Mark 9:14-29; Matthew 17:14-21; Luke 9:37-43; Mark 9:30-32; Matthew 17:22-23; Luke 9:43-45; Matthew 17:24-27; Mark 9:33-37; Matthew 18:1-6; Luke 9:46-48; Mark 9:38-41; Luke 9:49-50; Mark 9:42-50; Matthew 18:7-35
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Matthew: Today in Matthew chapter 17 verse 20 stood out to me: ""You didn't have enough faith," Jesus told them. "I assure you, even if you had faith as small as a mustard seed you could say to this mountain, `Move from here to there,' and it would move. Nothing would be impossible."" As I think about this verse, I wonder about my own faith. How much faith do I really have? Do I have enough faith in Jesus? And in all of God's promises? Or - am I hedging my bets? Do I also place a lot of faith in my own power? My own skills? My own "smarts"? Do I truly have complete faith in Jesus and Jesus alone? If so, and if it was Jesus' will, do I believe that I could move mountains? Could you? I don't think that this idea of not having enough faith means that I need to "try harder" in any way. I think it means I simply need to depend more - rest more - relax more - give more - to Jesus. Trust in Jesus. Trust that his grace is enough... As a great Chris Tomlin song goes - "All of you is more than Enough, for all of me." Is Jesus more than enough for you?
Verses 25 & 26 are awesome as Peter is about to ask Jesus about the Temple Tax: "But before he had a chance to speak, Jesus asked him, "What do you think, Peter? Do kings tax their own people or the foreigners they have conquered?" "They tax the foreigners," Peter replied. "Well, then," Jesus said, "the citizens are free!"" Here we see that Jesus is recognizing himself as the King - and his disciples are his citizens who should not have to pay the tax. But - as to not offend those who did not realize that Jesus was the King, Jesus tells Peter where to find a coin, in the fish's mouth, to pay the tax.
Jesus' teaching in Matthew chapter 18 verses 3 & 4 are something for each of us to consider: ""I assure you, unless you turn from your sins and become as little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven." I find it interesting the order of the words - first, turn from your sin. THEN - after turning from your sins - become as little children. It seems that we cannot become humble as children without first turning from our sins. This makes sense if you think about it. If you are still living in sin, how can you become humble like a child? You must first repent of the sin before moving toward humility. I think this teaching is a tough one in our modern age. It doesn't sound quite right... become humble like a child? Why?? But, there is so much wisdom in it. Do you want to become humble like a child? Will you ask God to show you how to do this in your life?
Verses 19 & 20 are awesome: "I also tell you this: If two of you agree down here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together because they are mine, I am there among them." Again, these verses remind me of the importance of being in community with other believers regularly. The importance of church. And not just showing up to church on Sundays, but really investing in your church. Serving. Giving financially. Being part of a small group. Doing life together with others. Being the body of Christ. I will admit that there have been periods of my life where I really felt like I did not need the church. That I did not need to be in community. These have turned out to be lonely or hurried or stressful seasons when I look back on them! I realize now more than ever that I need the church. I love my church. I love everyone in my church - warts and faults and all - and I believe they love me in return, warts and faults and all. How about you? Do you have a church that you love? Do you have a community of believers that you love and that loves you? If not, will you pray to God to lead you to such a community? Do you believe that Christian community is important for you? (Please know that when I say church I am speaking very broadly of the body of Christ and all the various ways it manifest itself as church. For example, I have many friends who are part of the growing house church movement, which is a wonderful way to do church for many folks. For others it's the mega-church and for others the mainline church, and this list of examples of church could go on and on...)
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Matthew chapter 18 titled "Life Under Kingdom Authority" is at this link.
Today in Matthew chapter 18 we read about Jesus' strong teaching on the need for us to forgive others in our life. And not just to forgive someone once... but many many many times. Why? Because God has been so gracious to us - he has forgiven us for our many many many sins through our faith in Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. If God has forgiven us many times over - who are we to not forgive others many times over as well? Are we better than God? :) We all know the answer to this one. No. But, we are all called to forgive as gracefully as God has forgiven us. We are to forgive, just as we have been forgiven. Is there someone in your life today that you need to forgive? Will you?
Worship Video: It's been, oh, about 3 days since I've posted up a Casting Crowns video - much too long! :) I definitely love their ministry. Here's the song that started it all for them, "If we are the Body." I was reminded of this song in today's readings. This is definitely a song worthy of launching a ministry with the powerful lyrics: "But if we are the Body, why aren't His arms reaching? Why aren't His hands healing? Why aren't His words teaching? Why is His love not showing them there is a way? There is a way!" Jesus is the Way!
Are you part of the Body? Click here and learn that there is a Way!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on two verses of Scripture today: "Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." Matthew 18:19-20 NIV
Prayer Point: Pray that you would pray with others regularly. Pray that you would gather with two or three others regularly, coming together in Jesus' holy name.
Comments from You: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
p.s. Download our monthly Small Group study notes for our Chronological Bible readings at this link.
p.s. #2 - Download a schedule of our Chronological Bible readings for the year in PDF format at this link.
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