Divine Strength for Earthly Weakness

Day 22

Genesis 44:1-45:28; Matthew 14:13-36; Psalm 18:37-50; Proverbs 4:11-13

Divine Strength for Earthly Weakness

Most recall the Feeding of the 5000––the only miracle recorded in all four gospels. But of note is that immediately preceding that high point of Jesus’ ministry is the beheading of John the Baptist. Note how Matthew today begins with a reference to that sad news: When Jesus heard this, he withdrew in a boat…by himself.” It is obvious that Jesus was greatly troubled at John’s death and felt the need to be alone, away from the crowds.

But when Jesus reached the shore, a great crowd was awaiting Him. Moved to compassion, He spent the rest of the day healing their sick. Feeding those ten thousand (including women and children) came at the end of a tiring and discouraging time for Jesus and His disciples (Matthew 13). After the disciples left in a boat and Jesus spent hours tending to the departing crowds, He again sought solitude to pray, after which we read of Him walking on the water to rejoin His disciples.

How often is our own compassion buried under weakness and discouragement, at those moments when, like Jesus, God desires to use us for showing His love to others? In today’s reading from Psalms, we are reminded that God equips us “with strength for the battle” (18:39). And in the Genesis reading, Joseph reminds us that God sends us through trials to preserve life (45:5). So don’t fear trials or even your own weakness. Instead, seek Him, and He will equip you with divine strength.

Kent Madison
The Summit Church
Lake Mary, FL

The Hometown Prophet

Day 21

Genesis 42:18‐43:34; Matthew 13:47‐14:12; Psalm 18:16‐36; Proverbs 4:7‐10

The Hometown Prophet

In this reading from Matthew, Jesus has returned to His hometown and began teaching the people in their synagogue. Even though they were amazed at how knowledgeable He was with the Scripture, they asked, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?” (vs.55). Aren’t we all subject to skepticism when it comes time to listen to someone who espouses the Word of God or, for that fact, any semblance of expert knowledge?

My professional background included a number of years in law enforcement, and it always amazed me that the folks responsible for hiring a new police chief or superior officer of any position more often than not looked outside the agency for applicants. There seemed to be a belief that no one of ability could come from the ranks of the department. There might have been a belief that the rank-and-file would not accept one of their own as the top leader. “And they took offense at him” (vs. 57). Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor” (vs. 57).

Perhaps we should look within our own “family” and recognize it is the Lord who selects His prophets and leaders. If one rises up and answers the call, maybe we should not be so quick to judge, but rather accept the one appointed.

The Rev. Ed Bartle
St. Edward’s Episcopal Church
Mount Dora, FL

The Perceived Jewish Messiah vs. Jesus Christ

Day 20

Genesis 41:17‐42:17; Matthew 13:24‐46; Psalm 18:1‐15; Proverbs 4:1‐6

The Perceived Jewish Messiah vs. Jesus Christ

It was no surprise that many who heard the rumor that Jesus was the Messiah that they had been waiting for wondered when He might break out the sword, take out the Romans, and conquer all the land. This was their perceived Messiah that they had been awaiting for generations. What they could not comprehend was Jesus teaching things like “the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed.” Really, a mustard seed? That is the smallest seed on the planet, and you are comparing what is supposed to be the total domination of a Messiah to a mustard seed! It was new a perspective on what they had anticipated. They wanted physical domination but what they got was spiritual domination.

Jesus was giving them a new perspective on the Kingdom. It started within each of them by faith and would eventually lead to the greatest thing we would ever know…an eternal relationship with the Trinity, one that would reign and rule like never before seen. Jesus had said earlier in His instruction on how to pray that, “thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” Hence the concept of the mustard seed. The kingdom of God would begin small but grow into the greatest and most powerful kingdom ever experienced. What appeared small was in fact full of power and might!

Today the task at hand may seem mighty, and we are very small in comparison. Take heart in the words of Jesus that the smallest things can have some of the greatest impact. Your faith and the faith of others in Christ leads to the Kingdom of God spreading throughout all the earth. Do not lose heart, for the mustard seed will continue to grow in time!

The Rev. Wes Sharp
Holy Cross Episcopal Church
Trussville, AL