(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. 15 (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. 1-20) Which is worse, to break the tradition of the elders or to break the command of God? The Pharisees were concerned about washing their hands before they eat (a purification ritual in those times), and even asked why Jesus’ disciples did not do so. Jesus rebuked them and called them hypocrites, because they were going around teaching that if anyone declares that what should have been used to help their father and mother was devoted to God, they do not have to honor their father and mother. In this way, they have put the traditions of man above God, and nullified the commands of God.
During the time of Jesus, the Pharisees had a very detailed structure of assessing whether someone was observing the law, but this system was never validated by Jesus. These outward regulations could never reflect the true nature of God’s commandments. Those who only honor God with their lips, but whose hearts are far from God—putting on a show with outward actions without true worship from within will only prove futile and worthless in the end.
Jesus then said “what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart and this defiles a person… But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” (vv.18-20) An unclean heart matters much more than washing your hands before you eat, or what you put in your mouth. The Lord cares about what’s in your heart, because it is what’s in your heart that can defile you. Are you always putting on outward godly behavior for others to see? Or are you willing to first allow the power of Jesus’ gospel to work within your heart?
(vv. 21-28) We have just seen a group of hypocritical Pharisees, and now by contrast we see a humble, pitiful woman who is fervently crying out to Jesus to save her daughter. How would you describe the faith of this Canaanite woman? Let’s review what the Scripture passage says.
Did you pay attention to how she addressed Jesus? “O Lord, Son of David…”; yet what was the reaction of the disciples? Do you see how Jesus “tested” her faith (vv. 24-27)?
The woman would not give up, and her persistent pleading led to Jesus saying that her faith was great in the presence of many witnesses. What a complete difference between the attitude of this Gentile woman and the Jewish religious leaders of the day. Clearly, they have a very different understanding of who Jesus was, and his position and power. What about you? How has your relationship with Jesus been recently? Are you more like the Canaanite woman, or those religious leaders?
(vv. 29-39) Just from this short passage, we see that Jesus has so much to do! When Jesus was on earth, he spent so much time and energy to serve the people, and healed them not only physically, but also spiritually.
Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” (v.32) Imagining a great number of people (v.38), I’m sure we can understand the reactions of the disciples when they said “Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?”
Do you feel burdened by the weight of serving in ministry? That you have limited resources? Do you feel you are lacking in ability? Let us not forget that Jesus can take our seven loaves of bread and a few small fish to bless others; and may we continue to experience God supplying our every need as we faithfully serve Him!
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?”)