The disciples came to Jesus asking who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus says to them that unless they are converted and become like little children, they will not see the kingdom of heaven. We need to humble ourselves like a child, have childlike faith, and no doubt. We need to not have pride or care about a social hierarchy. Little children believe their parents, they don’t have doubt and they believe the impossible can be possible. The older they get the more tempted they get with doubt, disbelief and pride. We need to convert ourselves back to the little children mentality. We need to have no doubt in God, full trust in Him no matter how supernaturally unbelievable something may seem. We need to not swallow our pride (you still digest it when you swallow it) but spit it out and humble ourselves so we can have this faith in Jesus. Our pride gets in the way of our faith.

            Jesus says that whoever receives like this in His name receives Jesus. Whoever causes one of them to fall into sin, it would be better for them to have a millstone hung around his neck. Whoever causes Jesus little children to turn away will be punished.

            Jesus then warns of temptation, if your foot or hand causes you to sin then cut it off, for it is better to enter into life lame than be cast into everlasting fire. If we know something is a temptation for us, simply get rid of it. If you are tempted to engage in inappropriate conversations with your cell phone, get rid of your cell phone. If you are tempted to get drunk when you have drink, then don’t have a drink. We don’t need to dance with temptation, we need to cut it out and stop giving it a foothold.

            Pay attention that we don’t despise one of these little ones. We don’t loathe, we don’t look down onto others. We are to always see people in love, we can dislike the sin but never dislike the sinner. We are supposed to be christians, this term gets thrown around too loosely now days. To be a christian means to be like Christ. Christ wouldn’t walk around thinking, “ew I don’t like that person or the way they act, its gross. I will pray for them because they are weird to me and gross but I will still love them.” No, He sees them in love, He may not like their actions but He still loves them and He sees them as someone God created. God created us all for a specific purpose, we need to see people for what they were created for and picture them as that, see them as someone struggling but someone we love and want to help despite what they are struggling with. We aren’t supposed to loathe anyone because we don’t like the way they act or talk or what they wear or if they smell funny. It is Gods will for His sheep to not go astray and He rejoices more when one lost sheep finds His way home rather than the other 99 sheep who never went astray. He wants the lost to be found. We need to feel compassion and love for the lost instead of judgment and loathing.

            If your brother sings against you, go tell him is fault privately. Don’t gossip about it and tell your mom, sister, friend, cousin and neighbor meanwhile he is sitting there having no idea what he did wrong. When we gossip and spread the story to others views and opinions, we alter the way others see that person. That isn’t our job to do that. If you have an issue with someone go talk to them, immediately, and put the fire out. If after you talk to him and he hears you, then you have your brother back. If he won’t hear you then take two or three witnesses with you for, ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ If he still refuses to hear it then tell it to the church, and if he still refuses to hear it let him be like a tax collector or a heathen ( a person who doesn’t belong to a widely known religion). If someone doesn’t believe the way you do its hard for them to see where they might have done something wrong in your eyes if their eyes tell them that behavior is ok. Jesus shows us here how to try to mend a situation with a brother, a fellow believer who sins.

            Whatever we bind on earth will be bound in heaven, whatever we loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. If two of us believers agree on earth concerting anything they they ask, it will be done for them by His Father in heaven. For where two or more are gathered together in His name, He is there and the midst of them. This is why we need to pray together and not feel like we can only pray in private. Praying and fasting in private is good too and needed, but we need to be comfortable to pray with other believers as well.

            Then Peter came to Jesus and asked how many times must he forgive someone who betrays him, seven times? Jesus tells Peter not seven times, but seventy times seven. We get in our own ways with our minds sometimes, telling ourselves we forgave them once and they did it again so now we don’t have to forgive them again. Jesus forgives us every time we ask for it, we need to let go of the grudges and forgive others too, regardless if its the first offense or the fiftieth.

            Jesus shares the parable of a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. One owed him ten thousand talents which is equivalent to 4.5 billion dollars, which is far more than he could make in his lifetime or the generation after his lifetime. If your generation couldn’t pay your account it would continue to the next, having generations of slaves to pay off a single mans debt. The king told his servant to sell this man and his family into slavery to pay back his debt knowing it would take generations to pay it off. The man fell to his knees and begged the king for patience promising that he would pay that incredible debt if the king would just be patient with him. The king was moved by the mans compassion, so moved that he forgave the man of the debt and told him to be on his way. The servant then went and found one of his fellow servants who owed him 100 denarii (fifty dollars) . The man who was just forgiven of his generational debt went to this man who owed him barely anything and laid hands on him in anger demanding the man pay him back. The servant fell to his feet begging for the same patience that his master had just begged the king for, only he wouldn’t give the patience he had just begged for. Instead he threw him in jail till he should pay the debt back. When the king heard news of this he called the man who he had freed from his ten thousand talents and called him wicked. Because the king forgave him of his incredibly large debt he should have showed the same compassion and forgiven his servant as well, especially when it was such a small debt that he owed. The man was delivered to torturers where they were to torture him till the debt of ten thousand talents was restored. Jesus says this is what His heavenly Father will also do to teach you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother of his trespasses. We must forgive all who have wronged us or made us feel any type of negative way towards them. We must forgive them and see them with compassion as He sees us.

            The chapter begins with Jesus taking Peter, James and John up onto a mountain top and He was transfigured before them. His face was like the sun, His clothes became as white as the light and then Moses and Elijah appeared to them. Peter’s instinct was to ask permission to build three tabernacles for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. Tabernacles were shelters built for transportable dwelling sites for preaching. Peters heart was in the right place by wanting to act and do something to serve but the timing was off, this was the time for worship and relationships and adoration with what God was allowing them to see. Often times we act out doing what we think is right, our hearts our in the right place but our minds are thinking and acting out in the flesh.

            Suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, “This is My beloved Son, in white I am well pleased. Hear Him!” When the disciples heard this they fell to the ground on their faces greatly afraid. Jesus told them not to fear and told them to arise and when they did they saw Jesus only. They then left the mountaintop and Jesus told them not to tell anyone until the Son of Man has risen from the dead. Jesus knew that they didn’t fully understand all that just happened and it wouldn’t make sense just yet, the message would make more sense after the resurrection. To share the message before fully understanding it could create confusion for everyone and when the revelation has fully sunk in it could affect people wanting to hear it because of the original confusion it came with. Sometimes we might receive a message that doesn’t fully make sense, wait, be patient for the revelation to sink in before sharing it with others. Wait till it makes more sense. A few weeks ago I received a message that I didn’t fully understand, so I meditated on it and let it marinate for a bit. Three weeks later it all made sense and the events that unfolded made the message really come to life. Patience is important, waiting can make the difference.

            The disciples asked if Elijah were to come first, and Jesus confirmed that He will and has already came. This confirmed to the disciples that He was regarding John the Baptist.

            The chapter then goes to a man who approaches Jesus for healing for his son, who suffers from epilepsy. He tells Jesus that he already took his son to the disciples for healing and they were unable to heal him and begged Jesus to heal him. Jesus said, “ O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” Jesus rebuked the demon and it came out of him and the child was cured that very hour.

            The disciples didn’t understand why the boy wasn’t healed when they prayed over him but was healed when Jesus cast out the demon. Jesus aid that it was because of their unbelief, all they needed was faith the size of a mustard seed and if they wanted they could tell a mountain to move and it would and nothing would be impossible. This kind of faith Jesus says comes by prayer and fasting. When we pray for someone and don’t see healing its not because they person needing healing doesn’t have faith, it goes but your faith. You can pray for an unborn again, agnostic stranger and they can be healed in Jesus name if you have faith in what you are praying for. When we pray for people, we need to have full belief in what we are saying, and realized it isn’t us doing it, its Jesus in us.

            Jesus then predicts His death the second time, as well as His resurrection. The disciples were sorrowful, they weren’t even able to receive the good news of the resurrection, they were focused on the death part. Often time we focus on the immediate and don’t take a step back to see the overall bigger picture. We need to step back more and see God’s bigger picture to help us through the immediate.

            All Jewish males had to pay taxes to support temple upkeep. Jesus tried to point out His kingly role to His disciples, He told Peter that just as kings pay no taxes and collect none Fromm their family, Jesus owed not taxes as well. But, to resist offending them because He knew they wouldn’t understand He told Peter to go to the sea, cast a hook out and take the first fish that comes up. In its mouth will be money for not just Jesus’ taxes but Peters as well. Jesus supplied the money but had Peter go get it. God can truly make money come from nowhere when we are in need, but we have to fully surrender and rely on Him to supply our needs. Jobs are good, but jobs are better when it is the God appointed job for you specifically. Always remember that what you have isn’t because of your doing, its because of God’s supply and your cooperation in Him.

 

            The scribes and pharisees were always out to get Jesus, this time it was by accusing the disciples of not washing their hands before eating their bread. The scribes and pharisees added to Gods commandments (which man should never do) and they created new laws to add ‘in addition too’. They confronted Jesus about this and Jesus flipped it back on them asking why they care so much about this man made law when they break an actual commandment of God. God commands everyone to honor their mother and father. However, some of the scribes and pharisees were practicing their law of Corban which was a vow to dedicate their money to God’s temple that would have otherwise gone to supporting their parents. We are to obey Gods commandments and for some that could mean taking care of their parents financially one day. But what Jesus was pointing out was that these men were not supporting their parents because they were instead serving a man made law and giving the money away to Gods temple. Dont mix this with tithing, that is different. Tithing is good and we should tithe, but this was more about the fact that the scribes and pharisees were being hypocrites. They were walking around trying to condemn the disciples for not serving one of their laws when they were breaking one of Gods actual commandments. God loves when we tithe, but He still wants us to honor our mother and father, He will never make us choose between His way and honoring our parents. His path and way for us will never contradict His commandments or His will. Whatever He asks of you will always match up with His word.

            Isaiah prophecied that there would be hypocrites who pretend to draw near to God with their mouths yet their heart is far from God. Jesus declared this was what that prophecy was about. God knows our heart and our intentions behind every act and thought we do. Picture this, Jesus is inside of you, what you see and think He is also seeing and viewing your thoughts. So if you tithe for example because you want God to bless you and not because you actually want to make Him happy and help others, He knows it. If you are watching a tv show, He is watching it with you (this will help you to really examine what you watch and how you spend your time, which is good!).

            Jesus told everyone around that it isn’t what you eat that defiles you, for whatever goes in your mouth goes into your stomach and then has an exit plan. But what comes out of your mouth comes from your heart and that is what can defile you. For out of the heart proceeds evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness and blasphemies. These are the things that defiles a man. This is why we need God, and why we should pray for a renewing of the mind and should draw need to Him, because we truly need Him.

            Then Jesus departed and went to Tyre and Sidon. A gentile woman came to Him asking for Him to help her demon possessed daughter. He didn’t answer her though, He remained quiet, to see what she would do, if she would give up or keep up with her faith and to also see what the disciples would do. The gentiles were called dogs by the Jews, and not in the derogatory way it comes off as in english. In greek, the word dog is kuon which means wild cur, or unclean. Non-Jews were considered so unspiritual and often pagan that being near them made you unclean by affiliation. But a lot of Jesus teaching involved turning prejudices around. In this time, His duty was to the people of Isreal first, so that they could then go and share the gospel with the world, the gentiles. It wasn’t that Jesus didn’t want to help the woman, it was that He was on a mission for God and the timing had to be Gods timing and that meant preach to the children of Israel first. But Jesus saw a teaching moment and in that stayed quiet to test what the gentle would do and what the disciples would do. The disciples urged Jesus to send her away so Jesus responded by stating that He was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Isreal.

            The woman continued to beg and Jesus said, ‘It is not good to take the children’s bread and show it to the little dogs.” Keep in mind here, this doesn’t mean an insult like it would today of someone called you a dog. A small dog in greek was kunarion, meaning pet dog, this is different than dog, which in greek again is kuon referring to being unclean and wild. He didn’t call her unclean or spiritually wild, He called her almost like a pet here, something that needs to be taken care of and fed. He saw her faith. She responded in saying that even little dogs will eat the bread crumbs which fall from their masters table. Jesus responding by saying how great is this woman faith! And to let it be done to her as she desires. Her daughter was healed that very hour. Jesus teaches in parables and this was another way to teach His disciples, by leading by example.

            Jesus then departed from there and went up on a mountain near Galilee when a great multitude came to Him for healing. He healed all who needed healing, he blind, lame, mute, maimed, and many others. Jesus then called to His disciples three days later and expressed that He wanted to feed the multitude who had been there for healing and seeking Him those three days. Jesus wanted to send them away well fed so they wouldn’t faint on their way back. There were a little more than 4000 people there in the wilderness and the disciples had no idea where to get enough food for them all, all they had was seven loaves and a few little fish. Jesus took what they had, gave thanks and passed it around and it fed all 4000 men, and woman and children. God will always provide our needs if we allow Him and have faith.

            Before we dive in I want to first apologize for being so late with this chapter. I was on a God appointed road trip and I thought I would have more spare time than I had. I want to share something really important that I was reminded of on this trip, just how truly important it is to know Gods word. If we don’t know Gods word, we don’t know the works that are from God or from the devil. For example, if healing is being done in Jesus name by Jesus, it will not involve mediums. We know this because there is over 100 bible verses that warns us to stay away from mediums, and God doesn’t contradict Himself. When Jesus healed the sick He simply laid His hands on them and commanded them to be healed. If a group is claiming to heal in Jesus name but at the same time the way they are healing doesn’t match this (they are chanting or performing rituals or it looks gory) then its really not in Jesus name. Mathew 7:22 brushes up on this. Not all who claim to heal in Jesus name are operating in the Holy Spirit, especially if they call themselves mediums in the same sentence. But if you don’t read your bible to know these important things, then you can be deceived and led down a dangerous path even if your heart was in the right place. I have seen it happen too many times, so do as Joshua says and read your bible day and night!

            The chapter begins with the Pharisees once again testing Jesus and this time asking for a sign. Even though Jesus could have performed a sign He didnt, because He knew that it wouldn’t change their hearts. Instead He mentioned the sign of Jonah which was predicting His own death and resurrection in a parable. Jesus didn’t argue with these men, we need to learn from this and not argue with them, especially ones whose heart will not soften. God knows who will turn to Him before they do, when sharing the gospel we need to seek His Godly wisdom on how to approach each person.

            When Jesus came into Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples who they say that He was. Simon Peter said that He was the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus said that for that He was blessed, flesh and blood (man) didn’t reveal that to Him but God the Father in Heaven did. He told Peter that whatever he bound in earth would be bound in heaven and whatever he loosed on earth would be loosed in heaven. Peter was given authority, so he could stand on that authority and not be a victim to spiritual warfare.

            Jesus than showed His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes. He told them that He would be killed and be raised the third day. Peter told Him no, that none of that needed to happen to Him and Jesus rebuked satan. He didn’t rebuke Peter, He rebuked the thoughts and emotions that satan was putting on Peter to try to convince Jesus to go against Gods will. It is important to know that the devil or his little demons (sense the devil can’t be everywhere at once like God can) can put words or thoughts on peoples minds in hopes that they feed on it. It doesn’t meant that person is evil, or unsaved, or demon possessed. It simply means the devil or a demon placed a word of thought on your mind to try to trick you into falling into it, trying to get you to sin with it. Jesus knew this, so He simply rebuked satan and told him to get behind Him. If you ever have a thought pop into your head that you know isn’t from God, ask yourself if its a spiritual attack or just a thought that you simply don’t need? We should filter every thought in our minds, scripture says to hold our thoughts captive. We need to be aware of what we thing because our thoughts can easily lead to actions. We don’t ever want to act out a thought created by the devil to distract us.

            Jesus said that if anyone desires to come after Him they have to deny themselves and pick up their cross. Whoever desires to save His life will lose it and whoever loses his life for His sake will find it. We have to put God before our own life, we have to surrender our life to God so that we can live selfless to follow Him. Anything in our life that comes before God needs to be looked into. Is this something God wants in your life but needs to come after your relationship with Him? Is this a distraction that pulls you away form God that you are keeping selfishly? Is this something that you love and care about more than God? We have to surrender everything to deny ourselves to pick up our cross. If this is something you struggle with, ask God to help you. Whatever is in your life that is getting in the way of you fully surrendering, ask God to help you with it so there will be nothing in the way of your relationship with HIm.

            Herod the tetrarch heard about all Jesus was doing and in turn told his servants that it was John the Baptist who has risen from the dead and therefore those powers were at work in him. So Herod threw John in jail but really for the sake of Herodias, his brothers wife. John had called them out, stating their union wasn’t lawful, because Herodias whom was wed to Phillip left Philip to go live with Herod. So hearing what Jesus was doing and trying to accuse John of doing it through evil was the excuse they could come up with to throw John in jail for basically embarrassing them. Pretty mature, right? Herod wanted to put John to death but didn’t because he feared the multitude that would come after him.

            At Herods birthday celebration Herodias daughter performed a dance to celebrate and Herod was so pleased that he vowed to give her whatever she might ask. To please her mother she demanded John the baptists head on a platter. Herod didn’t want to do this because he knew the uprising it would create but he was too embarrassed to say no because he didn’t want to seem powerless in front of his peers who heard the conversation. So because of peer pressure and pride Herod demanded Johns head.

            When Jesus heard of this He wanted to be alone, so He left by boat to a deserted place. When everyone heard of this they departed by foot to go and find Him. Jesus was moved with compassion and healed all who were sick.

            It got late so His disciples told Jesus to tell everyone to go home so they could eat and be home for the night but Jesus said no, they were fine there. The disciples pointed out that they only had 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish and that was enough to feed them (there was 5,000 men and woman and children too).

            Jesus said to bring the food to Him, He looked up to heaven and blessed the food and handed it to the disciples to pass out. All ate and were well fed and there was 12 baskets of food left over. We may think our contribution is little but Jesus can take what we have and multiply it whether its talent, time, money etc. Whatever we give to Jesus is multiplied. It is impossible for a normal man to feed over 5000 people with just five loaves of bread and two fish, but nothing is impossible for God.

            Jesus then sent His disciples out on a boat and the multitudes left and Jesus went to the top of the mountain to pray by Himself. Even though there were thousands of people around Jesus made it a priority to devote time to God, and be alone with God. No matter what we have going on in our daily lives we need to be disciplined like Jesus and make time for God, we need one on one time with God daily just as Jesus did. If Jesus needed to go be with God alone how much more do we need God? As evening came a storm brewed and the waves began to crash over the boat that the disciples were in, in the middle of the sea.

            The disciples then saw an object walking on the water toward them and they immediately were frightened thinking it was a ghost. Jesus said, “Be of good cheer, it is I; do not be afraid.” How many times has God revealed Himself to you whether it be through a dream or a still small voice and fear then crept in trying to make you think it wasn’t God, it was a spiritual attack? We shouldn’t fear, we have the Bible to be our “fact checker” to let us know if something is from God or not, don’t allow fear to interfere with something God might be trying to tell you.

            Peter said to Jesus, ‘if it is you let me walk out to you on the water.’ He wasn’t testing Jesus and the situation they were in, he was the only disciple to react in faith to join Jesus. His radical and immediate response to Jesus allowed Him to do something amazing and supernatural, he didn’t allow His mind to convince Him as to why it wasn’t real or fake. Our minds can be our enemy, we need to hold our thoughts captive and match it to the word of God. If its not from God we don’t need it. Peter reacted in faith immediately and didn’t allow his mind to rob him from an amazing moment with Jesus that is shared by millions, until he entertained the storm. When Peter took His eyes off of Jesus and looked at the storm he began to fear and then he began to sink. We are not supposed to focus on the world and the storms in it, our focus should be in Jesus. When we take our eyes off the cross that’s when fear can creep in and that’s when our faith gets weaker and we sink. Jesus is reaching out, so we can walk to Him on water, will you look to Jesus or focus on the storm?

            Jesus immediately reached out to Peter and grabbed him when he started to sink and said, “you have little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got in the boat the wind stopped and there was peace. Doubt takes away peace, doubt is a dangerous thing to entertain. We don’t need to doubt because Jesus is there wanting to not only catch us but guide us to walk with Him on supernatural waters. We need to have faith in him and not faith in the doubt and fear of the world. Fear and doubt is faith in the devil. God is the most powerful and all powerful, and He is in us, so we need to stop with the doubt and keep our faith in Jesus and stand in Him and what He has already done for us at the cross. This is why it is a sin to fear, because you are literally putting your faith in evil with says that what Jesus did at the cross wasn’t good enough. It was enough!!! We need to stop fearing, repent and keep our eyes on Jesus and stop looking at life storms whether it be a physical storm or something like a flu.

            They reached lang and all of the men recognized Him and ran to merely touch His robe because they believed simply touching the clothes Jesus wore would heal them. And all who touched it were healed.