(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. 9 (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. 1-38) This chapter continues to illustrate what Jesus did during his time on Earth, how Jesus came into contact with people, performing miracles again and again. At the end of this chapter, there is one of the best annotations…
“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Mt. 9:35-36)
Love is one of God’s attributes. So is His mercy that was shown for the people. “…The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” (Ex.34:6-7) “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end.” (La. 3:22). Jesus also said “…I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.” (Mt. 12:7)
Because of God’s mercy, He is willing to bless us with many things that we are not qualified nor deserved to receive. And through Jesus, who is the Son of God, he naturally revealed God’s characters in his interactions with people.
Yet, as written in the scriptures (Mt. 9:3, 11, 14), the Pharisees questioned words of Jesus and regarded his words “audacious” for they knew that only God could forgive the sins of man. When they heard that Jesus was able to heal the paraplegics and forgive sins of those people, the Pharisees were completely puzzled in their minds. To the Israelites of all generations, forgiveness of sins had always required sin offerings through their priests, slaughtering of livestock, shedding of blood, etc. and that no one had been forgiven by just one sentence. To them, this (Jesus) is just too ridiculous!
Furthermore, the Pharisee questioned Jesus about his eating next to the sinners. They watched Jesus teaching the people like their rabbi and yet sat down for dinner with the sinners that others would want to avoid? How did this act fit into their tradition? Even the disciples of John the Baptist ran to ask Jesus why he wasn’t fasting. In that era, chastening oneself and fasting for praying have long been signs of religiousness. Why weren’t Jesus’ disciples fasting? What on earth is this about?
Apparently, the presence of Jesus has challenged the traditions and mindsets of the Jews! Do I have any old mindset that hinders me from following Jesus’ footsteps? Now try to reflect upon your struggling moments of conflicts through the lens of the grace of Jesus’ Salvation and then throw away those old ideas one by one!
To you, who is Jesus? Those who have experienced the healing and salvation of Jesus were motivated to immediately spread the name of Jesus all over the places. Those who were prejudiced, self-righteous or hypocrites said, “It is by the prince of demons that this man casts out demons.” (Mt. 9:34)
How did you respond to the salvation of Jesus?
Seeing that many people were like sheep without shepherds, Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Mt. 9:37-38)
Once we have understood the Lord’s compassion for the people and heard his pressing words that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few, let us together ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field. Here I am, Lord! Please send me!
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?”)