January 11

Matthew 8:18-34


A very great multitude was approaching Jesus, and it seems Jesus wants to pull away from them at this time. Perhaps He and His team needed to rest. Perhaps God wanted Jesus to move on to the next city. Whatever the reason, Jesus commanded His disciples to go to the other side of the sea. 


Some wanted to follow Jesus, but the price for following Christ in His earthly ministry carried commitment and responsibility. The more of a leadership role, the more responsibility required. I’ve met many people who want the pulpit, the platform, or a place of influence of another person’s ministry, but they have not paid same price as the leader. I’ve learned that a person who honors their leaders is a person who has chosen to humble himself or herself to acknowledge and respect their leaders. If we want to see someone with spiritual maturity, let’s see the person who is willing to pay the same price – do you know where you will sleep tonight? Because Jesus didn’t (8:20). Will you be able to keep social engagements, pay respect at funerals, celebrate at weddings? Because Jesus couldn’t make every one of them (8:22). Do you want to follow Christ? Do you want to experience that healing power? Do you want to know that anointing? There is a price to pay. I heard this at Bible school: Do you want your pastor to have power and anointing? Take ministry tasks off his or her plate so he or she can pray. Do you want your pastor to have time to minister more? Give tithes and offerings so he or she can be available. Do you want your pastor to have longevity so a vision can be fulfilled? Then be a builder with words, attitudes, and actions instead of someone who tears down. I’m thankful for Rhema Bible Training Center. They share a lot of wisdom!



Can you imagine being a disciple in a boat, on the sea, in a storm that is so tumultuous that your adrenaline is in overdrive in efforts to survive? Then Jesus wakes up, talks to the storm and tells it to stop, and suddenly you are now gently rocking inside the boat, it’s quiet, it’s calm, your hormones are normalizing, and your teacher is asking you why your faith was so small? Later we know these ordinary men will do extraordinary things themselves, turning the world upside down and starting a fire of revival that will literally take the Gospel around the world. But for now, these men are in training. They are learning that what they see Jesus do, they will also have the ability to do in His name. I can picture myself in their place – in awe, my jaw to the floor, in complete wonder at what just happened. Can you? Perhaps this is one reason why Peter thought he could walk on water later on- and he did, for awhile. The discipled observed, and then they imitated. They also would heal the sick, raise the dead, and cast out spirits. Are we? 



Jesus delivers two men from demons. Do we recognize that demons still possess and oppress people today? In the United States we often medicate and institutional some of them, but they are there. Not everyone is possessed in these places; some are sick. Demons are a bit more obvious in other countries. What can we learn from this event?

  • Demons differ in rank and ability. These demons were fierce. They were also called legion. A legion is a well-organized group of 6,000 men, so the name referred to a large number of demons that were working together. Do they do this today? Probably. Have you ever seen something so vile and violent that you wondered how a human being could be so twisted? Perhaps that is possession. Jerry and I have had several encounters with possession, both in the USA and abroad. They were a bit more obvious in some places more than others. The power of Satan is too powerful for a person, but through the authority and anointing of Christ, demons must obey us as well. 
  • No one would pass by these violent, possessed men. Jesus was the kind of man who rushed into a fire rather than rush out. He leads His disciples right to the men. 
  • Mark and Luke only mention one man in this event, but one was most likely more prominent than the other. 
  • The demons immediately recognized the Christ. Amazing they did, but the Pharisees couldn’t. They knew His name. They knew He was the Son of God. 
  • Just in this chapter of Matthew, we see Jesus having authority and power over sickness, nature, and devils. We see Him using the power of His words to execute His authority. We can do the same, but only in His name. We must submit to God first, then resist the devil, and then he will flee 
  • The demons were aware a time was coming where they will no longer have the freedom, authority, or access to torment. They knew a time was coming where they will be tormented. 
  • The demons knew Jesus would free the men, so they begged Jesus to allow them to go into the herd of swine. One, I wonder where He would have sent them instead. Two, we see that demons seem to crave embodiment, even of an animal. 
  • When Jesus permitted them to go into the swine, the swine ran violently down a steep mountain and perished in the sea. Did the demons cause the swine to drown, or did the swine decide to take their own lives to escape the possession? 
  • The pig keepers, as well as every one in that area, knew to stay away from the tombs where the two possessed men lived. The pig keepers were within eyesight. These farmers were given a fright, observing the supernatural deliverance, so they run into the city and share what they witnessed. 
  • The whole city came out to meet Jesus, and asked Him to leave the region. Perhaps they were concerned over the loss of their property, or maybe they did not want that spiritual activity in their city. It’s a shame, because the Messiah could have done more for them if they had welcomed Him. 


Genesis 27-28


As we read the story of Jacob stealing Esau’s birthright, I want to emphasize the prophecy the Holy Spirit gave to Rebekah, not just of two brothers, but the future of two nations. Keep in mind that Rebekah knew God’s prophetic word for her sons, and acted in faith to see that Jacob received the spoken blessing from his faither. Rebekah was also carrying the grief of her son Esau’s disobedience and rebellion against God.  Rebekah was obedient to the Lord in Jacob’s advancement over his brother and over the nation of Edom. 


Jacob has to leave home to escape his brother’s anger. Rebekah and Isaac instruct Jacob to go to his uncle Laban’s home and take a cousin as his wife. They did not want Jacob to end up with a wicked, unbelieving wife like Esau had done. When Esau heard it, he wanted to please his parents and went to Ishmael’s house in Egypt and took Ishmael’s daughter as another wife, his cousin on his father’s side. 


Jesus would come through the bloodline of Jacob. God appeared to Jacob in a dream to confirm His promise of descendants, as well as to say that all the families of the earth would be blessed in his seed, which is Christ. God promises to keep him and bring him back to his land. It is a promise to him, and it is a promise for the bloodline of the Redeemer. 


The supernatural dream was from God for a purpose and had a specific message that was known straight away. If a dream is from God, God will always give you a supernatural revelation of the meaning of that dream. If there is no revelation, then don’t go looking for one. There are also diviners that would interpret dreams by the power of the devil, so be careful not to get into sorcery. Be careful not to try to interpret a dream like someone would try to decipher a coded message. If the dream is from God, then God will immediately and clearly reveal the meaning of the dream. 


Jacob wakes, deeply moved by the supernatural experience, and uses his words to identify the place. He calls it Bethel, meaning House of God. Jacob makes a vow to God there. He also knows that in the House of God, he would give a tenth (tithe) to the Lord. The tithe will be seen later in the Mosaic Law, but we see the tithe much earlier than Moses. The tithe is a wonderful way for each person to do their part and return the tenth part of their income back to God. It’s His. The tithe is a blessing, and it’s a responsibility of each one to return it to their house of worship. We’re not to neglect our responsibility by thinking those who are better off should carry the financial responsibility of God’s house. Besides, there is a blessing that you don’t want to miss. Put God first in your life and in your finances, and God will care for you – financially and otherwise. It’s not the Law of works, it’s a principle of grace. 


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