Matthew 14-16 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He responds to a courageous heart of faith

I’ve had some great friends in my life.  In fact, I had a friend that came and cleaned my kitchen floor for 14 years.  No matter what was dropped or spilled while cooking or eating, the mess was cleaned up by this faithful friend for all those years.  When my friend passed away several years ago, I grieved for quite some time; and even today, I miss that extra help in the kitchen.  Yes, Toby, my Miniature Schnauzer was a great friend and a good little floor cleaner.  He never missed a crumb!  I have to admit that sometimes I intentionally dropped a scrap or two just because I loved him.  It’s hard to believe, but Jesus had a discussion with a woman about this very thing! 

@ Matthew 15
“Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre and Sidon.  A Gentile woman who lived there came to him, pleading, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David!  For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely.’” (21-22)  Right from the beginning of this story, I liked this woman.  First of all, she was a mother on a mission to save her daughter.  I understand the heart of a mother whose child is sick.  We will do just about anything to save our children.  She had a mother’s heart.  Secondly, I admire her courage.  It was courageous for a woman, a Gentile woman nonetheless, to approach a Jewish man she did not know to ask a favor.  She was brave.

The woman was a Canaanite whose ancestors had been the bane of Israel’s existence, but she had obviously heard about the miracles of Jesus, disregarded her heritage and came to Jesus.  When Jesus informed this dear woman that He was sent only to help the Jews, she was undaunted by His response, “But she came and worshiped Him, pleading again, ‘Lord, help me!’”(25)  She was tenacious.

Strangely, Jesus again resisted her, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.” (26)  Jesus was reiterating the mindset of a majority of the Jews of His day.  They knew themselves to be children of God, and all others, well….were not.  However, Jesus, in His only trip outside of Palestine, was about to prove that His message was for everyone, and this courageous, tenacious mother was assisting Him whether she knew it or not.

The woman replied to Jesus, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.” (27)  What a clever response!  Evidently, she had a Toby or two in her life, canine friends who were only too happy to take whatever would come their way in order to satisfy their needs.  And this woman was not too proud to receive whatever the Lord would do for her, scraps and all.  She was humble.

“Dear woman,’ Jesus said to her, ‘your faith is great. Your request is granted.’ And her daughter was instantly healed.” (28)  No doubt through the faith of this woman, news spread throughout this Gentile region about Jesus, the healer of Jew and Gentile alike.  She had great faith.

It’s easy to allow hindrances to keep us from receiving the miracles that God has for us.  Are we willing to walk down the aisle at church for prayer, admitting we have a need?  Are we brave?  Will we ask again and again from the Lord until we receive?  Are we tenacious?  Will we humble ourselves and receive whatever the Lord has for us, however He chooses to give it?  Are we humble?  Will we believe that God is able to do anything we ask?  Have we great faith?  Apparently, these are things that grab the heart of God and cause Him to grant our requests. 

Moving Forward:  I believe the Lord has set a banquet for me today; but even if He offered only a scrap, only a crumb, it would be just what I needed for my miracle. 

Tomorrow @ Romans 13-14

Matthew 11-13 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: His yoke is easy and His burden is light

I fondly remember the first time I walked into a bakery in Paris and viewed the vast array of French pastries. Be still my heart!  As I walked back and forth in front of the pastries, I saw chocolaty éclairs, buttery croissants, eggy sweet brioche, nutty tarts and many other delectable sweets.  Choosing just one was painful, but for the sake of my well-being, it was necessary to decide on just one.

That’s how I felt today reading Matthew because it holds so many great truths from the words of Jesus Himself.  How do I choose to share about just one?  Fortunately, many of the His truths from our reading today are woven together into one great thought.  By the way, at the bakery, I chose the Chocolate Almond Croissant with that gooey creamy filling – a little bit of everything together in one great pastry! 

@ Matthew 11
Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”(28-30)  These verses spoken by Jesus and found only in Matthew are some of the most comforting words in the Bible to me.  The burdens of this life can be difficult to carry, but Jesus offers a remedy for us.

There is a yoke of responsibility that comes with living on this earth and living for God, and those who attempt to live a yoke-free life often shirk their responsibilities and live only for themselves.  One might think that those already bearing a heavy burden certainly don’t need the burden of yet another yoke, but Jesus was saying try my yoke instead, trade your yoke of heaviness.  A yoke is simply the framework used to carry a load, and a proper yoke is an easy yoke, one that balances the load and makes the task much easier. This is the yoke that Jesus offers us.

In the following chapter, Jesus went on to give examples of the yokes that burden us and make us weary.  The man-made laws of the Pharisees did not allow the disciples to pick wheat for lunch nor did they allow Jesus to heal a man on the Sabbath.  Those with a religious spirit are always more concerned about legalistic rituals than they are about man’s needs and they have little desire for the supernatural work of God.  Jesus said, “You would not have condemned my innocent disciples if you knew the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’”(7)  His yoke is easy and full of mercy.

The parables of Jesus that followed were examples of what He meant by, “Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  For all those who would take the yoke of Jesus and learn from Him, they would be good soil and reap a great harvest. (13:23)  The parables of mustard seed faith, planting good seeds, hidden treasures, the pearl of great worth and all His teachings are words that will bring understanding to our hearts and lighten the load we carry.

The difference between the yokes of this world with their heavy burdens and the yoke that Jesus offers to us is that it is balanced by His merciful love.  Yes, without a doubt, to follow Him we must keep His commandments, but in the keeping of them, He gently guides us along in the process.  So Jesus says to us today, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens,” cast away the yokes of man’s rituals and expectations and the taunts from the enemy, throw away the yokes that make you heavy and downhearted, take my yokeand be light and easy.  Jesus has made us an offer we really can’t refuse. 

Moving Forward:  I won’t wear the yoke of heavy burdens today because I’ve chosen to wear His yoke, and I feel as light as a feather. 

Tomorrow @ Romans 11-12

Matthew 14-16 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He responds to a courageous heart of faith

I’ve had some great friends in my life.  In fact, I had a friend that came and cleaned my kitchen floor for 14 years.  No matter what was dropped or spilled while cooking or eating, the mess was cleaned up by this faithful friend for all those years.  When my friend passed away several years ago, I grieved for quite some time; and even today, I miss that extra help in the kitchen.  Yes, Toby, my Miniature Schnauzer was a great friend and a good little floor cleaner.  He never missed a crumb!  I have to admit that sometimes I intentionally dropped a scrap or two just because I loved him.  It’s hard to believe, but Jesus had a discussion with a woman about this very thing! 

@ Matthew 15
“Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre and Sidon.  A Gentile woman who lived there came to him, pleading, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David!  For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely.’” (21-22)  Right from the beginning of this story, I liked this woman.  First of all, she was a mother on a mission to save her daughter.  I understand the heart of a mother whose child is sick.  We will do just about anything to save our children.  She had a mother’s heart.  Secondly, I admire her courage.  It was courageous for a woman, a Gentile woman nonetheless, to approach a Jewish man she did not know to ask a favor.  She was brave.

The woman was a Canaanite whose ancestors had been the bane of Israel’s existence; but she had obviously heard about the miracles of Jesus, disregarded her heritage and came to Jesus.  When Jesus informed this dear woman that He was sent only to help the Jews, she was undaunted by His response, “But she came and worshiped Him, pleading again, ‘Lord, help me!’”(25)  She was tenacious.

Strangely, Jesus again resisted her, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.” (26)  Jesus was reiterating the mindset of a majority of the Jews of His day.  They knew themselves to be a children of God, and all others, well….were not.  However, Jesus, in His only trip outside of Palestine, was about to prove that His message was for everyone, and this courageous, tenacious mother was assisting Him whether she knew it or not.

The woman replied to Jesus, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.” (27)  What a clever response!  Evidently she had a Toby or two in her life, canine friends who were only too happy to take whatever would come their way in order to satisfy their needs.  And this woman was not too proud to receive whatever the Lord would do for her, scraps and all.  She was humble.

“Dear woman,’ Jesus said to her, ‘your faith is great. Your request is granted.’ And her daughter was instantly healed.” (28)  No doubt through the faith of this woman, news spread throughout this Gentile region about Jesus, the healer of Jew and Gentile alike.  She had great faith.

It’s easy to allow hindrances to keep us from receiving the miracles that God has for us.  Are we willing to walk down the aisle at church for prayer, admitting we have a need?  Are we brave?  Will we ask again and again from the Lord until we receive?  Are we tenacious?  Will we humble ourselves and receive whatever the Lord has for us, however He chooses to give it?  Are we humble?  Will we believe that God is able to do anything we ask?  Have we great faith?  Apparently, these are things that grab the heart of God and cause Him to grant our requests. 

Moving Forward:  I believe the Lord has set a banquet for me today; but even if He offered only a scrap, only a crumb, it would be just what I needed for my miracle. 

Tomorrow @ Romans 13-14

Matthew 11-13 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: His yoke is easy and His burden is light

I fondly remember the first time I walked into a bakery in Paris and viewed the vast array of French pastries. Be still my heart!  As I walked back and forth in front of the pastries, I saw chocolaty éclairs, buttery croissants, eggy sweet brioche, nutty tarts and many other delectable sweets.  Choosing just one was painful, but for the sake of my well-being, it was necessary to decide on just one.

That’s how I felt today reading Matthew because it holds so many great truths from the words of Jesus Himself.  How do I choose to share about just one?  Fortunately, many of the His truths from our reading today are woven together into one great thought.  By the way, at the bakery, I chose the Chocolate Almond Croissant with that gooey creamy filling – a little bit of everything together in one great pastry! 

@ Matthew 11
Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”(28-30)  These verses spoken by Jesus and found only in Matthew are some of the most comforting words in the Bible to me.  The burdens of this life can be difficult to carry, but Jesus offers a remedy for us.

There is a yoke of responsibility that comes with living on this earth and living for God, and those who attempt to live a yoke-free life often shirk their responsibilities and live only for themselves.  One might think that those already bearing a heavy burden certainly don’t need the burden of yet another yoke, but Jesus was saying try my yoke instead, trade off your yoke of heaviness.  A yoke is simply the framework used to carry a load, and a proper yoke is an easy yoke, one that balances the load and makes the task much easier. This is the yoke that Jesus offers us.

In the following chapter, Jesus went on to give examples of the yokes that burden us and make us weary.  The man-made laws of the Pharisees did not allow the disciples to pick wheat for lunch nor did they allow Jesus to heal a man on the Sabbath.  Those with a religious spirit are always more concerned about legalistic rituals than they are about man’s needs and they have little desire for the supernatural work of God.  Jesus said, “You would not have condemned my innocent disciples if you knew the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’”(7)  His yoke is easy and full of mercy.

The parables of Jesus that followed were examples of what He meant by, “Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  For all those who would take the yoke of Jesus and learn from Him, they would be good soil and reap a great harvest. (13:23)  The parables of mustard seed faith, planting good seeds, hidden treasures, the pearl of great worth and all His teachings are words that will bring understanding to our hearts and lighten the load we carry.

The difference between the yokes of this world with their heavy burdens and the yoke that Jesus offers to us is that it is balanced by His merciful love.  Yes, without a doubt, to follow Him we must keep His commandments, but in the keeping of them, He gently guides us along in the process.  So Jesus says to us today, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens,” cast away the yokes of man’s rituals and expectations and the taunts from the enemy, throw away the yokes that make you heavy and downhearted,“Take my yoke,” and be light and easy.  Jesus has made us an offer we really can’t refuse. 

Moving Forward:  I won’t wear the yoke of heavy burdens today because I’ve chosen to wear His yoke, and I feel as light as a feather. 

Tomorrow @ Romans 11-12