January 12

Matthew 9:1-17


The friends of the paralytic man wanted to get him to see Jesus so He could be healed. Jesus was in a home that was packed with people. When the friends saw they couldn’t get in the door, they went up to the roof and lowered the man into the home. Roofs were usually made of rods or sticks. 


Inside the home were Jewish scribes who were thinking judgmental thoughts about Christ, thinking He was a blasphemer. Jesus knew their thoughts and said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?” Have you ever picked up on negative thoughts before? Sometimes God will reveal them. Other times, you can pick up on it in the spirit. Jesus knew it, but here it says He acknowledged those thoughts by exposing them. Then He ministers the healing power of God and heals the man. 


Perhaps Jesus was simply exposing the scribes, but perhaps our Jesus was hoping they would see the miracle, humble themselves, and receive Him. God knows the hearts, whether they are open to receive or closed and need corrected. The miracle got attention from the crowds of people and God received the glory because the Father had given such power to men. 



Jesus ate with Matthew, having called him to follow Him. At the table were other tax collectors and sinners. They came and sat down with Jesus, which lets us know that they spend and amount of time together. Jesus didn’t separate Himself. Jesus stayed, talked, listened, and ate together. 


Again, we see Jesus has people near to Him that are critical and condemning of Him. The Pharisees didn’t approach Jesus directly; they approached His team. As a wife, people have come to me about my husband. As a church leader, people have come to me about my pastor. As a team member, I have had people come to me about my team leader. If you are in a subordinate position, you need to know that people will go to you instead of dealing directly with the leader. Why? For one, the leader might be busy. For another reason, people who have a rebellious heart often try to question their followers in an attempt to destroy a person from within. The Bible says we should not be ignorant of Satan’s devices, and this is one of his devices. 


If you have judgmental people in your life, be strong in the Lord. Jesus didn’t fall apart when He was criticized. He knew He had enemies. He also knew who He was, and whatever anyone else said or did, Jesus was confident that God was there for Him. Is it pleasant when people you love turn their back on you? No. Is it fun when people you care about try to condemn your life or ministry? No. So what do we do? Jesus kept His eye on His Father, always drawing away in prayer. For myself, whenever I have been hurt or disappointed, I have gone to God in prayer and grieve. He heals me. Jesus kept His focus on His purpose. Some will receive you and some won’t. The same was true for Him, and we are no greater than Him. He kept going with His calling. He kept preaching. He kept teaching. He kept healing. The truth is, whether a person receives or rejects you is usually more about them than it is about you. 


The Pharisees questioned Jesus eating with sinners and those Jews who worked for Rome – things they would never do. Why would they never do that? Because they didn’t love people enough to get on their level, listen to their stories, and extend a grace that would save them. The Pharisees would rather work to control the behavior of people than to free them by grace. 


Jesus heard them talking to His team, and He addressed them, saying, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” In other words, if you don’t think you have a spiritual need, then you are never going to receive the Savior who came to fill it. 


Jesus also said, “Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” This was not just something Jesus threw out to them to think about. This was the Christ quoting Scripture to the highly educated Jewish temple leaders (Hosea 6:6), telling them to go and learn. The Law shows us our need, our insufficiency. Our sacrifice is insufficient. Instead, by the Father’s great love, a deep compassion, we are saved. How wonderful if we know this for others, but we also need to know this and receive this for ourselves. Have you ever missed it? Have you ever fallen short? If not, you are not human because we all have missed it! I love when I’m around people who celebrate grace with me. There is freedom from shame, freedom from guilt, freedom from fear. The religiously proud person is filled with shame and guilt and fear, bound up and working to bind up others. No thank you!


Jesus says, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” The Pharisees wanted to know why Jesus would eat, spend time, listen, and talk with those who practice sin? Jesus said (paraphrased), “HERE IS MY PURPOSE. I CAME TO CALL THOSE IN SIN TO TURN TO ME AND BE SAVED.” If you think you are righteous, then you are self-righteous if you come any other way than through humility and a yielded heart. If you think you are righteous on your own, spend one nanosecond in hell to see what you deserve, and then decide how upright you are. 


In verses 14-17, Jesus was questioned about why His disciples did not fast. Fasting involves seeking. Fasting is putting away natural responsibilities, like eating, in order to pursue God in the spirit. Jesus was with them! There was no need to fast. 


Then Jesus speaks about a new relationship with God for those would each receive the Holy Spirt to dwell in their new heart through the new birth. No longer would we only hear from God through prophets, but we could each pursue and receive when the spirit of God was in our hearts. We can’t put the Holy Spirit into the old, dead heart. In addition, we cannot box a fresh move of God’s Spirit under old ways of thinking. Winds of revival will blow into hearts that are prepared and open for what God is doing today. Let’s pursue and receive end time revival!


Genesis 29-30


Jacob goes to find Uncle Laban and meets Rachel. He helps her with watering her sheep. She was a beautiful woman, but I believe Jacob sensed something more than an attraction. I think Jacob knew he found his mate. He greets her with a kiss, gives a loud cry, and he weeps. That’s a strong connection, wouldn’t you say? When Rachel learns who Jacob is, she doesn’t just walk back home, she runs back home. I think she felt a connection as well. 


In these times, a daughter didn’t have much choice in who she married. She was given away in marriage by her father. Laban and Jacob make an agreement. He would work for Laban for seven years in exchange for Rachel’s hand in marriage. For seven years Jacob and Rachel got to know one another better. They loved one another. They both looked forward to being married to one another. The Bible says those seven years seemed to go by quickly for Jacob because of his love for her. 


Jacob had been known for deceiving his brother, Esau, and here we see how Jacob is deceived by Laban. When it came time for Jacob to marry Rachel, Laban sent Leah instead, cloaked in a veil, unrecognizable to anyone. Immediately after the first wedding feast, Laban gave Rachel to Jacob in exchange for seven more years. Were the sisters in on their father’s deception? How did Rachel feel? What did Leah think when Jacob thought he was with her younger sister? 


This is a dysfunctional family, a dysfunctional family, but a family God will use. God was clear from the beginning that a man would leave his parents and cling to one wife. Perhaps it was culturally acceptable to have more than one wife, but it was not acceptable with God. Jacob loved Rachel more, but he was still obligated to Leah. He had several children by Leah. The Bible said he saw that Leah was unloved, so He caused Leah to conceive and give children to Jacob. Then Rachel is jealous so she gives her maid to Jacob. Then Leah givers her maid to Jacob. Jacob is having lots of children between these women. In 30:22, God opens up her barren womb, and her firstborn son is named Joseph. Joseph is the one who will save his family and lead them into Egypt. 


As Jacob prepares to leave Laban and take his family to their own home, he makes a shrewd business move and increases the strength of his flock. God has a plan for Jacob and his family, and they are getting ready to  


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