Saturday 20 September, 2014

Matthew 26:17-25

17 It was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The disciples came to Jesus. They asked, “Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover meal?” 18 He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man. Tell him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover at your house with my disciples.”’” 19 So the disciples did what Jesus had told them to do. They prepared the Passover meal. 20 When evening came, Jesus was at the table with the Twelve. 21 While they were eating, he said, “What I’m about to tell you is true. One of you will hand me over to my enemies.” 22 The disciples became very sad. One after the other, they began to say to him, “It’s not I, Lord, is it?” 23 Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will hand me over. 24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But how terrible it will be for the one who hands over the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” 25 Judas was the one who was going to hand him over. He said, “It’s not I, Rabbi, is it?” Jesus answered, “Yes. It is you.”

Jesus foreknew all that was about to happen. From the smaller stuff, where to find the guy whose home was used to celebrate the Passover, to the far more serious fact that one of his followers would betray him. That disciple was Judas Iscariot. Jesus also foretells his death.

I imagine the disciples would have been unsettled with the information Jesus was sharing with them. In this private and intimate setting away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds, the disciples learn that one of them is a traitor and they are told that Jesus must die. Bound to put you off your food! It was not a happy occasion, they were greatly distressed.

I find it fascinatingly honest that each disciple thought they might be the one to betray Jesus. Each one asks, “Is it me Lord?” Jesus knew them better than they knew themselves. Each disciple knew they could let Jesus down and were upfront about the possibility. There was transparency and true relationship around that Passover table. Looking Jesus in the eye, bearing your soul and having the courage to ask “Is it me?” I feel a sense of relief when I read this as there have been times when I have let the Lord down. No doubt I’ll do it in the future again too. Just part of being human. Nonetheless Jesus shared his knowledge and continued to keep the disciples in God’s plan for the future. How good is God! It’s the same with believers today. I’m also drawn to the kind of intimacy and honesty expressed around the Passover table. Something to aspire too!

Dear Lord, you know me so well and desire to use me just the same. Thank You.

Written by Ainslie Woods

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Friday 19 September, 2014

Matthew 26:6-16

6 Jesus was in Bethany. He was in the home of a man named Simon, who had a skin disease. 7 A woman came to Jesus with a special sealed jar of very expensive perfume. She poured the perfume on his head while he was at the table. 8 When the disciples saw this, they became angry. “Why this waste?” they asked. 9 “The perfume could have been sold at a high price. The money could have been given to poor people.” 10 Jesus was aware of this. So he said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 You will always have poor people with you. But you will not always have me. 12 She poured the perfume on my body to prepare me to be buried. 13 What I’m about to tell you is true. What she has done will be told anywhere this good news is preached all over the world. It will be told in memory of her.” 14 One of the Twelve went to the chief priests. His name was Judas Iscariot. 15 He asked, “What will you give me if I hand Jesus over to you?” So they counted out 30 silver coins for him. 16 From then on, Judas watched for the right time to hand Jesus over to them.

Wow now here is extravagance!

Mark’s and John’s accounts refer to this being a year’s wages, in today’s terms that is $79000 according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics for May 2014!  That’s one expensive bottle of perfume.

I would have recoiled with the sense of the waste – but Jesus embraces the anointing for burial!  Perhaps I am too spiritual for Jesus – I know that sounds silly, but all too often I have very different standards to Jesus – here is one of them!  And my standards are not always lesser – at least in my eyes but perhaps they are poorly focused – like in this case.  The cries of those around Jesus were seemingly righteously focused, the alleviation of poverty and distress – yet Jesus calls theme to focus on Him.

This leads me to ask – where do I have differing standards to Jesus – higher, so called, or lesser.  Where am I too spiritual for my own good and the good of the Gospel?  How easily do I embrace those who are different, sinners, the up-and-out, the down-and-out?  Where do I use my money well and where as waste?  Am I focused on Jesus?  This event seems to be a turning point for Judas and his preparedness to follow Jesus.  So I ask where am I affronted by Jesus and what is my response – do I up and leave or by faith follow even when I do not understand?

Father – give me faith to follow, even when I do not understand.   Help me to truly embrace You so that I can be Your light in the darkness that surrounds me.

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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Thursday 18 September, 2014

Matthew 26:1-5

26 Jesus finished saying all these things. Then he said to his disciples, 2 “As you know, the Passover Feast is two days away. The Son of Man will be handed over to be nailed to a cross.” 3 Then the chief priests met with the elders of the people. They met in the palace of Caiaphas, the high priest. 4 They made plans to arrest Jesus in a clever way. They wanted to kill him. 5 “But not during the Feast,” they said. “The people may stir up trouble.”

I love that Jesus will always “tell it like it is”. “The Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified”. No fluff. Straight to the point.

Such a stark contrast in this passage to the other characters mentioned -the Jewish Leaders. Words like plotting, secretly. There’s the stench of manipulation as the evil plot is devised around the Passover so people wouldn’t  riot against them.

Jesus is so not like that. He says it like it is. His voice is very firm but very kind. He never manipulates, embellishes the truth or uses ambiguity. He is direct and to the point and completely trustworthy.

I’m so glad my God is like that.

Help me recognise Your voice more easily Lord. And may my confidence in your character grow to a point that I obey your voice without a moments hesitation. Amen

Written by Boudy van Noppen

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Wednesday 17 September, 2014

Matthew 25:31-46

31 “The Son of Man will come in all his glory. All the angels will come with him. Then he will sit on his throne in the glory of heaven. 32 All the nations will be gathered in front of him. He will separate the people into two groups. He will be like a shepherd who separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep to his right and the goats to his left. 34 “Then the King will speak to those on his right. He will say, ‘My Father has blessed you. Come and take what is yours. It is the kingdom prepared for you since the world was created. 35 I was hungry. And you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty. And you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger. And you invited me in. 36 I needed clothes. And you gave them to me. I was sick. And you took care of me. I was in prison. And you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the people who have done what is right will answer him. ‘Lord,’ they will ask, ‘when did we see you hungry and feed you? When did we see you thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you as a stranger and invite you in? When did we see you needing clothes and give them to you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘What I’m about to tell you is true. Anything you did for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘You are cursed! Go away from me into the fire that burns forever. It has been prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 I was hungry. But you gave me nothing to eat. I was thirsty. But you gave me nothing to drink. 43 I was a stranger. But you did not invite me in. I needed clothes. But you did not give me any. I was sick and in prison. But you did not take care of me.’ 44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty and not help you? When did we see you as a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison and not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘What I’m about to tell you is true. Anything you didn’t do for one of the least important of these, you didn’t do for me.’ 46 “Then they will go away to be punished forever. But those who have done what is right will receive eternal life.”

I’m reading a book at the moment that focuses on the need for us to see Christ as our Lord and not just as our saviour, example and teacher. It has been getting me thinking about how often I reduce Christ in my own mind by thinking of him as a friend that I can be on equal terms with, only he has amazing power to help me be a better person.

While this idea of Christ can be helpful, if it means that I forget about his role in the creation of the universe or his role in the judgement of all human kind as we see here, I will have a hard time truly worshiping him, because I won’t recogniser or respect how great he truly is.

I do know all these things in my head, it’s just that my heart seems to forget them all too easily!

God, help us all to be reverent and worshipful towards you, and help us to know you deeply, so that we can also call you father, saviour and friend.

Written by Ps. Justin Ware

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Tuesday 16 September, 2014

Matthew 25:14-30

14 “Again, here is what the kingdom of heaven will be like. A man was going on a journey. He sent for his servants and put them in charge of his property. 15 He gave $10,000 to one. He gave $4,000 to another. And he gave $2,000 to the third. The man gave each servant the amount of money he knew the servant could take care of. Then he went on his journey. 16 “The servant who had received the $10,000 went at once and put his money to work. He earned $10,000 more. 17 The one with the $4,000 earned $4,000 more. 18 But the man who had received $2,000 went and dug a hole in the ground. He hid his master’s money in it. 19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned. He wanted to collect all the money they had earned. 20 The man who had received $10,000 brought the other $10,000. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you trusted me with $10,000. See, I have earned $10,000 more.’ 21 “His master replied, ‘You have done well, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ 22 “The man with $4,000 also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you trusted me with $4,000. See, I have earned $4,000 more.’ 23 “His master replied, ‘You have done well, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ 24 “Then the man who had received $2,000 came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man. You harvest where you have not planted. You gather crops where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid. I went out and hid your $2,000 in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ 26 “His master replied, ‘You evil, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not planted? You knew that I gather crops where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money in the bank. When I returned, I would have received it back with interest.’ 28 “Then his master commanded the other servants, ‘Take the $2,000 from him. Give it to the one who has $20,000. 29 Everyone who has will be given more. He will have more than enough. And what about anyone who doesn’t have? Even what he has will be taken away from him. 30 Throw that worthless servant outside. There in the darkness, people will sob and grind their teeth.’

I have meditated on vs24-25. Why did this third servant not do anything with his talent? It would seem to me from his answer to his master that he was afraid of the masters’ expectations of him. He was afraid that he had been given something that he was now responsible for. But is expecting a return on your investment a “hard” attitude? If I go to a financial adviser, I want good advice for the money I pay them. If God has given me resources, is it harsh or instead just plain right for him to expect me to do something good with what he’s given me?

If God has, like the master in the parable, given me at least 1 talent, then he’s got a few things in mind. First, he wouldn’t give me anything if he didn’t believe I was capable of using it well. Secondly, because he believes me capable, he rightly expects I will express my ability in action each day. What I need to do is not get stuck in the mindset of the third servant – fearing risk, failure, or having to give an account to God. He believes in me, and has given me resources. That’s enough to get moving, and get stuff done in His name.

Lord, I confess that it is all too easy to get stuck in fears and be troubled by daily concerns. But help me instead remember – you’ve given me talents because you know I can do something good with them. And therefore, you expect me to get to work today. Lord, I’m getting to work today. Lead me in using my talents well! Amen.

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh

1 (reply)
  1. Kim Fleming says:

    Thanks for that insight Rob, you have helped me understand that better. I too want ton use my talents for His glort, with God anything is possible

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Monday 15 September, 2014

Matthew 25:1-13

25 “Here is what the kingdom of heaven will be like at that time. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went out to meet the groom. 2 Five of them were foolish. Five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but didn’t take any olive oil with them. 4 The wise ones took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The groom did not come for a long time. So the bridesmaids all grew tired and fell asleep. 6 “At midnight someone cried out, ‘Here’s the groom! Come out to meet him!’ 7 “Then all the bridesmaids woke up and got their lamps ready. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise ones, ‘Give us some of your oil. Our lamps are going out.’ 9 “‘No,’ they replied. ‘There may not be enough for all of us. Instead, go to those who sell oil. Buy some for yourselves.’ 10 “So they went to buy the oil. But while they were on their way, the groom arrived. The bridesmaids who were ready went in with him to the wedding dinner. Then the door was shut. 11 “Later, the other bridesmaids also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’ 12 “But he replied, ‘What I’m about to tell you is true. I don’t know you.’ 13 “So keep watch. You do not know the day or the hour that the groom will come.

What’s the difference between the wise and the foolish maidens? The wise maidens were prepared for the wedding. Contextually, first century weddings were very different from our own, but there was still a need for the groom to inform the bride of when the event was taking place. The foolish maidens had the chance to be prepared but they failed to do so.

We too are waiting… Waiting for Jesus to return. Am I like the wise or foolish maids? Am I prepared for Jesus to return? Am I going about what I am called to do so that when He returns I can fully participate in the banquet, as one who has anticipated and prepared for the celebration?

He has called me to share His good news and make disciples, so that they too can await Jesus’ return with a sense of excitement and participate in the celebration.

Do I ever turn up to a wedding unprepared? How much more important to make the necessary preparations, to make the effort, so that I’m prepared for Jesus’ return.

As beautiful and carefully organised as the wedding receptions I’ve been to are, how much more stunning and amazing will the celebration of Jesus be, when He claims His bride, the church, and takes us to be with Him for all eternity.

God, please help me grasp this truth in my heart and live out of this reality. Amen.

 

Written by Beth Waugh

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Sunday 14 September, 2014

Matthew 24:45-51

45 “Suppose a master puts one of his servants in charge of the other servants in his house. The servant’s job is to give them their food at the right time. The master wants a faithful and wise servant for this. 46 It will be good for the servant if the master finds him doing his job when the master returns. 47 What I’m about to tell you is true. The master will put that servant in charge of everything he owns. 48 “But suppose that servant is evil. Suppose he says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time.’ 49 Suppose he begins to beat the other servants. And suppose he eats and drinks with those who drink too much. 50 The master of that servant will come back on a day the servant doesn’t expect him. He will return at an hour the servant does not know. 51 Then the master will cut him to pieces. He will send him to the place where pretenders go. There people will sob and grind their teeth.

The key words in this parable of Jesus are diligence and faithfulness. Jesus encourages his disciples to “keep ready at all times.” To make it perfectly clear he goes on to give them three parables which explain one word, “Watch!” The first is the parable of the household. In it Jesus describes the characteristics of His kingdom. Through the parable, he conveys the need for compassion and discernment in ministering to each other. There will be barriers to be overcome, good times and bad, but we are to obey the teaching of Jesus by maintaining a diligent and faithful attitude.

In other words, Christ wants us to exercise love to each other. He tells us that we should be faithful in keeping the second of the two great commandments: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). It also reminds us that whoever is entrusted with a ministry must perform it faithfully, prepared at all times to account for what he has done. It also leads on to the teaching of Paul when he encourages us to let the Holy Spirit grow his fruit in us – two aspects of that fruit are patience and faithfulness.

We praise and honour you Father that you have made provision for us to grow more and more like Jesus in faithfulness. Thank you for the certainty that Jesus Christ will return. Let this always be the motivation in all our service to others. We ask you Holy Spirit to continuously develop diligence and patience within us in our ministry to others.

Written by Keith Bennett

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Saturday 13 September, 2014

Matthew 24:32-44

32 “Learn a lesson from the fig tree. As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 In the same way, when you see all those things happening, you know that the end is near. It is right at the door. 34 What I’m about to tell you is true. The people living at that time will certainly not pass away until all those things have happened. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away. But my words will never pass away. 36 “No one knows about that day or hour. Not even the angels in heaven know. The Son does not know. Only the Father knows. 37 “Remember how it was in the days of Noah. It will be the same when the Son of Man comes. 38 “In the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking. They were getting married. They were giving their daughters to be married. They did all those things right up to the day Noah entered the ark. 39 They knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be when the Son of Man comes. 40 “Two men will be in the field. One will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill. One will be taken and the other left. 42 “So keep watch. You do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 You must understand something. Suppose the owner of the house knew what time of night the robber was coming. Then he would have kept watch. He would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready. The Son of Man will come at an hour when you don’t expect him.

Integrity is sometimes defined as “doing the right thing when no one is looking”. The truth is that God is always looking, but, if you are like me, we don’t always live focused, disciplined lives.

None of us know how many days we have left on this earth. These verses are a real challenge from Jesus to live each day with integrity and purpose.

Lord, thank you for this passage of scripture, time is a valuable resource that I want to use wisely, help me to continually set my eyes on eternal things and not on my own selfish desires.

Written by Shelley Witt

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Friday 12 September, 2014

Matthew 24:9-31

9 “Then people will hand you over to be treated badly and killed. All nations will hate you because of me. 10 At that time, many will turn away from their faith. They will hate each other. They will hand each other over to their enemies. 11 Many false prophets will appear. They will fool many people. 12 Because evil will grow, most people’s love will grow cold. 13 But the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 This good news of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world. It will be a witness to all nations. Then the end will come. 15 “The prophet Daniel spoke about ‘the hated thing that destroys.’ (Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11) Someday you will see it standing in the holy place. The reader should understand this. 16 Then those who are in Judea should escape to the mountains. 17 No one on the roof should go down into his house to take anything out. 18 No one in the field should go back to get his coat. 19 How awful it will be in those days for pregnant women! How awful for nursing mothers! 20 Pray that you will not have to escape in winter or on the Sabbath day. 21 There will be terrible suffering in those days. It will be worse than any other from the beginning of the world until now. And there will never be anything like it again. 22 If the time had not been cut short, no one would live. But because of God’s chosen people, it will be shortened. 23 “At that time someone may say to you, ‘Look! Here is the Christ!’ Or, ‘There he is!’ Do not believe it. 24 False Christs and false prophets will appear. They will do great signs and miracles. They will try to fool God’s chosen people if possible. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time. 26 “So if anyone tells you, ‘He is far out in the desert,’ do not go out there. Or if anyone says, ‘He is deep inside the house,’ do not believe it. 27 Lightning that comes from the east can be seen in the west. It will be the same when the Son of Man comes. 28 The vultures will gather wherever there is a dead body. 29 “Right after the terrible suffering of those days, “‘The sun will be darkened. The moon will not shine. The stars will fall from the sky. The heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ (Isaiah 13:10; 34:4) 30 “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky. All the nations on earth will be sad. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky. He will come with power and great glory. 31 He will send his angels with a loud trumpet call. They will gather his chosen people from all four directions. They will bring them from one end of the heavens to the other.

Psalm 27 says ” The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?” and “Wait for The Lord. Be strong and take heart and wait for The Lord.”

In this passage from Matthew Jesus is encouraging his followers to endure. He warns us about the difficult things which will happen on the earth, but I think it is with the intention of preparing us, not making us fearful. Jesus also reassures us that we will recognise him when he comes, so that we won’t be lead astray by others claiming to be him.

Nobody likes going through difficult times. But I am encouraged and reassured by the wonderful result if we do “take heart and wait for The Lord”. I know that Jesus will strengthen me for the difficult times, and in the end I will be blessed with eternal life in heaven.

Heavenly Father, thank you that you are the stronghold of my life. Please help me to stand firm in the face of persecution – to not be deceived and to not be weak – so that I can represent you faithfully. Thank you that the time of persecution is so short compared to our life with you in heaven.

Written by Megan Cornell

1 (reply)
  1. David Newton says:

    That is one foreboding piece of scripture. I love that you balanced it with a Psalm.
    Psalm 27 is one of my favorite psalms. Also 91 & 103!
    Thanks Megan

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Thursday 11 September, 2014

Matthew 24:1-8

24 Jesus left the temple. He was walking away when his disciples came up to him. They wanted to call his attention to the temple buildings. 2 “Do you see all these things?” Jesus asked. “What I’m about to tell you is true. Not one stone here will be left on top of another. Every stone will be thrown down.” 3 Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives. There the disciples came to him in private. “Tell us,” they said. “When will this happen? And what will be the sign of your coming? What will be the sign of the end?” 4 Jesus answered, “Keep watch! Be careful that no one fools you. 5 Many will come in my name. They will claim, ‘I am the Christ!’ They will fool many people. 6 “You will hear about wars. You will also hear people talking about future wars. Don’t be alarmed. Those things must happen. But the end still isn’t here. 7 Nation will fight against nation. Kingdom will fight against kingdom. People will go hungry. There will be earthquakes in many places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.

The world is in labour, waiting for the birth of the New Creation. For 2000 years we have seen the first fruits of this new creation. Sinners turned into saints. Men and women who have had their shame washed away by the blood that flowed from Jesus sacrifice. Humans who once cleansed have been filled with the very Spirit of God.

Yet it is not all complete. I await the day of ALL things being made new!

When will that be? Jesus’ words would suggest soon, the labour has started.

Lord, let me live like you are coming back soon. Let me live for one voice, the voice that spoke me into being. The voice that will say to some ‘Well done, Good and Faithful servant’ and to others ‘I never knew you’.

Written by Andrew Mellor

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