A devotional by Toluwa Dada. A 5 day plan
looking at a short study in the Book of Matthew.
Day 1 // Generations
‘Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the kingdom of heaven is near’.
Throughout this lockdown period, I have been reading through Matthew and I thought for the next week I will share with you some of the things Jesus has led me to think about.
But back to what we’re looking at today. In Matthew 4, Jesus declared this simple message, that we should repent (which means to ‘turn from’) our sins and turn to God. However, what really grabbed me here is that John the Baptist shares this same message before Jesus (Matthew 3:2) and Peter goes on to say the same thing after Jesus (Acts 2:38). This simple message was passed down through different ‘generations’, with a greater degree of influence and impact at each stage, well I guess Jesus did say that it would happen (John 5:6, John 14:12), so I shouldn’t be too surprised haha.
It was almost as if this simple message was passed intentionally from person to person, generation to generation. Which poses the question:
What message are we passing to the next generation?
Maybe today, have a think, how are you shaping the next generation, what message are you passing on? How could you be more intentional in shaping the generation to come?
Day 2 // What do I run to? Who do I run to?
24 Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
Through reading the pages of Matthew, Jesus gave me a bit of a different perspective on this story. I think a lot of us would have heard this one before: Jesus says He, and the disciples, are going to get on a boat and go to the other side of the lake. Storm hits, disciples get scared, so wake up Jesus (how He is sleeping in a storm is beyond me, but it’s impressive how peaceful He is in the midst of an unsettling situation, but that’s another thought for another day). Jesus in turn calms the storm and tells them they have minimal faith. I guess I get it, Jesus declared they would get to the other side, so they should’ve held onto the truth and had faith that this would be the case, I believe when Jesus says something, we can hold onto that as a promise and guarantee.
Although the disciples should have been calm, at least they knew where to go in the midst of their fear and uncertainty. They didn’t throw their belongings overboard to even out the weight on the boat, they didn’t change course to avoid the storm, but the first response to the fear and panic was to run to their Saviour, to run to the one that can do more than they can do. I guess by them choosing Jesus first, in some ways, they acknowledge that He could do more than they could.
Have a think today, who do you run to? Where do you run? When there are troubling or unsettling times, do you look to try everything in your power or do you first run to Jesus? Choose Jesus first, He can do more than we can, He can calm storms and make ways for us far better than we can ourselves.
Day 3 // His yoke > Our yoke
29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.
This term yoke used to always confuse me, I used to hear it and think of eggs, but I am sure that’s not what Jesus was speaking about. Some commentaries give us an indication of this idea of a yoke being a kind of bond, or obligation, to do some particular thing, or to do some particular work.
So now when we look at this idea of our yoke, we now realise it is the things we choose that become like obligations to us: The pursuit of money; the idea of fitting into social circles or social norms; the thoughts of always wanting more possessions; the desire of social media gratification and people gratification. These become our yoke, almost as if we are obligated to fulfil them. It is unfortunate because I think if you have ever pursued any of these, you would have noticed there’s no complete satisfaction, the obligation seems heavy and never completely attainable. But it is also beautiful because we have Jesus.
With Jesus it stops being about what we must do to feel fulfilled, or loved, or gratified. It starts being about love and relationship because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). His yoke is easy and light because what it really comes down to is love. Out of this love, we build relationship. So now our obligation is not directed by material, unachievable objectives, but our obligation shifts to love and relationship. We choose Jesus and serve Him out of love and relationship with Him.
Have a think today, have you chosen the yoke of Jesus? Are you carrying His yoke or your own? Choose Jesus, His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.
Day 4 // Where is your focus?
24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 25 About three o’clock in the morningJesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”
The disciples just couldn’t seem to catch a break, they found themselves on a boat, in a storm, again, but this time Jesus wasn’t physically with them. I can image that the sight of the storm consumed their attention. I can only imagine their thoughts…. ‘What are we going to do?’. ‘Jesus isn’t here, who will calm this storm?’. All their focus would have been consumed by the issue at hand, the storm. But then Jesus calls out, and even if only for a moment, their focus is no longer on the storm, but on Jesus.
How often in life can we find ourselves in a similar predicament, where our focus seems to be on the storms, the hard situations we find ourselves in, giving them all our attention. The beautiful thing is that Jesus, just like in the above storm, is present within the storms of our lives. However, just like the disciples, we must choose to give our focus to Him. We have to shift our perspective.
The disciples were scared at first, they thought it was a ghost on the water, but Jesus goes on to say ‘don’t be afraid. I am here!’ (Matthew 14:27). He says the same thing in our situations today, He is here. Shift your focus and your attention, not onto the storm, but the one who is present within the storm.
Maybe today, have a think, where does your focus lie? Does it lie on the storms of life, the troubles, the stresses? Or does it lie on the one who is present for you in your storm?
Day 5 // The Call
19 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 20 And they left their nets at once and followed him. 21 A little farther up the shore he saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, repairing their nets. And he called them to come, too. 22 They immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind.
When reading the above verses, I thought ‘Why would they have dropped everything they knew, their security, familiarity, comfort, for something/someone you didn’t really know?’ I think they wanted to be part of something bigger than themselves, they wanted to be important, they wanted to have an impact.
The verses say that there is an immediate “yes” to the call. They didn’t think about the logistics of it, what affairs they needed to get into order. They simply said “yes”. If I am honest, I don’t think the disciples expected this call for a couple of reasons:
They were fisherman – Society had told them they were not intelligent enough to be called into this line of work, their history reserved them to the fate of fisherman.
The student usually had to approach the Rabbi – In Jewish culture then, the student approached the Rabbi to be their teacher.
Just like Jesus had called the disciples then, He calls us now. Despite what society has labelled you as…. you are called. Jesus steps out…. He calls you. As you read this today, Jesus calls you to follow Him, to leave behind what was once important and be a part of something bigger.
Whatever your occupation, you are called. Whatever your age, you are called. Whatever your history, you are called.
Today, choose to accept Jesus’ call. He calls you to more. He calls you to have an impact. He calls you to something bigger than yourself.
What does this idea of ‘the call’ look like in your life today?