Matthew 12:22-37

Thy Word:

Then a demon-possessed man, who was blind and couldn’t speak, was brought to Jesus. He healed the man so that he could both speak and see. The crowd was amazed and asked, “Could it be that Jesus is the Son of David, the Messiah?”

But when the Pharisees heard about the miracle, they said, “No wonder he can cast out demons. He gets his power from Satan, the prince of demons.”

Jesus knew their thoughts and replied, “Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart. And if Satan is casting out Satan, he is divided and fighting against himself. His own kingdom will not survive. And if I am empowered by Satan, what about your own exorcists? They cast out demons, too, so they will condemn you for what you have said. But if I am casting out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has arrived among you. For who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger—someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house.

“Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.

“So I tell you, every sin and blasphemy can be forgiven—except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which will never be forgiven. Anyone who speaks against the Son of Man can be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, either in this world or in the world to come.

“A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad. You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.”

Matthew 12:22-37 NLT


My Thoughts:

statue of jesus

Today we see Jesus heal a man who was possessed by an evil spirit that caused him to be blind and mute. The crowd that has been following Jesus began to “see” that Jesus is not an ordinary man, they wonder if he is the coming Messiah. This is a victory for Jesus who wanted the people to understand that he was more than just a healer of flesh he is a healer of our broken and sinful hearts.

close up photo of jack o lantern

If you remember from past blogs, Jesus always has religious leaders following him. They have eyes to see what he does and ears to hear him speak. Yet, when the Pharisees hear the report of Jesus healing this man they have an opposite reaction. They accuse Jesus of being able to remove the demon because his power came from Satan. Knowing their thoughts he doesn’t quarrel with them, instead he responds calmly with logic and truth:

  1. Why would Satan cast out his own demons?
  2. Were they implying the religious leaders who perform exorcists were also followers of Satan?
  3. Only the Spirit of God can cast out demons because He is more powerful than Satan.

Jesus summarizes their reaction boldly to all who were with him: Where do you stand with me? Are you for me or against me?

yes signage on brown wooden chalkboard

This is absolutely the most important question any of us will ever answer because it determines our eternity. I pray that all who are reading this know their answer and if you want or need additional information about eternal life, please contact me in the comments.

Next, Jesus says, “So I tell you, every sin and blasphemy can be forgiven—except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which will never be forgiven. Anyone who speaks against the Son of Man can be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, either in this world or in the world to come.” (Matthew 12:31-32 NLT)

I’m going to tell you right now these words have at least two schools of thought. I am going to show you what my study Bible says first:

“The Pharisees had blasphemed against the Spirit by attributing the power by which Christ did miracles to Satan instead of the Holy Spirit. The unpardonable sin is the deliberate refusal to acknowledge God’s power in Christ. It indicates a deliberate and irreversible hardness of heart. Sometimes believers worry that they have accidentally committed this unforgivable sin. But only those who have turned their backs on God and rejected all faith have any need to worry. Jesus said they can’t be forgiven—not because their sin is worse than any other, but because they will never ask for forgiveness. Whoever rejects the prompting of the Holy Spirit removes himself or herself from the only force that can lead him or her to repentance and restoration to God.”

Another study Bible says this: “blasphemy against the Spirit. Technically, according to the scribes, blasphemy involved direct and explicit abuse of the divine name. Jesus here teaches that it also may be the reviling of God by attributing the Spirit’s work to Satan. The special circumstances involved in this blasphemy cannot be duplicated today; therefore, this sin cannot now be committed.”

One group of Christians believes in the literal translation, that when you blaspheme the Holy Spirit it is an unpardonable sin, even today. Why? Because it’s spoken by Jesus and in the Word of God, therefore, it is true.

Other Christians believe the sin of blasphemy cannot be duplicated today once we ask for forgiveness for our sins, and believe that Jesus is the Messiah who died for all of our sins; past, present, and future. What is blasphemy is when we die with a hardened heart by deliberately turning our backs on Jesus. This is an unpardonable sin that will result in eternal damnation.

black and white business career close up

What do I believe? I believe that the sin of blasphemy cannot be duplicated today but the sin of rejecting Jesus will cause eternal damnation. Do I believe this because I have loved ones who have not committed their hearts to Jesus and have said some very inflammatory things against the Lord? Perhaps! Regardless of what I believe, I encourage you to research both opinions and come to your own conclusion.


Jesus ends by telling us we can identify a tree by the fruit it produces, specifically whether it is good or bad fruit. This is normally one of my favorite verses because it reminds me to think before I speak and let the words of my mouth be pleasing to the Lord.

However, I can’t clean up my heart problem by simply just watching what I say. I have to coach myself through the process of what I’m thinking and compare it to what God says in His word.

black and white black and white depressed depression

Remember in the last lesson we are told that Jesus “will not quarrel or cry out.” So if the “fruit” I’m about to speak will cause a quarrel or cause me or someone else to cry out (yell or scream), it’s best I keep my “fruit” to myself until I can work through how to say what needs to be said so it is good and not evil.

A good book to help us all with our words is “The Grace and Truth Paradox” by Randy Alcorn. We certainly don’t want to be referred to as a “brood of vipers” like the religious leaders were by Jesus!

In the end, Jesus warns us that we will all give an account for what we do and what we say. If that alone doesn’t scare you into considering what type of fruit is about to come out of your mouth, I’m not sure what will!!


Closing Prayer: Father God, I confess to you today that I am a sinner and often times the fruit that comes out of my mouth is rotten fruit. Thank you for your forgiveness and I pray that I consider what I am about to say every minute of every day before it leaves my lips. Father, I ask for salvation for my loved ones who refuse to acknowledge you are God. I pray that you put an apostle in front of each of them who will be able to influence their hearts for you. Father, I trust and believe that you alone are the one who can and will save them in spite of their blasphemous hearts and words. It is this truth that keeps me calm and patient as I wait for your mighty works. Thank you, LORD. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Matthew 12:15-21

Thy Word:

Jesus, God’s Chosen Servant

But Jesus knew what they were planning. So he left that area, and many people followed him. He healed all the sick among them, but he warned them not to reveal who he was. This fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah concerning him:

“Look at my Servant, whom I have chosen. He is my Beloved, who pleases me. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not fight or shout or raise his voice in public. He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. Finally he will cause justice to be victorious. And his name will be the hope of all the world.” Matthew 12:15-21 NLT


My Thoughts: Jesus knew what the Pharisees were planning, so he left the area. He didn’t leave out of fear he left because it was not time for Jesus to die for our sins.

Our reading today tells us that “many people followed him [Jesus].” Although our words don’t point this out, we will soon see the religious leader’s anger throb in their hardened hearts like a festering wound regarding his popularity.

However, Jesus doesn’t try to rectify or change the leader’s hearts he simply goes about the business of talking to the people and healing all the sick among them. Again, Jesus asks the people not to reveal who he was because he wanted the focus to be on the people changing their lives.

He knew the people wanted him to bring in a new kingdom to free them from Roman rule, but he hoped his teachings and compassion would turn their focus to changing the condition of their sinful lives and hearts.

The verses that are mentioned as being fulfilled come from Isaiah 42:1-4. The words from those verses that strike my heart today, on Passover/Good Friday are these:

“He will not fight or shout or raise his voice in public.”

Today as we consider the sacrifice that Jesus made to die for our sins, may we remember to humble our hearts and perhaps even our words too, and reflect our LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ.



Closing Prayer: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14) I can think of no verse that is better for this day, the day you took the beatings, you took the nails, you took it all for me, LORD. Forgive me for my failures and may my light shine today as I honor your sacrifice. In the name of Jesus, the one who redeemed me, amen.

Matthew 12:1-14

Thy Word:

A Discussion About The Sabbath

At about that time Jesus was walking through some grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, so they began breaking off some heads of grain and eating them. But some Pharisees saw them do it and protested, “Look, your disciples are breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath.”

Jesus said to them, “Haven’t you read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He went into the house of God, and he and his companions broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests are allowed to eat. And haven’t you read in the law of Moses that the priests on duty in the Temple may work on the Sabbath? I tell you, there is one here who is even greater than the Temple! But you would not have condemned my innocent disciples if you knew the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!”

Jesus Heals On The Sabbath

Then Jesus went over to their synagogue, where he noticed a man with a deformed hand. The Pharisees asked Jesus, “Does the law permit a person to work by healing on the Sabbath?” (They were hoping he would say yes, so they could bring charges against him.)

And he answered, “If you had a sheep that fell into a well on the Sabbath, wouldn’t you work to pull it out? Of course you would. And how much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Yes, the law permits a person to do good on the Sabbath.”

Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored, just like the other one! Then the Pharisees called a meeting to plot how to kill Jesus.”

Matthew 12:1-14 NLT


My Thoughts: After reading this entire account my thoughts gets down to this: these religious leaders seriously thought eating grain and healing a man’s shriveled hand on the Sabbath were sins, yet it was okay to plot to kill Jesus! How did they not immediately realize they were breaking one of the sacred Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:13)?

close up photography of person s eye

The Pharisees justified their decision because Jesus said he was the LORD which was blasphemy (according to their laws) however, does that really warrant a death penalty? What brought on such a strong decision?

First, let’s take a look at the laws the religious leaders were referring to from my NIV study notes:

“The Pharisees had established 39 categories of actions forbidden on the Sabbath, based on interpretations of God’s law and on Jewish customs. Harvesting was one of those forbidden actions. By picking wheat and rubbing it in their hands, the disciples were technically harvesting, according to the religious leaders. Jesus and the disciples were picking grain because they were hungry, not because they wanted to harvest the grain for profit. They were not working on the Sabbath. The Pharisees, however, could not (and did not want to) see beyond their law’s technicalities. They had no room for compassion, and they were determined to accuse Jesus of wrongdoing.”

Jesus points this out to the Pharisees and compares this truth for the story about David and his men eating the bread from the temple. (You can read this story in 1 Samuel 21:1-6.) The need for food was more important than priestly regulations. Jesus was telling the Pharisees that if they condemned him and his disciples for eating when they were hungry, they might as well condemn David, something the religious leaders would never do without causing a great uproar between the people.

Jesus was not condoning disobedience to God’s laws. Instead he was emphasizing discernment and compassion in enforcing the laws.

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Then Jesus infuriates the leaders further when he said he was Lord of the Sabbath, because he claimed to be greater than the law and above the law. To the Pharisees this was heresy. They did not realize that Jesus, the divine Son of God, had created the Sabbath so he had the authority to overrule their traditions and regulations.

(Definition of heresy: opinion or doctrine at variance with the orthodox or accepted doctrine, especially of a church or religious system.)

The final straw for the Pharisees happened when they tried to trick Jesus by asking him if it was legal to heal on the Sabbath. The laws said healing could be performed if it was an emergency, but healing a man’s shriveled hand was not an emergency.

ambulance architecture building business

Jesus responds in such a way it made their laws seem petty and ridiculous; specifically by showing they would put more value on an animal than a man. Could Jesus have waited another day to heal the man’s hand since it wasn’t an emergency? Yes, however, if Jesus had agreed to wait to heal the man, he would have given in to the Pharisees authority which placed their laws above human need. Instead, Jesus made it clear that God is a God of people and not laws therefore the best time to help someone is when they need help.

Since Jesus overruled the Pharisees laws and actions in front of a crowd in the synagogue, they were consumed with pride and outrage. Essentially Jesus made it clear for all to hear that the Pharisees were more loyal to their religious systems than they were to God.

It was their feelings that brought on the strong decision that the only solution was to kill Jesus.

Pride and anger are some of the most dangerous feelings especially when they are combined, wouldn’t you agree? In fact, I’m going to step out on a limb and say it is pride and anger that have led to many relationship problems, and certainly are the root of many current world problems.

man wearing white tank top

CAUTION: We all have an opinion about what is right or wrong and most of the time we don’t want anyone to prove otherwise, especially in front of an audience! When that happens, we go into a defensive posture just likes these Pharisees did, which leads us directly into sin.


Closing Prayer: Father God, this was a very convicting lesson today because we are reminded that when we make decisions based solely on our feelings an even bigger sin typically follows. Father I ask that you guide our thinking to be more in line with Jesus. I also ask that we don’t seek to harm anyone who doesn’t agree with our opinion or beliefs, but instead we seek a loving solution. I ask this in the name of Jesus

Matthew 11:25-30

Thy Word:

Jesus’ Prayer of Thanksgiving

At that time Jesus prayed this prayer: “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way!

“My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:25-30 NLT


My Thoughts: In my last blog, Jesus gave us a harsh warning regarding the judgment of unbelievers and the role we are to play in helping them know more about him. Today we see Jesus launch into prayer.

His prayer has three parts and the last portion is unrelated to the first two parts of his prayer:

  1. First, Jesus thanks his Father God for hiding the truth of his words to those that refuse to have a relationship with him.
  2. Next, Jesus explains that there is a strong relationship between God the Father and Jesus the Son. To know the Father we have to first know the Son.
  3. Finally, Jesus offers a helping hand to those who are weary which has nothing to do with the rest of the prayer.

Remember, Jesus is speaking to people in different towns when he encountered opposition from unbelievers. I love that Jesus speaks his prayer out loud for everyone to hear. His message is to inform those unbelievers the reason they don’t understand what he is saying, is because they think they are too wise and too clever. He also tells them that the reason they can’t possibly know him as the Messiah (as his Father knows him) is because Jesus chooses us, but only when we first choose Him.

Then suddenly his prayer takes a drastic turn and Jesus extends a hand of mercy and calls out for those who are weary and need rest. Who was in the crowd that day that needed to hear those words?

I can almost imagine the skeptics and unbelievers jeering and shouting words of disbelief at Jesus, telling him to leave their town. Instead of fighting them, Jesus prays for them and the Father reveals to Jesus there is one (or maybe more) who is tired and overcome with their life. Perhaps with all the skeptics around they were too frightened to cry out and ask for help. But their heart was burning for the message Jesus was sharing and they knew he was the very thing they needed. Although their words may have been silent their faith cried out loud and Jesus heard them and felt compassion. He offered them hope and rest.

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Is that you? Are you in a place where you think you can’t handle one more thing, one more problem, one more…, anything? Jesus also hears your weary soul and He wants to carry your burdens. There are times in our lives when things are too heavy, so what do we do? We reach out and ask for help. The Bible tells us that Christ says:

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 NIV

If you are a believer and you are carrying a heavy load, please reach out to God for help. If you are a planner, outline what you need and take it to God. If you are so overwhelmed you still aren’t sure what you need, then take it to God! God is always our first answer. Perhaps it’s so overwhelming all you can do is just cry. Well, you know what? God says that is okay too because he hears and sees our tears!

“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.” Romans 8:26-27 NLT  

I love this verse! When we are so confused or so overwhelmed, all we need to do is cry out to God with our tears and the Spirit will intervene with the right words on our behalf! What an amazing benefit of having a relationship with Jesus Christ!

Next, ask for help from another mature and trusted believer, or perhaps a counselor, or even an agency that can offer relief. What Jesus is telling us in his prayer is that God never meant for us to be overburdened and he will help us shoulder the burden.

Before we go any further, I do have a ‘however’ for us.

However, please know that there is a difference between being burdened and in doing your own daily work. God clearly tells us:

“For each one should carry his own load.” Galatians 6:5 NIV

You may be asking for a little more clarification for a ‘load.’ Please let me share some wise advice I received from a pastor:

Everyone in the world has a ‘load’ which is their own responsibility to carry each and every day. It includes things like our relationship with God, our family, our jobs, and our daily care needs (utilities, gas, laundry, food, etc.). It’s not anyone’s responsibility but ours to manage and care for our daily load.

For instance, if I’m a recently graduated college student my primary load is to find a job, save up money to get a place of my own, and begin to take care of myself. It does not mean that I hang on to those footloose and fancy free college days and mooch off of my parents until I feel like doing any of those things! When I do that, my lack of responsibility for my own load suddenly becomes a burden to my parents! Do you see how that works?

The prayer Jesus prays in our reading today has nothing to do with someone who is being irresponsible and not carrying their own load, but specifically to someone in the crowd who is overwhelmed by a burden. Maybe they lost a spouse, or a job, maybe a child is sick, or maybe they are overburdened with that irresponsible college student? Whatever the problem, Jesus saw it that day and he extended words of mercy to help them find their way.

I’d like to think when Jesus left after his prayer this person’s faith was strong enough, and the words of Jesus were compelling enough, they made the decision to follow him. That process would have put them in touch with other believers that could help them find their way back to solid ground.

If you sincerely seek Jesus, he will sincerely find you.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV


Closing Prayer: Father, I love how your compassion overrides any frustration for those who refuse to believe in you. What I love the most is you never give up on us! Father thank you for the encouragement of your words that remind me if I want to know more about you, I must first surrender my heart to you. In the middle of the towns refusal to hear Jesus speak, we learn there is at least one who needed mercy and help from the LORD, and you answered their weary heart. How many times have you extended mercy and encouragement to me, when I have been overburdened LORD? Every time, dear Jesus, every time, and I praise your Holy Name for this blessing. Amen.

Matthew 11:20-24

Thy Word:

Judgment for Unbelievers

Then Jesus began to denounce the towns where he had done so many of his miracles, because they hadn’t repented of their sins and turned to God. “What sorrow awaits you, Korazin and Bethsaida! For if the miracles I did in you had been done in wicked Tyre and Sidon, their people would have repented of their sins long ago, clothing themselves in burlap and throwing ashes on their heads to show their remorse. I tell you, Tyre and Sidon will be better off on judgment day than you.

“And you people of Capernaum, will you be honored in heaven? No, you will go down to the place of the dead. For if the miracles I did for you had been done in wicked Sodom, it would still be here today. I tell you, even Sodom will be better off on judgment day than you.” Matthew 11:20-24 NLT


My Thoughts: Our last study ended with Jesus speaking truth to his listeners that believers will face opposition when we share the gospel. He paints a picture of a discontented generation that is unwilling to find joy (Matthew 11:15-19), which sounds eerily familiar with today’s stubborn generation, wouldn’t you agree?

What is the most interesting to note in these verses is that Jesus had full knowledge that these three towns would turn away from him before he even left! Yet he still went, he performed miracles, and he shared the good news about everlasting life (the gospel) when they repented of their sins.

In the end, Jesus denounced the people in Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum because although they would accept his miracles, they would not repent of their sins or believe in him. He compares their disbelief and wicked behavior with the cities Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom. These were ancient cities with a long-standing reputation for wickedness and each was destroyed by God for its evil (you can read more in Genesis 18; 19; Ezekiel 27; 28). Jesus tells them because they saw him yet they didn’t believe they would suffer even greater punishment than the people of those wicked cities that had not seen Jesus.

This also paints an ugly picture for unbelievers today that have access to Jesus from churches, Bibles, and fellowship with believers, yet still choose not to believe.

Even more important, it tells believers that we must take responsibility for sharing the gospel with unbelievers more seriously, whether we think it’s a waste of time or not! Every day there is a battle for the lives of unbelievers and they are either headed for everlasting life or everlasting death.

So, what is our (my) role in this epic battle?

I believe that my role in the battle is sharing the gospel through this blog and ultimately through the book I am writing. However, it doesn’t relieve me of the responsibility of sharing the gospel verbally when those opportunities come to me. There are days when the battle to be obedient to this calling are more difficult than others. There are days I worry that I am not making a difference, but then I remind myself this isn’t about me getting a pat on the back each time I take a step of faith! It’s about me trusting that God will use what I do, when the timing is the most right for the Kingdom and not for me.

There is a verse I learned when I took a study of the book of Romans at our local church called “The Roman Road.” We were given a series of verses to memorize as we walked through this book in the Bible. Those verses are still so meaningful to me and I have used many of them in this very blog.

One that I truly love, that reminds me that I am not in control is Romans 11:33 (NIV). I am going to include verses 33-36 because of their amazing wisdom:

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out. (Verse 33)

Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?

Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.

Romans 11:33-36 NIV

The first verse (verse 33) reminds me that I can never fully understand the depths of God’s wisdom and knowledge. But more important, I can’t really even understand his judgments or where he is going with a particular situation. In fact, I can say with certainty that I rarely know where God is going, but I do get to see where God has been! Based on the truth of this one verse it is imperative that I am obedient to my call to share the gospel even when I can’t fully understand what is happening in a given situation.

For instance, perhaps I am confused about why someone isn’t/hasn’t been judged by God immediately when they stand against his people or commit a heinous crime against an innocent man/woman (example: King Herod punished John the Baptist for his own sin)? What if we looked at it from God’s perspective? Let me give you an example:

My daughter and her children were victims of domestic violence. Initially, this Momma wanted the LORD to rain down a multitude of revenge on that man! However, when I prayed about it the LORD answered with a simple command (a command, not a suggestion!): I want you to pray for him. This, however, was not the revenge I was seeking! I wanted him to be hurt just as badly as he had hurt my daughter and my grandchildren!!

But the Lord has something to say about how we are to treat our enemies:

If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. Proverbs 25:21 NIV

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6:27-28 NIV

Right here in black and white we see that God commands us to pray for our enemies! Why? Because we do want them to repent, we do want them to change their evil ways, otherwise, they will continue to do evil!

This was especially important for me when I realized the courts would still give this man visitation rights with the very children he had abused. Once the reality of this truth hit my heart this Momma hit her knees and prayed for him to become a man of God!!!

I wish I could tell you that he is now a believer and he has changed dramatically. What actually happened is he learned I was praying in earnest for him to be a man of God. He was completely taken aback that I would pray for him because of the circumstances! He knew full well he didn’t deserve my prayers but that knowledge caused him to suddenly stumble in his headlong walk toward evil and wrong doing, to a place of confusion and asking a lot of questions.

He looked up what it meant to be a ‘man of God’ and he told my daughter it was an impossible goal for him or any man. However, his shock didn’t stop me from continuing to pray that goal for him and it didn’t stop him from thinking seriously about what that meant.

Today he is still a self-centered man and selfishly considers his own needs above his children, but he hasn’t put a harsh hand on those children, nor has he had rage episodes against them, and it’s been three years. To GOD be the glory!

The day will come when he will have to face God for his sins (just like us!), and how and what God does is God’s business not mine. The last paragraph in our verses above in ‘Thy Word,’ tell us that if he refuses the Truth of Jesus Christ he ‘will go down to the place of the dead.’

Ultimately, once the gospel has been given to him, it is his full decision what to do with it. Conversely, we are not Jesus Christ and we cannot save him or anyone else, we can only present the gospel so they know enough to make an informed decision.

Our verses today are specifically about judgment against unbelievers but we can’t ignore the importance we as believers have in sharing that good news first, just as Jesus did.


Closing Prayer: Father God, this message is so much ‘more’ that it originally appeared to be for us! Thank you for this strong reminder that once we say ‘yes’ to You, it’s our responsibility is to share that good news with others. Father, I don’t know where You are going with the words You give me for this blog or for my book, but I do know what You have done for me, and that alone is worth joyfully sharing with anyone who is willing to listen. Thank you, LORD, for Your patience with me and for pointing out the importance we have as believers so I didn’t carelessly place my focus on the wrong thing as I read Your word today. Pour your wisdom and courage into my heart so I am prepared to be obedient to the call to share the good news. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Matthew 11:1-19

Thy Word:

When Jesus had finished giving these instructions to his twelve disciples, he went out to teach and preach in towns throughout the region.

John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”

Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— 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.” And he added, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.”

As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began talking about him to the crowds. “What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind? Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people with expensive clothes live in palaces. Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say,

‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way before you.’

“I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is! And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it. For before John came, all the prophets and the law of Moses looked forward to this present time. And if you are willing to accept what I say, he is Elijah, the one the prophets said would come. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!

“To what can I compare this generation? It is like children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends,

We played wedding songs, and you didn’t dance, so we played funeral songs, and you didn’t mourn.’

For John didn’t spend his time eating and drinking, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by its results.”

Matthew 11:1-19 NLT


My Thoughts: Jesus and the newly commissioned Apostles split up and go to multiple towns to share the good news. While Jesus is ramping up His ministry, John the Baptist (JTB) hears what they are doing and he is very confused.

We first read about JTB in Matthew 3 and learn that he was born to prepare the way for The Messiah:

In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”

The prophet Isaiah was speaking about John when he said, “He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming! Clear the road for him!’” Matthew 3:1-3 NLT

No man had ever fulfilled his God given purpose better than John, yet he was in prison for publicly rebuking King Herod’s flagrant sin of marrying his sister-in-law. As John sat in that prison, he began to have doubts that Jesus was the Messiah.

I don’t think John was really confused about who Jesus was, however, I think he may have been confused and disappointed because he hoped Jesus would rescue him from the hands of Herod.

How many times have we obediently followed the calling of Jesus and also found ourselves in unsavory conditions? It has happened to me and I’d be lying if I said I haven’t had a season or a time of doubt as well.

What I love is that Jesus doesn’t get angry with John or with us when we have doubts. But He does want us to turn to Him, not away from Him while we pray and work through our doubts. He also wants us to be very careful that we do not sin when we have doubts. We read in our verses today that Jesus said:

“God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.” Matthew 11:6

I love that John mirrors this verse when he asks for clarification that Jesus is who He says he is and he does not sin by denouncing Him or demanding to be rescued.

Listen, this is a huge “note to self” because I’m not sure I would have been as spiritually mature! My prayers and questions probably would have included a lot of pleading for Jesus to get me out of that prison. They might even have had some underlying anger and indignation that Jesus hadn’t struck Herod and his family with lightning the minute I was carted off to prison because I had served Him so obediently!

Danger, Cecilia, danger!!!

Father, may I never forget that You (a) bless those who do not fall away when we have troubles of any kind, and (b) may I never forget that my obedience is an act of worship, and (c) Jesus reminds me in John 16:33 that in this world I will have trouble but because He is faithful, I can have peace! Please write this truth on my heart, LORD, and remind me that everything that happens to me is for my benefit and Your glory.

As John’s disciples were preparing to leave, Jesus begins to speak about John to the crowds. I would like to think that John’s disciples stopped and listened so they could share how Jesus honored John and stated that he had ushered in the Kingdom of Heaven (vs 12):

 “And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it.” Matthew 11:12 NLT

My study Bible says this about verse 12: “There are three common views about the meaning of this verse. (1) Jesus may have been referring to a vast movement toward God, the momentum that began with John’s preaching. (2) He may have been reflecting the Jewish activists’ expectation that God’s kingdom would come through a violent overthrow of Rome. (3) Or he may have meant that entering God’s kingdom takes courage, unwavering faith, determination, and endurance because of the growing opposition leveled at Jesus’ followers. In any case, Jesus pointed out that John’s ministry had ushered in the kingdom of heaven.”

This sweet testimony for John was because he had fulfilled his God given purpose and not fallen away even when he had terrible troubles and doubts. May Jesus be able to say this about me.

As followers of Christ, we too will encounter opposition from nonbelievers. They will be cynical; they will challenge what we believe, and how we choose to live. These people will be like Herod and won’t like how we make them feel uncomfortable with the truth and may also take drastic measures to keep us quiet.

My heart tells me that Jesus is referring me to view number three: Cecilia take courage, be unwavering in your faith, determination, and endurance because of the growing opposition leveled at Jesus’ followers.

Will we, will I, be able to remain steadfast in my faith and endurance when I face opposition? May it be so, LORD, may it be so!

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. James 1:2-8


Closing Prayer: Father God, as I walk through this season of change in my life, I pray that I honor You, just as John did, by not falling away from You. I confess I got comfortable in a place that you never intended for me to be, and I am so sorry LORD. Thank you for Your forgiveness and for reminding me of the promise You made to me years ago that You will take care of my father’s people. This is such a comfort to my heart and soul and I thank you, LORD. You have made it abundantly clear that the road I was on is not Your plan for my life. I know You are trustworthy and I surrender my will to Yours, LORD. Father, I also pray that these words are a comfort to others if they too are going through a season of change and refinement. I pray this in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.