Clean

Today, let’s talk about what it means to bathe our problems in prayer (Matthew 14:23). No doubt, you have seen a soap commercial that promises to soften, sooth, rinse and be all you ever dreamed. Some have already seen that the Dr. Squatch commercials on YouTube are pretty funny, and if you have not seen them, well I bet you will watch at least one today before lunch. As a business, the soap industry is valued at north of $18 billion annually. Even though we have put a man on the moon, mastered flight, and placed the world wide web in the palm of your hand, just so you could crush candy and post selfies, yeah a bit weak I suppose for usage, still, we have never created anything that will take away the stench of problems, relieve the weariness of concern or even soothe what truly ails and aches us, like prayer. 

After His disciples leave, Jesus dismisses the crowds to pray. Knowing their hearts desire of forcing a kingship, Jesus turns to prayer. Matthew 14:23~And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, (ESV) Jesus’ temptations do not end after His baptism when the devil tempted Him three times in the wilderness back in Matthew 4:1-11. We know this, according to Luke 4:13~When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time (καιρός kairos). (NIV) 

Have you ever been found in an opportune time? (καιρός kairos) It is a due season. The devil does the same thing in our lives, he looks to take advantage of opportunities where he can then lead us into sin. This temptation is Jesus’ opportunity to be king without going to the cross. He could ascend the earthly throne without paying the price. Now that is tempting because of the context of this passage. Just before Jesus feeds the 5,000, He learns of John the Baptist’s brutal death. A now riotous nation of Jews is searching for a place to put their faith and trust.

Today, are you searching in any area of your life? Searching for a place to put your faith and trust. Searching for hope and a future. The Bible teaches us that Jesus is that place. He came on that first advent to give us the best gift the world has known. A place to enter into a personal relationship with the creator and sustainer of all, God. Why not take time to look over your life today and place any ailing areas in the hands of Jesus.



Bigger

Sometimes we forget who is Bigger. In life when persisting problems prevail we need to be reminded God is Bigger. He’s bigger than any and all of the problems that life and all of its sundry lessons hurl at us. After John the Baptist, cousin, friend, and dutiful servant of God is summarily killed, Jesus feeds 5,000, in grief. Then He returns the disciples to the Galilean shore. Where Christ says, “all aboard.” Matthew 14:22~Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. (ESV) Leaving Bethsaida, he headed home to Capernaum, back to Jesus’ ministry headquarters.

John 6:17~where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark and Jesus had not yet joined them. (NIV) Jesus has forced them to leave. Matty’s verbiage is; Immediately he made them. Which suggests they were reluctant to leave Him. Perhaps the crowd’s cause has given them pause. For after dining to their fill, this crowd calls Him Prophet or Messiah. John 6:14~After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world. (NIV) Say, this is an interesting turn of events, a very big shift for the disciples. Wait, What, Leave? John 6:15 ~Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself. (NIV) Is this not carpe diem, a moment to be seized? Our pericope this week reveals to us how God is Bigger and that if we will trust Him and His process, we will experience victory.

Take time today to reflect on how big God is. Consider the problem you have faced in your life, school, career, marriage, relationships, family. Take special note of the blessings that were given to you by God and thank Him for all that He has provided, even in the midst of adversity. I bet you will find yourself praising and worshiping Him. Love on Him because He first loved you.



Power of the Blood

Sometimes in life, as is the case with Philip here in Matthew 14, our Lord and Savior Jesus, will test us. Philip is staring at a mountain. A literal swell of people and the seemingly insurmountable problem that stands before him needs to be solved. How do we take the moment and allow Jesus to be Lord over all? Because in times like these, we may feel overwhelmed and even get discouraged, when what we really need is to do is know that Jesus is oftentimes preparing us to witness one of His mighty miracles. I love what happens next in Matthew 14 where Jesus meets all the needs. See some have come for healing, while others came for a word. And Jesus, He is going to feed them all.

In life, there are some people who just have a marvelous gift of making introductions. These people are known as butlers. Back in the Old Testament, we encounter the life of Lil Joe. Who in Genesis 39:19-41:36 will get locked up, where he meets a butler, a baker, and a king. Now kings finance dreams and Jesus does that in our story. Bakers are those who know how to put things together. They understand timing and how to follow the recipe given. Then there is the butler, this is one who makes introductions. Make no mistake, Philip is a butler, for he introduces Nathanael to Christ. However, he is not yet convinced of Christ, though He has proclaimed Him under a tree. 

Enter Andrew, he too is a butler and has introduced his now-infamous brother, Pete, to Jesus. John 6:8-9~Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many? (ESV) Some think of this as fish-n-chips, while others think of it as the island treat of boiled fish and Johnny cake, but it really is more like pancakes and fish. I think that it is part of the new rutti tutti fresh and fruity at the IHOP. 

Jesus says gather and group the people, have them sit for the feast, bless what God has given and break bread. Yes, even in the midst of loss, where grief grips, and grace prevails. As they collect the leftovers of a little boy’s lunch, I have always wondered, Why twelve baskets? Was it so each disciple had to carry the weight of this moment moving forward? Perhaps this will mark them in a way so they never forget His power. Do you remember the power of Jesus at work in you? 1 Corinthians 4:20~For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. (ESV)

You may be discouraged today; if not, we will all face discouragement in our lives, because we live in a sin-cursed and fallen world. The discouragement that comes maybe in our homes or families, our marriage or parenting problems, it can be found in our finances, or in a report concerning our health, perhaps it is a job problem weighing in on you. It could even be because of a sin problem. So, grab hold of what the Matthew 14:1-21 passage shares with us.

Nothing is beyond the power of Jesus. There is no problem Jesus cannot solve, there is no sin Jesus cannot forgive. There is no life Jesus cannot use in a powerful way. Whenever you become discouraged, remember what Jesus said in Luke 18:27~What is impossible with man is possible with God. (NIV) Today whether you sit, kneel, or stand, know that your life can be filled with the victorious power of Jesus Christ. If you are weighted, cumbered with a load of cares, deeply distressed, or just F.I.N.E.=> Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic, Emotional, God is on the throne and wants to help you with what you are facing. All you have to do is tell Him and allow Him to work on, in, and through your life.