Matthew 21:23-32 – By What Authority?

Read Matthew 21:23-32

Jesus smelled a trap. “By what authority?” the religious leaders asked. By God’s authority or Satan’s or maybe just of men. Jesus knew this was not a simple question. Obviously we know the truth. Jesus’ authority is from God.

Yet, Jesus wanted to take back the control. He was willing to provide an answer but needed to hear their response first. They evaded a response, so Jesus didn’t give them what they wanted.

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Matthew 21:18-22 – Bye Bye Fig Tree

Read Matthew 21:18-22

We are getting ready for another big purge in our household. We did one when we moved to Mexico, and now it’s time to do one again. When you aren’t using something, or when something becomes useless and doesn’t work, get rid of it. Today’s reading confirmed that for me, and it may be exactly the push I need to get started. One cool thing here in Mexico is that people re-purpose things, find new ways to use, fix the broken. Our purging will be another’s blessing and not just adding to the trash pile.

Jesus let out a little of his frustration with the poor fig tree. It didn’t have the fruit he was looking for, so he cursed it. The tree withered and died. My first impression was, “Boy that was harsh!” What if it wasn’t blooming season? But then Jesus would know that. He had no patience for this tree without fruit when his hunger was telling him to eat.

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Mark 9:14-29 – Stronger Faith

Read Mark 9:14-29

Today’s reading happens directly after yesterday’s in real time. In case you missed yesterday, it’s the story of the transfiguration where Jesus took the inner circle (Peter, James and John) up the mountain where they experienced something miraculous, leaving them a bit awestruck.

We often experience those mountaintop experiences in our lives. Maybe after a wonderful worship service, a spiritual healing, a large worship concert, or conference with other believers. When we come back to reality, the every day routine, re-entry can often be challenging. We don’t want to lose that feeling.

Here, Jesus and the disciples had to assimilate very quickly as there was a crowd waiting. From our readings in Mark, it seems like this is an every day occurrence that people are clamoring for Jesus’ attention with one need or another. It may seem like that still today as we lift our prayers up, asking God for this or for that to make our lives better.

Our prayers should be more than that, shouldn’t they? I read an interesting statement once, and I may have even used this in my marketing. It went something like this:  “What if we woke up tomorrow with ONLY who and what we prayed for today?” That includes God. We need to never forget to whom we are praying.

He is worthy of our praise, and our praise should not be reserved for Sunday mornings. It’s an every day, every minute kind of thing. It should be our #1 purpose–to love and worship God at all times.

In our reading today, the frantic father cries out to Jesus, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” It would probably do us all good to make this cry part of our daily prayer.

Prayer is powerful. Our conversations with God are what keep us connected. We see another example of how powerful prayer is right here in today’s reading. The disciples had tried to heal the boy but failed. Jesus seemed a little impatient with them (but remember he is just back from a mountaintop experience). Jesus later told them what they had missed in their attempt. Prayer. Those stubborn demons require prayer to flee.

What demons are burdening you today? In the name of Jesus, and with prayer and belief, command them to flee.

Let’s pray. Lord, I come to you on bended knee, again humbled by your majesty and provision. Shield my heart from unclean thoughts and selfish desires. I long to know you more and share with others what you have done for me. May my life reflect you in all I say and do. I thank you for the mountaintop experiences I have had recently. I pray that as I get back to reality you will help me not be discouraged but instead to keep pushing forward. The best is yet to come, and I look forward to how you are going to use me and my voice. Thank you for your peace. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

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Hosea 1:1-2:1 – Message from God

Read Hosea 1:1-2:1

I wonder if Hosea liked being used by God? He certainly obeyed. Hosea did marry a prostitute, Gomer, and they had children. Just as God said, Hosea named his children. What negative names to brand a children, but the purpose was instead to send Israel a message. Israel had been disobedient. Judah had not.

It was being foretold that that Israel and Judah would merge at which time the children’s names would change. Interesting. I wonder how those children felt branded with such names. But the promise of restoration, in their lifetime, was there. Was Hosea aware of the plan from the get go, or did God reveal that only after he was obedient? 

How about us? When we are asked by God to act, are we obedient or do we tend to question God and his intentions? In writing these devotions, it was on my heart to do this, but I’m certain God put that desire there, and I want to be obedient. In other situations, we may feel unequipped to do what God is asking, but in those times, God’s strength wins the day through us.

Whatever the series of events for Hosea, a take-away for us is to witness his obedience. God is always faithful to those who love him.

The theme of Hosea begins with God’s desire to be loved and to love. His people are facing clear consequences because of their disobedience. God made us to be in relationship with him. He’s waiting on us. He wants us to come to him, spend time with him. We get so busy, fill our lives with lots of noise. We need to be still and listen.

What is God asking you to do?

Let’s pray. Father help me to shut out the noise and clear my crowded head. Refresh me in this moment. You are  mighty and your wisdom surpasses my understanding. Please reveal your intentions for me so that I can be obedient. Help me not to question my abilities but rely on you for your provision. I yearn for you to use me. May my words and deeds help restore this broken world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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