Wait

Merry Christmas to you and yours. Perhaps today has been a struggle to get to. The holidays can test us in all manner, shapes, and sizes of puzzle pieces that perplex us as problems. In Matthew 14, Jesus is still being tested as well. As we come to the middle of Matthew, we have discovered how hard good church-going people have been on Jesus. The Jewish leaders think He is owned by satanic powers, His family, they think of Him as One who flew over the cuckoo’s nest. The crowds want to crown Him as their new King, after all, He miraculously fed them lunch.

However, Jesus is filled with grief, weary from doing good, and His disciples, those who support Him in ministry  are set adrift atop seaside safari, headed for home. All the while, a gaggle of constituents crowd to make Him king. Jesus’ temptations are real, just like ours are real. Hebrews 4:15~For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. (NIV) When we are tempted, we ought to pray Matthew 6:13~And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one. (ESV) 

Jesus has the power and the glory to overcome. He’s divinely present and ever able to help us in times of trouble. God loves us with unfailing love. (Psalm 46:1) Whatever our temptation, no matter our circumstances Jesus Christ practices His own preaching. Sometimes we need to be reminded that our God is Bigger. God is bigger than temptation, that is why we must learn to Bathe Our Problems In Prayer, especially when in prolonged adversity.

Understand where the disciples are. They were down and confused for John is dead. The Lord lifted them up to labor in a miracle. Watching and waiting, they walked the weight of witnessing dinner for 5000 by a basket held by their own hands. They were dismissed before the crowd could crown Christ King as Jesus calls all aboard and sends them bound for home. There the fresh catch of the day, that heavily laden basket of provision sat not so silent in the night, at their feet, straining at the oars of life where they wrestled with the wind.

It is often in these dark lonely places that we need to be reminded that Jesus walks into the room. Though the night has not gone as we might have hoped and the days leading us up to this moment have held us in waiting, Jesus came that first Advent to free us. Waiting has always been the most demanding theme of Advent. So, as you continue to wait, know Jesus has come to set you free. To give you hope and future and share a new life. Why not choose today to offer Him a prayer as you share your problems, needs, and longings. Then praise Him, for he came to let captives go free. The tree may not have the gift you are looking for, but Jesus does.



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.