July 16 – (Matt. 14:22-36) Have you ever been in a storm and the winds are threatening to collapse you?  Then you see something in the storm that scares you even more? Has it ever been Jesus coming to heal you but you don’t recognize Him at first?  You think it is just another part of the storm that may just end who you are?  So many times, Jesus comes to minister to us and we don’t recognize Him.  We may even reject His help because of fear.  Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes at times of “bad weather”!

July 17 – (Matt. 15:1-9) In verse 3, Jesus makes a distinction between the OT (the commandment of God) and the pharisaic traditions (human regulations). Go back to verse 2.  Priests were required to wash their hands and feet prior to performing their duties but the Pharisees made this a matter of ceremonial purity and applied it to all Israelites.  What traditions do we hold to that God never intended for us to make into a commandment?  God is so creative is every aspect of His creation. While commandments never change, there are so many things that must change for us to reach each generation for Him!  Selah

July 18 – (Matt. 15:10-20) Have you ever said something and immediately wondered where that came from?  In these verses, Jesus is telling you.  When we recognize where it came from, we need to take ownership, repent, and know Jesus is pleased we growing to be more like Him as we renew our mind!

                What religious practices in your life or your church might be in danger of becoming outward empty forms?  Here’s a question I’m asking myself.  Is it possible to worship-Worship instead of worshiping God? Here is a question I ask myself as a plume-line:  If I can only worship in a certain way and that's it, then I have limited my expression of worship to Him at the very least.  Even more it may mean I feel comfortable and find success only in this way of worship and refuse to give Him more (pride?)  Selah

July 19 – (Matt. 15:21-31) Jesus was not only hard on the Pharisees, He is hard on the Canaanite woman who seeks His help.  How would you explain the strange interaction between Jesus, the woman and the disciples (vv. 21-28)? How was this woman the antithesis of the Pharisees in the preceding verses?  If you had to identify with one or the other, which would it be? Why?

July 20 – (Matt. 15:32-39) Jesus is feeding the crowd again. As you read these verses, compare them to verses 14:15-21. How are they different? How are they the same? Just like these miracles, God works in our lives.  He is so creative that usually it’s not the same way twice.  Why then, do we want to look for steps to “how He did it the last time” so we can get our same “success”?  Selah

July 21 – (Matt. 16:1-12) Pharisees and Sadducees were often bitter opponents. Here they join forces against Jesus.  They saw Him as a threat to their leadership and power. So, they were bitter opponents most of the time because they each wanted the power and leadership.  Now Jesus threatens that in both groups. Does this say anything to us about factions between church denominations? 

July 22 – (Matt. 16:13-23) We know that Peter will deny Christ three times vehemently…out loud in the very near future yet here we see that he is the first one to voice Jesus’ true identity. Then by the end of our reading, Peter is disagreeing with the God’s will for His life.  Jesus’ last statement is where I want to focus on at this time.  “You are a hindrance to me.  For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.  Let’s purpose today to listen to the Holy Spirit so we set our minds on the things of God!  Selah