His Compassion

MATTHEW 9

matthew 9 36 redo

In this chapter we see that Jesus and the disciples are continuing an active pace proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. This lively passage not only records 6 healing incidents, but also shows 3 incidents where the teachers of the law are becoming rattled by the actions and rising popularity of Jesus.

Ready for anything and everything, the action rolls out as follows for Jesus and the disciples: 1) heals a paralyzed man, 2) calls Matthew the tax collector, 3) stops a hemorrhage in a woman, 4) raises a dead girl, 5) gives sight to 2 blind men, 6) and loosens the tongue of a mute man

Not only was Christ seemingly running a mobile emergency room, he was “hiring” new workers, contending with naysayers, and stopping to notice the big picture of the work ahead.

Verse 36 takes my breath away. “He saw the crowds and had compassion on them.” We are not lost in a crowd to Him. He knows our name and our needs. There is no end to His goodness. No bottom to the well. You can’t wear Jesus out. He’s not running on low. He’s not in a bad mood because it’s you again. “For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” John 1:16

then he said to his disciples, “the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.

The biggest problem in these 38 verses is that Jesus needed assistance to support the needs of the “harassed & helpless.” Nothing’s changed. May God stir your heart and mine this day to be a worker fit and ready to support the hurting. Let God’s “grace upon grace” compel us to action to not overthink but DO!

-Julie Driskill

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Overthink & Under-do

matt 8 27

Day One of Ramblings on Matthew 8-14

 (I promise that Day Two will NOT be this long.)

Matthew 8 – 14 are interesting and BUSY chapters. When asked to write a devotion on these passages I considered many responses to the behaviors, wisdom, and wanderings of a few weeks of action from the life and times of my fascinating, jaw-dropping Jesus. Which therein lies the problem or the solution, I guess it all depends on how you want to look at it. “Overthink and Under-do”- a reoccurring, self-inflicting disorder that tends to roost, set up shop in my head, and consistently sabotage my intentions of greater good and productivity. When I cannot deliver on my promises, it literally turns me into the mother of all Grumpy Cats. Meow.

 

So, for the love and spirit of a new year’s endeavor, I have decided to take a stab at defeating this affliction that I’ve affectionally deemed, Thought Diarrhea, and use a different approach this week for the FUEL devotion writing campaign that might trick me into greater productivity and bundles of happiness. Consider yourself warned. I will simply be drafting thoughts over the next week regarding the chapters of Matthew 8 -14 that would be worthy of a daily Facebook post.

 

I am not a scholar, nor ever professed to be. I promise to be real and I’ll try to be interesting. I might be occasionally witty with undertones of sarcasm, but no promises. Would I love to spend several hours daily pouring over commentaries and exploring other viewpoints from most-worthy authors, 100% YES! Do I have the time, energy, or mental focus to pull that off this week or any week for that matter in the next projected 15 years of my life, 500% NO!!

Hence, proceed with viewer discretion.

 

****Disclaimer****

While I often enjoy kind-hearted (if spirited) debates, please be advised that Senora Grumpy Cat transforms into Mrs. Malevolent Raging Lioness who hasn’t eaten in a “month of Sundays” when smart people start stupid arguments, especially when others are disrespected. Disagree with me all you want, but please don’t intimidate others into submission if you choose to sound in on what I have intentionally or unintentionally implied. Everyone deserves an opinion- a voice. I will defend it with wild abandon. Roar.

 

And now, without any further ado, Matthew 8:

 

Jesus is literally coming down from the mountain when he steps into the saga of Matthew 8.

The mountainside where he delivered the longest, most radical speech and teaching of his life. A speech that the last two verses of Chapter 7 says “astonished the crowds.” They were lit. (That means “beside themselves with amazement and wonder” for all those over 25 reading this post.) And who could blame them? They had never heard anyone speak or teach with his manner or authority. After delivering this brilliant, thought-provoking discourse he is besieged with the needs and requests of his ever-growing crowd of fans. This is the backdrop for the action of the next 34 verses of chapter 8.

 

Buckle up. In the first seventeen verses we find these healing ventures: 1) a leper who didn’t follow directions, 2) the paralysis of a servant for a non-Jew (a Roman centurion, no less) that rendered him nearly speechless, 3) a fever in a woman who jumped from the bed and then finished cooking dinner and tending to their needs, 4) a crowd of demon-possessed people who forced Jesus and his disciples to catch a boat to the other side of the lake in order to find some peace and quiet. And I thought I was busy.

 

Amid the next 5 verses is an interesting piece of dialogue that transpires. Perhaps my favorite. No one would deny it is tough to follow Jesus, but the cost sometimes is unimaginable, inconceivable, and quite frankly, a little harebrained. This crowd that had formed wanted more and more of Jesus. One of the groupies told him he would “follow him wherever he would go,” (verse 19), but Jesus saw through his zeal and delivered a mic drop response. “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (verse 20) No home. No RV. No tent or park bench. Not even a stinkin’ memory foam pillow. Just a ticket to ride that consisted of hundreds of miles by foot and an occasional boat or donkey if they were lucky. All, or any aboard? (Funny, we never hear about that man again.)

 

If this isn’t hard enough, one of the disciples sensing the tone of Jesus then turns to him and asks that he might be excused to return and bury his father before continuing. Jesus’ response; “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” (verse 22)

 

Whoah, kinda harsh. “Uh Jesus, take two? Sure you don’t need a little caffeine, or how about a short nap before the next swarm of people arrive?”

 

Many traditions and duties were followed at this time that could have possibly waylaid this man’s service with Christ, especially when it came to burial. Jesus was most likely stressed from all the latest activity and found it as another teachable moment with an exclamation mark at the end! He let the disciples know in no uncertain terms that following him meant putting your own desires second to his. Jesus is to come first. It is an extraordinary sacrifice to show a sincere attachment to Jesus. Jesus wants followers, not part-time workers or even managers. He wants those who are spiritually alive to be instruments of the gospel preaching and reaching the people of the world. Nothing is more important, and nothing ever will be.  Step up and strap on if you are serious about this Jesus thing. Son of God don’t play, especially after a day like this one.

 

We find at verse 23 that they are finally on the boat crossing the lake. Jesus gets to take that long-deserved nap and suddenly, the plot thickens. A “furious storm” sweeps waves over the boat, terrifying even the most seasoned fishermen among them. Jesus is snoring. Horrified, they wake Jesus hoping he will save them before they all drown. He turns to them and pans, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” (verse 26) He casually turns to the wind and waves, ushering them to “cut it out.” All is well.  I assume this is where he resumed his nap. Disciples are picking their jaws up off the bottom of the boat and they arrive on the other side of the lake.

 

As if the past 27 verses aren’t packed with enough action and wonder, we round out this chapter with the last bizarre 7. Two freakishly violent demon possessed men run from a cave to “welcome” Jesus and the crew. The demons in the men beg Jesus not to torture them and instead ask, “Drive us out by sending us into those nearby grazing herd of pigs.” (verse 31) The rest is history. The poor disturbed pigs become so frightened they charge down the steep embankment and drown their sorrows and themselves in the same lake. This has been an exchange of odd proportions, but we’re not done yet. Verse 34 remarks that the townspeople were so outraged by the events and Jesus that they PLED for him to leave their region. I have experienced “hangry” before, but these people leave me scratching my head. I guess they preferred to live with the two violent demon-possessed cave dwellers and needed Jesus to get out of the way before he cursed any of their other livestock?

 

In conclusion, Matthew chapter 8 is remarkable and perplexing. It leaves me with more questions than answers. The certainty with how Jesus governs and the lengths he endures to seek and save the lost inspires me to keep pressing, even when it gets weird. Not everyone is going to understand. Some people will walk away from you and others will ask you to leave. I can guarantee a life of service to Christ will often be supernatural, strange, swarming, and yet, eventually sure. Following Christ is the best thing I have ever done. The uncertainty and risk pales in comparison to the joy set before us. Thank you for reading my ramblings. Tallyho!

 

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lost heart. Hebrews 12:1-3

 

-Julie Driskill

Begging for Help

Acts 3 1,2

Happy late Thanksgiving everyone! #thankgivingisthebestholiday Although the day of turkey has passed I hope we can all be thankful for what we have considering many do not have anything at all. Recently in Saint Louis, I encountered a man named Ron who was homeless and had nothing to his name except his torn up bag and the clothes on his back. Ron, like many you may encounter in your lives, asked me for money. There are at least two easy ways to handle this situation. First, we could give them the money they were asking us about. Or second, we lie and walk away feeling like we did that person well by not giving them money that could possibly enable their bad habits.

I would say Peter and John have a more effective way of serving these people. In Acts 3:1-10 Peter and John encounter a man who can’t walk and is begging for money in front of the temple gates (a common practice in that day, which could be compared to those at the stoplights we see). Instead of giving him money, they give him prayer and healing. Something we all can afford and is always at the ready. Next time you encounter someone like this it might be appropriate to pray with them about their situation and see if something big happens.

-Jesse Allen

God is Still Our Healer

matt 11 5

“The blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor” (Matthew 11:5). This was true when Jesus said it 2000 years ago and it is still true today. God is alive and active in our world. I hope I have made that clear through my stories this week. He still heals the blind, he still makes the lame man walk, He still cures the leprous, He still makes the deaf hear, and of course we know that He will raise the dead to life.

From the story of the blind man, we learned that God still heals our physical afflictions and healing shouldn’t be our end goal. After you are healed, you need to tell people about it! Our memory verse from Matthew says that the Good News was preached to the poor. We can’t neglect that part of our healing. We need to let others know how Great our God is and let them know that they can receive healing, too.

From the story of legion, we learned that God still heals our mental afflictions. If you have a demon in your life, something that has taken over your every action, God can take that away. Maybe He intends to do that through prayer, like in my story, or maybe He intends to heal you through the knowledge that He has placed in doctors. Once again, we need to be sure to share the good news of our healing once it happens.

From the story of being devoured by a lion, we learned that God still heals our emotional afflictions. God can lift the burdens of this world of our shoulders. Sometimes God doesn’t follow the timetable that we want him to, but that doesn’t mean he has forsaken us.

From the story of regeneration and renewal, we learned that God still heals our spiritual afflictions. Finding forgiveness from God is easy in concept but hard in practice. The Truth will set us free so long as we know the Truth and we continue in the teachings of Jesus. This means turning away from past sin and moving in the right direction.

From the story of the Law, we learned that God still heals us through the observance of His Law. God gave His law to Moses in order to protect the Hebrews from disease. Even though we don’t follow the law of the old testament, the principles still apply in modern medicine. Get check-ups and listen to the doctors that have the knowledge of nature bestowed upon them by the One who created nature.

God is Still Our Healer.

Nathaniel Johnson

 

The Lord Who Heals

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Number 19

How many devotions have you ever read about a chapter in Numbers? I know I haven’t read hardly any at all, so I’m excited to be writing one for all of you to enjoy!

What’s the best way to get healthy? Trick question! Don’t get sick in the first place. This might seem obvious to us. We’ve been raised knowing that sickness and disease are caused by tiny germs that we can’t even see. Germs can be transmitted through air, water, food or surfaces. Though it’s common knowledge to us, nobody thought this was possible until about 500 years ago and wasn’t commonly accepted until just over 100 years ago through the work of Louis Pasteur. (If you haven’t heard of Pasteur before, try checking your milk carton for his name.) Now we know that if you want to prevent sickness, all you need to do is wash your hands frequently. Doctors didn’t even start washing their hands until 1847!

Even though the knowledge of germs is very new in world history, Moses, who was living 3000 years before germs were discovered, seemed to know some good ways to prevent disease. In verse 11, we see that touching a dead body makes you unclean. Maybe that law is a little too obvious. Touching a dead body is obviously going to make you unclean. But if you go further down the chapter, he says that even if you are near someone who dies, you are unclean. How could Moses have possibly known that? The answer is simple; God gave Moses knowledge that surpassed the understanding of humans. To us, we can think of how a person who just died might have a disease that we could catch, but the ancient Israelites would have had no idea that diseases can be passed on through the air. Therefore, Moses said that any open container (vs 15) is unclean. Germs could have contaminated the contents of the jar.

I think you all get the point. God gave laws specifically to prevent us from getting sick. And in a way, that is a form of healing. God says in Exodus 15:26, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and keeping all his decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you.” Prevention of disease is a direct consequence of following God’s laws. He created the world and he knows better than any man how to keep us healthy.

To receive the healing of prevention, all we have to do is look to modern hygiene, the same practices that line up with the laws that God gave over 3000 years ago. God is the God of science and nature. He gave us our minds to be able to reason and learn. Because their teachings line up with the Old Testament laws, we should look to the doctors that God gave us for the best health practices. Brush your teeth, wash your hands, shower regularly, don’t touch dead animals, watch your diet, exercise regularly and commit yourself to only one spouse.

-Nathaniel Johnson

 

Devoured by a Lion

1 Peter 5 8

1 Peter 5

So far this week, we have looked at the physical healing of a blind man and the mental healing of a demon possessed man. Today we’re going to look at emotional healing.

Let’s start by looking at verse 8. It says that the Devil, our enemy, is hunting for someone to devour. How many of you have ever felt like you’ve been devoured? I’m sure none of you have ever been eaten by a lion, but I don’t think that’s what this verse is talking about. This verse is talking about being devoured by the world, by our obligations, by our worries. I know I have felt absolutely overwhelmed by my school work, pressures from my friend groups and parents. If you want to talk about being overwhelmed, just look at Jesus’ life.

In verse 5 it mentions the sufferings of Jesus. We know that Jesus had the burdens of the entire world placed on him. That puts our problems into perspective a little, doesn’t it? While we worry about who we’re going to eat lunch with tomorrow, He was worrying about being betrayed by one of his closest friends. While we worry if we’ll be able to play on our school’s basketball team, He was worrying about being sentenced to death by the world that he was supposed to save.

I don’t draw attention to this to diminish our feelings, but it is important to put things in a proper context and to humble ourselves. In verse 6, it says that we need to humble ourselves so that we can be exalted at the proper time. Sometimes it feels like we are being devoured for so long without receiving any help from our God. We think that no one knows how much we are suffering under the stress of our worries and we doubt that God cares. But God does care, and you are not alone. We need to be firm in our faith that God will heal all of us of our emotional pain (vs 9).

Here’s the beautiful part of this chapter: it feels like we must wait forever to receive emotional healing, but God promises us right here in verse 10 that He will personally restore, establish, strengthen and support us after we have suffered. He will heal us.

Today I’m going to leave you with some additional verses. Just read them and soak in all they promise.

Revelation 21:4

Psalm 147:3

John 14:27

Psalm 34:17-20

Matthew 11:28

Psalm 34:19

 

-Nathaniel Johnson

Another Kind of Healing – When Pigs Fly

Mark 5:1-19

(But no one is stopping you from reading the whole chapter)

How many of you have ever seen a scary movie? I don’t recommend them. Being scared is not fun, but sometimes we can’t help being scared. Today we’re going to talk about something scary, but fear not! This devotion has a happy ending.

In this segment of Mark, we see Jesus healing another man, but this time, he is casting out demons. This wasn’t an ordinary casting out of demons either. This man that Jesus encountered had an unclean spirit that consisted of thousands of demons (5:9).  The man had been so out of his right mind that he was cast out of normal society and forced to live in a cave where people had tried to chain him up, but not even chains could hold this man down. He would scream and cut himself day and night (5:5). This man is clearly not okay. Yet Jesus still let the man seek him out.

Notice how Jesus is being approached by a man that can literally break chains, but he doesn’t seem to be worried. That is exactly how we should feel knowing that we have the God of Jesus on our side, too. The demons in this man fear Jesus and respect his authority. It says in verse 13 that Jesus “gave them permission.” They obey Jesus! Now the next part of the story is a little weird, but it is very important. The demons went into a herd of pigs and subsequently flew off a cliff. Okay, maybe they didn’t fly, but it’s still an odd thing for pigs to do.

This story is a little different from the story of the blind man that we looked at yesterday. The man who was healed in this story didn’t have a physical impairment; he was healed of a sickness of the mind. These kinds of sicknesses can be even scarier than the kind that affect us physically. One such mental sickness that has become very prominent lately is depression. I know firsthand just how many people suffer from depression these days, especially teenagers, so I want to share with you the story of when I saw pigs fly.

When I was younger, I had a close friend who suffered from severe depression and harmed herself in ways like the man that Jesus healed. Many times we think that self-harm is unique to our generation but this story really says otherwise. This was a really painful experience for me just by knowing that my friend was going through this. I urged my friend to talk to a trusted adult and to see a doctor because I knew that I was not qualified to counsel on this subject. However, there was one way that I was able to help. I offered my prayers. Prayer became a constant for me in this period of my life. I wanted nothing more than to see my friend freed of this demon, her depression. One day, I wanted to pray with my friend, so we went out to a park and sat together praying for hours. I remember my prayer: “God, I know that you have the power to cast out demons. Cast out this demon.” After repeating this many times, my friend looked up and I could see a difference in her eyes. Pigs flew, and her depression has never bothered her since then.

I don’t know whether an actual demon was involved in this story, but depression certainly acts like a demon, taking over your thoughts and actions. Whatever the cause of depression may be, our God is bigger and more powerful and there isn’t anything in this world that disobeys His command.

Don’t forget the ending of the story in Mark. After the man was healed, he wanted to follow Jesus, but he was turned down. Jesus told the man to go back to his family and testify to them. This is just like what we saw in John yesterday. After you are healed, Jesus wants you to make sure that the people you know can see that you really were healed.

Tomorrow I am going to go into the role that modern medicine plays into the healing that we can receive from God.
-Nathaniel Johnson