Monday 30 June, 2014

Matthew 6:1-4

6 “Be careful not to do ‘good works’ in front of others. Don’t do them to be seen by others. If you do, your Father in heaven will not reward you. 2 “When you give to needy people, do not announce it by having trumpets blown. Do not be like those who only pretend to be holy. They announce what they do in the synagogues and on the streets. They want to be honored by others. What I’m about to tell you is true. They have received their complete reward. 3 “When you give to the needy, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. 4 Then your giving will be done secretly. Your Father will reward you. He sees what you do secretly.

Jesus knows my heart. He knows that I will struggle with my motives if the good deeds I do are broadcast. He wisely teaches me to be generous, to give to the poor, to look to the needs of others – for His sake and for their sake – not for my good reputation. The truth is when I respond in generosity to the needs of others it is tempting to blow my own trumpet. To bolster my self esteem in gaining the good regard of others.

But I am heeding this warning again today. My Heavenly Father sees what I do. That is enough. My reputation is in His hands. If I do what He commands me to do – then I will be content. It is His opinion that is most important and He has spoken.

Lord help me listen and hear you when you speak and then keep listening and keeping hearing you so I can faithfully trust and obey You in this.

Written by Ps. Linda Quinn

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Sunday 29 June, 2014

Matthew 5:43-48

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor. (Leviticus 19:18) Hate your enemy.’ 44 But here is what I tell you. Love your enemies. Pray for those who hurt you. 45 Then you will be sons of your Father who is in heaven. “He causes his sun to shine on evil people and good people. He sends rain on those who do right and those who don’t. 46 “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Even the tax collectors do that. 47 If you greet only your own people, what more are you doing than others? Even people who are ungodly do that. 48 So be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Love your enemy. Not an easy thing to hear or to do. But it’s not just your enemy, it’s the slightly annoying person and the person who only takes from us. God wants us to bring His love to everyone we meet. I know for me that is quite challenging. I don’t know how to love everyone. Knowing what God means by love is one step in understanding how to live this out. Remembering what God means in all our encounters. Treating everyone we meet with respect, grace, mercy and kindness – that is the basis of bringing God’s love to all.

Thanks Lord that You love each of us with an amazing love and that means You treat us with respect, grace, mercy and kindness. Help us to remember how You feel about us so that we can treat those we encounter the same way. Give us a clearer picture of what being loved by You means so that we can share it better.

Written by Therese Manning

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Saturday 28 June, 2014

Matthew 5:38-42

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye must be put out for an eye. A tooth must be knocked out for a tooth.’ (Exodus 21:24; Leviticus 24:20; Deuteronomy 19:21) 39 But here is what I tell you. Do not fight against an evil person. “Suppose someone hits you on your right cheek. Turn your other cheek to him also. 40 Suppose someone takes you to court to get your shirt. Let him have your coat also. 41 Suppose someone forces you to go one mile. Go two miles with him. 42 “Give to the one who asks you for something. Don’t turn away from the one who wants to borrow something from you.

Jesus is continuing to correct misinterpretations of God’s law and character – how do we respond when we are hurt be it physical, emotional or financial? Jesus is speaking to not just what has been taught to His audience but to our very natures.

I know I have wanted to hurt others physically when they have hurt me physically and hurt emotionally when I have been hurt emotionally – it’s like an automatic response .. there is something very elemental about wanting to get even & retaliate.

Jesus is saying that God’s Kingdom doesn’t operate in that way – it operates from a position giving, kindness and loving – not because we are giving in or becoming ‘door mats’ but from choice. It takes a completely different kind of person not to retaliate but to give.

Father, I am undone – help me to live the Gospel = loving and giving more consistently in my life .. Holy Spirit I need your help to choose to respond in the opposite spirit – in the Spirit of the Kingdom of God.  Amen.

Written by Suzie Hodgson

 

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Friday 27 June, 2014

Matthew 5:33-37

33 “Again, you have heard what was said to your people long ago. They were told, ‘Do not break the promises you make to the Lord. Keep the oaths you have made to him.’ 34 But here is what I tell you. Do not make any promises like that at all. Do not make them in the name of heaven. That is God’s throne. 35 Do not make them in the name of the earth. That is the stool for God’s feet. Do not make them in the name of Jerusalem. That is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not take an oath in the name of your head. You can’t make even one hair white or black. 37 “Just let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes.’ Let your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more than this comes from the evil one.

In the Old Testament law a vow was a promise made to God and these were required to be kept. This passage refers to promises people made to others. Jesus says here that we are not to take oaths or swear by anything, especially not God or anything else which belongs to Him. In those times people were afraid to swear by God in fear of the consequences if they broke their promise, so they used things like heaven or Jerusalem instead, and even their own bodies. Jesus asks how can we bargain with any of these things which belong not to us but to God. This is what ‘taking the name of The Lord in vain’ means.
The message is simple: the ‘word’ of a person of Godly integrity is enough. We either keep our word, or we don’t. Everything we do and say is witnessed by God, whether we swear by Him as our witness or not. Jesus wants us to be trustworthy, and to respect others by keeping to our word.
Heavenly Father please help me to honour you by honouring my promises to people. I want to so live that my word can be relied on. Teach me to know the right thing to do and to act on that with integrity. Amen

Written by Dimity Milne

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Thursday 26 June, 2014

Matthew 5:27-32

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ (Exodus 20:14) 28 But here is what I tell you. Do not even look at a woman in the wrong way. Anyone who does has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 “If your right eye causes you to sin, poke it out and throw it away. Your eye is only one part of your body. It is better to lose it than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 “If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. Your hand is only one part of your body. It is better to lose it than for your whole body to go into hell. 31 “It has been said, ‘Suppose a man divorces his wife. If he does, he must give her a letter of divorce.’ (Deuteronomy 24:1) 32 But here is what I tell you. Anyone who divorces his wife causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who gets married to the divorced woman commits adultery. A man may divorce his wife only if she has not been faithful to him.

Jesus uses some very powerful words in this passage.

The one goal in our life is to conform to the will of God, and be prepared to sacrifice whatever stands in the way of this goal.

Righteousness before God involves responding to every situation that fulfills God’s law, externally and internally.

Jesus says evil springs from our heart, that is why the sin of adultery must be first dealt with in the heart – the place of our emotions, also the mind, will, thoughts and intentions.

Jesus gives grace and power to those who seek to follow his way of holiness in their state of life — whether they are married or single. If we want to live righteously we must understand the intention of God’s commands and decide in our heart to obey the Lord.  God writes His law on our hearts and gives us His power to live his way of righteousness and holiness.

Do we trust in God’s love and allow his Holy Spirit to fill us with a thirst for righteousness and holiness? Jesus is urging us to choose life – a relationship with God, as opposed to a miserable life separated from the presence of God.

Lord, begin a new work of love within me.  Give me a burning desire to live a life of righteousness and holiness. Instill in me a greater love for your commandments. Purify and transform me that I may be fully conformed into the likeness of Christ.

Written by Cathy Croft

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Wednesday 25 June, 2014

Matthew 5:21-26

21 “You have heard what was said to people who lived long ago. They were told, ‘Do not commit murder. (Exodus 20:13) Anyone who murders will be judged for it.’ 22 But here is what I tell you. Do not be angry with your brother. Anyone who is angry with his brother will be judged. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ must stand trial in the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire in hell. 23 “Suppose you are offering your gift at the altar. And you remember that your brother has something against you. 24 Leave your gift in front of the altar. First go and make peace with your brother. Then come back and offer your gift. 25 “Suppose someone has a claim against you and is taking you to court. Settle the matter quickly. Do it while you are still with him on your way. If you don’t, he may hand you over to the judge. The judge may hand you over to the officer. And you may be thrown into prison. 26 What I’m about to tell you is true. You will not get out until you have paid the very last penny!

Wow God’s standards are high! This passage certainly shows the importance God places on being reconciled with those we have grievances with ie. sort it with them before coming before me in my house.   The Scripture also asks us as believers to take the initiative in regards to settling differences. Not only this, but do it quickly before things get out of hand.

Even the most mature of Christians would grapple with this passage of Scripture! Let’s face it most believers don’t go around committing murder but who doesn’t get angry at times? In anger, words that can kill may be used. It is possible to really wound someone with the words that come out our mouths and for this reason we face judgement. Often things are said in the heat of the moment that can really belittle and damage another person. The effects go way beyond what we ever intended. Serious stuff indeed, that is why I think it is liken it to murder. Such a challenging passage because when you are angry it can be all consuming and hard to think ahead to possible consequences.

Dear God, please help me to patient and not hurt others when I am angry. Please also help me to quickly settle differences with others, even if I didn’t cause the issue. Amen.

Written by Ainslie Woods

1 (reply)
  1. Andrew Mellor says:

    Great thoughts Ainslie, ‘our words can kill’ is a great reminder to take a deep breath with mouth closed, like putting the safety on a gun.
    So good

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Tuesday 24 June, 2014

Matthew 5:17-20

17 “Do not think I have come to get rid of what is written in the Law or in the Prophets. I have not come to do that. Instead, I have come to give full meaning to what is written. 18 What I’m about to tell you is true. Heaven and earth will disappear before the smallest letter disappears from the Law. Not even the smallest stroke of a pen will disappear from the Law until everything is completed. 19 “Do not break even one of the least important commandments. And do not teach others to break them. If you do, you will be called the least important person in the kingdom of heaven. Instead, practice and teach these commands. Then you will be called important in the kingdom of heaven. 20 “Here is what I tell you. You must be more godly than the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. If you are not, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Jews knew that they have to obey all God’s Law, no exception. That was the qualification for them to enter the kingdom of heaven. However, Pharisees or teachers of the Law will break one of the least of these commandments and teach others to do the same so they can enter the kingdom of heaven, because they then obey “ALL” God’s law.

When Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount, he clearly told the people, he did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets (different from the Pharisees and Teachers), but to fulfill them.

Sounds like Jesus was crazy, how can He fulfill all of God’s law without breaking or modifying any of the commandments? How could the people’s righteous ever be better than the Pharisees and Teachers of Law? They were missing the central point of God’s law themselves.

The challenge of this passage to me is:

  1. Do I understand the true meaning of God’s Law?
  2. How am I doing at obeying God’s law myself?
  3. Do I teach others to obey God’s law without doing it myself?

Dear Lord, you are my saviour. Thank you for coming to the world and showing me the true meaning of God’s law. Keep reminding me that a person is righteous inwardly not outwardly as the true sacrifices to You are a broken or humble spirit not sacrifices of animals or keeping a long list of rules. Amen.

Written by Allen Leu

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Monday 23 June, 2014

Matthew 4:23-5:16

23 Jesus went all over Galilee. There he taught in the synagogues. He preached the good news of God’s kingdom. He healed every illness and sickness the people had. 24 News about him spread all over Syria. People brought to him all who were ill with different kinds of sicknesses. Some were suffering great pain. Others were controlled by demons. Some were shaking wildly. Others couldn’t move at all. And Jesus healed all of them. 25 Large crowds followed him. Some people came from Galilee, from the area known as the Ten Cities, and from Jerusalem and Judea. Others came from the area across the Jordan River. 5 Jesus saw the crowds. So he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to teach them. He said, 3 “Blessed are those who are spiritually needy. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them. 4 Blessed are those who are sad. They will be comforted. 5 Blessed are those who are free of pride. They will be given the earth. 6 Blessed are those who are hungry and thirsty for what is right. They will be filled. 7 Blessed are those who show mercy. They will be shown mercy. 8 Blessed are those whose hearts are pure. They will see God. 9 Blessed are those who make peace. They will be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who suffer for doing what is right. 11 “Blessed are you when people make fun of you and hurt you because of me. You are also blessed when they tell all kinds of evil lies about you because of me. 12 Be joyful and glad. Your reward in heaven is great. In the same way, people hurt the prophets who lived long ago. 13 “You are the salt of the earth. But suppose the salt loses its saltiness. How can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything. It will be thrown out. People will walk all over it. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill can’t be hidden. 15 Also, people do not light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand. Then it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 “In the same way, let your light shine in front of others. Then they will see the good things you do. And they will praise your Father who is in heaven.

Wow what a passage of Scripture!!!  So rich, so meaningful how can one do justice to it in a few short thoughts – yet here is Jesus wanting people to understand that He is the source of blessing to people and that if we would simply listen and apply these words blessing will be the result, blessing will be ours!

Blessing is ours if we obey these words – but there’s the rub – obedience.  All too often blessing is discussed in a trite and shallow manner, yet here we see blessing associated with some of the deepest emotions, deepest actions that we can experience.  I love how Jesus grapples with the depths of life and doesn’t resort to populist notions of blessing so often equated with the state of our finances!

Indeed many may even look on our lives and decide we are not blessed if we are persecuted – yet Jesus gives a kingdom value quite the opposite!

So what does this mean to me – well this passage arrests me and causes me to ask another question and dig a little deeper to ensure that my superficial readings of blessing are not based on worldly principles and practices and that they are measured next to these principles.  I also find myself seeking to apply them with courageous obedience so that I would know blessing – blessing as God intends for my life!

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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Sunday 22 June, 2014

Matthew 4:12-22

12 John had been put in prison. When Jesus heard about this, he returned to Galilee. 13 Jesus left Nazareth. He went to live in the city of Capernaum. It was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali. 14 In that way, what the prophet Isaiah had said came true. He had said, 15 “Land of Zebulun! Land of Naphtali! Galilee, where non-Jewish people live! Land along the Mediterranean Sea! Territory east of the Jordan River! 16 The people who are now living in darkness will see a great light. They are now living in a very dark land. But a light will shine on them.” (Isaiah 9:1,2) 17 From that time on Jesus began to preach. “Turn away from your sins!” he said. “The kingdom of heaven is near.” 18 One day Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee. There he saw two brothers. They were Simon Peter and his brother Andrew. They were throwing a net into the lake. They were fishermen. 19 “Come. Follow me,” Jesus said. “I will make you fishers of people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him. 21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers. They were James, son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee. As they were preparing their nets, Jesus called out to them. 22 Right away they left the boat and their father and followed Jesus.

Spiritual attack and bad news has a tendency to precede Kingdom opportunities and blessing. Here’s the process for Jesus..

– Temptation and hunger Matt 4:1-11

– Bad news (John the Baptist arrested) v12

– Gospel gets preached for the first time v17

– First disciples are called and respond immediately. V19. The spread of the gospel began!

The rest is history. The world is forever changed – I am here, saved, rescued, free from hell and death because of these events.

Jesus wasn’t derailed by bad news. He didn’t fall apart or give up when temptation came. He understood the process. He was prepared to combat it head on. And He knew something extraordinary was just around the corner.

Lord Jesus, please grant me your resilience and perception. Give me the tools to stay strong and never give up. Help me see the blessing that’s just around the corner.

Amen

Written by Boudy Van Noppen

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Saturday 21 June, 2014

Matthew 4:1-11

4 The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert. There the devil tempted him. 2 After 40 days and 40 nights of going without eating, Jesus was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him. He said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written, ‘Man doesn’t live only on bread. He also lives on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Deuteronomy 8:3) 5 Then the devil took Jesus to the holy city. He had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. It is written, “‘The Lord will command his angels to take good care of you. They will lift you up in their hands. Then you won’t trip over a stone.’” (Psalm 91:11,12) 7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Deuteronomy 6:16) 8 Finally, the devil took Jesus to a very high mountain. He showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 “If you bow down and worship me,” he said, “I will give you all of this.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Get away from me, Satan! It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God. He is the only one you should serve.’” (Deuteronomy 6:13) 11 Then the devil left Jesus. Angels came and took care of him.

No matter how many times I read this passage about Christ being tempted, I still struggle to some extent to grapple with the idea of the tension between Christ’s humanity and his divinity in respect to temptation.

Even though I feel like my ability to comprehend the complexity of what was going on is so limited, I am still so encouraged and amazed by this passage of scripture that demonstrates and describes what Hebrews 4 states: we do not worship a God who is unable to empathise with our weaknesses, but one who was tempted in every way, without sin.

God, fill us with Your scripture and Your Spirit, so that when we are tempted, we will have the right tools to resist and the source of power that we need to sustain that resistance.

Written by Ps. Justin Ware

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