Saturday, April 29, 2017

Cry for Mercy

27As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!”
28When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”
“Yes, Lord,” they replied.
29Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; 30and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” 31But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region. (Matthew 9:27-31)

Thoughts: The call of the two blind men is our call as well: "Have mercy on us King!"  We are blind to God and blind to the darkness of our own sin.  We are quick to condemn others and to be angry and slow to listen.  We need mercy, and their recognition is that Jesus, as the Son of King David, was able to govern and give mercy.
      Jesus asked them if they believed he could heal their blindness.  They asked him too, but it is possible to ask and not really expect help.
        Jesus healed them by touching them.  Some he healed without touching (like the centurion's servant and  Lazarus).  Some, he lifted up- like the little girl he raised from the dead.  But here he touched them and made them whole.
         Why did Jesus tell them not to tell anyone.  It was when the crowds came back to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday that the plot to kill Jesus took effect.  Jesus knew that if people really saw that he could heal them, there would be an onslaught of people coming for help.  Jesus main mission was to heal through the cross not just the blind, dumb, and hurting.  Out task is to cry for mercy and then to believe that with God nothing is impossible!

Prayer: Lord, have mercy on me.  Do not treat me as I deserve.  But help me to live for your sake, honoring you with my faith and action.  

Friday, April 28, 2017

Healing of the Dead and the Bleeding

18While he was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, “My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.” 19Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples.
20Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”
22Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.
23When Jesus entered the synagogue leader’s house and saw the noisy crowd and people playing pipes, 24he said, “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. 25After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. 26News of this spread through all that region. (Matthew 9:18-26)

Thoughts: These two healings go together and contrast. One is a girl who is dead.  The other is an older woman who was bleeding- hemorrhaging for years.  Both these healings show tremendous humility.  The synagogue ruler knlt and had faith that Jesus could even raise his dead daughter.  The woman said, If I can only touch the edge/tassel of his cloak, I will be healed.  She had no hope in the doctors, or in the medicine of his day.
     The crowd doesn;'t have faith in Jesus.  But the father of the girl and the woman who was bleeding had faith.  Faith unlocks the key to power.  If we do not have faith 2 squelch the power of god.   The power of Jesus to help whe no one else had hope for help should encourage us all to look to God and have faith. 

Prayer: Lord, help me to take heart and to look to you, the Great Physician.  

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The New and the Old

16“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. 17Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

Thoughts:  Life is constantly changing.  Who would have thought forty years ago that there would be only a handful of pay phones?  Who would have thought in 1998 when Kodak was running three shifts full speed, that people would stop using film for pictures altogether in seven years.  Change happens like it or not.  It is a part of living.  But we do not worship change, and we need to be careful how we handle it.
    Jesus addresses change in this passage.  His disciples are different from John the Baptist's disciples or the Pharisees.  He is different from them.  He came to make a change- to make a difference.  He is not nearly concerned about the old structures that supported the old theories, as He is of making things new.  Jesus came to bring hope, love, grace infusing these things into an old religion that had become bogged down in rules- losing the heart of what they do.
     The church changes.  New ideas, if they are valid and tested by the Word of God, should be nurtured and given room to grow.  One of the mottos of the Reformation is "Reformed and ever reforming according to the Word of God."  That is, we must make sure it is wine before we put it into the wine skins; and the wine testing is the scripture.  Yet, we are to continually be reforming and changing- adapting to the providence around us- where God is molding and meets us.  Too often the words "we've never done it that way before" get in the way.  The church does not exist to shore up the structure but to shore up the soul.  

Prayer: Lord, help me to go with the flow of change and to guard my heart.  

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Room to Be a Happy Follower

14Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?”
15Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast. (Matthew 9:14-15) 

Thoughts: There is a time to weep and a time to dance Ecclesiastes says.   Jesus came to tell the people to repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand, but he also came to give them joy, healing, and hope.  Jesus doesn't want us to spend our whole lives fasting and in sorrow.  He came to release us from having to make up for sin by His blood on the cross.  Jesus said, "I have come that they might have life and have it to the full [abundantly\ Jn. 10:10.  The Messiah only ministered for three short years.  Those years were to be enjoyed and celebrated.  There is a clear break here between the followers of John whose call was simply to repent and be baptized and Jesus who asks us to repent, be baptized, and then follow Him into the hope of new life.  There is a joy to the world because the Lord has come-- let earth receive her King.  Let heaven and nature sing!  There is room- even a calling to be a positive follower of Christ.  The world may crucify you- but there is a resurrection.  God wins in the end- and for that we should have hope and joy.  As Paul said, "Be joyful always...rejoice in the Lord always again I say, "Rejoice!"

Prayer: Lord, may your joy overflow in my life.  Keep me from being too dour.  Even when I see my own sin- give me hope of your forgiveness and courage to follow you.  

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

God for Sinners

9As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
10While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:9-13)

Thoughts: Matthew writes of his own testimony.  Matthew was willing to leave his despised but lucrative life as a tax collector to be a follower of Christ.  Matthew had found hope and purpose beyond just earning money.  He wanted to share that hope with his former friends- who were not religious leaders but other tax collectors and sinners.  Tax collectors were despised because they worked with the hated Romans.  Sinners were those who not only sinned but did not repent or live by faith.  The Pharisees wanted to keep themselves pure from collaborators with Gentiles and those who lived selfish, evil lives.  But it is not the healthy who need humility and repentance but those who are in need.
    This doesn't teach us to hate the rules as much as it should teach us to be more gracious and loving than we tend to be.  It also should teach us to befriend people that may not have it altogether.  We do not have to have it altogether to come to Jesus.  Jesus comes to us in love and helps us to get it together.  It is not that these people Jesus ate with do not have needs- they need a "doctor" and healing.  But the doctor went among the sick, and we are called not to live in holy huddles- with the salt of the world still in the salt shaker.  We are called to get out there- and to let the light and love of Christ shine through us.  

Prayer: Lord, help me to be humble and listen to you.   Give me grace to care for the hurting in life- those who need a little extra grace.  Thank you that you pour your grace on me when I do not deserve it.  

Monday, April 24, 2017

Forgiveness and Healing

1Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. 2Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”
3At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!”
4Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?5Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 6But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” 7Then the man got up and went home. 8When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.  (Matthew 9:1-8)

Thoughts: The main point of this passage is to show that Jesus can forgive sins- which is a divine thing to do.  But there are some important secondary things here too.
      The sick man was brought to Jesus by four individuals.  We are to be carriers of the cot.  We are called to bring people to the One who can help them far more than we can.  He is the One who can forgive sins and also heal us- in this life or the next.  
This also tells us of the authority of Jesus.  How do we know he forgives?  He enables a man to walk as a sign of his forgiveness.  Many are weighed down with sickness because we are unable to get over our past and our guilt.  Jesus knew and proclaimed inner healing that showed itself in physical exterior healing.  By His wounds that give forgiveness we are healed.
      Even today, Jesus still brings healing and hope through forgiveness.  Though our sins are as scarlet, in Him they shall be as white as snow.  
In the end, this proclamation of healing and forgiveness brings praise to God.  

Prayer: Lord, heal me, help me and make me whole.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Jesus, the demoniacs and pigs

28When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes,c two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way.29“What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”
30Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. 31The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.”
32He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. 33Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region. (Matthew 8:28-34)

Thoughts: Jesus went into what is considered enemy territory- the territory of the Gentiles.  Demon possession in the pagan world of that time was a common occurrence.  To be filled with a spirit could help with fortune telling or power. The two men were violent- wild men.  You would think that the people of that area would want them healed so they could pass that way.
     The demons gave testimony to Jesus.  They called him "Son of God." They also spoke of his authority to control them.  They also pointed out an appointed time when they knew they would be defeated under His control.
      When Jesus sent the demons into the pigs (Jews saw pigs as despicable animals that they could not eat), the pigs destroyed themselves.  This points out that these demons were destroying the two men.  But the healing of the two men was not as important as the commerce they could get from the pigs.  So it is in our day.  We are not nearly concerned for the well  being of people as we are that our profit continues to grow.  Much less would we care for the spiritual well being of others.  The defeat of the idea of a Sabbath as something that a society ought to keep is an example of this.  We do not value rest, family, and time to collectively catch our breath as much as we value being competitive and possibly making more.  Christians are called to value people and faith more than money.  

Prayer: Lord, help me to value you and your peace more than money.  Help me to value money less and you more.