(Translated version, original article written in Chinese by Pastor Mickey Hsiao)
By singing praises and hymns, awake your soul, open your heart to the Lord, and prepare yourself to welcome the presence of God and receive the Word of God that will be given to you.
Petition with thanksgiving to God for a wonderful day and pray sincerely for a focused Scripture reading time! (Do not rush into reading the Bible without starting with prayers!) (e.g., you may start with a simple prayer like this: “Dear Lord, what will you be speaking to me today?)
Get the following items ready in advance: your devotional notebook, paper, pen, and/or electronic devotional articles so that you can easily write down the Bible verses, questions, and thoughts you have noticed! You are encouraged to open your Bible and vocally read out the scriptures (Try to practice this reading method daily or once a week)!
Scripture Reading: Matthew Ch. 14 (ESV)
Take a moment to quietly reflect on today’s Scriptures. Through such exercises, let God’s Word be gradually written into our hearts and be inscribed to our mind.
Read the devotional articles prepared by CBCLWA (*Read the Bible first before reading any devotional materials.)
(vv.1-12) The story for the life and mission of John the Baptist ends in today’s passage. John the Baptist had accused Herald (the tetrarch) of being unlawful and unholy in marriage. Therefore, Herold wanted to kill John, but was afraid of the people. Yet, in the end, Herald, due to his oaths and pride, Herald ordered to have John beheaded. Herod’s actions illustrate the sins and filth of human nature. If not dealt with in a timely manner, the consequences of these may be inconceivable.
John the Baptist came to prepare the way for the Lord Jesus. John was filled with the Holy Spirit in his mother’s womb. The Bible did not specifically record what miracles he had done. But John was one of the few who was named before he was born. John did not steal the glory of the Lord and was extremely humble before Jesus. He called people to repent and witnessed Christ. He said:
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Mt. 3:2)
“even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” (Jn 1:27)
“And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God. (Jn 1:32-34)
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” (Jn 3:30)
Do you remember all these words? What’s your impression of John the Baptist? What else have you learned from him?
(vv.13-21) When Jesus heard what had happened to John the Baptist, Jesus retreated to a solitary place. Unanticipatedly, the crowd found Jesus and followed him. Jesus could have sent the crowd away. Instead, Jesus performed the renowned miracle of feeding five thousand people with the five loaves and the two fish! As written in the beginning of this passage, Jesus “…saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them…” Jesus, our Lord, is a merciful God who cares about the needs of his people. (Ps. 103:8)
(vv.22-36) It was the second time the Bible described a story of Jesus and his disciples’ in wind and waves! This time his disciples were on a boat by themselves and their boat was against the wind and strongly beaten by the waves. Notice that Jesus had went up to the mountain to pray beforehand. Knowing that his disciples needed him, he came down walking over the sea to find his disciples!
The following passage (vv.25-32) is very interesting. It was noted that in the face of the wind and waves, even Jesus’ disciples were not able to recognize Jesus and called him a ghost. Fortunately, they were not rebuked by Jesus for their blasphemy! After being sure it was Jesus, Peter asked to come to Jesus on the water. Jesus answered, “Come! Peter couldn’t help but looked into the wind and waves and as he was beginning to sink, he cried out “Lord, save me!” Does this sound familiar to our personal experiences walking with the Lord? There were times when our eyes were so overwhelmed by the environment that we did not remember who Jesus is. Even if we have acknowledged the Lord’s presence, we were still looking around, feeling terrified by the environment and losing our faith.
“Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” May the words of Jesus become our comfort in difficulties. “Truly, you are the Son of God.” May our praises become the foundation of our faith!
Give thanks to God for His enabling us to read the Scriptures and for our response for living out the Word of God today! (e.g., You may start with a simple prayer like this: “Dear Lord, what/where are you going to lead me to today?”)