They begged Him to leave them alone | Matthew 8:28-34

Passage: Matthew 8:28-34 [NKJV]

Mat 8:28  When Jesus arrived on the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gadarenes, two men who were possessed by demons met Him. They lived in a cemetery and were so violent that no one could go through that area. Mat 8:29  They began screaming at Him, "Why are You interfering with us, Son of God? Have You come here to torture us before God's appointed time?" Mat 8:30  There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding in the distance. Mat 8:31  So the demons begged, "If You cast us out, send us into that herd of pigs." Mat 8:32  "All right, go!" Jesus commanded them. So the demons came out of the men and entered the pigs, and the whole herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water. Mat 8:33  The herdsmen fled to the nearby town, telling everyone what happened to the demon-possessed men. Mat 8:34  Then the entire town came out to meet Jesus, but they begged Him to go away and leave them alone. [NLT]

Thoughts:

Jesus has just traveled from a great distance, in a small boat to arrive at this town in the region of Gadarenes. Another teachable moment for the disciples? Why this town? Anyway, there are two demon possessed men, Jesus frees them, miraculously, and then the whole town asks Him to leave them alone. How sad. These people who should have embraced a loving Savior who wanted nothing more than to heal them and be with them and care for them, was asked to leave. Friends, do we do this to Jesus.

"NO WAY! I would never tell Him to leave me alone."

Well, have you considered how much time you've really spent with him lately?

"Why I spend 15 minutes every morning reading my Bible"

And, just as a comparison, how much time do you spend watching TV?

"Well uh, that's not important...I need my down time."

But He's asking for more time. He wants to be your friend and he can't really have a relationship with you in 15 minutes.

"I learn a lot in the 15 minutes. I've picked up great ideas on how to be a good father, employee, neighbor, church member. It's really helped me a lot...so how can you say 15 minutes isn't enough?"

Well, how's your relationship with your wife?

"It's good. We get along really well."

And how about your kids..how are things with them?

"Okay I guess. They are teenagers now and suddenly they don't want to spend a whole lot of time with boring 'ol dad."

Hmmm...that's interesting. Do you know much about what is going on in their lives?

"Not much really, but they won't spend any time with me. How am I supposed to know what they are doing and how they are feeling if they won't spend time with me or talk with me....HEY! Wait a minute. You tricked me into that answer."

Not really. But do you get the point?

"Yes, I think that I do. Wow, I really have been neglecting my time with Him. But do you really think He wants to spend time with me hearing about all my silly complaints and problems? Jesus doesn't really have time for me does He?"

He died for you friend. He loves you so much that he gave up the glories of heaven and allowed Himself to be crucified so that He might have the opportunity to restore a relationship with you. Believe that...He's said it many times and He means it 100% of the time.

"I never really thought of it that way. I want to get to know Jesus as my friend and they only way I can do that is by spending time with Him. I'm going to start doing that; and I am going to make it quality real time with Him. Thanks for the reality check!"

Just remember how much He loves you...can you deny such an amazing request for friendship? I sure don't want to.

________

Friends. Please listen. Jesus wants so much to spend time with you. He loves you more than you can imagine and He loves you no matter what. If you will only spend time with Him, He will communicate with you and you will start to desire that time with Him more than anything else in your life. Television will become an irritating distraction; no need to "Kill your TV"...just spend time with Him and the tv will become a dusty flower-pot holder. :)

Prayer:

Lord, give us hearts that burn with a desire to know You more. Help us to see how much you love us and to respond to that love. Please bless this simple blog and help it to help others. Let me know Your will and help me to follow it. I love You. Amen.

A Storm to Teach Them | Matthew 8:23-27

Passage: Matthew 8:23-27 [NLT]

23 Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. 24 And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. 25 Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” 26 But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27 So the men marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”

Thoughts:

A Map of the Sea of Gallilee >> View Larger Map

Things to consider regarding this moment in the life of Christ:

  • He could have made the trip by land, but chose to go by sea.
  • He did not have a big stable boat but instead a small fishing vessel.
  • The terrible storm came up suddenly.
  • The storm was scary enough to put fear into the hearts of men who were used to being on the water.
  • In Mat 8:20 we see that Jesus had just spoken to would-be followers about how it would not be an easy road to follow him.
  • Having the power over the sea, Jesus very easily could have guaranteed that they have a smooth uneventful trip

A teachable moment. Jesus, seeing the need to teach His disciples about how it was not going to be an easy road to follow him, uses the sudden storm to show two things. 1. It will never be "smooth sailing" to be a true follower of Jesus. 2. Having faith in His promises, we need not fear those things that He has control over. (This excludes the biggest thing we should fear, our own will. Jesus has no control over this which is why we often suffer needlessly)

Jesus also uses this moment to demonstrate trust in the Father, by sleeping during a terrible storm. I can almost hear him humming the tune "Don't worry. Be happy." The disciples totally miss His peaceful state because they are so busy worrying about surviving the storm. How often do we as Christians get so caught up in self "survival" or "salvation" that we forget we are following the one who has power over the universe?

Another point to note. Jesus is willing that we should go through trying times so that we can learn to more and more trust in Him. Never think that God will not allow trouble to come into your life; He wants more for you to be able to rely on Him and trust in Him and will use strife to teach us.

Dear readers, Jesus loves you so much that he is willing to allow you to go through troublesome times to teach you trust. Parents who never allow their children to feel pain or go without end up with spoiled rotten helpless children. Have faith in Jesus. Give your life to Him daily...He has not promised you comfort, but, He has promised to love you and do everything He can to get you into eternity. You can be thankful for the trials in your life because you can know that God is only trying to build your faith in Him.

Prayer:

Thank you Lord. Thank you for loving us the right way. For lovingly correcting us and teaching us with trials that lead us to having greater faith in You. Help us to smile through the hard times. Help us to rest in your arms even as the storm rages around us.

Thank You for all that you provide. Help us to use it to your glory. We love you Lord. Amen.

True Intentions | Matthew 8:18-22

Passage: Matthew 8:18-22 [NKJV]

18 When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he instructed his disciples to cross to the other side of the lake.19 Then one of the teachers of religious law said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”20 But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man[a] has no place even to lay his head.”21 Another of his disciples said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.”22 But Jesus told him, “Follow me now. Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead.[b]”[NLT]

Further Study:

Mat 8:20  The Son of man - The expression is borrowed from Dan_7:13, and is the appellation which Christ generally gives himself: which he seems to do out of humility, as having some relation to his mean appearance in this world. Hath not where to lay his head - Therefore do not follow me from any view of temporal advantage. John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Thoughts:

At this point Jesus is really just starting on His ministry. There is still excitement in the air and the city is buzzing with talk of the new prophet. Many think that he may very well be the Messiah come to save them from Roman rule. A scribe approaches him, apparently someone who believes that Jesus has power, and makes the grand statement, " I will follow you wherever you go". In todays jargon someone might put it like this.."Man, I'm with ya one hundred and one percent!" But Jesus sees through the rhetoric and reads the heart.

Now grace comes into play ,watch closely...

This man was a scribe; thus he was most likely a man of importance or influence. Chances are the fishermen disciples around Jesus would have been thinking to themselves "We really need this guy on our team"...but, Jesus reads the heart and the true intentions and the grace comes in with his reply to the mans statement.

"Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”

He could have said, "Your not interested in loving me, but you see an opportunity to gain, get away from me." or "I know what you really want is power and fame."

Most of us, myself included, after reading the intentions of someone in this situation probably would have said one of the latter two statements...but Jesus shows grace in His. He doesn't call the scribe out. He doesn't point out, for all to see, the true intentions; but, instead, he shows grace and lets the scribe know that what he thinks is not the truth. The grace is in the fact that he doesn't sugar coat but he also doesn't destroy the opportunity for the scribes heart to realize truth and change for the better.

Being a follower of Jesus, the Son of Man, is no easy thing. Do not allow yourself to be drawn in for improper reasons like gain, glory, pride, and selfishness. If you are in a church that is telling you that being a follower of Jesus brings bountiful blessings of wealth and comfort (after you've sown a little seed money, of course) then you are in a church that has sought to draw you in with false pretenses. Jesus would never seek to woo you with promises of comfort and a carefree life, because that just isn't truth. He lays it all on the line. He will never try to persuade you with tricks or by appealing to your sinful selfish nature...he only comes to you with truth. Are you not thankful for that? What good is anything if it is not true.....?

Prayer:

Lord of Heaven and Earth,

Thank You so much for always telling us the truth. It is a good thing for my heart to know that what You say to me is always true and never laced with manipulations. Help me to love Your truth more than my life. Help me to share Your truth with others who are lost under the cover of darkness and lies.

Thank You for all that You provide in my life Lord. My household is struggling a little right now and we are seeking Your guidance. We do not expect ease..but we do want clear direction. Help us to know Your will.

Be with our children. Keep them safe in all they do. Draw their hearts to You Lord. Amen.

He Took Our Sickness and Disease | Matthew 8:16-17

Passage: Matthew 8:16-17

16 That evening many demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. He cast out the evil spirits with a simple command, and he healed all the sick. 17 This fulfilled the word of the Lord through the prophet Isaiah, who said,

“He took our sicknesses and removed our diseases.” [NLT]

Isaiah 53:3-6

Isa 53:3  He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on Him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Isa 53:4  Yet it was our weaknesses He carried; it was our sorrows that weighed Him down. And we thought His troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for His own sins! Isa 53:5  But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. Isa 53:6  All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on Him the sins of us all. [NLT]

Thoughts:

Picture the scene. People from all over the area are bringing to Jesus the sick and demon possessed to be healed. He is simply touching them or saying a simple word and they are healed miraculously. No pomp, no circumstance. Just simple healing power. Why do the supposed healers of today always have to have so much "show" during their healing sessions. Surely God doesn't need a "parade" before He is willing to heal; does He? Just a little something to consider....

Also, notably, this verse is used by the writer to show that Jesus fulfills prophecy written in Isaiah by healing the sick and the demon possessed.

I am so thankful that we have a healing loving God who is concerned with our infirmities. He wants so badly to reach out and heal us of the pain and suffering that we have in our lives...but we must come to him. He will not force it upon us. These sick were brought to Him...as we must bring ourselves to Him today; everyday, and ask for healing of our hearts. This healing allows us to function in a sinful world. This healing allows us to have joy in times of distress and peace in times of war. Seek Him out today dear reader; seek Him out right now and ask Him to heal your heart. He will because He wants to.

Prayer:

Lord,

Please change my heart. Give me the willingness to come and kneel at Your feet and ask for the help that we both know I need. Thank You for respecting the free will that You have given me. Please help me to choose You more often so that my life can start to reflect You.

Please be with my children. Help them to grow in You. Prepare us for the time that is coming soon when we will no longer be free to worship You as we choose. Help us all to see You and love You.

Amen.

What is Your Response to Jesus? | Matthew 8:14-15

Passage: Matthew 8:14-15 [NLT]

14 Now when Jesus had come into Peter’s house, He saw his wife’s mother lying sick with a fever. 15 So He touched her hand, and the fever left her. And she arose and served them.

Thoughts:

A fever. She only had a fever, and yet Jesus took the time to take this small "irritant" out of her life. To me this is a small example of how Jesus is interested in even the small things that may be a problem in our lives. There is no concern or care to big or too small that Jesus doesn't want to help. Often we take the big things to him, not knowing any other way; but, think about this my friend, isn't that the same as saying "Lord, I will bring you the things that I can't take care of myself". Jesus wants to take care of all of it so that we can see Him working in every aspect of our lives. Bring Him all of your concerns, He wants to help.

Let's also look at the mother-in-law and how she immediately, after being made better, seeks to serve. This too should be our response to the working of Jesus in our lives. He will remove those little things that are obstacles in our lives which keep us from helping others to know and learn about Him. What is your response when Jesus removes an obstacle in your life? Do you praise Him and then just go about your business? What should our response be?

How selfish of us to often think that Jesus wants to bless us so that we only can share in that blessing. Blessings are given so that they can be imparted. To hold a blessing to yourself is a selfish thing and selfishness is the sin problem.

If Jesus has blessed you in some way, big or small, reach out and share that blessing with others. Let it multiply, let it grow. Jesus loves you so much and it is only by sharing that love that you can truly know it in your heart.

Prayer:

Lord, first I ask that you help me to never miss a blessing that You provide. Second, I ask that You help me to share those blessings. Help me to remember the source of my life, You, and help me to share that source with others.

Thank you for all that you provide in my life. Help me to be a good steward of your providence. Help me to seek you in even the small things that I so often just take care of myself.

Watch over and protect my family. Forgive me sins Lord and change my heart. Remove the selfishness that keeps me from sharing Your love. Amen.