Matthew Chapter 16 Devotion

Scripture Reading: Matthew 16

Song of the Day: Surrender by Jimi Cravity

Focus Verse: Matthew 16:24-25

In this chapter, Jesus is asked by the Pharisees and Sadducees to show them a sign from heaven. Jesus tells them that they can read the signs from the sky at night but cannot see the signs from heaven. Then he leaves with the disciples and crosses the lake. When the disciples forget the bread, Jesus turns to them and tells them, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” At first the disciples start talking about actual bread and wonder if Jesus is upset that they forgot it. Jesus goes on to tell them that they need to be careful about what the Pharisees teach.

Then Jesus asks the disciple, “Who Am I?” Peter says that Jesus is the son of the living God, which Jesus says Peter knew because God let him and that he would be the rock of the church because Jesus will die, but rise three days later. In order to follow Jesus, he says the people must give up their lives and take up their cross to follow him.

What does all this mean? Jesus is telling his disciples that he will not always be around and discipleship will not be easy. There will be people with false teachings and many will not truly follow him. But Jesus gives them hope and tells them to remember the feeding of the 5000. He is telling his disciples that God has a hand in everything and that once Jesus is gone, the disciples will still be able to spread the word and God will help them do it. 

Prayer: Spend time asking God to help you take up your cross. It is not always easy but with his help, everyone can be a true disciple. Thank God for having a hand in everything, and finally thank God for giving us Jesus to die for our sins.

Action: Think of the things holding you back from fully following God. Work on giving them up so you can follow God fully. 

Matthew Chapter 15 Devotion

Scripture Reading: Matthew 15:1-39

Song of the Day: Words by Hawk Nelson

Focus verse: Matthew 15:11

Jesus was not a man known to get angry a lot. But Jesus is furious with the Pharisees in this chapter because they say Jesus’ disciples are being disrespectful for not washing their hands before eating. His rebuttal to the Pharisees is that they violate the commandments with their words. He even calls them hypocrites for preaching against what God tells us to do. Jesus then says “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

This verse is a major lesson that can be put into today’s setting. It’s so easy to talk back to your parents or use other language that doesn’t express God’s will. We all too quickly blurt out something we probably shouldn’t. Our words have a powerful impact. We can bring somebody up just as easily as we can tear someone down.

Action: Take time today and write a note, text, email, or whatever you want to send someone a kind message. You can even do this more than once if you feel compelled to. Those words from your heart will make someone’s day a whole lot better.

Prayer: Take time to pray for that person. Ask God to make those kind words you sent them help them have a good day. Maybe the words you say will start a chain reaction, but either way should be glad you got to make at least one person’s day better.

Matthew Chapter 14 Devotion

Scripture Reading: Matthew 14:1-36

Song of the Day: Voice of Truth

Focus Verse: Matthew 14:27

When I first glanced at Matthew 14, I felt that this chapter is all over the place, first a beheading and then  miracle after miracle. In the beginning of the chapter John the Baptist, Jesus’s long time friend, was beheaded by request of Herrod. Grief stricken, Jesus searched for solitude but people flocked to him unknowingly. Rather than pushing the people away in his time of sorrow Jesus sought to do good for others and performed a miracle for thousands. Instead of telling the people he needed time or space to process the loss of his friend he showed compassion to them  by accepting to see all of the people and healing the sick.

All that is being asked of us in return for this great love he gives us like in verses 13-21 is that we have faith in Him. Peter had enough faith to step out of the boat in verses 22-34  but he still wasn’t able to put his complete trust in God. Peter was quickly overcome by fear when he saw the wind around him and lost faith. It is easy for us to become caught up in what is going on around us (like the wind for Peter) and more often than not this makes us harder to feel God’s presence.  It’s not always as clear to us as when Jesus says to Peter, “Come”, but if we take pause, it will become easier for us to see and hear God in our lives, even though he is always there.

Jesus will always be there to catch you when you lose faith and stumble, or even fall, but like Peter you have to have the courage to do what  he did in verse 30 when he said “Lord save me”. We all sometimes begin to sink but never will God not reach out a hand , mostly because His hand is always outstretched to us.  Try to remember that He is always willing to love and say “bring them here to me”, so instead of losing faith try to do the same, and when you come across times you question your faith try to find answers through prayer and studying your bible. Again Jesus is  the perfect example for all our lives, as in times of distress we still can show love, help others and stay true to our faith.

Prayer: Pray that God will help you stay faithful in times of distress as well as showing love and helping others

Action: Find a way to show God’s love this week like making a card for a grandparent or writing a thank you note to a health care worker

Matthew Chapter 13 Devotion

Scripture Reading: Matthew 13:1-58

Song of the Day: Thistle and Weeds by Mumford and Sons

Focus Verse: Matthew 13:8

In Matthew chapter 13, Jesus is teaching using parables. This is not uncommon since parables were the primary way in which Jesus taught the people and his disciples about the word of God. But in chapter 13, not only does Jesus speak the parables, he also explains a couple of them, and is even questioned by his disciples about why he speaks in parables. A well-known parable from this chapter is the parable of the sower. In this story, some seeds fall off the path, while others fall into rocky places, but the ones that find the good soil flourish and produce a great harvest. Jesus compares this fruitful seed to the Kingdom of Heaven. The good soil represents the people who long for God and obey his word, and happily flourish as a result.

Later in the chapter, Jesus is questioned by his disciples when they ask him why he speaks in parables. Jesus responds to them by saying he does this so that “those with ears can hear.” That is kind of confusing, but Jesus is saying that literally anyone can hear his message. But only those who strive for the truth of God’s word will understand his message.

Finally, at the end of Matthew 13, the people reject Jesus in Nazareth since he is only the carpenter’s son. He responds to them by saying “a prophet is not without honor except in his own country and his own house.” In this, we are seeing how many people mocked and rejected Jesus, even those in his own hometown.

Overall, Matthew chapter 13 is speaking on righteousness and spiritual growth. Those who seek to become better, to live an honorable life through Christ, and to grow spiritually will flourish. They will find favor in God and they will find contentment in their own lives.

Prayer: Take a moment and pray about your relationship with the Lord. Ask God to strengthen it and put in you the hunger for knowledge of scripture and for spiritual growth.Action: Reflect on your relationship with the Lord. Do you desire to know more about scripture? Do you know anyone who is struggling with their faith? Send them a note of encouragement today, not to push them into reading the Bible or doing anything in particular, but just to say hello and that you care about them.

Matthew Chapter 12 Devotion

Scripture Reading: Matthew 12:1-50

Song of the Day: I Will Follow by Chris Tomlin

Focus Verse: 12:18

This chapter of Matthew focuses on various miracles and actions performed by Jesus and his disciples. These miracles and actions were criticized by the Pharisees because it was custom for only religious officials to preform them, especially on the Sabbath. Despite the criticism for sharing their faith, Jesus and his disciples continued to perform miracles and spread the word of God. The focus verse tells of how Jesus was put on this earth to spread God’s word and God’s love. As Christians, we are called and encouraged to do the same. We are encouraged to serve God by sharing his word and love to others, no matter how difficult it is. Whether it is inviting a friend to church or simply lending a helping hand, you are sharing your faith. By the actions you do, you are being a servant of God and fulfilling his call.

Prayer: Spend some time praying to God and asking him to help put you in future situations where you can share his love. Ask where you can show love to your family today?

Action: Spend some time reflecting on a situation this week where you might have missed out on an opportunity to share God’s love. Think of what you might do differently next time.

Matthew Chapter 11 Devotion

Scripture Reading: Matthew 11: 1-30

Song of the Day: Smile by The Sidewalk Prophets

Focus Verse: Matthew 11:3

Right now, there is chaos, fear and doubt running rampant through our society. No one knows what the end results of this pandemic will be so they are just buying in bulk and hoping to have enough to get through a long haul of social distancing. In our faith and in our scripture readings, Jesus presents himself to us during this time. His presence will guide you through these current and future struggles.

In this Matthew 11:3. John the Baptist has sent out his disciples to meet Jesus. He has talked to God and heard the rumors of Jesus but still has doubt about who really is the messiah. Jesus’ response to John’s disciples is phenomenal. Jesus’ first response is him talking about the miracles that he performed that day but as the disciples are walking away he states “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in king’s palaces. A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.” John the Baptist’s disciples were astounded by the message Jesus provided and how he praised John the Baptist as a holy human and a true prophet. Amidst this pandemic, we need a prophet—a voice that provides us with holy truths. We should not only take in advice from social media or government rulers. We should also be listening to the voices of our faith—our parents, our church leaders, and our faith stories, the recollection of miracles documented in the Bible. They can give us hope in the wilderness, like John the Baptist and Jesus gave to those who trusted them.

Prayer: God, help us to turn to you during times of stress. The prophetic words of scripture can give us comfort in these crazy times. Help us to turn to faithful family members and friends for advice when we need it. May they guide us in ways of faithful and loving understanding. Amen.

Action: Read a parable that Jesus told or a miracle that Jesus preformed in the Bible. Then go outside and take a walk. While walking, think about the biblical story and how it impacted the witnesses, the people healed, or those who heard about the story. Do you think that they were encouraged by it? Where is God working in the world right now? How can we be encouraged by that?

Matthew Chapter 10 Devotion

Scripture: Matthew 10:1-42
Song of the Day: How Deep by Kings Kaleidoscope
Focus Verse: Matthew 10:40
In Matthew 10, the 12 disciples get sent by Jesus to heal those with sickness and disease. They are told to proclaim the message that “the kingdom of heaven is near.” The disciples are told to enter towns and search for a person worthy of the peace that they offer and stay with them. If the disciples are persecuted in one place, then they should flee to the next place. Jesus warns them that when the disciples admit to following Him, they will be treated poorly and punished by the people in command. He tells the disciples to continue to spread His word no matter what they face. He assures them that whoever acknowledges Him before others, He will also acknowledge before God in heaven. Whoever disowns Him before others, He will disown in heaven. Whoever does not put Jesus first, including  above their friends and family, is not worthy of what He offers. Anyone who welcomes the disciples also welcomes Jesus, and those who treat the disciples well will be rewarded.
As Christians, our job is to follow Jesus and spread His word and love. And those that do will be rewarded with eternal life. Although right now is a very uncertain time for all of us, as Christians we should still follow Jesus and spread His love because that is what we are called to do.
Prayer: God help us to remember our promise to welcome Jesus in our lives. When we welcome Jesus, we know we welcome you. Help us to welcome Jesus by loving the people around us. We can show this love by modeling the deep love you showed to us. Amen.
Action: Send someone a card (a real card!) with a message that shows Jesus’ love. Write a note, maybe to an older person or someone you know that lives by themselves, and send them some encouragement.