Today’s Text of Encouragement:
“So He became their savior.
In all their troubles, He was troubled, too.
He didn’t send someone else to help them.
He did it Himself, in person.
Out of His own love and pity He redeemed them.
He rescued them and carried them along for
A long, long time.”
The Message Bible
“Carried by Jesus, all the days,
Yes, underneath are His loving arms!
Carried so safe through the misty haze
Thine heart shall be free from all alarms.”
E. H. T.
Today’s Study Text:
“At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus.”
“What’s Your Day Like?” Matthew 14 - Part 1
“Even if I knew the world would end tomorrow, I would continue to plant my apple tree.”
If someone asked me, “How did you feel a year ago”? How would I answer?
If someone asked me, “How do you feel today, at this time”? What would my answer be?
What things affect how I feel “at a specific point in time”?
“Come into my soul, Lord, as the dawn breaks into the sky; let Your sun rise in my heart at the coming of the day.”
“Listen to my words, O Lord, give heed to my sighing and groaning. Hear the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to You do I pray. In the morning You hear my voice, O Lord; in the morning I prepare a prayer, a sacrifice for You and watch and wait for You to speak to my heart.”
I chose to title today’s devotional, “What’s Your Day Like,” for a specific reason. A reason that the disciple Matthew addressed at the beginning of Matthew 14, the chapter in the New Testament which we are going to be studying verse-by-verse over the next couple of weeks.
You may be asking yourself the question, “How did we jump from the book of II Kings in the Old Testament to Matthew 14 in the New Testament?” It’s a fair question. And frankly, it wasn’t in my plan a few months ago.
But like so many things that happen here in Transformation Garden, God’s guiding hand leads us in places I might never have traveled had I not become much more intent, in my own personal life, to listen and follow where God’s Word leads. Believe me when I say, this little detour surprised me as much as it may surprise you.
So please let me explain why I am inserting the study of Matthew 14 into our travel through the Bible, specifically before we delve deeply into the life of God’s servant Elisha and the women whose lives he touched.
As I began to prepare the upcoming devotionals on Elisha, it was like a box I was sent from a friend today – layered with the most exquisite surprises. One after another, each wrapped carefully, needing to be unwrapped slowly and with great attention so that I didn’t miss any of the value in each item.
This is exactly how I felt as I read about each of the many miracles, profusely spread throughout Elisha’s life. As I uncovered miracle after miracle, in one particular in-depth study, I found the fact shared by a respected Biblical scholar, who noted that only Jesus performed more “recorded miracles” in the Bible than Elisha. What’s more, there are a great number of Elisha’s miracles which have a correlation or potential mirroring in Jesus’ miracles.
These facts propelled me to get out, not just a spade, but a big shovel, as I studied for the last three months, asking God to please take the lead in helping us uncover the heavenly truths exhibited in Elisha’s life and expressed and observed in the life of Jesus when He walked this earth.
To my surprise, everywhere I dug, Matthew 14 kept arising from the soil just like the blooms this spring on my daffodil bulbs which were planted several years ago.
Whether it was in old sermons, devotional books, Bible commentaries, or historical data, I kept finding Matthew 14, and the stories contained in this 36 verse chapter of the first New Testament book. The situation became so intense for me that finally one night, before I fell off to sleep, I said this short prayer. “Dear Lord, if my first thought in the morning, when I wake up is still about Matthew 14, then I’m going to really stop what I’m doing in II Kings for a few weeks, and study Matthew 14.”
Call it a self-fulfilling prophecy if you want, but my last thought that night was my first thought in the morning. And so with renewed energy, I went to the New Testament area in my “closet” library and pulled out every devotional and reference book I had (and there are many), on the book of Matthew and I began to read – day after day, mostly late into the night when I have the time to journey with authors from around the world and down through the ages of time, into the word of God, the Bible.
As I studied, it was as if a huge spotlight began to shine heaven’s guiding hand upon similarities between Elisha’s work and the fulfillment of Jesus’ mission on earth. And nowhere was this truth highlighted so effectively as in Matthew 14.
So it is, that we begin today with time in this profoundly interesting and inspiring chapter in Scripture – Matthew 14. I want to start exactly where the disciple, Matthew began. Additionally, I want to step back as we ready ourselves for this fascinating journey by looking at the way Matthew 13 ends, and for this reason. In the original manuscripts, the way your Bible and mine are laid out, chapter-by-chapter was not the way the Bible was originally penned.
Thus, Matthew begins his record of Jesus’ activities found in Matthew 14 by sharing, at the end of Matthew 13, the fact that Jesus would not do many miraculous works in His “own country,” where He grew up and spent thirty years of His life because of the fact that as Jesus, Himself, noted, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house” (Matthew 13: 57, Amplified Bible). Then Matthew continued to expand on this statement by leaving a record for his readers that due to this “lack of faith in the divine mission of Jesus,” where he grew up, many miracles were not performed in this part of the country. This is a very critical piece of the backdrop for us to keep in our minds as we read a chapter like Matthew 14 which is crammed from beginning to end with a record of amazing, miraculous manifestations. However, this isn’t the only piece of information that Matthew weaves into the backdrop which is the landscape that hangs quietly behind the stories found in Matthew 14.
In addition, as our study text begins, there are three very important words used by Matthew to help you and me fill in some of the empty spots which more clearly give us a complete picture of all that was going on in Jesus’ life, when on one particular day, one 24-hour period in time, proof of the divinity of Jesus was so distinctly apparent. Yet, all these spectacular demonstrations, to the human eye, clouded by the falsity that so frequently possesses our limited and hazy gaze, distort the heavenly reality of “Who” Jesus was and above all, His purpose for coming to earth.
As Matthew tells us in these three important words which begin Matthew 14, “at that time,” there were other things going on. As we finish verse one, we find the fact that Herod, the governor, was a critical part of what was happening “at that time.”
In other words, on a grand day in the life of Jesus, when heaven touched earth in a most spectacular and visual and beneficial way, there were things in the mind of Jesus that kept His focus directed on His mission, on His reason for living and most vitally, on His Father’s will.
This is why I have started our study on Matthew 14 by directing our thoughts to the word TODAY! The 24-hour period of time we are given 365 days a year. This is what you and I have. Just today, and perhaps, not even all of today. As the old hymn penned by Daniel Whittle so beautifully reminds us, “Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine.” And it is what we choose to do with these daily moments, which is reflected all through Matthew 14.
But there’s even more for us to consider. As Matthew so adeptly pinpoints, on any given day, in any of our lives, even in Jesus’ life, it wasn’t just the activities of the 24-hour period of time that affected His life, it was also all the “at that time” events which shaded in the picture.
For you and me, if we do not have our compass set correctly and focused properly on the bigger picture which is “at that time,” we may easily be swayed off course by the applause of the crowd or the flattery of the followers or the despair of the drowning because we don’t remember that during each day, “at that time,” the eternal purpose of our lives is held and directed by the hands of our gracious heavenly Father. I love how one of my favorite authors, Corrie ten Boom, looks at the Father’s guiding hand in terms of His daily gifts which meet our daily needs. In her book, He Is More Than Able, she effectively observes that we are not to carry “tomorrow’s load with today’s strength; carrying two days in one. We are moving into tomorrow ahead of time…(God) knows how to put everything in place, like a jigsaw puzzle, to make a beautiful picture.” God is always at work, putting the picture of our lives together – at all times – I will add.
If you are wondering how looking ahead or focusing just on today’s failures or successes can lead us off track, remember the words of Matthew, “at that time.” Words that kept Jesus strengthened and ever centered on God’s purpose, no matter what was going on around Him.
This thought, over the past few weeks, has guided me to a new place in my own prayer life. A place where I not only ask for God’s help with problems big and small or past and present, but where I also focus even more on my need for heavenly wisdom, “at that time,” at those moments which are present in this very day, when the call of the crowd or the desperation of my own failure draws my vision away from the one thing which underscores my existence – the purpose God has for my life and the purpose He has for yours.
At the beginning of our “Inspiration” for today, I shared words spoken by David. I didn’t used to understand the gist of some of David’s psalms, songs or prayers. Especially those which are directed at God early in the morning. But as time has gone by, I’ve come to appreciate the fact that David understood the critical importance of early in the day, before our feet hit the floor, we ask our Father to speak to us, to help us, to listen, and give us insight as to what the day can possess when we lay all our “at this time” moments in God’s hands. When we never, ever forget the purpose He has for us as we follow His will, moment-by-moment, no matter what we face in each 24-hour period of time. As Karen Gough so beautifully portrays, may this day of your life be one which reflects the will and way of our Father. “Another day begins in light and fog with rays that speak of higher love, God’s bounty cast with careless grace across the land again.”
“I go out
Into the grace of this day’s light;
In the power of our great God;
With the blessing of Jesus,
And the radiance of the Holy Spirit.
May the joy and the peace and the
Strength of the Creator be with us always.”
W. Mary Calvert
“Let me live today,
Let me be open to the miracle of this day.
Let me breathe the best of today.
Let me not miss the heart of today.
Let me find the gift of today,
Hidden like a jewel in the rubble
Of care, duty, and detail.
Let me pause to hear
The steady beat of the heart of God
Hoping, aching, sorrowing, expectant,
Patient, despairing heart of God.
Do you hear it?
Ever so faint but steady, steady,
Rhythmic organ, strong muscle,
Thumping, beating, pumping,
Sustaining, encompassing, wildly
Dancing heart of God!
Let me live this day, aware, open
Listening, breathing, alive.”
Reverend Virginia Going
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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