Introduction to the Gospel of Matthew Devotion Studies

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The past couple of years or so, I have spent time studying the Gospel of Matthew. With the use of only the Bible as a cross-reference, I took a few minutes most days to study the passages in Matthew. My desire and goal was to do this study daily, but due to intervening circumstances, I was not able to do it every day. But I tried.  Anyway, I would like to share with you my devotional study of the Gospel of Matthew in hopes that you will enjoy it and glean insights from it.  I started with 15 minutes, then gradually it grew to 30 minutes a day. Sometimes, I was able to have a good 40 to 50 minutes, it depends on how early I get up in the morning.  My schedule sometimes is not able to do it, but I try to be consistent. And sometimes with travel schedules, it is a bit challenge to be consistent with my daily quite time. However, with the Lord’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, He keeps me going.

If you are interested to try this, here is a simple guide for a Daily Quiet Time (DQT) or hang-out with Jesus!

Spend a few minutes day with the Lord in His Word. If you could do one hour, that would be great! Sit still and think of God’s goodness. Thank Him for one or two things that He gave you for the day – the sunshine, clean water, etc. Thank Him for the big things – a call from a friend, passing a school test or a job promotion!  And praise God for who He is – our Creator, the giver of life and the God of all. If you like singing, you could also sing a simple hymn or praise-song to the Lord!

Then take time in His Word. Read a chapter or a short passage in the Bible. I like to read systematically and chronologically, as it helps me with the sequence of events or story line. I like using the New King James version Bible as I am more comfortable with it, but you could use any version of the Bible that you are most comfortable with.

Ask the Holy Spirit to give you a spirit of revelation and wisdom. Some Christians who study the Bible look for what the Lord is saying to them through the passage, that is His message for them. For me, I like to look at the character of God in every story or Bible passage. As I study and read the words of God in the Bible, I get to know more about His character and His attributes. Through the stories and passages, I see and learn that God is good, merciful, just, compassionate, tender-hearted, patient, loving, holy, righteous, sovereign and powerful.

Other guidelines that help me with my study are the use of this questions in the story: Who, What, When, Where or Why or How. Who was speaking in the passage, Who he is speaking or who is the audience. What was said, How it was said, Where is the location, or Why it was said. These questions helped to understand the context of the story or the passage in the Bible.

I also included in the study guide, a portion of writing “your thoughts” and “your prayers”.  Your thoughts could include “Application” and answer to question such as “What the study meant to you? How it would help you in your day to day life.

So, I challenge you to take the time – start with a few minutes a day spending time with the Lord Jesus and His Word and see how He will reveal Himself to you.

Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

The Word of God has changed my life, and it is still changing me up to now. The Word of God has changed my heart, my attitude, and my character. That’s how powerful it is.  And the Word of God has changed countless others from all walks of life, from the many different nations and continents, and in every place throughout all generations.

Three Chords!

29572864_10155561896358657_6184239175297045074_n.jpgReading:  Matthew 25:14-30 (NKJV)

Matthew 25:14-30

Title:  Three Chords!

“He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’”  Matthew 25:22 (NKJV)

I remember the time when I first started learning to play guitar. My good friend Aida told me, “If you learn three cords, you can play some simple songs.” Her words encouraged me.  However, after a few practice sessions with just three cords, my fingers were already sore.  Thankfully, my friend kept encouraging me, with the chords A, D & G, soon I was able to play a couple of simple praise songs to the Lord.

I was so excited that I bought a nice guitar!  I practiced and learned more songs even though, in the past, I thought I did not have any musical ability.  Later, as life and work became busy, I had no time to play and practice. So, I gave my guitar to a friend. After a couple of years, another friend gave me a guitar – which I also gave away. Then another guitar came.  I began to realize that maybe the Lord wanted me to be serious about playing the guitar. So, I returned to playing guitar and learned more chords.  As I learned more chords and more praise & worship songs, I found that my relationship with the Lord was strengthened and deepened.  I may not play or sing well, but I feel the presence of the Lord whenever I play guitar and worship Him.

Now, with the help of David my husband, I play the guitar, he sings and together we worship and praise the Lord.  As I look at my folder of songs, I am amazed and grateful to the Lord to see that it now contains many songs.  I started with just three chords and a few songs. Now, with the Lord’s help, I can play more than seven chords and have more than fifty song sheets in my folder! With this experience of playing three chords at the start, and then the Lord helped me learn more chords as I keep on practicing, reminded me of this verse in Matthew 25:24, “Lord you delivered me two talents, looked I gained two more talents besides them”.

Reflection:

When we give even one talent to the Lord, He multiplies it.

Prayer:  Dear Lord, thank you for the gifts and talents You give us.  Help us to worship and honor You as we use them each day.  Amen.

 

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“Is anyone among you sick?…”

14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 [j]Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, [k]fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

James 5:14-16 (NKJV)

Last week, we were invited to share and speak at OSL. The Order of St. Luke, (OSL) is a prayer group in Gadsden that meet every first Thursday of the month. The main focus of the group is to pray for the sick. David felt led to share a message on James chapter 5 verses 14 to 16. And to share with you this message, here is his notes. We hope this will encourage you too.

SCRIPTURAL BASIS FOR ANOINTING THE SICK WITH OIL AND PRAYING FOR THEM

Reading: James 5:13-16

(Parallel scriptures:  Mark 6:7-13 & Mark 16:14-18)

  1. There is no “magic” in the anointing oil. We are simply obeying the scriptures when we anoint the sick and pray for them.
  2. “The sick are healed not by the elders’ power, nor by the anointing oil, but by the Lord’s intervention – either through indirect means (medical treatment) or His supernatural healing.”  (Dr. David Jeremiah)
  3. All healing is from God – whether through medical treatment & the body’s natural healing processes OR through a miracle from God.
  4. It follows that healing can be accomplished over a period of time OR in an instant if God so chooses.
  5. Faith plays an important role:
  6. “And the prayer of faith will save the sick…” (James 5:15)
  7. Remember to have faith in God for healing, however, not faith in faith!
  8. But we must be careful not to assume, when someone is not healed in the way that we want, that it was because of a lack of faith.
  9. Sometimes, God allows sickness or infirmity for a reason:
  10. To keep one humble and to show God’s power through our weakness:
  11. “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.  And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’  Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”  (II Corinthians 12:7-9)
  12. To discipline a believer:
  13. “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (I Corinthians 5:4-5)
  14. “Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.  For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.  For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.  For if we judged ourselves, we would not be judged.  But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.”  (I Corinthians 11:27-32)
  15. However, we must be careful not to assume that someone has sin in their lives when they are not healed in the way we wanted.
  16. Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth, and His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in Him.”  (John 9:1-3)
  17. “There were some present at that season who told Him (Jesus) about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things?  I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.  Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem?  I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.’”  (Luke 13:1-5)
  18. To accomplish a greater purpose which will benefit others and glorify God
  19. Joni Eareckson Tada – though God did not heal her, she has inspired millions of people with disabilities
  20. To take believers home to be with Him

In some instances, God chooses to heal someone by taking them to be with Him.  Remember that this world is not our home.  In the words of the old Wayne Watson song, “At the ultimate healing we will be Home Free.”

  1. Notice the role that confession has in healing:

“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”  (James 5:16)

We have all heard that confession is good for the soul, but it is good for the body, too!  We protestants, since we believe in the priesthood of all believers, do not believe that we need to confess our sins to an earthly priest in order to be forgiven.  This is evident from I John 1:9:

“If we confess our sins, He (Jesus) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

However, there is value in confessing our sins to our spouse, a trusted friend, or a prayer partner – someone we know that we can trust – who will not repeat the matter as gossip.  (Share Christian Brothers prayer time as an example.)  Such confession is incredibly freeing, ridding our soul of unnecessary guilt and condemnation.  (No guilt trips!)  Confessing our sins to our spouse, a trusted friend, or a prayer partner also helps that person to hold us accountable for our actions.

  1. Effective/Fervent prayer is a powerful force:

“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”  (James 5:16b NKJV)

“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”  (James 5:16b NIV)

  1. So, let’s spend some time now praying for each other – especially for those who are in need of the Lord’s healing touch.      By: David Creel

 

 

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“He leads me beside the still waters”

Reading: Psalm 23:1-6 NKJV

A few years ago, I served at a children’s home in a remote village in the northwestern part of Bolivia.

One day, I was invited to visit a family who lived on a farm in the middle of the rain forest.  I volunteered to help the family harvest their crop of corn.  Four small boys also came to help.  After harvesting the corn on a hot noonday, I saw the boys run to the woods.  I tried to follow them, but they outran me, and I lost them.  Then, after a brief search, I found them next to a nearby stream, drinking from the still water.  I sat down and joined them, and we all drank from the quiet stream.  Oh, it was so good drinking from the cool stream in the middle of that long, hot day!  It was so refreshing, so soothing. I soon forgot my weariness and was ready to walk another two miles through the woods, following one of the boys who knew the trail well.

Just like the little boy who showed me the refreshing stream and then led me out of the woods, my Shepherd is an even better guide than my little friend.  He knows where to take me and where to lead me.  As my Good Shepherd and Lord, He leads me to the still waters. In my quiet times of prayer and study of His Word, my Good Shepherd quenches my spiritual thirst, my soul is refreshed, and my strength is renewed.

Prayer:

Thank you Lord that you continue to lead us to the still waters when we get tired and weary from trials and worries in life. Help us to have inner peace when troubles come our way.

 

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Jesus loves the little children!

Jesus loves the little children!

Matthew 19:14

14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there. (NKJV)

In Matthew 19, Jesus was in the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And a great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them there (v.2 ). Then, the Pharisees and the disciples of Jesus had a discussion with Jesus on marriage and singleness. (v.3-12).

After that, some people brought little children to Jesus that He may bless them(v.13).  The disciples thought that the children may only bother Jesus. Maybe the disciples thought, their Master Teacher was too busy -with healing and teachings. So, they thought He maybe too busy to be bothered by small children.

However, to the surprise of the disciples, Jesus said,

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

And Jesus laid His hands on those children, then left the place. (v.15)

When Jesus was here on earth, He had shown love and care to the little children.  Jesus was not too busy to care for the children. In Matthew 18, 3 & 4 Jesus said,

“Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me”.

Jesus loves the little children because they are humble and pure in heart. The little children do not have pride and pretension. Mostly, they are truthful and honest. And children want to come to Jesus. They like to be with Jesus and they are not afraid of Jesus. They love to be with Jesus! That’s why Jesus loves the little children. And He wants us to have faith like the little children. The children believe whatever is told them, and they have pure hearts.

Prayer: Dear Lord Thank you for you love for us, and for the children. I praise You that You love us all- both small and great.  Help me Holy Spirit to have a heart and faith like a little child. And help me bring some children to You and to Your Kingdom.

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