Written Devotions | Edgewater Lutheran Church

Written Devotions

Daily Written Devotions
Jesus Calls Matthew

Matthew 9:9-13

Church is full of broken people.

One of the greatest problems the church has fallen into is the spread of an idea that the church is for people who have it all figured out. Jesus’ words here in Matthew speak pretty directly against that idea. He says in Matthew 9:12 that “those who are well have no need of a physician.” The church is for people who need forgiveness, for people who need grace, not for people who are already perfect. Should we strive to live more in-line with the instructions God has left for us? Certainly! But we know that each and every one of us falls short of that.

I have personally heard this misunderstanding form reasons that people distance themselves from church. The first happens when the church itself pushes the idea that Christians are morally superior, and the person has witnessed Christians doing things they shouldn’t be doing. This hypocrisy drives them away. The second comes from the general idea and leads a person who is aware of their own brokenness to think “I’m not good enough for church.”

 

Let me dispel those two ideas for you and for those close to you that might fall into these traps. First, Christians are just as broken as everybody else, we just know about the forgiveness found in Jesus. Second, you are never too broken for church! If you’re sick, go to the doctor! If you are broken by sin, go to church!


Focus on God

We are reminded in these verses that God graciously invites broken people into His church.


Function in Our Lives

We are encouraged to be honest with the reality of the church.


Topics to Pray About:

  • Thank God for His incredible grace and patience
  • Confess to God times when you distance yourself from Him
  • Ask God to draw you closer to Him


In His Service,

J. LeBorious

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Jesus Heals a Paralytic

Matthew 9:1-8

If you attended worship at Edgewater a few weeks ago, the sermon came from this same story as told by Luke. If you want, you can find that message here.

In this episode of Jesus doing miracles, it teaches us something about His priorities. The broken man is put before Him and His first response is to forgive the man of his sins. It is when the religious officials doubt this proclamation that Jesus heals the man’s paralysis as proof of His authority. We should remember that our biggest problem isn’t whatever mortal struggle we’re facing today. It isn’t an illness, a budgetary struggle, or a conflict with people. Our biggest and most fundamental issue is sin. That is Jesus first priority, and He overcomes that issue with His death and resurrection. Sometimes we feel frustration or anger with God for not answering our prayers for deliverance, and maybe we need to remember that He did deliver us – from something much worse than whatever we are dealing with today.

This story also reminds us about the importance of friends. The paralytic might have never experienced this forgiveness from Jesus, might never have walked again, if his friends hadn’t brought him to Jesus. Make sure you have friends like that. Make sure you are a friend like that.


Focus on God

We are reminded in these verses that God graciously forgives us, overcoming our most pressing problem.


Function in Our Lives

We are encouraged to bring people to Jesus and have friends who do the same for us.


Topics to Pray About:

  • Thank God for His incredible forgiveness
  • Confess to God times when you take that for granted
  • Ask God to draw you closer to Him


In His Service,

J. LeBorious

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Jesus' Power

Matthew 8:23-34

I want to start this devotion with a note on demons and possession. Demons are real and they really do possess people. The Bible tells us that’s a reality. That being said, we don’t frequently experience that reality. I came across an intelligent woman from Ethiopia who helped me understand this disparity. She told me that where she is from, demon possession is a regular thing that churches have to deal with. However, she recognized that in America they didn’t happen with nearly the same frequency. Her guess regarding the difference was this. Ethiopians, generally speaking, are much more open to the realities of spiritual warfare and the idea of demon possession. As a result, possession is an effective tool for Satan to scare people away from the church and an effective tool for God to show His power to cast demons out. Americans, on the other hand, are much more skeptical. If someone were to be possessed, most of us would dismiss it as mental illness or something similar. It certainly wouldn’t scare us away from the faith. As a result, possession becomes a much less useful tool for the Enemy or for God and thus, happens less frequently. This is just a theory (obviously), but it makes a lot of sense and has greatly helped my understanding of the topic.

In these two stories from Jesus’ ministry, He demonstrates to the hearers His power over creation in the storm and over spiritual things in the demons.  We then get to see two different reactions to His power. In Matthew 8:27, the disciples respond by marveling at Him. In Matthew 8:34, the people of the town beg Him to leave their region. Jesus’ power is incredible, and upon witnessing it both reactions are natural. The disciples know that Jesus has their best interests at heart and trust Him – so when they see His power, they marvel at it. The people of the city didn’t trust Him to have their best interests at heart – so when they see His power, they want to put some distance between themselves and Jesus. We ought to keep this in mind as we share the Gospel with people. There are a lot of images of Jesus out there, and we don’t necessarily know what people’s perception of Him might be. They might be aware of His love for them, but they might also fear Him because of what He might demand from them. We lead with the Gospel, with the love of Jesus, so that people might marvel with us instead of begging Jesus to leave.


Focus on God

We are reminded in these verses that God graciously uses His power for us.


Function in Our Lives

We are encouraged to understand that people might have different preconceptions of who Jesus is.


Topics to Pray About:

  • Thank God for His incredible power to protect His people
  • Confess to God times when you distance yourself from Him
  • Ask God to draw you closer to Him


In His Service,

J. LeBorious

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The Cost of Following Jesus

Matthew 8:18-22

There is an ideology in modern Christianity called the prosperity gospel. The basic idea is that if you have enough faith, God is going to make you wealthy, and your life will be easy. There are pastors and preachers who will make promises to that effect in order to grow their churches.

I guess they just work around passages like this.

Here, Jesus warns one potential follower by saying “foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” He tells another to “leave the dead to bury their own dead.” In fact, Jesus promises that the lives of Christians will be more difficult as a result of their faith. He says in John 15:18 “if the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” Being a Christian does not mean that you will be wealthier, it does not mean that God will answer every prayer the way you want, it does not mean your life will be easy. Instead, it demands that we reduce our desire for wealth, it demands that we trust God’s will above our own, and it demands that we follow Him even when it makes our lives more difficult. We don’t believe for the short-term benefits. We believe because it is true, we believe because Jesus rose from the dead, and we believe because we are promised eternal life in a perfect new creation with God.


Focus on God

We are reminded in these verses that God graciously points us to something more.


Function in Our Lives

We are encouraged to dispel the misconceptions that followers of Jesus will have easy lives.


Topics to Pray About:

  • Thank God for His promise of a greater eternity
  • Confess to God when you are tempted to take the easy way
  • Ask God to bless you


In His Service,

J. LeBorious

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Jesus Heals Many

Matthew 8:14-17

One difficulty comes up whenever we see miracles of Jesus where He heals the sick. Why doesn’t He heal _____?

You might be facing illness or disease or chronic pain, someone you love might be facing illness or disease or chronic pain, and the question when we read about these miraculous healings is naturally “why doesn’t Jesus heal me” or “why doesn’t Jesus heal them?” In Matthew 8:17 we read that Jesus healed these people “to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: ‘He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.’” We ask, “why won’t He take my illness or bear their disease?”

Truthfully, I don’t have a great answer for you. I don’t know why He hasn’t healed you or your loved one. All I do know is this, there is a reason. I can’t pretend to know what that reason is, and the reason might be different in each individual situation. Maybe the illness is serving to bring that person closer to Him, maybe the disease will provide a chance for someone in the hospital to be witnessed to, or maybe the chronic pain reminds someone to rely on God instead of their own strength. I cannot tell you the reason with any definite authority, all I can say is that there is a reason. So we continue to pray when we face the brokenness of life, we pray that God’s purposes might be accomplished and that healing would follow soon after.


Focus on God

We are reminded in these verses that God graciously has a plan for our lives.


Function in Our Lives

We are encouraged to trust in God’s plan and pray that His will be done.


Topics to Pray About:

  • Thank God for the plan He must bring people to Himself
  • Confess to God when you insist on your own way
  • Ask God to bring healing into the broken places of this world


In His Service,

J. LeBorious

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The Faith of a Centurion

Matthew 8:5-13

Jesus’ interaction with this centurion has always been one of my favorite passages in Scripture. Part of that, admittedly, is my casual fascination with the Roman military. The more theological reason is the incredible message that this story communicates.

First, the centurion’s words communicate better than most the authority Jesus wields. When Jesus offers to go and heal this servant, the response is “don’t go to my house, I’m not worthy of that, I know that all you have to do is say the word and it will be done.” The centurion understands that Jesus hasn’t stumbled across some magic incantation or miracle substance that He must administer in person, he understands that Jesus has the authority to simply command things to happen and creation itself will bend to His will. Second, the centurion demonstrates incredible faith. He believes that Jesus can simply say the word and heal his servant. He trusts Jesus’ authority to do the impossible. So much so that Jesus responds by saying “with no one in Israel have I found such faith.” Finally, Jesus’ response teaches us that the salvation of Jesus will not be exclusive to any one tribe, nation, or people. Many will come from the East and West and be in the new creation with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

We understand today that when we pray to God, we can trust that He can simply will the world to change and it will.  That no prayer we bring to Him is impossible. We also understand that, in Jesus, we will be among those who recline at table with Abraham in God’s perfect new creation.


Focus on God

We are reminded in these verses that God graciously promises us a place in eternity.


Function in Our Lives

We are encouraged to trust in God’s power to answer prayer.


Topics to Pray About:

  • Thank God for the work He’s done in your life
  • Confess to God when you don’t trust in or believe His authority reaches from East to West
  • Ask God to change your life for the better in incredible ways


In His Service,

J. LeBorious

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Jesus Cleanses a Leper

Matthew 8:1-4

This chapter begins with people following Jesus around, this is something we just expect at this point. Then a leper asks Jesus to heal him, also something that we might expect. And Jesus responds by healing him, nothing crazy here.

But then Jesus gives the leper some follow-up instructions to go to the priests and follow the steps outlined in the Old Testament for someone recovering from leprosy. These instructions seem weird coming from Jesus, especially since the leper had already been fully healed. But the leper doing this accomplishes two things, one practical and one spiritual. Practically speaking, the priests were the gatekeepers of sorts for the majority of Israel. For a leper to return to many elements of normal life, the leper would need to have a priest confirm that the leprosy was gone first. So, for this leper to fully return to normal life, he would need a priest to sign off on his condition. More importantly, Jesus tells the leper to “offer the gift that Moses commanded.” Jesus is instructing the leper to give thanks to God for his healing. This encourages the spiritual wellbeing of the leper – giving thanks to God is a good thing to do. It also reminds everyone involved that it is not the power of man that healed his leprosy, but the power of God.

This event reminds us of the incredible power of God to heal in our lives if it is within His will, but it also reminds us that we ought to respond in gratitude.


Focus on God

We are reminded in these verses that God graciously has the power to heal.


Function in Our Lives

We are encouraged to respond to God’s work in our lives with gratitude.


Topics to Pray About:

  • Thank God for the work He’s done in your life
  • Confess to God when you fail to show your gratitude
  • Ask God to work healing in your life wherever you might need it


In His Service,

J. LeBorious

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Build Your House on the Rock

Matthew 7:24-29

We treat a lot of the world around us like a buffet table. We take what we want, we leave what we don’t, and we hope the health department keeps the really bad stuff away. People do this with their political parties, people do this with the celebrities they follow, and people do this with the church. People take advantage of the parts of church they like, they ignore the uncomfortable parts, and hope nothing really bad is going on.

In all these decisions though, we decide based on something. Each person has a foundation that determines what they want, what they don’t, and what they consider bad. For some people this foundation is a simple as ‘what makes me feel good,’ for some people this foundation is their political stance, but in these verses, Jesus encourages us to make that foundation His Word. We hear the words of Scripture and follow them. When we make decisions in our lives, the first criteria we judge by is how faithful each choice might be. Any other foundation we set is temporary, any other foundation we set is prone to change, any other foundation we set will not last. So the foundation for our lives, for our choices, for everything is Jesus, His work, and His Word.


Focus on God

We are reminded in these verses that God graciously provides us with a solid foundation.


Function in Our Lives

We are encouraged to look at the world through the filter of our faith.


Topics to Pray About:

  • Thank God for promising to be so consistent for us
  • Confess to God when have your foundation in something other than Him
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to guide all of your choices


In His Service,

J. LeBorious

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A Tree and Its Fruit

Matthew 7:15-23

These verses speak especially about leaders in the church. When we look to people for spiritual guidance or to lead us closer to God, this verse gives us a warning to be careful who we follow.  Leaders who use their authority to achieve their own ends, who abuse the trust of those who follow them, who do not act in a way that Christians are called to – those leaders are wolves in sheep’s clothing. There are people in history, there are people in the news today, who use the Christian faith as a tool to do things they shouldn’t. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing. We should be careful who we follow, careful who we listen to. We will recognize faithful leaders by their fruits.

These verses serve as a warning to followers about leaders, but it also warns leaders. Being a leader in the church doesn’t give you more leeway. It actually means you are held to a higher standard for your behavior. You might say “did we not prophesy in your name and cast out demons in your name and do many mighty works in your name?” And if you have abused your leadership, the response will be “depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” Leaders, like everyone else, must rely on the saving work of the Gospel, but they are called within that to be more faithful, not less.


Focus on God

We are reminded in these verses that God takes the leadership of His people seriously.


Function in Our Lives

We are encouraged to be careful about who we follow and about how we lead.


Topics to Pray About:

  • Thank God for blessing His people with faithful leaders
  • Confess to God when you fail to produce good fruit
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to bless the church with faithful leaders


In His Service,

J. LeBorious

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The Golden Rule

Matthew 7:12-14

Stick with me on this one.

In propositional calculus, a mathematician proves different things. Given a certain true statement, the mathematician will use universally true statements to work that true statement into another true statement. One of these universally true statements is called a contrapositive. It says that if A then B is true, then if not B, then not A is also true. For example, if you are German, then you are also European is true. Therefore, if you are not European, then you are not German. Notably, you cannot just flip A and B and still have a true statement. Returning to our example, flipping A and B would result in the statement “if you are European, then you are German.” This is a false statement.

All of this to say that people frequently turn around the statement in Matthew 7:12 and make it into something that isn’t true. The original statement is “if you expect others to treat you a certain way, then treat them that way.” The contrapositive of this statement is “if you don’t treat others a certain way, then you don’t expect them to treat you that way.” I think this statement too often becomes simply “if others treat you a certain way, then you will treat them that way.” That is not an appropriate conclusion to draw if you are starting with Jesus’ words here in Matthew. This is not an invitation to pettily treat people poorly when they treat you poorly. The challenge of Jesus is to start by treating others the way you would like to be treated, not conditionally based on how they treat you.


I know it’s a nerdy devotion, but your pastor is a mathematician – having these from time to time is inevitable.


Focus on God

We are reminded in these verses that God graciously treats us well, unconditional of how we treat Him


Function in Our Lives

We are encouraged to treat others well.


Topics to Pray About:

  • Thank God for treating us in a way that doesn’t depend on how we treat Him
  • Confess to God when you act in a petty way
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to help treat others better than they deserve


In His Service,

J. LeBorious

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