January 13

Matthew 9:18-38



When Jerry went to Africa, he spoke with a leading African minister in Uganda, and he said, “The people want to see the supernatural. They will come from everywhere for the power of God. We have had many Americans who want to come here to take their pictures with the crowds to draw money from their supporters, but we need pastors.” He said that the African people are very spiritual, but they are open to all spirits. They will come in demon possessed, experience the power of God, be delivered from the possession, then go home and the demons will possess them again. He said they will respond to salvation to Christ, they will experience healing and miracles, but then they will also look to witchcraft.  


I think of this memory when I read Matthew 9:36-38. Jesus was looking over the multitude of people following Him. He knew they were gathering because of the signs and wonders He was performing. That’s not a bad thing. That’s what signs and wonders are for! The Bible says that Jesus was moved with a deep compassion for the people because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus would be moving onto the next city soon, but His heart was to see this multitude of people growing in truth on a day to day basis. He wanted local churches established. He wanted shepherds to oversee those church, teaching and equipping the people. He knew that one day He would be the head of His church. He would establish church leaders – the apostles (church planters), prophets, evangelists, teachers, and pastors to work TOGETHER. The kingdom needs every member doing their part to gather, grow, give, and go into the world with the Gospel. This is how the kingdom operates. 



This chapter also gives us some specific miracles that Jesus performed. A devil had possessed a man, silencing his voice, making him mute. Jesus cast out the spirit, and the man could speak. Satan loves to silence our voices, because there is power in our words! This spirit had a physical hold to silence a man, but Satan uses many methods to keep people from rising up and using their voice. For some, they don’t have the knowledge of the power of their words. For some, they are controlled by religion, and others through a domineering authority. Some are silent because of guilt, some by shame, and others through fear and intimidation. God’s truth sets us free! Free to think, free to feel, and free to live in the truth of His Word!



  • They call out for mercy, which is an undeserved compassion. 
  • They used the term “Son of David,” which was an acknowledgement that Jesus was the Messiah. 
  • He asked them, “Do you believe I am able to do this?” They opened their mouths to speak, “Yes, Lord!” Our words are powerful. Our faith is powerful. 
  • He touched them. The anointing is tangible and it flowed from Jesus into their eyes, healing them. 
  • He asked them not to tell anyone. I think this is because He knew the crowds would gather, and in that moment, Jesus had a different purpose. 
  • The men couldn’t contain themselves. They were blind and now they see! They told everyone!



I share more detail of these two events when we read Mark’s account, but today I want to point out one part. The woman in need of healing said, “I shall be made well.” 

  • The Greek word for “well” is sozo. Sozo is the same word used for saved, or made whole. When we believe God for salvation, let’s make sure we are confident that physical healing is part of that wonderful, redemption package. 
  • The woman also used her words, her voice, saying, “I shall be made well.” She declared that she would be healed. We can learn from her, and use our words like she did. 


Genesis 31-32



In Genesis 31:7, Jacob says of Laban, “(Laban) changed my wages ten times, but GOD DID NOT ALLOW HIM TO HURT ME.” 


In verse 12, the Angel of the Lord says, “FOR I HAVE SEEN all that Laban is doing to you.” 


Have you ever felt mistreated? Misrepresented? Misunderstood? If so, lift up your eyes! God is greater than a multitude of people! God is faithful! And He is very aware of what people said to your face and what people said behind your back. He knows what is said in public, and he knows what is said in secret. 


In verse 3, we see the leading of the Lord. Jacob did not leave simply because he wanted to go. Because of Laban cheating him on his wages, it would have been justified for Jacob to want to leave. No, Jacob was led by God. He had been with Laban for twenty years, and only moved when God said to move. This is a good lesson for us, not to make a move simply because we see what is wrong or undeveloped or different. There is no perfect place! In vere 3 we see it is the Lord who told Jacob to leave Laban and return home to his fathers. In verse 13, God recalls that special moment between God and Jacob at Bethel. He says, “I am the God of Bethel… where YOU made a vow to ME.” God spoke about covenant business, but He also did so in a way that was very personal. God cares about the FACTS, but God also cares about US. This is a very personal message to Jacob. 



In 31:29, Laban says, “It is in my power to do you harm, BUT the God of your father SPOKE TO ME LAST NIGHT…” Jacob sneaks away, Rachel steals idols from her father, Laban pursues them, Jacob and Laban come to terms. Jacob snuck out because he knew Laban had the power to stop him and would have tried to stop him. If possible, when leaving a place, it’s best to sit down and have a conversation, no matter how uncomfortable. Withdrawal without trying is a demonstration of dishonor and disrespect. Have the closure, even if it means you agree to disagree. 


Laban could have treated Jacob fairly, but he didn’t. It sounds like he was controlling of his family, keeping them under his thumb. Laban was forced to accept this change of losing his family. I can’t imagine what he must have felt when he realized his daughters and his grandchildren were gone. Families aren’t perfect because people aren’t perfect. However, I appreciate the love that drove Laban to pursue them after they left. He knew they were leaving, but he wanted to reconcile and restore peace before they got too far away. He made the effort! 


Laban and Jacob made a covenant. Verse 48 carries such truth and weight to it, “May the Lord watch between you and me when we are absent one from another.” This is a tremendous way to pray for the people we have been separated from, for whatever reason. If someone has left you in the wrong way, you can still keep your heart free from offense, praying for them. You can still love them, no one can stop love. You can forgive them, even if they harbor unforgiveness. Love doesn’t stop just because miles, or even a death, come between us. 



In chapter 32, Jacob anticipates an encounter with Esau as he begins traveling. Esau had been extremely angry with Jacob when they were together last. Jacob not only stole Esau’s birthright, but he stole his older brother’s prophetic blessing, words spoken by a patriarch, a family authority. These were often words revealed by God or honored by God, and Jacob got the blessing that would have gone to Esau. Jacob knew he stole from his brother, and he was afraid of what Esau could and would do to him. Esau was a hunter, a strong and aggressive man. Jacob not only tries to seek some forgiveness by sending gifts ahead of him, but he calls out on God for help. Jacob recalls the promises, not only to care for him, but to care for the family so God’s Word can come to pass for the nations of the earth through Jacob’s Seed. 



Jacob has more than one supernatural experience in his lifetime. IN 32:1-2 we see angels appear to him, and Jacob called the location, “This is God’s camp.” Then in verses 22-32, Jacob encounters a man, preincarnate Jesus (verse 30), and refuses to let Him go until he receives a blessing. Jesus changes Jacob’s name. What we call someone has weight to it. Jacob meant supplanter or deceiver, but God didn’t want people calling this man a deceiver anymore. Our words are powerful. Now when someone calls for this man, they will call him Israel, meaning “Prince with God.” 


In addition, I want to say, people can change. I’m not sure we always understand how dangerous it is to hold people to what they once were when God has brought forgiveness and transformation. Jacob’s change didn’t come easily. He was cheated for over twenty years. He was deceived. Now we see him wrestling for this new blessing, a new identity. If we hold people to their past, we are actually putting ourselves at odds with God, and we don’t want to do that. When people have left me and left a wedge in the relationship, I will respect their boundary, but in my heart I hope they change. I hope the best for them. I put my focus on what is in front of me, but if they come to mind, I don’t have to feel like I have to keep them to what they were when they were with me. I’ve released them to God, and expect God to keep working on them. Their change certainly doesn’t have to happen because of my involvement. God is bigger than me. They are His responsibility, not mine anymore. We have to learn to let go, not to discard, but to entrust into God’s hands. We also need to celebrate grace! Restoration! Blessing! We are a big family of God. Even those who are far from God are people God sent Jesus to save. Let’s get the heart of God and always strive for reconciliation. When we do, we lift up a banner of love and a message of GOOD NEWS! Salvation is here! Turn from the world, and be set free from sin and death! Oh, if we could only see the world from God’s eternal vantage view!


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