Category Archives: Matthew

You are not alone

Matthew 10:19

But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it.  At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.  NIV

Here, Jesus is preparing the disciples for the persecution that is sure to come.

What he tells them is beyond comforting … they won’t be on their own.

Even though Christ is preparing to depart this world, he confirms to the disciples that the Holy Spirit will inhabit them … they will not be alone.

Here, thousands of years later, I am not alone either.  The power of the Holy Spirit is mine to draw upon … a comfort in times of stress, a source of peace in times of trouble.

I am not alone.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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You can’t save yourself

Matthew 14:29-30

“Come,” he said.  Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” NIV

I love this story.

This week, I’ve been feeling a lot like Peter.

He got down out of the boat and walked on water … astounding.  I heard a lesson earlier this week during which the speaker challenged us to set a goal for ourselves that only God can achieve.

A goal that only God achieve … walking on water.

It is interesting to me that Peter was not astonished by his ability to overcome the laws of physics.  He asked Jesus to perform a miracle, Jesus delivered, and Peter stepped out on faith.

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and began to sink.

Wind is something he had seen all his life … and THAT was what worried him?  So interesting.  The God of the universe had given Peter an amazing gift, and yet, he cannot overcome his own understanding of how things work to accept it.  He was willing to walk on water … but the wind was somehow beyond God’s control in his mind.

How often do we do that?

We set a goal for ourselves that only God can achieve … absent blind faith we would never attempt it.  We move forward in faith and experience God’s blessings, and then we allow ourselves to be derailed by the trivial.


Mark 10:27 says, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” NIV

We are so trapped by the physical — our perspectives are so framed by our own limitations — that this verse is one that is difficult to truly comprehend.  Even Peter fell victim to his own perspective, at a time when he was experiencing the greatest of miracles.

I was talking to my sister yesterday.  We share many things, among them, a great frustration with the Israelites as we read the Old Testament.  When it is all laid out there in black and white … when we can read about the promises God made and fulfilled, and the miracles that He consistently worked on their behalf … why is the Old Testament filled with stories of their doubt of Him?

I think it is because we are human … we are imperfect … we don’t have God’s perspective or His wisdom … we’re not meant to.  We are trapped by time, and this tumultuous existence unfolds for us moment by amazing moment.

We see the wind and it frightens us, regardless of whatever current miracle we might be experiencing.

The most important part of this example is the last part of verse 30.  Peter knew what to do.  He cried out to God … “Lord, save me!”  He knew he could not save himself.

I know that, too.

That’s what I’ll think about today.


Filed under Fear, Matthew, New Testament, Worry

He will give you rest

Matthew 11:28

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” NIV

These words of Jesus are so powerful!

Sometimes, when I am upset about something, I tend to talk about it … mostly to my husband.  After the third or fourth iteration of the same general topic, he will often say, “Stop being so upset about this.”  That’s what he says.  What I hear is, “Stop talking about this,” which, of course, I know I should have done three iterations ago.

It took a long time for me to realize that he really means, “stop being upset.”  Before I began this project, I was pretty unclear on how to do that.  I had been a Christian for most of my life.  I made the decision to trust God for my eternity, but, my day-to-day was still my own dominion.

Through the course of this daily focus on what the Bible says about worry, I’m learning to trust God in all things … big and small … and this verse is a perfect reminder of that.

I can take my worries to the cross, and leave them there.  Christ will exchange them for an unharried, peaceful heart.

He will give me rest.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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He’s not here …

Matthew 28: 5-6a

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” NIV

Many months ago, I began working through the listings of the word “fear” in my King James concordance, paying special attention to the phrase, “fear not,” which is often a reminder not to worry.

I’ve worked my way through the Old Testament listings, and have been looking at verses in Matthew, the first book of the New Testament, for the last few days.

While the Old Testament is filled with prophecy of the Messiah’s coming, Matthew tells the story of Christ’s life.

At this point in the book, Jesus has been crucified and buried.

On the morning of the third day, these women have journeyed out to the tomb to do the things to a body that would traditionally be done in their culture before laying someone to rest.  There had been no time to do these things for Jesus, because, as I understand it, he died too close to sundown … the beginning of the Sabbath … on which the people were forbidden to work.

I can’t imagine the devastation and worry those women must have felt as they made their way out to where Jesus was buried.  The man that they thought would be the savior, their king, has been brutally murdered … what’s next?

Next is the glorious end to the story … the fulfillment of the prophecy.

When they arrive at the tomb, they receive what, I think, is the most powerful reminder not to worry in the whole Bible.

“He is not here … He has risen.”

As I sit here in front of my computer, words fail me.  It’s impossible to know the joy, and/or confusion these women must have experienced in the presence of the angel that gave them this news.  Verse 4 says that the guards that were there at the tomb, “were so afraid of (the angel) that they shook and became like dead men.”  NIV

But, there is nothing to fear.  He’s not dead in a tomb … He has risen, just as he said.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Everything isn’t grey

Matthew 21: 25-26

“John’s baptism — where did it come from?  Was it from heaven or from men?”  They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’  But if we say, ‘From men’ — we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” NIV

The chief priests and elders are in a pickle.  They are worried that Jesus is upstaging them, and they want to trap him.  But, they’re not smart enough to do so.  They have asked him under what authority he is teaching in the temple.  In return, Jesus asks this question and promises that if they will answer it, he will answer theirs.

They elders are scheming to get their own way, regardless of whether it is the right thing to do.  As they contemplate the answer to Christ’s query, the obstacles that are in their path between where they are and where they want to be are causing them to worry.

If they would just step back a bit, they would see that the real worry is not whether the people will be angry about what they say about a dead prophet, but that they are on the wrong side … they are against the Son of the Living God.

In 2010, we are bombarded with messages that encourage us to adopt the perspective that things are neither completely right, nor completely wrong.   This is the approach that the chief priests and elders ultimately take.  Their answer to Jesus’s question is, “we don’t know.”  Since they fail to answer his question, Jesus will not answer theirs.

We live in a world that increasingly believes that most things are somewhere in the middle … I’m not certain that’s true in all cases.  It may be true in very few of them.

I’m going to think some more about that today.


Filed under Fear, Matthew, New Testament, Worry

It’s a faith problem

Matthew 14:31

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.  “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” NIV

So, I’m back in the story of Peter walking on the water.

I don’t remember the first time I learned about the concept of surface tension.  I might have been in high school.  But, as soon as it was mentioned to me that molecules on the surface of a liquid cling more tightly to one another, my mind went racing.

I looked it up this morning on a site called “hyperphysics,” and I am no less amazed by the concept this morning than I was all those years ago:  “The cohesive forces between liquid molecules are responsible for the phenomenon known as surface tension. The molecules at the surface do not have other like molecules on all sides of them and consequently they cohere more strongly to those directly associated with them on the surface. This forms a surface “film” which makes it more difficult to move an object through the surface than to move it when it is completely submersed.”

Once I got it, my first thoughts were of the water droplets that form on the hood of your car if you’ve just waxed it.  Then, I thought about swimming pools and waves, and then, I thought about the story of Peter.

God created all things.  I don’t know if he enabled Jesus and Peter to walk on the surface of that lake by adjusting the surface tension of the water.  He could just as easily have done a million other things to achieve the miracle, but, the bottom line is … it was a miracle, and Peter experienced it personally.

I love the passage just before this verse, “Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus.  But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink.” MSG

Peter is doing something that, to my knowledge, had never been done before or since.  He was allowed to defy the laws of physics for a few brief moments, and, as long as he keeps his eyes on Christ, all is fine.  When he stops to consider the improbable nature of his circumstance … he fails.

How often is it like that for us?

We are afforded a miracle beyond miracles … money shows up to pay a bill just when we need it, someone calls offering precisely the help we need.  We’ve prayed for these things, we’ve asked God to give them to us, just as Peter asked Jesus to allow him to walk on water — yet, when we get the things we’ve asked for, we start to worry — we begin to dissecting the blessings, instead of accepting them for the miracles that they surely are.

Why do we do this?  Jesus gives that answer … it’s a faith problem.

I want to have the faith that prompts me to accept, rather than to dissect.  It is that faith that will afford the peace that passes understanding, and it is borne of trust in the one, true God.

That’s what I’ll think about today.


Filed under Fear, Matthew, New Testament, Trust, Worry

He’s got you in the palm of his hand

Matthew 10:29-30

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  Yet not one of them will fall to the ground, apart from the will of your heavenly father.  And, even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So, don’t be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows.” NIV

Last Spring, I took a landscaping class.  The teacher was a true nature enthusiast and a child at heart.  He was completely delighted by all things outdoors, and was one of those people who had a job that he couldn’t quite believe paid him to do what he loved.

One night, he brought a bird feather to class.  Not one of the long ones from a bird’s tail, but, a small soft one, likely from a bird’s belly.  This feather was a thing of wonder.  Each of its wisps was perfectly aligned, and there was a spotted pattern across all of it, as if it had been painted.

I remember thinking how amazing and how creative God is, that he would put such detail into something that very few people would ever see … even the birds themselves don’t seem to contemplate their feathers individually.

Our world is one of true wonders, and God had left surprises for us everywhere.  He cares for us, he delights in us and in all of his creation.

In this verse, He reminds us that He values things much differently than we do.  While we don’t value sparrows very much at all, He takes great pride in them, and knows each one.  While I don’t even think about how much hair I have (except to complain that there is too much of it on very hot days) He knows exactly how much of it there is and how much there will be … today, tomorrow and on my last day here.

God values me.  I have nothing to fear, and nothing to worry about.

The creator of the universe has me in the palm of his hand.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Fulfill your purpose

Matthew 10: 27-28

What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.  Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.  NIV

I’m still thinking about the Ten Commandments, and whether they are reminders not to worry.  This morning, I went to Exodus 20 and read through the list … but the task seems a bit daunting and the thinking a bit deep for a holiday week, so I went back to Matthew where the reminders are more straightforward … yet no less important.

The Message translates verse 28, “Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies.  There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being.  Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life — body and soul — in his hands.” MSG

One of the first principles I learned about marketing is this — if you don’t define your message, someone else will define it for you.

As Christians, we’ve been given everything we need to mount a very effective communication campaign.  We have a compelling topic, a real human interest story and a very powerful call to action.

But, how often do we remain silent in situations where we should be delivering our message?  How often do worries about what other people will think cause us to remain silent?

This verse succinctly states that we shouldn’t worry about what others think … our real worry should be over our ability to fulfill God’s purpose for us here on earth.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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One day, everyone will know

Matthew 10:26

“So do not be afraid of them.  There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.” NIV

As I read through the tenth chapter of Matthew to gain a feel for the context in which this reminder is given, I found several more reminders not to worry.  My NIV Bible titles this chapter, “Jesus sends out the the twelve,” and it is clear that Christ is telling them many things that they will need to know to effectively carry the gospel forward.

Jesus is preparing them for the persecution they will surely face.  The Message translates this verse, “Don’t be intimidated.  Eventually everything is going to be out in the open, and everyone will know how things really are.” MSG

As I think more about this verse, I realize that its concepts are quite deep.  Christ’s coming was foretold for centuries, yet, when he arrived, many did not recognize Him, and still today there are those who deny that He was the Messiah.

My sense is that the majority of the world is not anxiously anticipating His second coming.  Instead, people are going about their daily lives, with their own worries and their own frustrations.

I know from experience that sometimes you have to live through something, even if it is something that you have been anxiously anticipating, to really understand it.

I remember being in first grade.  That entire year, I couldn’t help watching the second graders.  They seemed so grown up, they had it all figured out … and I wanted to be one of them.

On the first morning of second grade, I was beyond excited.  I couldn’t wait to get to school, because now I was going to be a SECOND GRADER.

When I entered Mrs. T’s room, I was shocked.  There in the little desks were many of the kids that I had known the year before … FIRST GRADERS here in the second-grade classroom.  And then, I got it.

I remember being both devastated and embarrassed at the same time … how could I have been so stupid not to understand that everyone would move up and that the elusive second graders, would now be in third grade?

Such a simple concept, and yet, I didn’t get it until I personally experienced it.

It’s the same with Christ.  It’s a simple concept really.  We are all sinners and separated from the glory of God.  A sacrifice is required for our redemption.  God sent His son as that perfect sacrifice.  If we recognize that we are sinners and that we deserve to die for our sins, and if we confess our sins and accept the gift of His death in our place, we will receive eternal life and we will live with Him for all eternity.

This morning, a little boy who is dear to me will be baptized as a public symbol that he has come to this recognition and has accepted Christ as his savior.

I am so thankful that he has had this realization … he knows how things really are.  One day, everyone will know.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Are you the source of another’s worry?

Matthew 1:20

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”  NIV

Mary, the mother of Jesus has popped up pregnant before her wedding night.  Joseph, the man to whom she is betrothed, knows that he is not the father of the child, and so his assumption is that the woman who is to be his wife  has betrayed him.  How devastating!  Joseph must have suffered horribly from the time he got the news until the point when he was visited by the angel of the Lord.

Not only is he likely worried about what she’s done to their relationship, I think he must also be thinking, “What will other people think?  What will my family think?”

The scripture says that he “did not want to expose her to public disgrace,” instead, he planned to quietly get out of the marriage.

The Message translates this verse, “While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream.  God’s angel spoke in the dream: ‘Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married.  Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit conceived.  God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant.'” MSG

The angel directs that Mary’s son should be called Jesus, and Joseph follows the angel’s instructions — all of them.

I heard a sermon last Christmas that put the next few months in a whole new light for me.

Joseph marries Mary … he trusts her and he trusts the guidance he has received from the angel.

But, together they must face the disapproval of his family.  “What will other people think?” is a question that produces a good deal of worry, and in Joseph and Mary’s case, that worry was very real.

Last Christmas, the pastor pointed out the clues that are there in the story of Mary and  Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem.

In Luke 2, we are told that Caesar decrees that everyone needs to go back to their home town to be taxed … it was the first census.  Mary boards a donkey and she and Joseph set off for Bethlehem.  When they arrive, there is no room for them at the inn, but a kindly innkeeper offers them shelter in his barn, where Jesus is born.

Many times in my life, I’ve been thankful for the innkeeper.  And, I’ve always loved the manger scene that is a special part of every Christmas pageant.

But this year, the pastor helped me see the story differently.

Everyone had to go to their own town to be taxed.

Every relative Joseph had must have been in Bethlehem.  If all of your relatives were in one place, wouldn’t you have a party?  Or, at least some sort of gathering?  And, if two more showed up, even if all your beds were full, wouldn’t you offer them the couch or the at least the screen porch?

But, Joseph and Mary had no parties to attend … no relatives to stay with.  Was this because of the wrath of his family?

One of our greatest sources of worry here on earth is how we are treated by others.  God sent his son to redeem our sins … God is the final judge, not man.  We are not called to judge each other, but to serve each other and to show God’s love to one another.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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