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Monday, April 4, 2016

Day 38: Matthew 16:1-12 & Psalm 38 - How is it that We Fail to Understand?

Today's Reading: Matthew 16:1-12 & Psalm 38

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How is it that We Fail to Understand?

"O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread?"
                                                                                      - Matthew 16:8-11, ESV


Oh, those poor, pitiful disciples! One of the arguments in favor of the authenticity of the Gospels is the fact that the disciples come across so poorly. They are consistently lacking faith and understanding, making huge mistakes and missing the point of Jesus' teaching. If the disciples were fabricating the Gospels to advance themselves in the world, they would have made themselves appear better - smarter, more faithful, more brave and insightful.

If we're honest with ourselves, we identify with the disciples in the Gospels. Like them, we often find ourselves out of step with Christ, lacking in faith and understanding, missing the point. 

In today's reading, it's not just the disciples who are out of step with Christ. The Pharisees and Sadducees are also asking the wrong questions and missing the point of what Jesus us saying. Unlike the disciples, the lack of understanding from these religious leaders arises from malice and envy. The disciples' came from lack of faith and because they had not yet received the Holy Spirit. 

Both the religious leaders and the disciples had the same basic problem, though: They focused on themselves instead of on God and His kingdom. The religious leaders knew how to interpret the weather patterns by the sky, but they could not see what was already so clear and obvious about Jesus. They wanted a sign, when they had already missed so many! The disciples were thinking about bread and hunger, even after the feeding of the 5,000 and the 4,000, rather than being concerned about the invasive and destructive effects of false teachings.

So, what's our problem? Well, it's the same, really. We fail to understand because our thinking is preoccupied with petty, earthly concerns. We're not nearly as focused on Christ and His kingdom, on God and eternity, on truth and righteousness. And so we miss what Jesus is doing because we're constantly looking at and thinking about lesser things - watching the sky for weather or wondering about bread. To see what Jesus sees, we need to love what Jesus loves and live for the things that matter for eternity. 

Prayer Based on Psalm 38:

O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger,
    nor discipline me in your wrath!
For your arrows have sunk into me,
    and your hand has come down on me.
There is no soundness in my flesh
    because of your indignation;
there is no health in my bones
    because of my sin.
For my iniquities have gone over my head;

    like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me. - vv. 1-4

Heavenly Father, I see and confess my sin. I am self-absorbed, petty-minded, foolish and faithless. Instead of truly seeking for Your kingdom to come and Your will to be done, I am wanting my kingdom and my will, my rights and my way. I am irritated with those who disagree with me, impatient with those who slow me down and quick to take what I want and think about it later, if at all.

Father, I cannot stand before You, a Holy God, bearing the weight of my own sin. I am wrong. I have no excuses and I have nowhere to hide before the eyes of the One who sees my heart better than I do. 

O Lord, all my longing is before you;    my sighing is not hidden from you. - v. 9

Lord, You do indeed know my heart, and so You know how deeply I desire repentance and how much I long to have a heart that loves what You love and a life that is lived for You. Satan would love to heap shame upon shame on my head until I cannot see or think clearly at all. I look to You. You are my Deliverer, my God, my Savior. My strength, my joy, my peace, my forgiveness, my hope and my future all come from You and are secure in Your hands. And so I trust and rest in You and You alone.


   

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