Bible Reading Plan
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Weekends: Read any passages of your choice or catch up if you’ve fallen behind 🙂

 
 
 
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How To Soul Journal
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Journal Entries
Every weekday you will find a journal entry here from someone different in our church family. 
 
Click the scripture title and scroll down to see a comments section where you can ask questions, share insights and post your own SOUL Journal entry for the day!
 

Matthew___24

Scripture  Matthew 24:6-8 & 13  You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.  For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs…But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. 

Observation-What does it say?  Before sacrificing himself on the cross, Jesus prophecies about the second coming.  He talks about things to expect as the precursors of this age, like war and famine. He warns of the false teachers and prophets that will come.  Finally, he tells his followers that they would be tortured and killed for following him.  

Some of Jesus’ predictions, like the destruction of the physical temple, have already come to be.  Additionally, we live in a time where we are already seeing many of these tragedies, like wars and famines, take place regularly all over the world.  This, then, poses the question of whether or not to expect the second coming sooner rather than later?

Understanding-What does it mean?  I saw a friend post a funny picture (read meme), and the comment in the picture read, “I have to workout in the morning, before my brain realizes what is going on.”  I really appreciated this, as it can be really difficult to convince myself that exercise is a good idea after I get off work. Other times, I have to warn myself of the pain that will be associated with the exercise that I am about to undertake, knowing that not only do the ends justify the means, but that the suffering during is part of what makes me a better person.  You have to embrace the suck.

While I am not schooled well enough to take a stance on whether we live in a premillenial, postmillenial, or amillenial world, I can tell that these end times sound both scary and horrible.  But is fear the stance we should take in approaching these times? Should we be concerned when Jesus will make his return? I think the simple answer is no. But, knowing what is to come makes the inevitable suffering easier to understand.  It helps me to embrace the suck.  

Multiple times in scripture we are warned that we will need to be prepared for trials associated with the choice of following after Jesus.  Jesus clearly tells us of this here, but we also hear it from Paul in his letter to the Ephesians, and from Peter in his letters. But, we are not expected to have the strength to endure these hardships on our own accord.  The Holy Spirit was sent to us as our helper for exactly this reason. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)  And in the Holy Spirit, we can rely on the body of Christ to give us strength to endure as we approach the end of times.  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;  and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:23-25)

Life Application  Jesus, help me not only to rest in the peace of your strength, but also a catalyst of encouragement to your body.  Help me to clearly hear the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and trusting the prompts he gives me. Help me to live out of love and not fear, for your perfect love casts out fear.  

-Tyler Galloway





Psalm 101

Scripture

Psalm 101 NIV

I will sing of your love and justice;

    to you, Lord, I will sing praise.

2 I will be careful to lead a blameless life—

    when will you come to me? 

Psalm 101 MSG

My theme song is God’s love and justice,

    and I’m singing it right to you, God.

I’m finding my way down the road of right living,

    but how long before you show up?

Observation 

A psalm of David. 

Understanding 

I live my life as worship to you.

With my mouth I will worship you. 

I discipline myself daily to live a life that follows after you, in your ways. 

When will you come to me? When will you fill me with your spirit? When will I have an encounter that will ruin me for anything this world has to offer? When will I experience you in a way that gives me what I need to keep persevering? 

Do you ever feel this way? You are doing all that you can do live right. You know who God is, “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love.” You have seen it evident in your life. 

And so, you speak of his love. You worship Him for who he is and what he has done. And yet, you need him to come. 

You need Him to come in a way that you have never experienced before. 

You need Him to come in a way that will inject you with His power, love, and joy! 

You need Him to come in a way that will bring dead things to life, restore vision, and keep you moving forward! 

I think we all feel this way at different times. I imagine that’s how Simeon felt waiting in the temple waiting to see the Messiah (Luke 2:25-35). He had been a righteous and devoted man. He had been doing what was right, at home I’m sure and also in the temple worshiping. After all, he had an encounter with Holy Spirit who revealed to him that he would see the Christ.  Even though he had that encounter, he wondered…when will you come?

Or what about the 120 in the upper room?( Acts 2 ) Many of them had already witnessed Christ and experienced him in a profound intimate way, that clearly changed their life. But they gathered and worshiped and prayed and they wondered… when will you come? 

Application

Be expectant. He is coming! 

I can’t help but imagine how the righteous felt the months and years before the first Christmas. All of the political, religious, and moral upheavals that were surrounding Israel and the gentiles. The prophecy from Genesis that spoke of the Messiah that was to come and save the world had been passed down and repeated for centuries. 

The righteous generations had waited. And now… they had encounters with God. They knew who He was, they spoke and worshiped about his love and justice. Their homes were filled with integrity and discipline and they wondered… when will you come?

Emmanuel, came to us in the time we needed him! He knows exactly when we need Him. He came in a way that was real, and intimate, and full of power, love, and grace and mercy! 

God, came to earth, with us! He spent 33 years in the flesh with them to give them what they needed for then and all eternity! 

Keep asking God for a deeper encounter with Him. He will come to us on time. 

I will sing of your love and justice;

    to you, Lord, I will sing praise.

I will be careful to lead a blameless life—

    when will you come to me? 

“oh come, oh come, Emmanuel” by King and Country. 

Deborah Lee 

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.  Rev. 22:20



Matthew_22

Scripture

Matthew‬ ‭22:37-40‬ ‭

“Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

 
Observation-What does it say?
 
The Pharisees are trying to trap Jesus with some questions. They are trying to catch Jesus slipping, so they can arrest him. One of the Pharisees, who was an expert in religious law, tried to trap Jesus with the question, “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”
‭‭
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
Jesus keeps it simple.
 
Jesus basically boils down the Ten Commandments into two simple ones. If one can obey them both, it makes following the other eight commandments simple.
 
By loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind, you are putting God first in your life. Which means we are putting His Will, above ours. Which ultimately leads to doing things in our life that pleases Him, rather than upsetting Him. Then by loving others as we love ourselves, we are putting others needs before our own (the way Jesus did). When we follow these two important commandments in life, it just makes following the other commandments come naturally. (Please read
Exodus 20: 2-17 to refresh your memory on these Commandments).
 
Life Application
 
Finding true joy in your life is simple.
 
Just like the way Jesus made following God’s Commandments simple, I learned a really simple way to experience true joy in my life. It’s basically the same principles Jesus taught in this passage. So you want to find true joy in life?! Follow this acronym: J-O-Y (Jesus-Others-Yourself). Easy to remember right?! Put Jesus first in your life, then others, and finally yourself. I believe by following these basic principles in life, you will experience God’s many blessings, and you will be able to find joy in whatever circumstance you are in! 😊 
 
-Moses Gaddi
 


Matthew___21

SCRIPTURE
 
Matthew 21:31-32; 43-46
 
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him……43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44 Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”
45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. 46 They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.
 
OBSERVATION-What does it say?
 
Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees and chief priests in most of this chapter. Through His actions and parables, He exposed their love of money, their judgment of children, their lack of integrity, their lack of bearing fruit, their pride, their fear of what others think of them, and their poor treatment towards Himself.
 
UNDERSTANDING-What does it mean?
 
Jesus is concerned with the heart, not the outward appearance.
 
Pharisees were very good at following the law. The Apostle Paul even spoke on his integrity towards keeping the law fully when he was Saul. However, what was missing in their lives were their hearts for Jesus. They refused to lose their lives to Him due to pride, fear of man and love for the world. As a result, none of the fruits of the Spirit were evident in their lives. They refused to repent (seek forgiveness and turn from their sin) and believe/have faith in Jesus. Instead, they chose to look down on everyone. Jesus said that the tax collectors and prostitutes would be entering the Kingdom ahead of them.
 
“The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭29:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬
 
LIFE APPLICATION
 
Jesus is our Savior, but He must also be our Lord and FIRST place in our lives.
 
Pastor Gary made a bold statement in one of his sermons. He basically said that he didn’t believe everyone in our church would be entering the Kingdom of heaven. Was that an unjust and cruel statement to make? Not at all because I completely agree and it’s based on Jesus’ words! Jesus said that not everyone who comes to Him saying, “Lord, Lord…” or claiming to do works in “His name” will enter the Kingdom, because He never knew them (See Matthew 7:21). They never had a true relationship with Him from their heart; the type of relationship that changes someone from the inside out; the type of relationship that bears fruit.
 
What are you holding on to that you are refusing to lose completely for the sake of Christ? What is taking God out of the first place throne of your life? Money/greed, anger, comfort, lust, fear of people, reputation, pride?
 
Let us be individuals who repents, has bold faith and bears abundant fruit for the sake of the Kingdom. It starts with us individually first in order to be contagious towards the whole church.
 
-Michelle Gaddi
 
 
 


Psalm_98

Scripture

Psalm 98:1

Sing to the Lord a new song,
    for he has done marvelous things;
his right hand and his holy arm
    have worked salvation for him.

Observation

The below is taken from the Enduring Word Bible Commentary:

https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/psalm-98/

Praising Yahweh with a new song.

Oh, sing to the Lord a new song!
For He has done marvelous things;
His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory.

  1. Sing to the Lord a new song: The idea of a new song is found in many places in Scripture (Psalms 33:3, 40:3, 96:1, 144:9 and 149:1; Isaiah 42:10; and Revelation 5:9 and 14:3). The concept of the new song means there should be something fresh and dynamic about worship and the songs we sing to God.
  2. For He has done marvelous things: The new song has a reason – to extol the great works of God, His marvelous It isn’t empty praise or singing for the sake of singing. The worship is connected to life experience of His marvelous things.
  3. His right hand and His holy arm: These are the instruments of God’s victory, the expressions of His skill and strength. As in Isaiah 52:10, the idea of His holy armis that God has rolled up His sleeve to do His mighty work. Together, His hand and arm have gained Him the victory.

Understanding

Elijah came home from Surge tonight singing a new song and with something “fresh and dynamic” in his energy.  It was a fight to get him out the door; but it was clear, when he had returned, that something had shifted.  He was talking about wanting to fast and the things that God had put on his heart.

I share this because it’s an example of the palpable refreshing that happens when we’ve been with God – we sing a new song, our hearts our filled and refreshed, our attention is reset and turned towards something far bigger and greater than ourselves or the immediate circumstances.  And why?  Because “he has done marvelous things.”  We don’t have to think to far ago to find some way where God has shown up in amazing ways – whether big or small.  Because He IS marvelous!  That’s His nature.   

Life Application

Get filled up!  As for a “how to” on getting filled up, a repeat from last week…

  • Fast, Pray, Remember, Catch it, Hear it, Act on it

God, I’m in awe of you and your marvelous ways!  Even while I’m sick and feeling so far from refreshed, I still see at work.  May I sing a new song.  May I be filled to overflowing and pour it out.  May I carry that palpable refreshing that only you provide everywhere I go.

Amen.

Rei

To check out the discussion or to join in click here.



Matthew___19

Scripture  Matthew 19:23-25 And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.  Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”  When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?”

 

Observation-What does it say?  Jesus enters into a series of short lessons that hit some points that are hard, and very contrary to popular belief.  The beginning of this chapter opens with a discussion about the lawfulness of divorce. Jesus makes a hard statement, that it is better to stay single than to get married and succumb to divorce, knowing that this is too hard for most people.  The next conversation flips the idea of societal status on its head. Jesus lived in a society that did not give much regard to children. Jesus tells his disciples that they should learn to be like children in order to accept the Kingdom of Heaven in their lives.  He then moves onto money, or whatever it is that we put in front of Jesus. For the rich young ruler, though he lived a chaste life, he still held his money in higher regard than a relationship with Jesus. Jesus made a point of showing that we must let go of that which is our most precious possession.  (For some of us, that might be our children).     

 

Understanding-What does it mean?  When we moved recently, I quickly found out how many things I really didn’t have as much attachment to as I thought.  As the moving process began to come to a close and we were running out of time, I found myself ruthlessly discarding items that I had held onto for years.  As we started unpacking, I found myself asking the same question over and over again, “Why did I keep this?” Hearing this enough times, I began to wonder what it was that I valued the most.  

 

The saying goes, “He who has the most toys wins.”  And it has become clear that this mentality is getting harder and harder to shake.  If one were to look at research into what Americans think are necessities now, which were once considered luxuries, you get the sense that we are clinging tighter and tighter to our toys.  Research has shown that the average American now finds things, like high-speed internet, phones and personal computers, as “necessities” instead of luxuries.      

 

God operates in a different economy than we do.  Throughout scripture, we hear that the first will be last, the poor in spirit will inherit the kingdom of heaven, that God gives strength to the weary.  He warned us that this is not our final home, and that we should not look to be storing treasure here (Matthew 6:19-21). We are also told, through Paul’s letter to the Philippians, that we are not to be selfish, but to look after the interest of others (verse 2:3-6).    

 

Life Application:  As we get closer to the celebration of Jesus’ birth, I know I need to look past the usual rush for getting the perfect present.  God help me to look for situations that I can give an unusual blessing. Help me to seek out the ones who are in need of a kind word.  Give me the opportunity to use my time and resources to bless those in need today. But mostly, help me to remember to put you in front of my possessions.

 

-Tyler Galloway





Matthew_18

Scripture 

Matthew 18:21- 35

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.[g]

23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold[h] was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[i] He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

 Observation 

How many times should we forgive someone, Jesus said seventy times seven. 

The king showed mercy on the man who owed him 10 thousand bags of gold and let him go.  

But the man who was forgiven went to a man that owed him 100 silver coins, significantly less, and demanded payment from him, even though he begged the man refused and had him thrown in jail. 

When the king heard what he had done, he had him tortured until he paid off the debt. 

Understanding

Forgiveness sounds excruciating doesn’t it. Well, maybe not all the time. Like when someone forgot to tell you they were not going to show up to dinner and you did all this hard work or I said something I shouldn’t have because I was stressed out, but you forgave me pretty quickly and we never spoke of it again. We were good. 

But how about when someone wrongs you so deeply! Like betrayal or theft. Why should you forgive the debt against them? They should know what they did and know it for a long time. 

Every time you see them you bring it up to them so they don’t forget. “It’s gonna take a long time to pay back the debt you owe to me, to repay me for the sin you did against me.”

I never realized that unforgiveness is like putting someone in jail and then torturing them. We incarcerate the other person with our hurts and anger, our frustrations and disappointments. We torture them with our shrewd comments and bad behavior, our cold relationship and broken communication. 

We do this as sinners. 

We do this as Christians. 

We do this to ourselves.

Application 

James 22:12 – 13

 “12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 

because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. 

Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

I think it’s time for a lot of US to walk out of the prison cell we have been holding ourselves captive. 

It’s time for a lot of US to set people free from our wounds. 

It’s time for a lot of US to be FREE from unforgiveness. 

He has extended mercy to us time and time again. We cannot possibly think that we can receive mercy from Him for our daily failures and not extend forgiveness and mercy to our brother and sister. 

Oh I know…! It sucks! They don’t deserve it… just like we don’t deserve it. 

It’s time to run to Him for healing. 

And while true repentance from the offender is a huge factor in reconciling any failed relationship and trust must be rebuilt, extending forgiveness is always the first step toward freedom and following in the example of our Father in heaven, our savior Jesus Christ, and our wonderful counselor Holy Spirit. 

 
Its time to set the captives free!
 
Father, you are a merciful God, slow to anger and abounding in love. You have been so good to me. Thank you! Father forgive me for my unforgiveness. Holy Spirit empower me to daily extend forgiveness and mercy to those who hurt me. I choose to forgive those who have hurt me and I choose to forgive myself for things that I have done so terribly wrong. I ask that you heal my heart, my soul, my mind, and my body. I choose to walk in freedom! In Jesus name, amen!
 
Deborah Lee


Matthew__17

Scripture

Matthew 17:20

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will by impossible for you.”
 

Observation

After He transfigures Jesus just heals a demon-possessed boy. After this encounter the disciples ask Him why they couldn’t do it. This verse is Jesus’ response to them. He tells them that faith whether big or small is more powerful than no faith at all. While reminding them that nothing is too great to overcome with faith.
 

Understanding

What mountains have you moved?

Imagine this: you just tried your absolute hardest to help someone in dire need. You do everything you can you pray, you pray some more, you phone a friend, they pray, they pray some more, and then they phone a friend and the cycle continues. You see no result and instead matters seem to be getting worse. Then your main man, Jesus, walks in and instantly solves the problem. You are elated, you’re excited that the issue got solved, but you’re a little sad that you couldn’t be the problem-solver. Because you love learning and growing you ask your main man, Jesus, why you couldn’t do it. Then the worst thing that you could ever imagine happens. Jesus thrashes your faith, He basically tells you that you have none. If that isn’t enough He seems a little (okay a lot) disappointed in you. What’s your next move? How do you recover from a devastating defeat?

I don’t know about you, but I love to learn except I hate to fail. From my short time here on earth, though, I have learned that you learn the absolute best from failing miserably. It is the greatest defeats that really make you reevaluate. I think that’s exactly what Jesus was going for here. I think He purposely shamed His disciples so that they would have a desire to do grow their faith. So what’s my main point in all of this? Put yourself in the disciples shoes for a minute. Evaluate your life and your faith and ask yourself: “What mountains have I moved recently?”

Jesus says that faith the size of a tiny mustard seed moves mountains. So if you aren’t seeing a victory where you want you one, how great is you faith that you will actually overcome it? Another thing I have learned in my short time here on earth, I am and I can do nothing without God. However, believing that alone isn’t enough. It’s encouraging to know that God is always with you, but it is ultimately faith that moves mountains. Meaning, it is being utterly convinced in the cause of Christ, the belief that He moves through you, and the courage to transform that into action that makes mountains move.
 

Life Application

What is your mountain?

Sometimes it is the realization that you have a mountain that you must overcome that helps you grow your faith. So ask yourself: What is holding me back from experiencing the fullness of the potential of my life? What am I too afraid to give to God? Throw that mountain into the midst of the sea. All it takes is faith.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Help us to have faith that is unmatched to any other emotion in this world. Help us to see all we need is you and you alone. May we be bold enough to tell our mountains to move. I believe in You, but more importantly all my faith is in You. Thank You for the stories of victories to come, may we be people that chase after Your heart.

Amen.

-Allison Khan



Matthew___16

Scripture

 
Matthew 16:24-25
 
24Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.
 
Observation-What does it say?
 
Jesus was speaking with His disciples and predicted His death. He rebuked (corrected with sharp disapproval and criticism), Peter’s response to his death because Peter was concerned about what Jesus said at the human level, not on the God level.
 
(Reference: Oxford dictionary)
 
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
Jesus had to die to save ALL of mankind, including His disciples. That was the cross that Jesus had to bear. His life was His offering to God.
 
Peter didn’t understand the big picture and that’s why Jesus was frustrated with what he said. If Jesus didn’t die, Peter and the rest of the world would not live and would still be under the wrath of a just God. I also believe that Jesus’ words to Peter was a foretelling of how Peter would betray Jesus. Peter’s denial of Jesus was because he was more concerned about what others would think of him (human concerns) instead of what Jesus thought of him.
 
Life Application
 
What does taking up your cross look like?
 
In Biblical times, with taking up one’s cross, people literally had to die for their faith in Jesus. All the disciples were martyred, except for John.
 
Some of us may still be called to physical martyrdom, but more commonly in today’s times, taking up one’s cross daily means doing everything different than the world does it. It’s a struggle because although we are called to not live OF the world, we still live IN it and can easily be influenced by it. That’s the importance of staying close to Jesus daily. Here are personal examples of how I’ve had to take up my cross and lose myself completely to Jesus.
 
-Forgiving people who have hurt me deeply and responding in love and kindness instead of chewing their head off and hurting them back the way they’ve hurt me.
 
-Choosing to live a lifestyle different from everyone else in order to be more generous with time and money for Kingdom purposes.
 
-Setting up safeguards to protect my integrity and marriage. I had to do the same thing before marriage too.
 
-Choosing not to be part of the rat race and setting aside one day a week for Sabbath rest.
 
-Letting go of a higher paying job in order to live out God’s calling for my life.
 
-Looking at suffering as a blessing, instead of a curse.
 
-Being comfortable with having a reputation of being “weird.”
 
What are other examples you can think of of taking up your cross in your own life?
 
In John 17, before Jesus was betrayed and arrested, He prayed for His disciples and for ALL believers. If you’ve never read it, I recommend that you read it. It’s very encouraging to me because if God was to hear anyone’s prayer, it would be Jesus’ prayer. Jesus prayed in advance for us!
 
“I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.”
‭‭John‬ ‭17:9-11‬ ‭NIV‬‬
 
Thank you Lord! Amen.
 
-Michelle Gaddi


Matthew_15

Scripture

Matthew 15:28,32

28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

32 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”

Observation

This chapter encases just a few of Jesus’ many names – teacher, healer, provider.  He teaches that it’s what comes from within – what flows out of our hearts and our mouths – that defiles us, not that which comes from without – in this case, unclean hands.  He heals the Canaanite woman because of her bold faith, which brought her to His feet even after she had cried out and he did not respond.  He provides food to eat (and ample surplus) to the four thousand plus who had come to seek Him. 

Yet, what strikes me throughout, is the hunger of the people. 

Understanding

I’ve heard it said that a hungry heart stirs God to action.  Matthew 15 shows this to be true.  As we walk back through the chapter, we learn that where there is hunger, God moves. 

Let’s first look at the Pharisees.  There is no sense of hunger – not in their questions, not in their behavior.  They are focused on manmade rules…perhaps born out of something scriptural or made with good intentions, but they are missing the point!  They are too focused on rule abiding to even experience true abiding with God.  Yes, God wants obedience but obedience alone is not enough; He desires obedience that comes out of a deep love and longing for relationship with Him.  What was the end result?  Jesus taught, but there was no space for Him to move hearts. 

Now, let’s look at Jesus and the Canaanite woman.  She was hungry for change.  She didn’t wait until Jesus was ready for visitors, she sought Him out, even as He withdrew.  She “came to him, crying out” on behalf of her daughter.  “Jesus did not answer a word.”  At that point, how many of us would have said “Well, I tried my best.  I sought Him out and asked but He did not respond.  Perhaps it’s not His will.”  But no!  Miss Canaanite woman pursued the disciples and, when that didn’t work, she came and knelt before Him crying out again.  And, it was her hungry faith that brought healing to her daughter in that very moment!  Hunger stirred action.

And, finally, the feeding of the four thousand.  The people were [physically] hungry and 7 loaves of bread and few small fish ultimately end up feeding thousands but did you catch the first hunger?  The spiritual one?  Once again, Jesus has withdrawn, this time to a mountainside.  But people were hungry for change, hungry for healing…

30 Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. 31 The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.

They sought Him out, abiding with Him for THREE FULL DAYS!  They were not going to miss an opportunity to be in His presence – whether for teaching or healing or just the way it made them feel.  And the result?  They were fed physically and spiritually.  Their hunger stirred Jesuss to compassion and, ultimately, to action. 

Life Application

I’m reminded of the Surge challenge to “get that bread.”  If you’re like me, you’re eating 3-5 times a day and getting some snacks in between.  But, if I’m honest, my spiritual appetite is not the same.  And, unlike our physical hunger that seems to just come naturally every few hours from the moment we are born, our spiritual hunger requires a bit of cultivating.  There’s a 3-10 ways to do nearly anything and I found this one to be one that spoke to my heart – 6 Ways You Can Stir Up Hunger for God.

https://www.enlivenpublishing.com/blog/2010/02/11/hunger-for-god-6-ways-you-can-stir-it-up/

The paraphrased version is this:

  • Fast – cut stuff out (food, media, activity) to make space for abiding with God
  • Pray – pray for spiritual hunger
  • Remember – take time to remember your most intimate times with God
  • Catch it – spend time with hungry people
  • Hear it – spend time in worship, listen for His voice
  • Act on it – respond to what God speaks to you

‘I have come to realise that the real tragedy in the church is not spiritual famine: it is famine without hunger, dryness without thirst.’

May we get and stay hungry! 

PS Our 28 days of prayer and fasting is coming up soon, why not get a head start in cultivating that hunger now! J

Rei

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