Day #12: The True Family of God

One of the more unusual events of Christ's ministry is recorded at the end of Matthew 12. It involves a time when He was told that his mother and brothers were there to see Him. At first, you might have thought that He would have been overjoyed to see His family, but when reading a bit further in the Gospels you will find that there was some friction between Jesus and His brothers. Whatever this problem was on the brothers part was clearly dispelled after the resurrection, for we see both James and Jude becoming disciples of Christ after that time.


Leaving this behind, we come to one of the most interesting factors in our relationship with Jesus, and it is revealed in His response to His family coming to see Him. He said:


"Who is My mother and who are my brothers?" and He stretched out His hands towards His disciples and said, "Here are My mother and My brothers. For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother."

Matthew 12:48-50, NKJV


There is a great truth in this statement that will help us all in our quest to become followers of Christ: To be part of His family one must do the will of God.


Pretty simple, when you think about it. This is why we read!


Today's reading is from the 12th chapter of Matthew. As with all of God's Word, it contains keen insight into what God expects from His children.

Day #11: Jesus Will Take Your Burden (If You Let Him)

"Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
Matthew 11:20-30, NIV


Of all the offers Jesus has made us, this is one of the best. We look back upon a difficult year and forward to one that may be even more challenging, and realize that we cannot do it on our own - no one can. We see the turmoil that is going on, combined with the worry for health that so many have for themselves and loved ones, and then add in the poverty and uncertainty created by the shutting down of business, and we realize that it is simply too much for a person to bear.


It has always been so, from the beginning of time until now. People have struggled with the happenstances of life, plus the problems caused by sin, and you have to conclude that life has always been too hard for man to tackle on his own. That's where Christ comes in: He has offered to exchange the physical, emotional and spiritual burdens that we all carry, for His burden that is light and easy.


And that "burden He offers us is a pleasant service to God. It's odd, though. So many do take Him up on his exchange, only to try and take their own burdens back. So, in the end, they find themselves with the gentle burden of Christ added to their own crushing burdens and it becomes the straw that broke the camel's back. So many people mistakenly conclude that Christianity is just too hard, failing to realize that the difficulty is not with the serving of Christ, but in the attempt to serve both God and the world. And those who make this error find the truth in Christ's statement that no man can serve two masters... we simply were not made for that kind of load.


So, if you have been carrying the "weight of the world" on your shoulders, why not try the offer that Christ has made - why not trade Him your burden for His? You have nothing to lose and everything to gain! 


Today's reading is from the 11th chapter of Matthew. It has the power to change your life if you will let it!

Day #10: Choose!

"Whoever acknowledges Me before men, I will also acknowledge him before My Father in heaven. But whoever disowns Me before men, I will also disown him before My Father in heaven."

Matthew 10:32-33, NIV


The setting for the statement by Christ is this: He has just gathered His new apostles, twelve in number, and is sending them out to preach to the lost sheep of Israel that the kingdom is at hand. The covenant is to be changed with Christ's death on the cross, and there will have to be a decision made: Will they acknowledge Christ as their Savior or will they continue in their sin and be lost?


The reason that we are taking the time to read the New Testament, every day, is because it reveals the truth about our existence here on earth, and our debt that we owe to Jesus. We have a short period of time - our life - to choose whether to acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God, to accept all of the terms of His covenant (found in the New Testament) and to live for Him. Those who fail to acknowledge Him, even those who do at first, only to disown Him later, will be lost. Those who do acknowledge Him, even those who failed to do so at first, and live the rest of their lives for Him according to the instruction of His Father, will be saved.


That instruction is found within the pages of the New Testament. We also need to read and study the Old Testament, for it contains the true history of man, the prophesies of Christ, and all of the things that we can know about God, from his holiness and love, to his rewards for the faithful and punishments for the unfaithful. But the Good News of Jesus is something we all must obey and, therefore, something we must all read and consider carefully.


In short, we must choose!


Today's reading is the 10th chapter of Matthew. I pray that you will read it, think carefully about it, and act upon it. The Word of God has the power to change your life, but you must first know what it says, and then choose to do it.

Day #9: Which is easier?

Then behold, they brought Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, "Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you." And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, "This Man blasphemes!" But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, "Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier to say, Your sins are forgiven you, or to say, arise and walk? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins" - then He said to the paralytic, "Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house." And he arose and departed to his house.

Matthew 9:2-7, NKJV


I believe one of the most serious problems to arise from the worldwide pandemic of the past year has been the loss of focus for many on the most important things. While it is true that the virus that has occupied the world's thoughts has been serious enough and many have indeed died from it, I believe it is nothing compared to the spiritual toll that it has taken. Now, I don't want to discount the fact that many people have drawn closer to God during this time, but many have also moved farther away. Each man will answer for his own deeds, and the question of whether you have moved closer or farther away from God must be answered on an individual basis.


So, the purpose of this devotional today is not one of judgment of others, it is one of introspection. Which have you found to be easier? To think about spiritual things, or physical? Hopefully, we are an intelligent people. We can "walk and chew gum" at the same time, so we can seek both the physical and the spiritual in our lives as well. But having viewed the anger and turmoil that so much of the world is experiencing at the present, it does make one wonder if this great focus on our physical well being has in ways diminished the more important focus on our spiritual health.


Which has been easier for you? To worry about your physical health, or to do something about your soul? It's something worth thinking about.


Today's reading is from the 9th chapter of Matthew. It shows how perfectly Jesus handled the physical and the spiritual and is a model for us all.

Day #8: The Storms of Life

"Then He got in the boat and His disciples followed Him. Without warning, a furious storm came upon the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke Him, saying, 'Lord, save us! We're going to drown!'  He replied, 'You of little faith, why are you so afraid?' Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm." 

Matthew 8:23-26, NIV


Do you get the feeling that we are in the midst of a storm? I think that many people feel that very way but, like Jesus' disciples of old, don't know what to do. The famous phrase that comes from this event, "ye of little faith" probably applies as much to us, at times, as it did to Jesus' disciples two thousand years ago. But, note the cure for this lack of faith: Turn to the Lord for help!


As have all peoples in all times of history, we have been given our share of storms. It shouldn't surprise us that there are storms in life, for they are part of God's test. The wonderful thing about this test is that we can always call on God for His assistance. He may not always calm the storms in the exact way that we would prefer, but He will always calm our souls, if we will let Him.


It's something worth thinking about, during times like these.


Today's reading is from the 8th chapter of Matthew. Read it. Think about it. Get a lesson from it and carry that lesson with you throughout the day. The Word of God has healing qualities, but they only work if you use them. I pray that God will richly bless your efforts as you seek to draw closer to Him through His word.