This week’s reading is from Matt 20:1-16. Jesus told the story about the workers who worked a different amount of hours but at the end of the day they all received the same pay! This made the workers who worked all day mad. They felt that it wasn’t FAIR that people who worked less than they did got the same amount of money that they did. It didn’t matter that they got what they had been promised. It didn’t matter that the money was the landowner’s to spend however he pleased. Somehow, they DESERVED better, because the other workers had worked less than they had. I love this story because it reveals the heart of God in such a shocking way.
Jesus is letting us know that when it comes to rewards, He is not fair. He often gives people MORE than what they deserve. He won’t ever short change anyone. Each person will get at least what they deserve, but some people will actually get MORE than what they deserve! Actually that is the definition of grace. Grace is getting something we did not deserve. Mercy is not getting something we do deserve, like being let off the hook for something we did and not getting punished. But grace is all about getting more than we deserve and this is the heart of the Father. For some reason we all like it when that happens to us, but it is easy to get upset when we see someone else getting blessed who didn’t deserve it. Learn to rejoice in other’s blessings. The workers in this story were not able to enjoy their own blessing because they could not rejoice that the others got more than they deserved.
Have you ever experienced times in your life when you got more than you deserved? How did it make you feel? Have you ever experienced times in your life when you saw others get more than they deserved? How did you act?
This week’s reading is from Matthew 17:24-27. Peter is asked if Jesus and His disciples were going to pay their temple taxes. Peter says yes and then goes to talk to Jesus about it. Jesus tells Peter they really did not have to pay that temple tax since it represented a type of redemption or paying for salvation. But Jesus always taught that rights are less important than relationships. So as not to offend, Jesus tells Peter to go fishing and that he would catch a fish that would have money in its mouth that he could use to pay that tax. I have done a lot of fishing and I have caught a lot of fish in my life. I have to admit, I have told a lot of fish stories but never one like this! Reading this makes me laugh. Jesus could just have easily reached into His pocket and taken out money to pay this tax but instead He tells Peter to go fishing! What is to be learned from this? Sometimes Jesus wants to just have some fun while He is teaching us! I mean, really, go fishing to get your tax money? Makes no sense to me other than Jesus just letting Peter know that he could trust Jesus to provide whatever he needed and that sometimes God might do it in very strange ways. What are you in need of today? Can you trust Jesus to provide? Are you open to Him providing in some unusual ways? I hope so!
This week’s reading is from Matthew 16:15. Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” Some say, “John Baptist, or one of OT prophets” But then Jesus asks, “Who do YOU say that I am?” This is the most important question we will ever have to answer. We will answer it, either now in this life or after we die. The way we answer it will determine our eternal destiny. Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” This revelation can only come when a person has a divine encounter with God through His Holy Spirit. This is not some correct answer to a true or false test or fill in the blank test that you study for. This is an answer that comes from a heart that has realized their need for God.
All of my life I grew up knowing that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, but that knowledge was just head knowledge. Then there came a day when I encountered God and realized what that actually meant, that Jesus came to die for My sins and that I needed a Savior. On that day, I got the revelation from God in heaven who Jesus really was! Then I answered that question correctly, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” On that day I bowed my knee to God and to all of His ways. How about you? Who do you say that Jesus is?
This week’s devotional is from Matthew 13. It is the parable of the sower and the seed. In verse 7 we read that some of the seeds fell among thorns and were choked. In verse 22 Jesus tells us that the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word and when this happens we become unfruitful. Choking is a serious problem. If you have ever started choking you know how horrible it feels and how important it is to get help as soon as possible. Spiritual choking is also a serious problem but many Christians don’t realize how serious it is. Getting all caught up with our possessions and our wealth will choke out anyone’s spiritual life. Jesus is not teaching that we live in poverty but He is warning about the deceitfulness of riches. How can we tell if we are spiritually choking? Ask yourself a few questions. Are you so busy that you don’t have time to attend church on Sunday? Are you so busy that you don’t have time to invest in healthy relationships? Does your job keep you from being able to volunteer and serve others? Do you spend all of your money on yourself and your family? Any of these could be a red flag that you might be choking! Get help immediately!