These are a few of our SOAP notes from today’s reading. We encourage you to read and journal on your own first, then join us in conversation about what God revealed to YOU today. Click HERE to go directly to the daily reading if you wish.
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Keep the Faith | Deanna George
S~ “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Matthew 14:29-30 (NIV)
O~ Peter started out with great faith to walk to Jesus on the water. At the first sign of difficulty, he wavered in his faith and cried out for help. Jesus rescued him, but Peter missed out on a one of a kind, over the top, kind of experience – walking on water all the way to Jesus! He missed out on keeping his focus on Jesus and blocking out worldly interferences. I just keep thinking, “What if he kept the faith?” I’m guessing his faith would have been unshakeable and unquenchable. He would have this moment to always know what can be accomplished when the faith is maintained! Even though he faltered for just a second, he still remembered who to call on for help. He remained focused on Jesus and Jesus meet him where he was. It’s still an incredible experience, but boy could it have been so much more!
A~ Life can sure make “choosing faith” a tall order, but it’s those moments that determine our ability to have peace in our chaos, strength to endure the hardships, and stamina to persevere until Jesus brings us out of our circumstances. I have to stay focused on Jesus to keep the faith strong. When life throws at me insecurities, self doubt, and insults, I have to claim God’s scripture of who I am, what he has planned for me, and praise him for the truths. Even though this can be so hard, Jesus is there every step of the way-just ask him for help! He will help you keep your faith.
P~ Lord Jesus, I lay my self doubt at your feet. I want my faith to be strong and focused on you. Please guide me back to you when I allow myself to get distracted by my life. I want to keep the faith and experience an exceptional relationship with you that sets an excitement in my soul that bubbles from my pores. Please help my faith in you to consume me!
The Holy Burn | Robin Laney
S~ He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” Matthew 15:3 (ESV)
O~ The Pharisees are questioning Jesus about his disciples. They are concerned that they don’t wash their hands before they eat as the Law requires. Jesus shoots back at them, questioning their inner purity. This exchange brings to my mind elementary school days where one kid gets the upper hand in a verbal battle and all the kids around them yell, “Ohhh, burnnnnn.” The Pharisees thought they had their act together and, in their arrogance, blasted Jesus and his followers. Jesus lets them know, in no uncertain terms, that they have completely missed the mark.
A~ This passage screamed out to me, “Humility is essential!” None of us has this life figured out. None of us has God figured out. None of us have lived a life perfect enough to condemn another’s actions. Only Jesus.
This lesson was so clearly demonstrated throughout this past election season. One person would point a finger at someone for some questionable attitude or action and the media would dig up a decades old video of the accuser in an equally compromising position. I’m sure many felt ‘the burn.’
I experience this ‘Holy Burn’ whenever I begin to focus on someone else’s shortcomings. My flesh screams out things like, “Look what you did!” “That hurt my feelings.” “I can’t believe you made that choice.” “I would never treat someone like that!” “How could you believe that?” (Please ignore what is most surely my incorrect punctuation in this paragraph.) And the Spirit reminds me of places I fall short; not in a way that condemns but one that redirects. He gives me a different perspective, a new way to see the person or situation I am offended by. Sometimes I respond immediately and sometimes it takes me a bit to be convinced. Always, I am brought to a place of humility before a perfect God. Each time I hope that I will remember the lesson the next time I begin to spout off, verbally or emotionally. Sometimes I do and sometimes my emotions get the best of me and I have to be reminded….again. For me, this Scripture is a good reminder to temper my expectations of others and not think too highly of myself.
P~ Lord, thank You for Your Holy Spirit living in me, guiding me, teaching me, reprimanding me, and consoling me. Without Him, I would be a hot mess. I mean, more than I already am. 😉 Help me to keep my expectations of others and my perception of myself realistic. Help me to see others as You see them, help me to respond to others as I want them to respond to me, and help to keep me in a place of humility, freely dispensing the incredible grace and abundant mercy to others that You so lovingly pour out on me. Thank You for the ‘Burn’ that keeps me on the narrow path.
My Foolish Words, My Filthy Heart | Tara Wiley
S~ On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for the guests and pleased Herod so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. Matthew 14:6-7 (NIV)
But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defiles them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts – murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. Matthew 15:18-19 (NIV)
O~ Ah, Herod. Such a confused soul. He was fascinated with faith – fascinated by John the Baptist, in particular, even though John spoke truth to him. Herod is the perfect example of one who hears but does not respond – the hardened rocky soil that will not sprout fruit. And so, out of the foolishness of his heart came these hasty words that led to John the Baptist’s death.
A~ Later in our reading came the verse “The things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them (Matthew 15:18).” Herod’s words were fueled by his emotions: his lusty pride, his eagerness to show off and receive accolade from others, his arrogance, his short-sighted impulsivity. All these things came from his heart, a heart that was hardened to the things of Christ.
When I am honest with myself, I see a lot of those things lurking in the dark corners of my own heart. And while I may not struggle with murder, adultery, sexual immorality and theft (Matthew 15:19), my verbal re-hashing of past hurts this week flirted with slander (“defaming someone’s character, speaking ill of someone, sullying someone’s reputation”). And did it make me feel better to air this dirty laundry? Nope. The opposite: it ripped open old wounds that I had previously allowed the Spirit to heal, bringing me fresh pain and the need to surrender once again.
P~ Lord, I want to be more like You! I want my heart to be so pure that the words that come from my mouth only bring You honor. This week, I let my emotions drive my words, and in doing so, I fed the wrong beast in my heart. I am so grateful that Your mercies are new every morning. Once again, I come to you with the names of these women who have so wounded me in the past, and I ask for You to change my heart. Help me be sensitive to Your Spirit’s prompt to stop emotionally revisiting the wounds of the past, wounds I have already worked through with You, received Your healing for, and moved on from. It is far too easy for me to justify harboring resentment towards these people – and rehashing the stories just brings me back there again. So, Lord, today, once again, I commit to asking for Your blessing over their lives. They are wounded people, just like me, and they have responded out of their pain. We have differences of opinion that probably won’t be reconciled this side of Heaven, so I just ask that You would help me love them (even as I keep a strong healthy boundary in place between us) with my attitude and my carefully chosen words.