Cost and Giving – 1-12-22

And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Matthew 8:2 NKJV

It is said that none of the gospels tell Jesus’s life in chronological order, although Matthew does begin before the beginning and ends with the resurrection. But when it comes to the ministry, somethings are either in order, or everyone tells it that way while the majority of the ministry of Christ are groupings by type of happening or by the point the writer is trying to make (or a little of both).  Although there are lots of gems we love to extract and look at in an isolated sermon – honestly these piece fit together to make a point – same with the parables. So, be extra cautious about keeping the gospels in context.  Some of the corrupted doctrine I was taught as a child came from people taking pieces of the gospel out of context – Let’s not deceive ourselves into something we shouldn’t. At the same time – let us try to look at things with fresh eyes – hoping to see how they fit together so we get clean unadulterated truth to build upon.

RELATIONSHIP:

Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

BIBLE READING:

Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word and our sound mind. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is the Book of Matthew chapter 8 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

Jesus Cleanses a Leper

When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”

Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

And Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

Jesus Heals a Centurion’s Servant

Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.”

And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”

The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.

10 When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! 11 And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour.

Peter’s Mother-in-Law Healed

14 Now when Jesus had come into Peter’s house, He saw his wife’s mother lying sick with a fever. 15 So He touched her hand, and the fever left her. And she arose and served [a]them.

Many Healed in the Evening

16 When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, 17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:

He Himself took our infirmities
And bore our sicknesses.”

The Cost of Discipleship

18 And when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave a command to depart to the other side. 19 Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.”

20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

21 Then another of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”

22 But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

Wind and Wave Obey Jesus

23 Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. 24 And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. 25 Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”

26 But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27 So the men marveled, saying, [b]“Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”

Two Demon-Possessed Men Healed

28 When He had come to the other side, to the country of the [c]Gergesenes, there met Him two demon-possessed men, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no one could pass that way. 29 And suddenly they cried out, saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?”

30 Now a good way off from them there was a herd of many swine feeding. 31 So the demons begged Him, saying, “If You cast us out, [d]permit us to go away into the herd of swine.”

32 And He said to them, “Go.” So when they had come out, they went into the herd of swine. And suddenly the whole herd of swine ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and perished in the water.

33 Then those who kept them fled; and they went away into the city and told everything, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus. And when they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region.

Footnotes

  1. aMatthew 8:15 NU, M Him
  2. bMatthew 8:27 Lit. What sort of man is this
  3. cMatthew 8:28 NU Gadarenes
  4. dMatthew 8:31 NU send us into

MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:

Numbers 23:19- “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

STUDY/DEVOTIONAL:

It is a style of making an argument, or a lesson, which is still used today – in modern terms we call it the 3 point sermon.  There are various substyles of it is well. The basic is to say the same thing a minimum of 3 different ways to make a point. Another is to say everything but the point, so you get the point by not. Some people do a 3 point sermon by making 3 separate unrelated points to tell a story, but not make one point, but to make a few points (taking the 3 pint thing literally). As well as others. 
Hebrew Rabbi’s and Hebrew Scriptures and the prophets used the “say the same thing 3 or more ways”, style of teaching. So Matthew’s readers would look for 3s and connect them together to find out what He was saying. We too will look for 3s. Sometimes 4 or 5 grouped together as well.

Like: healing of the leper, healing of a Centurion’s servant, healing of Peter’s mother in law, and the healing of many in the evening.  Four, in a row. I have heard entire sermons on each one separately about the willingness of Jesus to heal (obviously, He healed millions) and about authority to heal (another eye roll of a sermon – Jesus is the creator, of course he can create healing) and about being willing to serve God once healed (definitely pulled WAY out of context because our healing have NOTHING to do with our works) and about how healing and other signs and wonders all go together.
Up to this point in the book – Matthew said Jesus healed many (using other phasing each time but never specifically described the healing) like he said here about the evening. So why is Matthew sharing the details of these first three? AND right after he talks about how we can easily be deceived into believing the wrong things?
Yes they are connected. Matthew did not write in chapter and verse – it is all one scroll!
So after explaining we can be misled, and how much so, he brings us back to the basics: Jesus heals and delivers. The outcast and incurable, the gentile- wealthy and slave, family, and many. It all comes back to heart condition – and a heart for people.  He is Lord of relationships.
(Side note – leprosy is highly contagious and was incurable, so lepers lived in dirty desolation. So not only would they be spiritually unclean – but a HUGE health risk to touch.  This is NOT the only leper Jesus touched. As a matter of fact, His followers also laid hands on lepers and they were healed. This is not wisdom as our world sees it. So as we search for wisdom this year be wise enough to understand. Jesus would not have taken the covid vaccine because He is the cure and doesn’t need a prevention. Jesus and his disciples could hold one of these evening rallies, like verse 16, where He “healed all who were sick”.)

So Matthew is saying – not to be deceived about all of this. This is about having a relationship with God, through Jesus, because you need healing and deliverance and then sharing it because everyone needs healing and deliverance. And every single one who needs it can have it. BUT… Jesus never sugar coated it, and neither did Matthew. You see, serving Jesus doesn’t take away your problems or make everything perfect.
I don’t know about you – but I came back to Jesus because I made a mess of my life and I needed supernatural fixes. I said to God – I need a powerful and living God who can actually effect this stuff, who can actually make a difference.  Years later and NOT ONE thing on my prayer list that I came back to Jesus to receive, have I received. NONE of those prayers saw a release or an affirmative “Yes”.  And with the exception of the prayers for unsaved loved ones… not one of those things even matter anymore. God moved me out of my story for me, out of my will for my life, and into His will and His grace. And those things (original prayer requests) are not in this place.
I went from desperate and depressed to full of joy and confident in whom I serve with peace, BUT I also when from having a literal witch as a boss, causing problems with my job (pre-coming back) to jobless (after coming back) to God setting me up in my own business. That is just one example. God did not bless me over there… because I was not supposed to be over there! I was supposed to be over here! Hello?! Can I have an amen?! So the old prayers became irrelevant and serving Christ cost me my job.
Was I fired for being a Christian? No… But if cost me my job because God needed to move me from over there to over here. Because I had to give up that old stuff and take this new stuff. Because there is a cost in following Jesus. NOT only that… He let trials and tribulation teardown my old rickety foundation so I had no choice but to press in and in faith relearn the right way. I kept saying to my accountability partner that I thought my faith was bigger than this, why is this a struggle? But in hindsight that wasn’t even remotely the right perspective. It wasn’t that my faith was small or big – it was corrupt and needed to be taken apart and put back together correctly. Because through it all, Like Job, I never cursed God nor did I think for one minute that He wasn’t working out a plan in me. Even though it hurt and was difficult and I had some very raw moments (it is ok to be honest and raw with Jesus – He is safe. Not only is He safe, but God also draws close to the broken hearted AND they have also provided the Holy Spirit as the comforter! Comfort!) 

So – another message of 3.  The first is stated clearly: this is going to cost. All valuable things are expensive and there is nothing more valuable. Even more valuable than your family. Jesus first – then relationships. Nothing is more important than relationships, but Jesus.

Next they almost die, while Jesus peacefully sleeps. Here the point is repeated without being said… I want you to catch it.  Imagine you are a follower of Jesus, besides the 12 there were uncounted many who followed him.  You were just told this was going to cost you. You saw others give up and leave. Then you get in a boat and the storm is literally deadly. Let me repeat: Jesus just said this was going to cost you a lot.  If they aren’t thinking this is it – this is what He meant, and we are going to die, even with faith – it looks as if this is his will, especially since he is sleeping through it. Come on, really? On those old boats, there is no way he was so tired he was asleep! I mean, from what is not said here I can’t blame them for thinking it is the end… I mean, this is going to cost them.

Verse 26:
“But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.”

What is not said and still happened – these men who followed Jesus, they had to choose to do so daily.  After they land on shore, after being told it was going to cost, and then being rebuked by him for some natural fear, and as if healings and deliverances were not enough to blow your mind to see the sea and sky bow to their maker… would you step off them boat and stay with him? You have a home and a job and friends and family… if today you were called to follow literally putting your life at risk, would you?
You and I know Jesus needed 12 to become the Apostles and start the early church. 12 most of whom would die as martyrs. He need men who would choose to risk their lives. We are never told how many in total followed. How many joined each day? How many left each day?
But tell me this storm is not about the cost of following! Go ahead…. While we move on to what they encountered as they arrived.

Their hair and clothes aren’t even dry and with no time to process all of this… two demoniacs come at them. Two scripturally unclean (living in tombs) other versions speak to them cutting themselves there for there is unclean blood as well – stuff of nightmares. And as I read it from my mildly uncomfortable situation with government oppression, can I fully understand the depths of their experience?
In our modern world there are demon possessed people all around us. I think there are more now than back in Jesus’s time.  I have had the pleasure of them manifesting just because I was there (not everyone and not every time, but it has happened a few times).  If some are caused to manifest by the Jesus IN me – how much more and greater is the manifestation because Jesus himself has docked on the shore of the graveyard they haunt.  These poor disciples!!

There is a brief exchange. Jesus never humored much conversation with demons and always shut down their attempts to scare away the disciple with frightening manifestations. It was always shut up and come out. In this case, he let them go into the pigs and off they went into the water and perished. Such a great cost. That was the economy for that region – literally their pork belly stocks crashed!!!  That area did not care for the two souls saved, it cost them everything! Without a pig to trade or butcher, can they even afford to buy two pigs to breed and start again?

Jesus says he will provide all our needs – He is concerned with souls. He gave no thought to crashing the economy – He owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50) – The gold and silver is his (Haggai 2:8)! If they knew who he was they would not have sent Him away.

Or maybe they would, because there is a cost to following Jesus. If you are not paying it, then maybe take a closer look at yourself and prayerfully ask God if you have been deceived into a false since of salvation. What did you give up for Him?

In the world I was who I was… and I thought it was just how it was, until I chose to give it up to be who God said I am. And now my bank statement reflects my sacrifice. I pray that God gives me opportunity each day, so my days reflect my sacrifice. My sleep pattern definitely reflects my sacrifice. My study time means I have to give up doing other things.  Fasting is a sacrifice. There are ample sacrifices if you ask God to show them to you…. But if you are willing to pay the price you are probably looking at them and considering them opportunities to give. There is a cost, but those whose stony heart has been replaced with beatitudes and love see if as a gift and a blessing to give.

 ***

Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

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