Reflection on Matthew 14:22-33

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+14:22-33

Scripture

When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”

Observation

After they have fed the 5000, Jesus sends the people home. He then tells the disciples to cross the lake in the boat while He goes into the hills to pray.

During the night a storm arises, and the disciples are struggling against the big waves. Jesus comes towards them walking on the water. The disciples, terrified, think it’s a ghost. Jesus speaks to them and tells them not to be afraid.

Peter tells Jesus to command him to walk on the water. He gets out of the boat, but fear causes him to sink. Jesus grabs him, and they climb into the boat. Then the wind stops, and the disciples worship Jesus.

Application

Faith enables awesome miracles. But fear kills faith and so blocks the miracles.

When I focus on the physical world or the circumstances around me, I can easily be gripped with fear, or its little brother, anxiety.

Terror, fear, anxiety, worry- whatever name we give it- looks at the potential for suffering. Faith looks at the potential for God’s grace to be manifested.

We might believe the miracles of Scripture are real, but still fail to believe that God is right here with me now. Many people believe that God heals, but they lack the faith to claim their own healing.

Often it is fear that God will not come through for them that stops them from asking. Sometimes it is fear of rebuke that stops us from offering to pray with a friend.

Imagine if Moses had let fear stop him at the Red Sea or if David had been afraid of Goliath. All the people Jesus healed had to ask and believe- what if they had let fear stop them?

When the storms rage I need to keep my eyes on Jesus.

Prayer

Lord please help me to always trust you no matter what is happening in my life. Amen.

Reflection on Romans 10:5-15

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+10.5-15

Scripture

If you confess with your lips that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Observation

The word of God is on our lips and in our hearts, and so anyone who confesses that Jesus is Lord and believes that God raised Him from the dead will be saved.

Our confession with the lips and our heart belief will save us. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Who will hear if there is no preaching? Who will call on His name if they do not know there is a name to be believed? This means that we must go out from the church and preach the message of salvation.

Application

The Good News is remarkably simple. To be saved I must speak out with my lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that He is risen.

We have a Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. He must be the one I follow and obey in everything I do.

Jesus’ lordship is not a religious phrase with no meaning. It rests on a historical fact- Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead. He was dead and now He is alive.

There is salvation in the name of Jesus.

There is forgiveness in the name of Jesus.

There is healing in the name of Jesus.

There is power in the name of Jesus.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, today I declare you are my Lord. I say this not from empty religion but from the deep conviction of my heart. I thank you for dying for my sin and for rising to eternal life. Amen.

Reflection on Matthew 14:13-21

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+14.13-21

Scripture

Taking the five loaves and the two fish, Jesus looked up to heaven and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and then the disciples gave them to the crowds.

Observation

Having heard of John the Baptist’s death at the hands of Herod, Jesus goes away to be alone. The crowds follow Him, and moved with compassion, He starts to heal them.

As the day goes on, the disciples tell Jesus that He should send the people away to get food. Jesus tells them they can feed them. All they have is five loaves and two fish, nowhere near enough. Jesus blesses the food, breaks it and gives it to the disciples to distribute.

When the people are fed there is more left over than when they started.

Application

God’s economic system is different to ours. He is not limited by lack, but He turns lack into abundance.

The disciples start off with a boy’s lunch and feed ten thousand people with it and end up with much more then they had to start with.

When we are following Jesus, inadequate resources are not a limitation but an opportunity for a miracle. The problem is that we often focus on what we don’t have instead of on what God can provide.

Here are the ingredients necessary for a miracle to take place:

  • A need. People need food. God will not step in where there is no need.

  • Availability. The disciples had a little and were willing to bring that to Jesus to use.

  • Worship. Jesus took the bread, blessed it and broke it. This is a reference to Communion. When our hearts are focused on worshipping Jesus, any thing is possible.

  • Obedience. The miracle took place in the disciples’ hands as they stepped out in faith.

I have seen these miracles take place as the Lord has provided for my family and my church in very special ways. He is always faithful and just needs us to trust Him to provide all that we need, regardless of how much we have in our hands.

Prayer

Thank you Lord for your amazing provision and your awesome miracles. Thank you for providing more than enough. Please help me to trust you in every moment of my life. Amen.

Reflection on Genesis 32:22-31

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+32.22-31

Scripture

Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob but Israel, for you have struggled with God and with men and prevailed.”

Observation

Jacob sends his wives, children and possessions across the river. He spends the night alone. A man comes in the night and wrestles with him. It happens that the man is God.

Jacob demands that the man bless him. The man says that having struggled with God and men, his name will no longer be Jacob but Israel. Jacob’s hip is put out of joint and he walks with a limp from that day forward.

Application

There are two ways to wrestle with God. You can wrestle in rebellion or you can wrestle in faith.

When we wrestle with God in rebellion, our motivation is to get our own way, to defeat God and to show Him that we are in control of our life.

When we wrestle with God in faith, our motivation is to come to obedience, to defeat our own sinful nature and to show ourselves that God is in control.

The attitude of rebellion is “I shall not.” The attitude of faith is, “I shall, but only by your grace.”

When we wrestle with God, we are changed one way or the other. Jacob received a new name. He was changed from “Trickster” to “Prevails with God.” His walk was changed because God marked his hip.

No longer would Jacob struggle to overcome others by cunning. From now on he was to prevail with God,

Prayer

Father I ask you for the grace to prevail with you. May I always walk in humble dependence on you. Amen.

Reflection on Genesis 28:10-19

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+28.10-19

Scripture

Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”

Observation

Jacob comes to a certain place and lies down for the night. He dreams of a ladder reaching from earth to heaven and angels ascending and descending on it.

The Lord appears to Jacob and repeats His promises to Abraham and Isaac. These are promises of land, offspring and blessing.

Jacob wakes from his sleep and says, “Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place and I did not know it. This place is the house of God.” He anoints the stone he slept on and names the place Bethel, that is house of God.

Application

We christians have the Holy Spirit in us, and so every place we go is Bethel, for we are each one the house of God.

There are times when the Lord surprises us, perhaps speaking to us or acting for us in ways we did not expect.

The presence of God becomes obvious to us in these moments. Every day in all that we do, we should try to be aware of God. He is with us in all the moments of all our days.

Many years ago a monk known as Brother Lawrence wrote a book called “Practising the Presence of God.” The title itself is a clue- we need to practise listening and discerning God’s presence with us in the minutiae of daily life.

We can learn to take the opportunities to seek out the Lord in our daily routines. I know of one lady who assigns a prayer point to each household task. Others take a minute each hour to stop and ask “Lord what are you saying to me right now?”

It is so easy to miss appointments with God when we lose ourselves in the world. We need to seek out God in the unlikely places of our lives and declare with Jacob, “Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.”

Prayer

Father in heaven, help me to seek you in everything I do. Please reveal yourself to me in my daily life. Amen.

Reflection on Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+13:1-9,18-23

Scripture

He told them many things in parables, saying “Listen! A sower went out to sow.”

Observation

Jesus is surrounded by many people, so He goes on to a boat to preach. He tells the crowds the story of a sower who sows seed onto four different types of soil- a path, rocky soil, weedy soil and good soil. These different soils produce different yields.

He then explains to His disciples that the seed represents the word, while the soils represent the hearts of men. While many obstacles might prevent people from taking hold of the gospel, the ones who do run with it yield a huge return for God’s kingdom.

Application

Jesus tells us to Listen! He is still telling us to listen.

There are many people wanting us to listen- musicians, entertainers, advertisers, politicians, activists.

There is much talking past each other, but precious little listening.

To listen means that we value someone, that they are worth the time and that their words and thoughts are important to us.

This morning I spent two hours listening to an inter-state truck driver. He loves the Lord but struggles with anxiety from time to time. This morning he needed to be listened to and encouraged in his dreams and visions for the future.

We also need to listen to Jesus. He is talking to us all the time- directing, encouraging, building up. We need to hear His voice in our daily life.

It is hard to remember to listen to Jesus because He doesn’t always get in our face and shout “Listen to me!” We hear Him in the Scriptures, in the words of others and in the quiet voice in our heart.

Jesus says “Listen!”

Prayer

Lord help me to be still and listen. Speak to me so that I can lean my life on your wisdom. Amen.

Reflection on Romans 8:1-11

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+8.1-11

Scripture

But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him.

Observation

There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The law of the Spirit of life has set us free from the spirit of death and sin.

Those who live by the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are in the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

If the Spirit of God dwells in us, then we have the Spirit of the one who raised Christ from the dead and we can be confident that this same Spirit will raise us to life in Christ.

Application

The mark of the true disciple is that we have the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit is not in a person then they are not born again.

The Holy Spirit shows Himself in a variety of ways, primarily in the manifestation gifts of 1 Corinthians 12 and the fruit of the Spirit of Galatians 5.

My life must be a journey of becoming ever more like Jesus. If I do not show evidence of this then the Holy Spirit is not in me, and I do not belong to Christ.

If the Spirit of God is in me, then I have the responsibility to set my mind on the things of the Spirit rather than the things of the flesh.. The Spirit brings life, but the flesh brings death.

As always in the mystery of spiritual life, there is a paradox. On the one hand, the Spirit comes as a free gift at salvation and is released in power when we are baptised in the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, I must pursue the ways of the Spirit and set my mind on the Spirit.

For those who have tasted the joy of the indwelling peace of God, this is not burdensome. I change the direction of my thinking and desiring from self to God, and He meets me with such joy and love, far greater then anything the old fleshly nature could ever provide.

Prayer

Thank you Lord for the gift of life in your Spirit. Lord it is so true that the flesh leads to death but your Spirit brings life. May I always pursue you and not be swayed by the lures and temptations of the flesh. Amen.