Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Morning Moments with God: Day 52

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Day 52: Good, Good Father

Please read the Bible for today:
Matthew 12: 22-28

Jesus and Beelzebul

22 Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. 23 All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” (Matthew 12:22-23)
Did you read what I just read? '...they brought a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute..." Being demon-possessed is a horrifying thought, but blind and mute also? This is by far the worst of the 'sick' that were brought to Jesus so far in the book of Matthew. I don't know if it gets any worse than this. Whoever brought this guy must have been so desperate for help. It actually astonishes me that someone did bring him-I mean, how scary must it have been to not only bring a demon-possessed man, but to touch him and guide him to Jesus. Whoever brought him was desperate, brave, and hopeful. I know that I have had some pretty traumatic situations in my life, that brought me to my knees before Jesus begging for healing, and in my desperation, and in my heart I was unsure if Jesus' plan for me was healing or death. But now I'm seeing Jesus' choice is always healing in some form or another. Whoever brought this demon-possessed man to Jesus, brought him as a 'burden too heavy for them to carry', and they laid him at Jesus' feet to receive the burden Jesus had for them. (Matthew 11:28-30) Do we bring our sicknesses, burdens to Jesus, and believe that He will touch our lives in the miraculous? 
24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”(Matthew 12:24) Wow! The Pharisees really cannot accept Jesus as their Messiah, so they've come up with-'Jesus is from the devil!' It is so much easier to believe Jesus is God than to believe that He is from Satan, but pride will have you believe what you want to believe. It is interesting to me that after the demon-possessed, blind and mute guy was healed, the crowd said, "Could this be the son of David?" (Matthew 12:22) The crowd, ordinary, common Jewish folks, who worked hard and weren't as 'religious' as the Pharisees, could see and question, 'Is this Jesus the Messiah?' I'm thinking that this crowd, and the Pharisees, had never had a miracle worker among them before, so how is it that they are still questioning His identity? But it is still happening today. Even in our own hearts we don't believe that Jesus will answer our prayers, but if we believe HE IS GOD, why do we doubt?
25 "Jesus knew their thoughts..." (Matthew 12:25a) WHAT!!! How awesome is that???!!! Jesus knew the Pharisees thoughts! They didn't have to say anything and they didn't. Jesus heard their thoughts and before the Pharisees had a chance to say anything to this crowd that would confuse them and possibly cause chaos, Jesus addresses the Pharisees THOUGHTS! 

 "...and said to them, Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you." (Matthew 12:25b-28) Perfect. Jesus' words were a perfect response to the Pharisees thoughts. It's a perfect rebuttal, no flaws whatsoever. It probably made them speechless. And to all the people in the crowd who were there listening, how it must have made them think...'Yes, if Jesus is not from the devil, He must be sent by God!" How that would have encouraged them, deepened their faith and brought even more hope to the people. But my favorite line is, "...then the kingdom of God has come upon you." (Matthew 12:28) How the power of the Holy Spirit must have fallen on the people as those words left Jesus' mouth-'the kingdom of God has come upon you.' 

Pray with me: 
Jesus, thank you for your Word- this story. Thank you for healing the demon-possessed, blind and mute man. What freedom you gave him. Father, nothing I have endured in my lifetime has been as horrible as what that man endured and yet you easily healed him. You are a good, good Father. Forgive me for the doubt I have in my heart when I pray. I know your burden is easy and light and I submit to you all my burdens and worries and hold on to the thought, 'since healed a demon-possessed, blind and mute man who could not ask you to heal him, who was far from you in his heart and mind, than I know you can bring healing to my heart and mind from past hurts. I know my healing has nothing to do with me, except a humble heart. Lord, bring healing to me- in my mind, heart, and body I ask in Jesus' precious and holy Name, Amen. 
As you start your day, listen to this:
'Good, Good, Father'

Monday, March 27, 2017

Morning Moments with God: Day 51

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Day 51: Withdraw and Be Still

Please read the Bible verse for today:
Matthew 12: 15- 21

God’s Chosen Servant

15 "Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place." (Matthew 12:15) 'Aware of this,' Aware of what? Well, in Matthew 12:14 we read, "But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus." Every time I read that the Pharisees plotted Jesus death I am shocked, especially this time. They had just witnessed a miracle. A miracle on a man that they pulled from the crowd who had a shriveled hand-(an obvious deformity) and the guy was healed. And if that wasn't enough, they were actually standing in the presence of God! and still they would not believe. Still they looked for a way to kill Him. 
And what is Jesus' response to all of this? "Jesus withdrew from that place." (Matthew 12:15) There is a difference in 'running away' and 'withdrawing.' Running away one does in fear. Running away shows that the person cannot handle the situation. That is not our Jesus. Jesus withdraws. He bows out. He does not argue with the Pharisees. He does not try and convince them. He does not try and change their minds. He, in all of His wisdom, knows there is no convincing them, changing them. He withdraws silently- without a defense. I know for me, I would stay in the fight. I would argue and yell until my voice was heard. But I look back now and see the people I was trying to talk to, reason with, did not want to know-they did not want to change. All my words fell on deaf ears. I wish now, I had simply withdrawn.

 "A large crowd followed him, and he healed all who were ill. (Matthew 12:15b) Though the Pharisees did not follow Jesus, 'a large crowd' did. And what did this large crowd witness? 'He healed ALL who were ill.'

16 He warned them not to tell others about him. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

“Here is my servant whom I have chosen,

    the one I love, in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
    and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
He will not quarrel or cry out;
    no one will hear his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
    and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,
till he has brought justice through to victory.

    In his name the nations will put their hope.”

 (Matthew 12:16-21)

Jesus 'warned the large crowd not to tell others about their healing and who did healed them, not because He was afraid of the Pharisees, but because it wasn't time for His death. He was willing and wanting to die for our sins, willing to die a death of crucifixion, but not yet. God had the timing set and it was too soon. The prophecy from Isaiah was not fulfilled. Jesus waits on the Father. I need to wait on the Father too. So many times I jump ahead of God's plan for my life. I need only be still, withdraw, wait, and watch how God's plan is revealed in my life.

Pray with me:
Father, I praise you for the Scriptures and how every word is for my benefit. Help me to be like Jesus. Help me to close my mouth. Help me to withdraw. Help me to trust you to be my defense. Help me to trust your plan and your timing. Forgive me for all the times I have jumped ahead of your plan and your timing. Help me to let go, to let go of the control I have on my life. Lord, I want to trust you completely, in every area of my life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Morning Moments with God: Day 50

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Day 50: I Want to See Jesus

Please read the Bible verse for today:
Matthew 12:1-14

Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath

12 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”
'At that time..." Jesus had just told the crowd, 28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) Jesus is with his disciples now and He gives them rest. He walks them through the grainfields. Could He have walked around the grainfield? Probably. But He knew they were hungry, so the path was now one of restoration. One where they didn't have to wait until they got into town to buy food. One where they didn't have to sit in a boat and fish for food. Jesus knew they were hungry and laid it before them- the burden of hunger was lifted. It was easy and light, just like He said. 
I remember a time where I had surrendered my desire, as silly as this may sound, for new couches for my den. We just couldn't afford new ones. I surrenederd, in my prayer time, to the Lord my hope for couches. The next day the Lord spoke to my spirit, "Today you will find your couches." The anxiety- the burden to make my home beautiful was too heavy for me to carry. With no funds to transform my home, what could I do? But with the Lord, it was like He walked me through the 'grainfields.' In surrendering, I found His path, not my path of saving and skimping to buy couches. For the full story read, "He Owns the Cattle on a Thousand Hills."
He answered, Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.
Remember, Jesus is talking to the Pharisees- the holy, priests of the temple. They are not the towns people who received miracles and did not repent. But rather the very men of the temple who are to lead the people to God and teach the people about who God is. Jesus has to teach them! Jesus uses the very Scriptures that they know to teach them the lesson for today. And what is the lesson? Two I think: 1) "I tell you that something greater than the temple is here."  Jesus, God come to earth, Immanuel, is greater than the temple. The Pharisees are missing the very presence of God! They are not seeing the very Messiah that they have prayed for and waited for standing right before their eyes! and 2) "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." The New Covenant is here! And it is Mercy!

9 "Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10 and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”
Here the Pharisees are busted! They are looking for a reason to imprison Jesus. They ask, is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath? Wait one minute. The question is so ridiculous. They are asking as if someone can perform a miracle on the Sabbath or on any other day for that matter. They cannot perform a miracle, but they know who can- Jesus. As much as they try to deny it, they know there is something special about Jesus. 
11 He said to them, If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.
13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus. (Matthew 12:9-14) 

Jesus is remarkably gentle. I would have been so completely frustrated with these Pharisees, I would probably have walked off angry. But Jesus being God, is slow in wanting all to come to salvation. With a miracle performed before their very eyes, a miracle on the very person they chose, (not someone claiming to be blind and really wasn't) but a person with a true ailment was healed and yet they did not see Jesus. I think they are worse than the townspeople. For they know the Scriptures and still do not see God.

Pray with me:
Father, how I praise you for who you are: gentle, kind, the One who brings rest and restoration in your perfect timing. The One who brings healing out of compassion for us. The One who gives a girl new couches for her den! Father, I want to see you. I want to know you. Make me not like the Pharisees that know the Word, but do not know you. Take the blindness from my eyes. Help me to believe. Give me a deeper faith. I love you with all my heart. In Jesus' Name, Amen. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Morning Moments with God: Day 49

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Day 49: HE is Lord of Heaven and Earth

Please read the Bible verse for today:
Matthew 11: 25-28

The Father Revealed in the Son

25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do." (Matthew 11:25-26)
"At that time..." 'that time' is just after Jesus rebuked the crowd for their hard hearts, and unrepentant ways found in the previous verses. After Jesus rebukes them, He prays. Whenever I need to 'rebuke' or speak to my child for doing something wrong, I'm not happy and rarely think to pray at that moment. Everything Jesus does is a lesson. I need to pray more in the midst of disciplining my child/children. 

So now, let's look at what Jesus prayed. "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth..." Jesus begins, as we all should, praising the Father. A moment to remember Who God is and His sovereignty. (It says in my commentary, that the words "The Lord of heaven and earth" is only found three times in the Bible.") Jesus than says that God has hidden 'these things,' the revelation of Jesus revealed through the miracles He performs, from the wise, but revealed it to children or those who are humble. It is God, the Father, Lord of heaven and earth, pleasure to reveal and conceal certain things and we need to accept that. We may not always understand why God does what He does, but HE is God. HE is sovereign. HE knows what is best.
27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." (Matthew 11:27) I believe Jesus' words are very clear. The Father and Son know each other and all the mysteries of each other, but we do not and will not unless Jesus reveals Himself to us. 
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) We may not understand or know everything about the Father or the Son, Jesus Christ, but here we get a glimpse. Jesus tells us directly about who He is. HE will give us rest. HE will give us a lighter load to carry. HE will teach us. HE is gentle and humble in heart. We will find rest for our souls in HIM. HIS burden to carry is easy and light. 

Pray with me:
Father I praise you for you are Lord of heaven and earth. You are sovereign. You know all things and I trust you. I humble myself to your will. Give me a heart of humility to serve you completely. Jesus, I come to you for I am weary and burdened. I need your rest. I take your burden in exchange for mine. Help me to carry only what you ask me to. I give you my anxiety and worries. I love you with all my heart. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Morning Moments with God: Day 48

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Day 48: Repent

Please read the Bible verse for today:
Matthew 11: 20-24

Woe on Unrepentant Towns

20 Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. " (Matthew 11:20)
According to Merriam-Webster, denounce means, "to pronounce especially publicly to be blameworthy or evil." Jesus was announcing, in public, the evil act of people. And what was this evil act? Well, Jesus had performed miracles for all the people. People were healed from every sickness. People were healed from every disease. People were set free from demons. The evil act was that they received the healing, a miracle from Jesus, and then walked away. They did not repent. They took the healing and in their heart they were not moved. They got their healing and deliverance, and went right back to their lives without being convicted in their heart of WHO healed them. I am shocked. Every time Jesus has given me a miracle I have wept, fallen to my knees, cried and praised Him. I have gone out and told as many people as I can what the Lord has done for me. Why? Why have I cried and wept? Because the God of the Universe touched my life. The God who created the Heavens and earth heard my prayer and answered it. A miracle is personal. A miracle shows God knows the cries of our heart and cares about me. I pray and believe for miracles all the time and when it happens I am in awe of God's goodness. How is it that whole 'towns' didn't repent? I cannot even imagine Jesus' sadness to have witnessed that. 

 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.23 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.” (Matthew 11:21-24) 

Jesus' words in verses 21-24 are scary words. He declares that these towns will receive eternal death for their unrepentant ways. 

(As a side note: I think it is so awesome that Jesus says, "For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day." The first thing that came to my mind was that Jesus was in heaven, with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, at the time when Sodom was destroyed. He was there! Thousands of years before He came to earth, He was in Heaven and saw and commanded the destruction of Sodom. He knew the people's hearts and knew that if they had received the miracles of His day they would have repented. It wasn't an assumption- it was a fact because He is God and was there! How cool is that!)

Pray with me:
Father, may it never be said of me that I did not or would not repent. May I be ever humble and grateful for all you do for me and my family. Keep pride far from me. Jesus, I repent for my arrogance, pride and judgemental heart. Forgive me. I want to serve you all my days in humility. I love you with all my heart. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Morning Moments with God: Day 47

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Day 47: I Hear and Respond

Please read the Bible verse for today:
Matthew 11: 7 - 19

7 "As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces.Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written:
“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
    who will prepare your way before you.’

The Bible is so real. Jesus, in the first verses of chapter eleven, was talking to John the Baptist's disciples. He was telling them to tell John, who was in prison, about all that Jesus was doing and that He was the Messiah. Basically, 'tell John, he got it right.' Now we join up with Jesus, "As John’s disciples were leaving." (Matthew 11:7) Jesus turns to the crowd and takes the time to tell them and talk about John the Baptist. I can't explain it - everything I read in the Bible is like a movie. I can see all of it clearly happening. It's so true to life. John's disciples come into the scene, Jesus talks to them, assures them, they leave and now Jesus talks to the crowd about John the Baptist. Jesus uses every situation to bring forth more truth and life to the people. 
So what does Jesus say about John the Baptist? Jesus reminds the people that they went out to the wilderness to see John, but asks them why? Did you go to see a king? No. He tells them, "A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet." (Matthew 11:9) He was more than a prophet.

11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." (Matthew 11:11) I believe Jesus is saying, to the Jewish crowd-the people of Israel, that John was greater than Moses, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Daniel, and the list can go on and on of people who served God UNDER the Old Testament. John's job was to not just prophesy about Jesus, the coming Messiah, but to actually prepare the hearts of the people for the Messiah, Jesus. He had the greatest job. But then Jesus says, "yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." (Matthew 11:11b) If John is the greatest, how can someone be greater than him? Well, I believe Jesus is telling us that John will not have a opportunity to live under the New Testament of Grace, and forgiveness of sins through the blood of Jesus. John was the very last prophet of the Old Testament, but the New Testament has come and we are a part of it. We are greater than John if we confess Jesus as our Lord and Savior, ask Him to forgive us of our sin and follow Him. (That truth is AMAZING!)

12 "From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. 15 Whoever has ears, let them hear." (Matthew 11:12-14)

The Kingdom of Heaven as been advancing on the earth through all the Old Testament prophets and it ends with John the Baptist. And then Jesus says, "if you are willing to accept it."  It always comes back to you- your choice. Believe it or not. Jesus will never force us to accept Him or the prophets. He lays out the truth before us and it is up to us to pick it up and accept it- accept Him. 

16 “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:
17 “‘We played the pipe for you,
    and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
    and you did not mourn.’
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.” (Matthew 11:12-18)

Jesus tells is like it is: John came with the Word- the people did not respond. Jesus came with the Truth- the people did not respond. John came neither eating or drinking and they said he was from the devil. Jesus came eating and drinking and they said he was of the devil. The truth is right in front of this crowd and right in front of us, and yet the people will not believe. But Jesus ends with, "But wisdom is proved right by her deeds." (Matthew 11:19) The people will see Jesus one day and know the truth. 

Pray with me:
Father, thank you for your Word. Thank you for John the Baptist. Thank you for sending your Son Jesus to earth. Thank you for sacrificing Him for our sins so we can know you and be in relationship with you. Help me to never hear the Word and not respond. Help me to hear the Word and be convicted. To move and live according to your truth. Change me that I may glorify your name in all that I do, think and say. In Jesus' Name, Amen. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Morning Moments with God: Day 46

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Day 46: Good and Faithful Servant

Please read the Bible verse for today:
Matthew 11: 1-6

Jesus and John the Baptist

11 "After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee."(Matthew 11:1) The whole of Matthew chapter ten is Jesus' instructions to the disciples. He told them everything they would need to know-the good, and the down, right, horrible truth. If the disciples had any ideas that preaching would be simple, fun and only wonderful times, Jesus quickly popped their bubble. Jesus spent most of His teaching time talking on how they will be rejected, persecuted, flogged and put to death, but 32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven." (Matthew 10:32) After hearing all that, the disciples still went out! I'm cautious to share the Gospel on a normal day, but if I had heard all that, I'm not sure how well I would do. I hope I would obey. I hope I would go out in joy. But sharing the Gospel than and now is not an easy task. 
So, after Jesus prepares the disciples to go out and preach, teach and heal, and knowing all the dangers that come with it, the Scriptures tell us that, "He went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee." (Matthew 11:1) I thought that the disciples went out, but Jesus stayed back and prayed for them or had the day off, but not Jesus. As soon as the disciples were off, He was off and preaching too! I know Jesus is God, but when I read the Word, I am reminded of more of who He is. He is an example to us, He is brave, He is compassionate, He loves us. 
2" When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Mattew 11:2-3) Here we find that John the Baptist is still in prison. John had preached, and baptized the people and is now in jail. (Jesus just finished telling the disciples that they will be persecuted for sharing the Good News and if they didn't believe it, well the proof was right before their very eyes-Jesus' very first follower, John the Baptist, was in jail). And what was John thinking while in jail? He was thinking: 'Did I get it right? Is Jesus the Messiah? Am I in jail for the right reason? (Messiah, according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary: "the expected King and deliverer of the Jews.") I always feel sad when I read about John the Baptist in jail. He was the one who prepared the hearts of the people for Jesus-the Messiah and yet John didn't get to follow Jesus. John didn't get to see the miracles, the healings or hear Jesus preach. He did his job and was whisked away and thrown into jail and then death. John the most obedient follower. He preached in obedience to the Father.  
Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see:The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” (Matthew 11:4-6) I love that Jesus tells John's disciples to go back to John and reassure him that his work was not in vain. John prepared the hearts of the people and now the people are being healed, and cleansed and the Good News is being proclaimed to the poor! Jesus in essence, tells John, 'well done good and faithful servant!'
Pray with me:
Jesus, I hear your words to go forth and share the Good News and I hear your words that there will be persecution. Help me to obey. Give me your heart for the lost. I love you and want to serve you with all that I am. In Jesus' name, Amen.