Matthew 15:1-20

Thy Word:

Jesus Teaches About Inner Purity

Some Pharisees and teachers of religious law now arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus. They asked him, “Why do your disciples disobey our age-old tradition? For they ignore our tradition of ceremonial hand washing before they eat.”

Jesus replied, “And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God? For instance, God says, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’ But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’ In this way, you say they don’t need to honor their parents. And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote,

‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’ ”

Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “Listen,” he said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.”

Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?”

Jesus replied, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted, so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.”

Then Peter said to Jesus, “Explain to us the parable that says people aren’t defiled by what they eat.”

“Don’t you understand yet?” Jesus asked. “Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer. But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.”  Matthew 15:1-20 NLT


My Thoughts: As I read through this lesson two words jump out to me: ‘honor’ and ‘speak.’

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Honor: Did my conscious tweak a bit when I read the accusation given to the Pharisees about honoring their parents? Yes it did and I bet yours did too.

Who among us hasn’t said an unkind or disrespectful word about their parents? When we are young adults we tend to believe our parents are old fashioned or clueless about the world and we treat them as if everything they say has no value.

Hilariously, when we have children of our own, our perspectives often take a sudden about-face, wouldn’t you agree? We might find ourselves putting the brakes on our free spirit and reckless habits to jump into that old fashioned parental role to protect our babies. When we spend a long night with a crying baby we might suddenly realize we are the ones who are clueless!

Who do we usually call first? Our parents! I will gladly admit that my Mother and my pediatrician helped me raise my first child because I was too young and clueless to do it without their help!

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But then there is the ‘sticky wicket’ about honor and my earthly father. In my testimony I reveal that my father was an abusive alcoholic. I certainly never called him for advice when he was alive. In fact, I rarely spoke about him to anyone except to say he was deceased. I typically ended the story about him right there because of my shame for him. On the rare occasion I would say something about him my words held no honor. To this day I refer to him by his given name and not as father or dad.

I have been a believer since the year 2000—for nineteen years—and this is the second time this year that I have had convictions about how I honor him. Can I tell you that I am confused but am beginning to wonder if the Lord is pricking my heart to let me know I may still be harboring some unforgiveness? I absolutely know that it matters as much to God what I harbor in my heart as well as what I say. God tells us:

“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

Are my thoughts, my habits, and my actions about this man pleasing to God? This is a difficult and painful question for me!

There was a time in my life that hate for this man burned deep in my heart and I kept it stoked and alive. Then I heard a message taught on forgiveness and I realized the only one who was getting hurt was me. I had been dragging that hatred around since I was a small girl up into my forties and the man had been dead since I was twenty-one! I think it’s clear that I was the only one being hurt at this point by my unforgiveness! This is not a proud confession, but perhaps someone reading this blog is also harboring unforgiveness too? If you are, I encourage you to get professional help and walk through the process of letting it go, because we all deserve to be free from that burden!

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So where do I go from here? How do I find a way to honor this man who did such despicable things to me and to my family? Perhaps I start by seeking memories that might show me that he did something right?

Suddenly a memory just flooded my thoughts as I type these words:

I was in the first grade and a teacher had ridiculed me in front of the class for being left handed. She forced me to write with my right hand for the entire day and said she would do it every day until I finally learned to be right handed. It was a very difficult day and I cried a lot. We lived behind the school and I continued to cry as I walked home with my older sister. For some reason my father was home early and he questioned me about the tears. Taking my hand he walked me right back to the school. The teacher was still there and my father made it clear to her that she would never do that again. His words, “This child is getting her work done and making good grades so why do you care which hand she uses to do the job?” He not only took up for me he made me feel special because he knew I was doing well in school!  

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This memory allows me to have an honorable thought about my father! I think perhaps this is a start to help me break away from any remnants I may be harboring about unforgiveness! I’m kind of excited about that!

Before we go any further, if you have also been hurt by one or both of your parents, I’d like to share some words that healed my broken heart: I am so sorry. I never heard those precious words until I heard that teaching about forgiveness. (See my story in “The Power of Words” a two part blog in July 2018 Part 1:  and Part 2: More important than what I say is what God has to say about your pain:

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.” Mark 9:42 NIV

“Doing wrong leads to disgrace, and scandalous behavior brings contempt.” Proverbs 18:3

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Beloved, I don’t know all the answers but as I write today I can see the Lord wants me to unravel some things about my past that will allow me to be obedient to a very important commandment about honor. I hope you will join me in taking a good hard look at yourself to see if you have some things you need to work on too.

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Speak: Oh dear…, this one hit me right in the face too!! How often do I find that my words not only originate with ugliness in my heart but fall from my tongue to become a terrible sin of slander or disgrace? Let’s just say it’s often enough that I realize this must be corrected too! Yikes!

Let’s look at what Jesus said to the people:  “Listen,” he said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.”

In addition to the words that come out of our mouth, what about when we use words on social media that defile others! Social media was created for us to keep up with each other and learn to be social yet we use it as the nastiest weapon in our arsenal of tools to hurt others. We have to stop! The word of God warns us:

“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18 NIV

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21 NIV

“Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” James 3:10 NIV

As you can see, the Lord has a lot to say about the power of our tongue and this is the most important of them all:

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“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1 NLT

The MSG Bible simplifies this verse even further:

“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.” 1 Corinthians 13:1 MSG

Bottom line: Jesus wants us to clean up and clean out our mouths! Are the words we speak helping to build others up or are we constantly tearing them down; finding fault with every little thing they do? Then Jesus says we are defiling ourselves when we do that!

“Don’t you understand yet?” Jesus asked. “Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer. But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.”  Matthew 15:16-20 NLT

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What if the words we spoke every day literally piled up around us wherever we went? Would our personal space have the smell of a sweet bouquet or would it smell more like a sewer?

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Closing Prayer: Father God, I’m a little nervous but a lot more excited about our lesson today! I completely understand that I if take the time to unravel the areas that I need to bring honor and sweet words into my heart and life, I will not only be more enriched, but I will begin to look more like you! I praise your holy name for helping me to understand this truth! Father if there is one reading my blog today whose heart may be broken by pain from a parent or from careless and ugly words, I pray that you guide them to seek help from a professional and by reading your word that they may be healed and free from the burden of unforgiveness. Thank you Lord for loving us so much you left your Holy Word to guide us. Thank you Lord, for giving us your son, Jesus, that we may have forgiveness and everlasting life. Amen!!


Matthew 14:22-36

Thy Word:

Jesus Walks On Water

Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.

Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”

But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here! ”

Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”

“Yes, come,” Jesus said.

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

After they had crossed the lake, they landed at Gennesaret. When the people recognized Jesus, the news of his arrival spread quickly throughout the whole area, and soon people were bringing all their sick to be healed. They begged him to let the sick touch at least the fringe of his robe, and all who touched him were healed.

Matthew 14:22-36 NLT


My Thoughts: Soon after everyone ate, Jesus sends the people home and he finally goes off alone to grieve for John and spend time alone with his Father. Jesus also leaves his disciples behind on their boat. Nighttime falls while he is gone.

The disciples just witnessed healing and feeding miracles so their spirits had to have been on an all time high!

But then here comes a storm.

Isn’t that just like life? We barely begin to celebrate the miracles of God and a spiritual high, then a storm comes.

But what I love is Jesus comes too.

We don’t see the disciples calling out to Jesus, we are only told they were in trouble and they were fighting heavy waves.

But Jesus knew and he came.

As believers when we get hit with storms, even before we call on the name of Jesus, he comes. Sometimes we act like Peter and we look for Jesus. This typically happens because we have shored our strength by staying close to Jesus. Therefore, when we see him we run to him and our faith carries us across the water and through the storm.

Unfortunately, sometimes we take our eyes off of Jesus like Peter did and we look harder at the storm. We forget the power of Jesus to overcome the storms in our life and we begin to give the storm too much power and too much importance. With that leeway, the storm begins to destroy our confidence and we are terrified of what could or does happen.

What do we learn from this? When we take our eyes off of Jesus and look into the murky waters, we begin to sink.

Why do we do that? Jesus tells us it’s because our faith is weak and we doubt his power to overcome any storm we face. I also think our fears steer our minds to look for something physical, or worldly, to hang onto in the midst of the storm. It might be money, fame, power, food, drugs, or alcohol, or we might try to put our faith in another person.

However, only Jesus is Jesus and everything else is a poor substitute—a false idol— that will only cause us to sink deeper into the muddy waters of our storms.

Jesus tells us, “When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped.” In other words, when we hold onto Jesus we get through the storm, we don’t stay in the storm.

This reminds me of when my daughter was diagnosed with epilepsy as a young girl. It was a very difficult time of tests and more tests, including multiple MRI’s. I never let her go through any test alone but especially those MRI’s because they were so loud they scared her. I donned the same hospital gown she wore and sat in a chair right by her tiny legs sticking out of that massive machine. In between sessions I would caress her legs and speak words of assurance to let her know I was still there.

Jesus does the same for us, you know. Our nature is to want something tangible we can touch or feel to know he is still with us in our storms. If we would just settle down, take a deep breath, and remind ourselves of the promises Jesus gives us in the Bible, we would realize we have what our hearts are seeking to get through those storms.

We will always have storms because we live in a sinful world and people who don’t know the Lord do terrible things. Jesus even warns us we will face hardships so we shouldn’t be surprised when storms come your way.

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NLT

Don’t look for false idols or put too much pressure on another human being to carry you through the storms, because inevitably you both will fall.

“Those who worship false gods turn their backs on all God’s mercies.” Jonah 2:8 NLT

Today, let’s choose the power and promises of Jesus to carry us through those storms.

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 NLT


Closing Prayer: Father God, what a rich lesson you gave us today that reminds us to lean on you every day so we have strength in our storms. Father I pray that we also remember as much as we want to be rescued from our storms we gain strength and wisdom when we walk through our storms with you by our side. We love you Lord and as hard as it may be, we thank you for all the storms that teach us valuable lessons and bless us when we cling to you. We pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Matthew 14:13-21

Thy Word:

As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns. Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

That evening the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.”

But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary—you feed them.”

“But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” they answered.

“Bring them here,” he said. Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!

Matthew 14:13-21 NLT


My Thoughts:


The moment Jesus heard about John’s death, he left the area in a boat to be alone and grieve. But the crowds followed Jesus and he extended grace by having compassion on them and healing their sick.

Jesus forfeited his own time alone to grieve and receive compassion from his disciples.

He did it for the sick, for the hurt, for the lost, and even for the undeserving. He did it for all the people.


His compassion didn’t stop with healing and teaching. As evening neared he multiplied what food they had available and fed the masses. Did the people even know it was a miracle? Did they really care about Jesus or did they just want what he could do for them? Did they even want to be fed? It didn’t matter to Jesus; he fed all the people anyway.

I find myself having conflicted emotions right now. I want to be aggravated at ‘the people’ because he wasn’t able to grieve, but then if I were ‘the people’ I’d probably want…, maybe even need, what Jesus had to offer.

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In our last lesson (Matthew 14:1-12) we were challenged with a question: what do we do about Jesus?

If our answer was that we surrender to Jesus, then our verses today bring us to a new question: Now that we have Jesus, what do we do for Jesus?

Jesus himself gives us the answer:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

Jesus is giving us a living example in Matthew 14:13-21 of our responsibility to and for the people when we become Christians. In this verse in Acts he tells us we are to go and tell all the people about Jesus whether they deserve it or not, or whether we think they deserve it or not!

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We are to feed the people the good news about Jesus Christ: That he died for us, and when we believe this and accept him as our savior, Jesus forgives us. Once we are forgiven, we have eternal life with Jesus Christ! He died so we could live and Jesus did that regardless of whether we deserve it.

I don’t know about you, but having a perfect Savior to cover my sins is a huge blessing, because I know I don’t deserve it!

I recently had the privilege of endorsing a new book for a friend of mine who is an author. I have read several of her books, but this one turned my thinking as a believer upside down. The book is:

“Spiritual Orphans” by Erin Olson

It just became available for purchase on Amazon this week. She gets very specific and expands on this topic we are discussing today. Do yourself a favor and get this book ASAP!


There are people all around us who need to know about Jesus, to be asked what to do about Jesus, and then learn about Jesus. Once they understand Jesus, their next logical role is to become an apostle for Jesus; someone who feeds, or shares, the healing and loving news about Jesus Christ. Whether we do this for the people or not (as believers) is a matter of obedience or disobedience, but it is a matter of life or death for those who are lost!


Closing Prayer: Father God, my heart has an urgency to do your work and to share the good news about your son, Jesus Christ! I pray that you spread this blog so your people can be reminded we need to get about the business that you called us to do right now. The hour is late and the time for your return is near. I also pray the book Erin Olson wrote sets the Christian community on fire and we have a revival in our hearts and in our cities to band together to help those who are drowning and desperately need to know about you. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen!



Matthew 14:1-12

Thy Word:

The Death of John the Baptist

When Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee, heard about Jesus, he said to his advisers, “This must be John the Baptist raised from the dead! That is why he can do such miracles.”

For Herod had arrested and imprisoned John as a favor to his wife Herodias (the former wife of Herod’s brother Philip). John had been telling Herod, “It is against God’s law for you to marry her.” Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of a riot, because all the people believed John was a prophet.

But at a birthday party for Herod, Herodias’s daughter performed a dance that greatly pleased him, so he promised with a vow to give her anything she wanted. At her mother’s urging, the girl said, “I want the head of John the Baptist on a tray!” Then the king regretted what he had said; but because of the vow he had made in front of his guests, he issued the necessary orders. So John was beheaded in the prison, and his head was brought on a tray and given to the girl, who took it to her mother. Later, John’s disciples came for his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus what had happened.”

Matthew 14:1-12 NLT


My Thoughts: We’ve been spending time with very thought provoking parables from Jesus, then suddenly in our new chapter we read about Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee.

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When Herod hears about Jesus and his many miracles, his guilt causes him to be concerned that John the Baptist has been resurrected in Jesus. He feels guilty because he killed John when he carelessly offers whatever his daughter desired at a public birthday party. His wife Herodias uses that offer to manipulate their daughter into having John killed.

To give you a little back history, Herod divorced his own wife to marry the wife of his half-brother, Philip. John the Baptist had been preaching in the desert and thousands flocked to hear him. It was no secret that John had rebuked Herod for his adulterous marriage to Herodias. Most people dislike having their sins pointed out, but to do it publically is even more infuriating. Herod hesitates to have John killed because of his popularity, and instead had John put in prison.

What is interesting is that Herod actually liked John. John was probably one of the few people he met who spoke only the truth to him. However, the truth about his sin was a bitter pill to swallow. He couldn’t allow John to continue to constantly remind the people of the leader’s sinfulness, but he was afraid to have John killed, so he put off any decision. Herodias had no qualms about killing John so she used trickery to have John executed.

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Now Herod hears about Jesus and it not only resurrects his guilt about John, he is faced with the same quandary for Jesus: what do I do with this man?

This question is certainly not new to anyone since the beginning of time! Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, asks this very question later in the book of Matthew:

“What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?” Pilate asked.” Matthew 27:22 NIV

Do we have an answer for this eternal question? The answer has no neutrality and everyone will eventually have to answer one way or another. Whether we accept Christ or reject Christ, it is the answer to the question…, our answer to the question.

In the book “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis, he says this about Jesus:

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

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What do we do about this eternal question? You can be like C.S. Lewis and search for the answers until you come to the same conclusion:  Jesus was, and is, the Son of God.

Perhaps like Herod you know the answer but don’t want to face your sins? I know from personal experience, the longer we take to face our sins, the longer those sins hurt us.

Maybe you know the answer; that Jesus is the Son of God, but you believe your sins are too great to overcome or be forgiven? The truth is only Satan wants us to believe it is too late to face our sins or that our sins are too great to overcome.

“I tell you the truth, all sin and blasphemy can be forgiven.” Mark 3:28

God is a loving God and he doesn’t want any of us to perish!

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NIV

When we accept Jesus, the gift from God that is for everyone, we receive eternal life. How do we receive the gift of Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of sins?

“…if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV

Do you know the answer to the question about Jesus? Never have I felt such a sense of urgency that we all know the true answer to this question! Have you chosen Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior?


Closing Prayer: If you are ready to answer the question and surrender your heart to Christ please pray this prayer with me:

Father God, I surrender my heart to Jesus Christ, your Son. I confess with my mouth that I am a sinner and I have sinned against you. I repent of my sins and surrender my life to you. Father I believe this is only possible because Jesus Christ died for my sins and was raised three days later. From this day forward, help me to live every day for you and in a way that pleases you. I love you Lord, and I thank you that I will spend all eternity with you. Amen.

If you prayed this prayer today, welcome to the Kingdom of God and eternal life!

If you are still confused, please seek help from a Bible believing church or another believer in Christ to get your questions answered. I cannot stress enough that the time is coming where everyone will make a choice to accept or reject Christ. This is a life-saving decision and I pray you make the right choice!