2 – I learned an equation early in my faith.  It has helped me understand the difference between Biblical Christianity and everything else.  James captures it well here in our chapter, Faith + Nothing = Salvation as evidenced by Good Deeds.  Our good deeds are a celebration of all that Jesus has done for us.  Every belief system apart from Biblical Christianity will tell you Faith + Works = Salvation or even just Possible Salvation… they keep you guessing.  Jesus paid it all, and the unstoppable overflow from His love in us should spill onto others by our actions.  It’s the best economy there is!

In the Book of James, there should be a verse that pops out at you in every chapter.  My bible has lots of verses underlined with dates… those are the verses the Holy Spirit spoke to me the most at that time.  Each time a person reads the Word, they are different, they are older, their circumstances change.  One could read the same chapter every year and be convicted by something different each time.  Hebrews 4:12 tells us, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing into the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

So read, Beloved, and let the Great Physician have his way with your heart.  I can share my verse from today, “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” 2:17  That tells me to go love people.  It reminds me to listen to their heart and do what I can with action and not just words.  And when I think about it, it’s very exciting, like a daily treasure hunt for Jesus!  Abba, who do you have for me today???

Will you share your verse with me?

Daily Word

Mark 10

Reflections on Mark 10 – Rafiki!  It means friend in Swahili, one of the languages of Africa.   When Jesus says,  “Let the little children come to me; do not hinder them,  for to such belongs the kingdom of God,” :14, I think of the precious children I met in Tanzania.  Their reality is one of poverty far beyond what we know in America, yet they have a pure joy that is utterly magnificent. They sang songs for us, greeting us with a joy that still warms my heart. They receive our simple gifts,  a piece of candy,  a pencil,  a ball, with more gratitude than one can put into words. 

When I return one day, I will bring even more to share. Their joy is what Jesus loves.   Their joy connects me to my Savior in a full and transforming fashion…and just recalling it now draws me back in to the childlike faith Jesus wants for me and you.  

Beloved, can you grab ahold of a verse from chapter 10 and ask Jesus to bring it to life for you? 

Daily Word

Mark 7

Reflections on Mark 7 – The theme of our chapter is sincerity.  It begins with condemnation against the Pharisees for their legalistic corruption of God’s laws, by putting their tradition of ceremonial (done so that others could see) handwashing over true, loving, God-honoring obedience.  Jesus cares most of all about the condition of one’s heart. If it is reflecting evil, and :21 spells it out, that person has missed the mark.

Verse :24 “Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre.  He didn’t want anyone to know which house he was staying in, but he couldn’t keep it a secret.”  Beloved, Jesus couldn’t keep his presence a secret; may your lesson be that YOU are not to hide Jesus.  If He is truly in your heart, your home and your life, His presence should be evident.  

Scripture goes on to say a woman, whose daughter was demon possessed, found him right away and begged him to cast the demon out.  Jesus asks a question that would not only set her daughter free, but would also create a relationship of faith for this Gentile woman.  Her response has been a power-verse in my life against insecurity… “She replied, ‘That’s true, Lord, bet even the dogs under the table are allowed to eat the scraps from the children’s plates.’” :28  Beloved, this is the kind of faith Jesus will bless!  If you find yourself wrestling with your worth, your significance, or any level of self-loathing,  remember these words.  May you grab onto a crumb and know that it is more than enough.

Then Jesus is asked to heal a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, :32.  He does some odd things, but look closer. Jesus led the man aside, giving him individual attention.  Jesus put his fingers in the man’s ears, touch matters.  Jesus used his own spit, okay gross, but also, saliva has medicinal properties in that it kills germs.  Jesus looked up to heaven, all glory to God.

Beloved, I hope you were blessed by this chapter.  May your heart be pure; may your faith carry you to Jesus, and may you use your god-given abilities to love those He brings to you.

Read Chapter 8.

Daily Word

Mark 5

Reflections on Mark 5 – Faith and authority – Jesus has the authority to deliver those who cannot ask for themselves.  And faith moves Jesus to heal. 

It had been quite a crossing as Jesus and the disciples reached the other shore after the great storm that caused the disciples to fear for their lives in the night.  They arrive in the region of Gadarenes, discovering a demon possessed man right away.  The demons bow before Jesus and speak through the man.  That’s weird, right?  Remember, the demon’s knew exactly who Jesus was long before the people did (see James 2:19).  It’s also interesting that the man wanted to follow Jesus after being delivered from the demons, but the townspeople wanted him to leave.  That is very sad; rejection of Jesus is always very sad. But hope is not lost for them as Jesus tells the man, no, and instructs him to instead stay and share his testimony with everyone.  Scripture records that the people were amazed by his tale of all that Jesus did for him!  Beloved, sharing your testimony is what you are called to do.  Share with others what the Lord has done in and for you.

Jesus travels back across the lake where a great crowd has gathered.  Jairus, the synagogue leader, asks Jesus to heal his sick daughter.  But on the way a great crowd was pressing in on him, and a woman in the crowd thought in her heart… “If I can just touch the hem of his garment, I will be healed,” :29  She reached out in faith and was indeed healed on the spot.  This poor woman had spent everything trying to be healed.  Bleeding meant she was unclean and would not have been allowed into the synagogue, and was a social outcast.  Imagine how her life changed when she was healed, and Jesus stopped everything to ask, “Who touched my robe?” :30  Imagine the courage it took her, this marginalized, suffering, outcast woman to speak up – Scripture records she came forward, frightened and bowing down to Jesus.  And He responded to her with the most beautiful, life affirming words before everyone in the crowd.

Beloved, we’ve read who Jesus was to the demon possessed man, to Jairus and his daughter, and to the woman who touched His garment.  Who is Jesus to you?

Read Mark Chapter 6.

Daily Word

Mark 4

Reflections on Chapter 4 – Jesus taught by telling stories in the form of parables.  Four are recorded here, and then a life application is presented. 

The first one, the parable of the farmer scattering seed, is one I have spent some time with.  I first asked Jesus into my heart around the age of 6… a neighbor shared the Good News to the best of her 8 year old ability.  Unfortunately, there was no further foundation for that faith, no one I knew went to church or could help me grow, and it was as if that seed were picked up by birds and carried away, :4.  In high school, I answered an altar call and began attending church regularly for a period, but adulthood came with so many temptations and distractions that my faith went dormant for many years, :7.  Then in 2004, I was a hair away dismissing my faith all together, when I decided to settle the matter once and for good.  I began investigating Christianity, Jesus and the Bible with all the skepticism and hardness of heart I had developed over the years.  Jesus dealt with me brilliantly!  He put people and conversations and books in my path… this time, my seed landed on fertile soil and I’ve been learning and sharing ever since!  Hallelujah!  

Beloved, I share this to say, it is not too late to revive your faith, dry spells, bad foundations, guilt, shame, arrogance and anything else that has kept you at arms length can be confessed right now.  Jesus is waiting for you with patience and mercy.  He knows all about your hurts and He knows you are thirsty. 

Jesus explains His purpose in speaking through parables in :11-12.  He could easily override our freewill with His divine nature, forcing people to believe.  True belief lies in the heart of the individual.  Jesus is a respecter of persons; no one in hell will be surprised to be there… though it breaks my heart to say that.

Our chapter has three other parables, which spoke to you the greatest?  Which one are you going to share with someone today?

In verses :35-41, a true life application comes to the disciples.  Jesus suggests that they cross the lake, and goes to sleep at the back of the boat.  As they are sailing a fierce storm comes up and they (the disciples) are terrified for their lives.  They wake Jesus, and the way it plays out is quite telling of their faith.  This is to grow them, not to shame them.  Beloved, may all of your, “I should have’s” grow and mature you for the life that lies ahead.

Read chapter 5 for tomorrow.

Daily Word

Genesis 22

Read Genesis 22 – Sometimes one’s faith is tested. 

If this is your first time reading this chapter, your faith may feel tested in the second verse. God tells Abraham to take his son, his only son up to the mountain and sacrifice him.  Wait, what?  Yes, but, keep reading mama bear… 

Our chapter is filled with symbolism about Jesus. Starting with verse :2; God says nearly the same words about Jesus (Matt 3:17, 17:5 / Mark 1:11).  And God does offer Jesus, His one and only Son, as a sacrifice for our sins (John 3:16).  

As you read, consider Isaac’s willingness.  He is not a small child, verse :6 tells us the wood for the burnt offering was laid upon his shoulders – as Jesus would carry his own cross up to Golgotha (John 19:7)… Both sons were willing to be obedient to their fathers, even to lay down their lives. 

Isaac asks Abraham where the sheep is for the burnt offering, Abraham answers in great faith, the Lord will provide (:8).  And at the last possible moment, an angel stops Abraham from killing Isaac.  He truly fears the Lord, and will not withhold anything from Him.  God provides a ram in the thicket for the burnt offering. 

Beloved, while these verses are unique to Abraham (Jesus was the perfect sacrifice and God will not ask anyone to sacrifice their child), one might wonder why God asked this of him.  God knows Abrahams heart, as He knows yours, but sometimes we don’t know our own and the Lord will bring circumstances to refine our faith.  “Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means “the LORD will provide”).  To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”  Genesis 22:14