Thursday, January 16, 2014

January 16, 2014 Devotional - Genesis 27 & 28, and Matthew 14

Genesis 27 - Jacob Swindles Esau's Blessing
When Isaac was old his eyes were weak so he couldn't see he called Esau to him and asked him to make him a meal for him and he would bless him before he died. Rebekah overheard, so she plotted to get Jacob Esau's blessing. She said, "your curse be on me, my son," and proceeded to cover Jacob with goat hair, Esau's clothes and made Jacob the food he loved. Jacob came to Isaac. He asked if he was his son, Jacob said, "I am some of my game so that you may bless me...the Lord God has worked it out for me." Isaac touched Jacob and asked if he was really Esau. He recognized that it was the voice of Jacob, but he was hairy, and didn't recognize him. Jacob served him. He came close, and when Isaac smelled Esau he blessed him: "May God give you dew from the sky, richness of the land, abundance of grain and new wine. May peoples serve you and nations bow down to you. Be master over your brothers. Those who curse you will be cursed, and those who bless you will be blessed. As soon as Jacob left Esau came. Asking for his blessing. Isaac trembled uncontrollably, Isaac refused to bless Esau also, "Look I have made him master over you, have given him all of his relatives as his servants, and have sustained him with grain and new wine. What then can I do for you, my son?" Isaac said to Esau, "Your dwelling place will be away from the richness of the land, and the dew of the sky above. You will live by the sword, and you will serve your brother. But when you rebel, you will break his yoke from your neck." Esau held grudge against Jacob because of Isaac's blessing on Jacob, and he determined to kill Jacob. Rebekah heard and sent him away to Laban, her brother in Haran, and stay a few days until Esau's anger subsides. Esau's Hittite wives made Rebekah sick of her life, saying that if Jacob marries a Hittite woman, "what good is my life?"

Genesis 28 - The Covenant Reaffirmed with Jacob, Stairway to Heaven Dream
Isaac summoned Jacob and told him not to take a Canaanite wife, but to get one from the house of Rebekah's maternal grandfather, a daughter of Laban. Then he prayed for him, "May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you so that you become an assembly of peoples. May God give you and your offspring the blessing of Abraham so that you may possess the land where you live as a foreigner, the land God gave to Abraham." Isaac sent him off. Esau noticed this, and married Mahalath, daughter of Ishmael (sister of Nebaioth). On the way Jacob spent the night at a certain place. He lay his head on a stone and dreamed of a stairway to heaven that God's angels were going up and down on. Yahweh was standing there beside himself saying, "I am Yahweh, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your offspring the land that you are now sleeping on. Your offspring will be like the dust of the earth...all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go. I will bring you back to this land, I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you." Jacob awoke and said, "What an awesome place this is! This is none other than the house of God. This is the gate of heaven." Early in the morning he took the stone that was near his head and set it up as a marker, poured oil on it and named the place Bethel (it was previously the city of Luz). Jacob made a vow, "If God will be with me, if he provides food and clothes, if I return safely, then the Lord will be my God. This stone will be God's house and I will give You a tenth of all that You give me."

Matthew 14 - Death of John the Baptist, Feeding 5,000, Walking on Water, Healing the Sick
Herod heard of Jesus and he told his servants it was John the Baptist, they thought he was raised from the dead. For, he had arrested John because Herod unlawfully took his brother (Philip's) wife, Herodias. Because John was a prophet and the people liked him he couldn't kill him, so he put him in jail. Herodias' daughter pleased Herod before the people at His birthday celebration and he said she could have whatever she wanted. At the urging of her mother, she asked for John's head on a platter. Herod did this. John's disciples buried him and reported to Jesus. When Jesus heard He withdrew to a remote place to be alone. The crowds heard and followed on foot. As He stepped ashore he saw a huge crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick. Evening came, the disciples asked Jesus to send the people away, Jesus said no, and to give them food. The disciples said, "But we only have 5 loaves and 2 fish." Jesus had the crowds sit on the grass. He took the bread and fish, and blessed them and everyone was filled, and they picked up 12 baskets full of leftover pieces! Those who ate were 5,000 men (not including women and children). Jesus immediately made the disciples get in a boat to go ahead of Him to the other side while He dismissed the crowds. After dismissing the crowds, he went on the mountain by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone. The boat was over a mile from land, battered by the waves (the wind was against them). At about 3:00am he came toward them walking on the sea. The disciples were terrified, saying, "It's a ghost!" The cried out in fear. Jesus said, "Have courage! Don't be afraid." Peter asked Jesus to prove it was Him by commanding him to walk on water. Jesus said, "Come!" Peter started walking on water to Jesus, but he became afraid and began to sink and cried, "Lord, save me!" Jesus caught him saying, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" The wind ceased when they got in the boat, and those in the boat worshiped Him saying, "Truly You are the Son of God!" Once they crossed the sea they came to Gennesaret. They brought all who were sick to Jesus and they were begging to touch the tassel on His robe. Those who touched it were made perfectly well.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

January 15, 2014 Devotional - Genesis 25 & 26, and Matthew 13

Genesis 25 - Abraham's other sons & death, Ishmael's line, Isaac's line
Abraham took another wife (Keturah) and had six sons: (1) Zimran (2) Jokshan (3) Medan (4) Midian (5) Ishbak (6) Shuah. They also had sons (you can see them here). Abraham gave everything he owned to Isaac, and he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines, but he sent them away from Isaac (east). Abraham lived 175 years, and Isaac and Ishmael buried him where Sarah was (the cave of Machpelah). God blessed Isaac, who lived near Beer-lahai-roi. Then Ishmael's family is outlined (again you can see that here). Ishmael lived 137 years. His family settled from Havilah to Shur (opposite of Egypt). He lived in opposition to all his brothers. Isaac was 40 when he married Rebekah. She was childless, and he prayed to the LORD on her behalf. The LORD heard and she conceived. The children struggled in her womb, God said, "Two nations are in your womb, two people will come from you and be separated. One people will be strong than the other, and the older will serve the younger. The older was named Esau, and the younger Jacob. Isaac was 60 when they were born. Esau became a hunter/outdoorsman, Jacob became a quite man who stayed at home. Isaac loved Esau because of the food he caught. Rebekah loved Jacob. Jacob had cooked a stew and Esau/Edom came home and said, "Let me eat some of that red stuff, because I'm exhausted." Jacob asked him to sell him his birthright, so Esau did, and Esau ate, drank, and left. So, Esau despised his birthright.

Genesis 26 - Covenant with Abraham Reaffirmed with Isaac, Living as a Foreigner, Covenant with Philistines, Esau's wives make life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah.
There was a famine, and Isaac went to Abimelech (of the Philistines in Gerar). The LORD appeared and said not to go to Egypt, but stay in this land as a foreigner, He will be with him and bless him, confirming the oath he swore to Abrahm to make Isaac's offspring as numerous as the stars of the sky. Further, that God will give Isaac's offspring those lands, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed by his offspring, because Abraham, "listened to My voice and kept My mandate, My commands, My statutes, and My instructions." Isaac settled in Gerar. When the men there asked about Rebekah he said she was his sister because he was afraid of being killed because of her beauty. Abimelech (king of the Philistines) saw Isaac caressing her, and asked why he lied. Abimelech said anyone who harms this man or his wife will certainly die. Isaac reaped 100 times what he sowed in farming. The LORD blessed him. He became rich, had livestock and slaves. The Philistines grew envious. They stopped the wells that his father's slaves dug, and Abimelech told him to leave because he was too powerful. Isaac left and reopened the water wells. The herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac over the wells. He moved and dug a new well and named it "open spaces" (Rehoboth), because the LORD made room for them to be fruitful in the land. Isaac then went to Beer-sheba and the LORD appeared to him and reminded him of His covenant. Isaac built an altar there, and called on the name of Yahweh, his slave dug a well there. Abimelech came with Ahuzzath (his advisor) and Phicol (his army commander). They made a covenant with Isaac not to harm each other. Isaac's slaves dug a well the day Abimelech, Ahuzzath, and Phicol left saying, "We have found water!" He called it Sheba, therefore the city is Beer-sheba. Esau was 40 and took Judith (a Hittite) and Basemath (a Hittite) as wives, and they made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah.

Matthew 13 - 8 Parables of the Kingdom, Prophet Without Honor in His Hometown
Jesus went out and large crowds gathered, so he got in a boat and sat to teach the crowd as it stood on shore.

(1) The Sower - A sower sowed seed on the (1) the path - birds came and took it (2) rocky ground - they sprang up quickly since the soil wasn't deep, but the sun scorched them because they had no root, they withered (3) among thorns - the thorns choked them (4) good ground - produced  crop. Anyone who has ears should listen! The parables are the secrets of the kingdom of heaven given for them to know, but it has not been given to them to fulfill Scripture in Isaiah, that looking they do not see, and hearing they do not listen or understand. The eyes of the disciples re blessed because they see, and ears because they hear. The prophets and righteous longed to see what they see and hear what they hear. The seeds (1) on the path - this represents those who hear the word about the kingdom, but don't understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart; (2) on the rocky ground - is one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, but he has no root, when pressure or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately stumbles; (3) among thorns - the one who hears the word, but is seduced by the this age and wealth, and he becomes unfruitful; (4) the good ground - the one who hears and understands the word, and bears fruit.

(2) The Wheat and Weeds - The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed, but while sleeping his enemy sowed weeds. The plants sprouted and produced grin, then the weeds appeared. He told his slaves not to gather the weeds so as not to uproot the wheat, but at harvest to gather the weeds and burn them. They were to gather the wheat in his barn. The One sowing is the Son of Man; the field is the world; the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one sown by the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. Those guilty of lawlessness will be thrown into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. The righteous will shine like the sun in their Father's kingdom.

(3) The Mustard Seed - The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, it's the smallest of all the seeds, but when grown it's a tall tree.

(4) The Yeast - The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that spread through all the flour.

(5) The Hidden Treasure - The kingdom of heaven is like treasure buried in a field that a man found and reburied. Then, in his joy, he sells everything he has and buys the field.

(6) The Priceless Pearl - The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he found one that was priceless, he sold everything he had and bought it.

(7) The Net - The kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown in the sea. I collects all kinds of fish, they dragged it ashore and gathered the good fish into containers and threw the worthless ones out. This is what it will be like at the end of the age. Angels will separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

(8) The Storehouse - Every student of Scripture instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who brings out of his storeroom what is new and old.

When Jesus finished He left. He went to his hometown of Nazareth and taught at the synagogue, they didn't listen because they knew him and his family. The people were offended by Him. Jesus said, "A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his household. He didn't do many miracles because of their unbelief.

January 14, 2014 Devotional - Genesis 23 & 24, and Matthew 12

Genesis 23 - Burying Sarah, and Acquiring the Field, Cave, & Bordering Trees of Machpelah
Sarah lived 127 years and died in Kiriath-arba (Hebron) in Canaan. Abraham asked for a site to bury her from the Hittites. They let him choose anywhere because the said he is God's chosen one among them. He asked for the cave of Machpelah, and would pay full price for it. Ephron the Hittite said yes and tried to refuse payment, but Abraham insisted. The land was worth 400 shekels of silver, and Abraham paid it in the presence of the Hittites. Everything from Ephron's field at Machpelah near Mamre - the field with its cave and all the trees anywhere within the boundaries of the field became Abraham's possession. This is where Abraham buried Sarah.

Genesis 24 - Rebekah & Isaac Marry
Abraham sent his servant to find a wife for Isaac from his family without taking Isaac to his family. If the woman won't come the servant would be free from his oath. The servant took a lot of provisions, and as they stopped for water by Nahor's town (Aram-naharaim), when the women went to draw water. The servant asked God for success and asked for Isaac's bride to be a woman to be one who gives both him and his camels water. Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel, son of Milcah (wife of Abraham's brother Nahor) came along and did just as he asked. The servant gave her a gold nose-ring, 2 bracelets, and asked whose daughter she was, she responded and offered food and lodging for the night. The servant worshiped the LORD for His kindness and mercy in leading him. Rebekah's brother Laban ran out to meet the servant. Laban offered hospitality. The servant told Laban the whole story of what happened. The servant asked if they would show kindness and faithfulness to Abraham, and they said, "This is from the LORD; we have no choice in the matter." And they gave Rebekah to him to go and marry Isaac as the LORD has spoken. The servant bowed to the ground before the LORD, and brought out silver, gold, and garments for Rebekah. He also gave precious gifts to her brother and mother. In the morning he asked to be sent out, but Rebekah's mother asked for them to stay 10 days. He asked them not to delay, so they asked Rebekah's opinion. She said she will go, so they sent her away with her nurse who raised her. They blessed Rebekah, and she and her female servants got up and left. Isaac was returning from Beer-lahai-roi. Early in the morning he went for  walk in the field, and saw camels coming. Rebekah looked up, and when she saw Isaac, she got down from the camel, the servant said it is Isaac, so she veiled herself. The servant told Isaac everything, and Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother (Sarah) and took Rebekah to be his wife. He loved her, and he was comforted after his mother's death.

Matthew 12 - Lord of the Sabbath, Those Who Gather with Jesus will be Forgiven, Trees Are Known by Their Fruit, Jesus Is Greater than Jonah & Solomon, This Generation is like a man Who's Unclean Spirit that was cast out Returned back with 7 More, Jesus' Family are those Who Do the Will of God the Father
Jesus passed through the fields on the Sabbath. They were hungry and picked grain, the Pharisees saw and accused them of breaking the law, Jesus reminded them of when David ate the sacred bread, and that when the priests violate the Sabbath by working in the temple on the Sabbath, but are innocent. Jesus said He's greater than the temple, the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath. Jesus entered their synagogue and healed a paralyzed man on the Sabbath and said it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath. The Pharisees went out and plotted against Jesus, how they might destroy Him. Jesus, aware of this withdrew, huge crowds followed, and He healed them. He warned them not to make Him known, to fulfill Scripture in Isaiah. Jesus healed a demon-possessed man blind and mute. The crowds said, "Perhaps this is the Son of David!" The Pharisees heard and said Jesus drives out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons. Jesus knew their thoughts and said, "Every kingdom divided against itself is headed for destruction...If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? If I drive out demons by Beelzebul, who is it your sons drive them out by? You will be your judges. If I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you. Anyone who is not with Me is against me, anyone who does not gather with Me scatters. Because of this, people will be forgiven every sin and blasphemy, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.

A tree is known by its fruit - good or bad. How can you speak good things when you are evil? The mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart. On the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned. Some scribes and Pharisees wanted Jesus to show a sign. Jesus said no sign will be given but the sign of Jonah, as he was in the belly of a huge fish three days and nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth three days and nights. The men of Ninevah repented at the preaching of Jonah, they will condemn this generation; yet, something greater than Jonah is here. Something greater than Solomon is here. When an unclean spirit returns to a man he came out of, it brings seven others with it, and they enter and settle down in the man again. That man's last condition is far worse than the first, that's how it will be with this generation.

As Jesus was speaking to the crowds His mother and brothers waited outside to speak with Him. Someone told him his family wanted to speak with Him, and he replied, "Who is My mother and My brothers?" He stretched out His hand to His disciples saying, "Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven, that person is My brother and sister and mother."

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

January 13, 2014 Devotional - Genesis 21 & 22, and Matthew 11

Genesis 21 - Birth of Isaac, Sending away of Ishmael, Abraham's Covenant to live in the land of the Philistines 
The Lord did for Sarah as he promised, she became pregnant at God's appointed time - Isaac. Abraham was 100. Sarah saw Isaac mocking Ishmael (son of Hagar the Egyptian), and asked Abraham to drive them out, because Ishmael will not be a coheir with Isaac. This was hard for Abraham, but God told him to not be concerned for them, for He will make Ishmael into a nation as well. Abraham gave them provisions and sent them away. They ran out of provisions, and the Lord heard Ishmael's cry, and the angel of God called her, and promised to make Ishmael a great nation and she saw a well. God was with Ishmael, and he grew; he settled in the wilderness, became an archer, and married an Egyptian. Abimelech and Phicol (the army commander) came to Abraham from the land of the Philistines and they made a covenant swearing an oath not to come against each other, and that Abraham dug a certain well at Beer-sheba. Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beer-sheba and called on the name of Yahweh, the Everlasting God, and he lived in the land of the Philistines for many days.

Genesis 22 - Abraham Willing to Sacrifice Isaac 
God tested Abraham commanding him to go to the land of Moriah to offer Issac as a burnt offering. He obeyed, and took two young men and Isaac. On the 3rd day he arrived at the place. He told his young men to stay with the donkey while he and Isaac go and worship, then they will come back. He laid wood for the burnt offering on Isaac, and he took fire and a sacrificial knife, and they walked together. Isaac asked where the lamb was for the offering, and Abraham responded that the Lord will provide the lamb. Abraham built the altar, arranged the wood, bound Isaac and put him on the altar. He reached out to slaughter Isaac, but the Angel of the Lord called out, "Abraham, Abraham!" He said not to kill him, because he fears God. Then he saw a ram caught in the thicket, and they offered it as a burnt offering. The Angel of the Lord said, "Because you have done this thing and have not withheld your only son, I will indeed bless you and make your offspring as numerous as the stars of the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your offspring will possess the gates of their enemies. And all the nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring because you have obeyed my command." Abraham went back to his young men, and they went back to Beer-sheba, and that's where they settled. The chapter ends with Rebekah's family.

Matthew 11 - Jesus is the One John the Baptist Pointed to 
After Jesus gave orders to the 12 disciples he went to preach and teach in their towns. John the Baptist heard from prison about what Jesus was doing, so he sent a message and asked if He is the one that was to come. Jesus said, "the blind see, the lame walk, and those with skin diseases are healed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news. If anyone is not offended because of Me, he is blessed." Jesus spoke to the crowds that He is far more than a prophet, and the one whom John taught about. John is the Elijah who is to come, none born among women are greater than John. This generation has said John (in not eating or drinking) has a demon, and that the Son of Man is a drunkard and friend of tax collectors and sinners. Jesus then denounced the towns where most of the miracles were done, because they didn't repent, that the day of judgment will be more tolerable for Tyre, Sidon, and even Sodom than them. Jesus praised God for hiding these things from the wise and revealing them to infants. All things have been entrusted to Jesus by His Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son desires to reveal Him. Jesus then commands all who are weary and burdened to come to him, and He will give them rest, He's gentle and humble of heart, and we will find rest.

January 11, 2014 Devotional - Genesis 19 & 20, and Matthew 10

Genesis 19 - Destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah, Lot's lineage - Moabites & Ammonites
The two angels entered Sodom in the evening. When Lot saw them he bowed face to the ground and offered hospitality and lodging. They wanted to sleep in the square, but Lot urged them not to. Before bed, the young and old men of Sodom (the whole population) surrounded the house and asked for the men that they could have sex with them. Lot told them not to and offered his two virgin daughters. They told him to get out of the way saying they'll do more harm to them because Lot is judging them, and he's a foreigner. They put pressure on Lot and came to break down the door, but the angels reached out, and brought Lot in and shut the door. The angels struck the men with a blinding light, so they couldn't find the entrance. The angels told Lot that they are about to destroy the city and to leave with his family. Lot told his sons-in-law to come out with him, but they thought he was joking. At daybreak the angels urged Lot to leave with his wife and two daughters, he hesitated, but because of the LORD's compassion for him, the men grabbed his hand, his wife's, and his two daughters' and brought them out of the city. One angel said, "Run for your lives! Don't look back and don't stop anywhere on the plain! Run to the mountains, or you will be swept away!" He asked if he could run to a close town (Zoar) and they gave the okay. Out of the sky the LORD rained burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah from the LORD. Lot's wife looked back and became a pillar of salt. In the morning Abraham looked to Sodom and Gomorrah and saw smoke going up like a furnace. Lot left Zoar and lived in the mountains with his daughters in a cave. His daughters got him drunk and slept with him to have children "preserving Lot's line". Lot was so drunk he didn't know this happened two nights in a row. Lot's daughters became pregnant. The firstborn had a son named Moab - the father of the Moabites. The younger had a son named Ben-ammi - the father of the the Ammonites.

Genesis 20 - Abimelech 2.0, God Sovereign over Our Ability to Sin, & Over the Womb
Abraham traveled to Negev and settled between Kadesh and Shur. While in Gerar he said Sarah was his sister to king Abimelech (a different one than before). God came to Abimelech in a dream and told him he was about to die because Sarah is married. He appealed to their innocence since he didn't approach her. God said yes, it's because God kept Abimelech from sinning against him, not letting him touch her. God told him to return her to Abraham, because he is a prophet and will pray for the king and the king will live. If he didn't return her he would die. Abimelech obeyed, and asked Abraham why he did this. Abraham said he thought there was no fear of God there, and that they would kill him because of his wife; besides, she really is his sister, the daughter of his father by a different mother. Abimelech took sheep and cattle and male and female slaves and gave them to Abraham, and returned Sarah. He told Abraham to settle anywhere he wants in his land. Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, his wife, and his female slaves so that they could bear children, because the LORD had completely closed all the wombs in Abimelech's household on account of Sarah.

Matthew 10 - 12 Disciples Sent out, Persecutions Predicted 
Jesus gave His 12 disciples authority to drive out unclean spirits, disease and sickness. Here are the names of the 12 apostles: (1) Simon/Peter (2) Andrew (Peter's brother) (3) James (son of Zebedee) (4) John (James' brother) (5) Philip (6) Bartholomew (7) Thomas (8) Matthew (the tax collector) (9) James (son of Alphaeus) (10) Thaddaeus (11) Simon (the zealot) (12) Judas Iscariot (who betrayed Jesus) Jesus sent them out with instructions to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel announcing, "The kingdom of heaven has come near." Also, to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with skin diseases, and drive out demons. He told them to rely on the hospitality of the towns, and not to take anything. If a household let your peace be on it, but if unworthy shake the dust off your feet when you leave. The day of judgment will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah than them. Jesus is sending the disciples out among wolves, so be as shrewd as serpents and harmless as doves. People will hand you to the sanhedrins, governors, and kings because of Jesus, so that we might bear witness to them and the nations about Christ. In these times don't worry about what to say, it will be given, because the Spirit of our heavenly Father will speak through us. Brothers will betray you. Fathers will betray you. Children will betray parents. You will be hated for Jesus' name. The one who endures will be delivered. When persecution comes, escape. They called the the head of the house of God, "Beelzebul," how much more members! Don't be afraid, there is nothing covered that won't be uncovered. Don't fear those who can kill the body, but not the soul, rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Don't be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows. If we acknowledge Christ, we will be acknowledged by Christ before our Father in heaven. Whoever denies Jesus, will also deny him before My Father in heaven. Jesus did not come to bring peace, but a sword. Anyone who finds his life will lose it, and anyone who loses his life because of Jesus will find it. The one who welcomes you welcomes Jesus, His Father, who sent Him. Those who show hospitality will receive a reward.

January 10, 2014 Devotional - Genesis 17 & 18, and Matthew 9

Genesis 17 - God's Covenant with Abraham and Circumcision as a Sign
Abram was 99 and the Lord appeared and said, "I am God Almighty. Live in My presence and be blameless. I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you greatly." Abram fell face down and God said, "As for Me, My covenant is with you: you will become the father of many nations. Your name will no longer be Abram, but your name will be Abraham, for I will make you the father of nations. I will make you extremely fruitful and will make nations and kings come from you. I will keep my covenant between Me nd you, and your future offspring throughout their generations, as an everlasting covenant to be your God and the God of your offspring after you. And to you and your future offspring I will give the land where you are residing - all the land of Canaan - as an eternal possession, and I will be their God." God further said his offspring and anyone living among them must be circumcised as a sign of the covenant. God said to call Sarai "Sarah", and that God would bless her with a son by him. Abraham fell facedown and laughed asking how, and begging for Ishmael to acceptable to God. God said no, and that He would confirm His covenant with his son by Sarah as an everlasting covenant for his future offspring. Ishmael would be blessed and fruitful, but Isaac will be in the covenant God made with Abraham. Abraham then obeyed and had the males of his household circumcised.

Genesis 18 - 3 Men, The LORD, Going to Sodom & Gomorrah for Justice
The LORD appeared to Abraham at the oaks of Mamre, Abraham saw three men. He bowed to them, and offered them hospitality. They stayed and accepted. So Abraham served them with food Sarah prepared as they ate under the tree. The LORD said in a year Sarah would have a son. She overheard and laughed to herself. The LORD asked why did Sarah laugh, "Is anything impossible for the LORD?" She denied laughing, because she was afraid, but God said, "No, you did laugh." The men got up and looked over Sodom as Abraham was walking with them to see them off. The LORD said He should hide what He's going to do from Abraham, then the LORD told Abraham that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah is immense, and He will go down to see it. The men turned and went to Sodom while Abraham remained standing before the LORD. Abraham asked if God would really sweep away the righteous with the wicked. Then Abraham asked God to spare the city if there were 50, 40, 30, 20, and finally 10 righteous people in it, and the LORD agreed not to destroy it if there were that many righteous there. The LORD departed when He was finished speaking, and Abraham returned to his place.

Matthew 9 - Healing, Calling the Sinners, Raising the Dead, Teaching and Preaching, Compassion, Sending Workers in the Harvest 
Jesus took a boat back across to go to His home town. He showed His authority and forgave the paralytic's sins. Some said he was blaspheming, then he healed his paralysis and told him to pick up his mat and go home. He called Matthew, the tax-collector to follow Him, and he followed. Jesus and his disciples ate with tax collectors and sinners, and the Pharisees asked why. Jesus said He came to call the sinners not the righteous. John the Baptist's disciples came and asked why His disciples don't fast. He said they will when the groom is no longer with them. You patch old garments with shrunk cloth, and you put new wine into new wineskins to preserve the wine and the wineskin. On the way to healing a leader's daughter, a woman who suffered from bleeding for 12 years touched the tassel on his robe, and was made well by her faith. The leader's daughter had died, Jesus took her by the hand and she got up. News of this spread through the region. Leaving there, two blind men shouted, "Have mercy on us, Son of David!" They believed Jesus could heal, and Jesus said, "Let it be done according to your faith!" And they were healed. Jesus warned them not to tell. As they were leaving, a demon-possessed man, unable to speak, was brought to Him. Jesus drove the demon out. In amazement the crowds said, "Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel!" The Pharisees said, "He drives out demons by the ruler of the demons!" Jesus went to all the towns and villages. He taught in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness. He felt compassion for the crowds, because they were like sheep with out a shepherd, weary and worn out. He said to His disciples, "The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest."

Saturday, January 11, 2014

January 9, 2014 Devotional - Genesis 15 & 16, and Matthew 8

Genesis 15 - Abrahamic Covenant, Prophecy About Offspring's Enslavement in Egypt 
The LORD said, "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield; your reward will be very great." Abram asked how this could be since a slave in his house was the heir (Eliezar of Damascus). God told him he would have a son for an heir, and that his offspring will number the same as stars in the sky. Abram believed the LORD and it was credited to him as righteousness. Then he asked God how he would know he would posses it. God told him to bring animals, and he did, and split them down the middle and laid the pieces opposite to each other. The sun was setting and Abram fell into a deep sleep, terror and great darkness descended on him. The LORD said Abram's offspring would be strangers in a land and enslaved oppressed there for 400 years, but that He would judge that nation and they will go out with many possessions. They will return because the iniquity of the Amorites has not reached its full measure. When the sun set it was dark and a smoking fire pot and flaming torch passed between the divided animals. The LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, "I give this land to your offspring."

Genesis 16 - Hagar & Ishmael 
Sarai didn't have children yet so she told Abram to lay with her slave, Hagar, to have children. Abram slept with Hagar, and she became pregnant. Because of this, Sarai began to look down on Hagar, and blamed her for her suffering. Abram told Sarai to do whatever she wanted with Hagar. Sarai mistreated her so much that she ran away. The Angel of the Lord found Hagar by a spring of water, and told her she must go back to Sarai and submit to her mistreatment. The Angel of the Lord also told her that he will multiply her offspring so that they will be too many to count. He told her that she will have a son, Ishmael, that he will be wild, and against everyone, and everyone will be against him, he will live at odds with all his brothers. She named the Lord who spoke to her "The God Who Sees", "I have seen here the One who sees me." So she gave birth to Ishmael. At this time Abram was 86 years old. 

Matthew 8 - Healings, Following Jesus, Sovereignty over the Wind and Sea, Sending Demons in Pigs 
Large crowds followed Jesus. He healed a man with a serious skin disease who asked if He was willing. In Capernaum he healed a centurion's servant, and the centurion had more faith than all Jesus had seen in Israel. Jesus said that many will come from east and west to recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, but the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law of her fever. They brought many who were demon-possessed, and He drove out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick to fulfill Scripture in Isaiah, "He took our weaknesses, and carried our diseases." Seeing the large crowds Jesus ordered to go to the other side of the sea. In response to the expressed allegiance of a scribe Jesus said Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head. Another disciple said, "First let me bury my father." Jesus said, "Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead." Jesus got into a boat and the disciples followed. A sudden violent storm arose on the sea. The boat was swamped but Jesus was sleeping. They woke him saying, "Lord, save us! We're going to die!" He said, "Why are you fearful, you of little faith?" He got up, rebuked the wind and the sea, and there was a great calm. The men were amazed and asked, "What kind of man is this? - even the winds and the sea obey Him!" Jesus came to the Gadarenes, and two violent demon-possessed men met him as they came out of the tombs. They shouted, "What do You have to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?" The demons begged to sent into a herd of pigs not far away. Jesus did, and the pigs rushed down the steep bank and perished in the water. The city heard all of this, and the whole town went out to meet Jesus and begged Him to leave their region.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

January 8, 2014 Devotional - Genesis 13 & 14, and Matthew 7

Genesis 13 - Abram Settles in Canaan, Lot Settles in the Jordan Valley 
Abram left Egypt with everyone and everything to the Negeb. Abram was rich with livestock, silver, and gold. He journeyed from the Negeb to the place he was before between Bethel and Ai. He called out to the Lord there (where he had made an altar before). Lot was with him, and the land couldn't support all they both had. At this time the Canaanites and Perizzites were dwelling there. Abram said to Lot that they should separate. Lot went east toward the Jordan Valley toward Zoar. This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Abram settled in the land of Canaan, and Lot among the cities of the valley and moved as far as Sodom. The men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord. The LORD said to Abram to lift his head north, south, east and west, and that that is all the land He is giving to him and his offspring forever. He will make Abram's offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, his offspring can then be counted. He commanded Abram to walk the length of the land, and Abram obeyed, he moved his tent and settled by the oaks of Mamre, and there he built an altar to the Lord.

Genesis 14 - Rescuing Lot, The Blessing of Melchizedek 
First Set: (1) King Amraphel (of Shinar), (2) King Arioch (of Ellasar), (3) King Chedorlaomer (of Elam), and (4) King Tidal (of Goiim);
made war with,
Second Set: (1) King Bera (of Sodom), (2) King Birsha (of Gomorra), (3) King Shinab (of Admah), (4) King Shemeber (of Zeboiim), and (5) King Bela (of Zoar).

The first set joined forces, but then in 13 years rebelled against Chedorlaomer. In the 14th year Chedorlaomer and the kings with him defeated, Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim, Zuzim in Ham, and Horites in Seir. They then came to Kadesh and defeated the Amalekites and Amorites in Hazazon-tamar. The second set went out and joined battle in the Valley of Siddim with the first set of kings. Four against five. As the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some fell into bitumen pits, and the rest fled to the hill country. The enemy took the possessions of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the also took Lot who was dwelling in Sodom.

One who escaped told Abram the Hebrew (who was dwelling among his own allies). When Abram heard about Lot he led 318 of his trained men in pursuit to Dan. They attacked by night, and defeated them. He brought back all the possessions and Lot along with the women and the people. After defeating Chedorlaomer, the king of Sodom went out to meet him, and Melchizedek (king of Salem and priest of God Most High) brought out bread and wine. Melchizedek blessed him: "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!" Abram gave Melchizedek 10% of everything. Abram gave all the people and possessions back to the king of Sodom, so no one could say they were the source of Abram's wealth.

Matthew 7 - Judging, Asking/Searching/Knocking, Entering the Kingdom, Two Foundations 
Jesus commands not to judge so that we won't be judged, the judgment we use will be used to used to judge us. We are to deal with the "logs" in our own eyes first, and only then can we then see clearly to take the "speck" out of our brother's eye. We are not to give what is holy to dogs, or toss pearls before pigs; they will trample them with their feet and turn to tear us to pieces.

Jesus commands us to keep asking, and it will be given; searching, and we will find; and knocking, and the door will be opened to us. Who will give stones to his son when he asks for bread; or gives a snake when his son asks for a fish? If we who are evil know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more will our Father in heaven give good things to those of us who ask? Whatever you want others to do for you, do the same for them; this is the Law and the Prophets.

Jesus commands to enter through the narrow gate. The gate is wide, and the road is narrow that leads to destruction. Many go through it. The road and gate that leads to life is narrow, and few find it. We must beware of false prophets who are ravaging wolves in sheep's clothing. Good prophets will bear good fruit, every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. We'll recognize false prophets by their fruit. Not everyone who says to Jesus, "Lord, Lord!" will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of His Father in heaven. On that day, many will say to Jesus, "Lord, Lord, didn't we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in your name?" Then Jesus will announce to them, "I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!"

Anyone who acts on Jesus' words will be like a builder who built his house on the rock. The house didn't collapse when the weather came, because the foundation was on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Jesus and doesn't act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. When weather came it had a great collapse. When Jesus finished this sermon the crowds were astonished at His teaching, because he was teaching with authority, not like their scribes.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

January 7 - Excursus on the Births and Deaths from Noah to Abram

Similar to the excursus on January 3rd I thought I'd do a similar one today from Noah through Abram. Interesting stuff. Noah was alive during the first 60 years of Abram's life, 40 years before Isaac was born.

January 7, 2014 Devotional - Genesis 11 & 12, and Matthew 6

Genesis 11 - Tower of Babylon, Generations from Shem to Abram
The whole earth had the same language. As people migrated east the found the land of Shinar and settled there (Modern day - Iran). The came together and made bricks and they used asphalt for mortar. They built a city with a tower with its top in the sky. They did this to "make a name for themselves, in order to avoid being scattered over the face of the earth. The LORD came down looked over the city and said, "If, as one people all having the same language, they have begun to do this, then nothing they play to do will be impossible for them. Come, let Us go down there and confuse their language so that they will not understand one another's speech." The Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth, and they stopped building the city. Its name is Babylon. Then Genesis 10 outlines the generations from Shem to Abram:
Shem lived 600 years - had Arpachshad at 100 (2 years after the flood)
Arpachshad lived 438 years - had Shelah at 35
Shelah lived 433 years - had Eber at 30
Eber lived 464 years - had Peleg at 34
Peleg lived 239 years - had Reu at 30
Reu lived 239 years - had Serug at 32
Serug lived 230 years - had Nahor at 30
Nahor lived 148 years - had Terah at 29
Terah lived 275 years - had Abram, Nahor, and Haran at 70
Haran fathered Lot, Milcah, and Iscah, and then he died in his native land, Ur of the Chaldeans (possibly modern day Iraq). Abram married Sarai. Nahor married his niece Milcah. Terah and his sons' families set out of Ur of the Chaldeans to settle in Canaan, but they settled in Haran (modern day Turkey or Syria).

Genesis 12 - The Call to Abram & Time in Egypt
The LORD said to Abram, to go out of his land, away from relatives to a land He will show him. The LORD promised Abram that he will make him into a great nation, bless him, make his name great, and that he will be a blessing. The LORD said he would bless those who bless him, and curse those who treat him with contempt. At 75 years old Abram obeyed and left Haran for Canaan with Sarai and Lot, they also took all their possessions and the people he had acquired in Haran. They passed Shechem, at the oak of Moreh (in Canaan). There were Canaanites in the land, but the LORD told Abram He would give him the land to Abram's offspring. Abram built an altar there. Then he moved to the hill country east of Bethel and pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. He built an altar there to the LORD and worshiped Him. Then Abram journeyed to the Negev. There was a famine, so Abram went to Egypt for a while. Knowing of Sarai's beauty they devised a scheme to say she was his sister so they wouldn't kill him. They did this when they encountered Pharaoh, so Sarai was taken to Pharaoh's house. Abram acquired livestock and slaves from this. The LORD struck Pharaoh's house with plagues though, so he brought Abram in and confronted him about not telling him Sarai was his wife. So he gave Sarai back to Abram, and sent them away.  

Matthew 6 - Giving, Praying, Fasting, Possessions, Anxiety
Jesus warns to not practice righteousness in front of people to be seen by them, otherwise there will be no reward from your Father in heaven. Don't sound the trumpet when you give. When you give, don't let your left hand know what your right is doing, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Jesus warns not to pray in order to be seen, but to go into a private room and shut the door. Pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Don't babble in your prayers like idolaters. Your Father knows the things you need before you ask Him. Jesus gives us a model prayers: "Our Father in heaven, your name be honored as holy. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen."

Jesus warns not to fast like hypocrites for others to see, altering your physical appearance, so it's obvious to people. When you fast, put oil on your head, and wash your face, so you don't show your fasting. Do it in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Jesus warns not to collect treasures on earth, but treasures in heaven. Where your treasure is your heart is also. If your eye is bad your whole body will be full of darkness. You can't be slave to two masters - God and money.

Jesus encourages us not to worry about our life, what we will eat or drink, our body, or what we will wear. God cares for us more than the animals and flowers, we aren't even sovereign over ourselves. Idolaters eagerly seek food, water, and clothing, but we must seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these will be provided for us. Don't worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself.

Monday, January 06, 2014

January 6, 2014 Devotional - Genesis 9 & 10, and Matthew 5

Genesis 9 - God's Covenant with Noah
God blessed Noah and his sons and told them to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth. He put a fear of man in the animals, and put the animals under man's authority. The animals will be food for them (like plants). God forbid them to eat the lifeblood of the animals. God told them to understand that He is confirming His covenant with them and their descendants, and with the animals to never again wipe out all life with a flood. God gave them a covenant sign of a bow (rainbow) in the clouds as a sign of the covenant between Him and the earth. Whenever clouds are formed and the bow appears, He will remember the everlasting covenant. The whole earth was populated from Noah and his sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Noah was a farmer. He drank some wine and got drunk, and lay naked in his tent. Ham, father of Canaan, saw Noah naked and told his brothers outside. Shem and Japheth walked backwards (so they wouldn't see their dad naked) with a cloak to cover up Noah. When Noah woke up and learned what Ham did he said, "Canaan will be cursed, he will be the lowest of slaves to his brothers." He also said, "Praise the LORD, the God of Shem; Canaan will be his slave. God will extend Japheth, he will dwell in the tents of Shem; Canaan will be his slave. Noah lived 350 years after the flood and lived to be 950.

Genesis 10 - Table of Nations
This chapter outlines the generations of Noah's sons and the regions where each one grew.
(1) Japheth's line is described as the coastland peoples. Modern day geography: Possibly as far west as Spain and Italy, through Turkey to the Caspian Sea through Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and northern Iran.
(2) Ham's line is described as being in the territory of Sidon to Gaza toward Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim and Lasha. Modern day geography: Northeastern Africa down the Nile River through Egypt to northern Sudan; around the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden (Saudi Arabia and Yemen); along the coast of Gaza along the Mediterranean Sea (Israel, Lebanon, Syria); and down the Euphrates to southern Iraq.
(3) Shem's line is described as being in the territory of Mesha to Sephar to the hill country of the east. Modern day geography: Western Turkey near the Aegean Sea, Syria, Iraq, the bottom of the Arabian Peninsula (Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Oman), and in Africa (Djibouti, just east of northern Ethiopia/north of Somalia, across the Red Sea from Yemen).  If you want to see the names in the genealogical lines more specifically, I wrote them out a while ago here: Genesis Chapter 10 ~ The Generations After Noah. Below is a helpful graphic from the ESV Study Bible (pg. 67) showing a map of where all of these places are in Central Asia.

Matthew 5 - Beattitudes, Salt & Light, Christ Fulfills the Law: 
Murder, Adultery, Divorce, Truth, Patience/Generosity, Love enemies
When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain. After He sat down, His disciples came to Him, and He taught them:
(1) Blessed are the poor in spirit, the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
(2) Blessed are those who mourn, they will be comforted.
(3) Blessed are the gentle, they will inherit the earth.
(4) Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, they will be filled.
(5) Blessed are the merciful, they will be shown mercy.
(6) Blessed are the pure in heart, they will see God.
(7) Blessed are the peacemakers, they will be called sons of God.
(8) Blessed are the persecuted for righteousness, the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
(9) Blessed are you when they insult and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of Jesus. Your reward is great in heaven.

You are the salt of the earth, salt that loses it's taste is worthless and should be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world, giving light before all men, so that they can see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Jesus came to fulfill the law and prophets. Until heaven and earth pass away not one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all things are accomplished. Whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever practices these will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Unless one's righteousness surpasses that of the Scribes and Pharisees he or she will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus tells us, that everyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. If you call someone "Fool!" or "Moron!" you will be subject to hellfire. If you are offering your gift at the altar [worshiping God] and you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift. First go and be reconciled to your brother, then offer your gift.

Jesus tells us, that everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out, throw it away, same with your right hand. It is better to lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to go into hell! Jesus tells us, that everyone who divorces his wife, except in a case of sexual immorality, causes her to commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Jesus tells us, don't take an oath at all: either by heaven (God's throne) or by earth (God's footstool) or by Jerusalem (the city of God's appointed King). Don't swear by your head, because you aren't even sovereign over the color of your hair (naturally speaking). Let your "yes" be "yes", and "no" be "no". Anything else is from the evil one.

Jesus tells us, not to resist an evildoer. If someone slaps you on the right cheek to turn the left to him also. If someone sues you for your shirt, give him your coat as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go two. Give to the one who asks, and don't turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Jesus tells us, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He's sovereign over the sun rising over evil and good. He sovereignly sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous. Even the evil and unbelievers love those who love them. Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

January 4, 2014 Devotional - Genesis 7 & 8, and Matthew 4

Genesis 7 – The Flood Begins 
The Lord commanded Noah to enter the ark with his family, and 7 pairs of clean animals and 1 pair of the unclean animals. The Lord made it rain 40 days and 40 nights and water burst forth from the sources of the watery depths to kill every living thing. Noah was 600 when the flood came. The water even covered the high mountains by more than 20 feet. Every living thing on dry land perished, and the waters surged 150 days.

Genesis 8 – The Flood Recedes 
God remembered Noah and the animals and caused the waters to subside. After 150 days the waters receded and the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. Noah sent out a raven that never came back, but when he sent out a dove, it came back because there was nowhere for it to land. He sent it out a second time, and it came back with an olive leaf. The Lord told Noah to come out with his family and the animals, and when they did Noah built an altar to the Lord and offered burnt offerings of every kind of clean animal on the altar. When God smelled the pleasing aroma he said to himself to never again curse the ground because of man, even though man’s inclination is to evil from his youth. Further, that he will never again strike down every living thing as he had done.

Matthew 4 - Temptation of Jesus & Beginning of Jesus' Ministry 
Jesus was led by the Spirit to the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. After fasting 40 days and 40 nights the tempter (1) told Jesus to turn stones to bread. Jesus responded with Scripture to live not on bread alone but God's word. Then the tempter (2) told Jesus to throw himself off the temple because Scriptures says He wouldn't strike His foot. Jesus responded with Scripture not to test the Lord your God. Then the tempter (3) told Jesus to worship him and he would give Him all the kingdoms of the world. Jesus responded with Scripture to worship the Lord your God alone. After this the Devil left Jesus and angels came and served Him. Jesus heard that John the Baptist had been arrested, and He left Nazareth to fulfill the Scripture in Isaiah, and from then on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!" As He was walking he called the brothers Peter and Andrew when they were fishing. He said, "Follow me...and I will make you fish for people!" The immediately dropped their nets and followed. Then He saw two other brothers, James and John. When Jesus called they immediately left the boat and their father and followed Jesus. Jesus was going all over Galilee preaching the good news of the kingdom in Synagogues, and healing every disease. News spread about Him in Syria, so they brought to him those who were sick with diseases, and He healed them. Large crowds followed Him from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.