Wednesday 10 September, 2014

Matthew 23:29-39

29 “How terrible for you, teachers of the law and Pharisees! You pretenders! You build tombs for the prophets. You decorate the graves of the godly. 30 And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of those who lived before us, we wouldn’t have done what they did. We wouldn’t have helped to kill the prophets.’ 31 So you give witness against yourselves. You admit that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets. 32 So finish the sins that those who lived before you started! 33 “You nest of poisonous snakes! How will you escape from being sentenced to hell? 34 So I am sending you prophets, wise men, and teachers. You will kill some of them. You will nail some to a cross. Others you will whip in your synagogues. You will chase them from town to town. 35 “So you will pay for all the godly people’s blood spilled on earth. I mean from the blood of godly Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berekiah. Zechariah was the one you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 What I’m about to tell you is true. All this will happen to those who are now living. 37 “Jerusalem! Jerusalem! You kill the prophets and throw stones in order to kill those who are sent to you. Many times I have wanted to gather your people together. I have wanted to be like a hen who gathers her chicks under her wings. But you would not let me! 38 Look, your house is left empty. 39 I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’” (Psalm 118:26)

Jesus begins the chapter with a warning to be wise about how the teachers of the law act, pretending to be righteous but with evil in their hearts, and to be discerning about whom we choose to copy. He goes on to a remarkably direct word of judgement directed to the teachers of the law.

I’m comfortable with being wise and discerning. Teachers (probably including bloggers) need to be doubly careful how they act because the error or sin affects not only the teacher but also anyone who listens (James 3:1). I need to be very careful how I act, especially if I speak on God’s behalf.

So many people have been damaged by judgemental words from Christians. Should I be speaking words of judgement like Jesus?

In Luke 6:37 Jesus says “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.” My heart towards others needs to be the same as God’s heart to me: to bring grace and forgiveness.

In John 5:30 he makes it clear “I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me.” And this word of judgment is clearly prophetic about their intentions towards Jesus and towards those who testify about Jesus. No words of Judgment except with God’s clear direction.

And in John 9:39 “I entered this world to render judgment—to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.” So this role in judgment is given to Jesus, but not to me (for which I’m grateful). And certainly not to these teachers who judge Jesus and God’s prophets.

Lord, let your words be my words and your heart my heart. And give me the wisdom to leave your role to you, and to take whatever role you give me.

Written by David Cornell

3 replies
  1. Justin Ware says:

    My first reaction to Jesus rebuking pharisees is always “Yeah, Jesus! Tell it to those dodgy, religious fools!”

    But when I reflect a bit deeper, I get reminded that I have a part of me that is Pharisaical. Part of me wants to set up processes and rules that are meant to be helpful, but actuality take away from what God intends!

  2. Richard says:

    Our capacity for self deception is powerful. The Pharisees were so convinced they were correct, so convinced they were righteous they would project backward the essence of the righteousness. Looking back is so easy, especially to make ourselves look good, telling others how we would have dealt with the situation.

    Being right is not being righteous. Being right may lead to righteousness or pride! – the difference being our state of heart and mind.

    I need to continually hold to the truth in a manner where I do not apply it in ways for self aggrandisement but with humility draws out obedience.

    Father help me to live on humility in what and how I live my beliefs.

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Tuesday 9 September, 2014

Matthew 23:23-28

23 “How terrible for you, teachers of the law and Pharisees! You pretenders! You give God a tenth of your spices, like mint, dill and cummin. But you have not practiced the more important things of the law, like fairness, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the last things without failing to do the first. 24 You blind guides! You remove the smallest insect from your food. But you swallow a whole camel! 25 “How terrible for you, teachers of the law and Pharisees! You pretenders! You clean the outside of the cup and dish. But on the inside you are full of greed. You only want to satisfy yourselves. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish. Then the outside will also be clean. 27 “How terrible for you, teachers of the law and Pharisees! You pretenders! You are like tombs that are painted white. They look beautiful on the outside. But on the inside they are full of the bones of the dead. They are also full of other things that are not pure and clean. 28 It is the same with you. On the outside you seem to be doing what is right. But on the inside you are full of what is wrong. You pretend to be what you are not.

V.23b…You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.

Jesus words here are strong – “what sorrow awaits you…”. Here are leaders and teachers who obey the letter of the law when it comes to minute details in tithing their herbs. They have commitment? Yes – but Jesus says it’s not to the important things.

I wonder why Jesus said “sorrow” and not “judgement”? Were these people wholeheartedly thinking that this was what God was looking for? Were they going to be saddened to discover they got it wrong?

I don’t want to be saddened when I stand before Jesus. I don’t want to have him to point to what should have been important and say: “What we’re you thinking?”

Like David in Ps 139, oh God I pray that you would search my heart and point out anything that offends you – keep my eyes fixed on You so I know what is important and walk in it with You and for You.

Written by Ps. Linda Quinn

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Monday 8 September, 2014

Matthew 23:13-22

13/14 “How terrible it will be for you, teachers of the law and Pharisees! You pretenders! You shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter. And you will not let those enter who are trying to. 15 “How terrible for you, teachers of the law and Pharisees! You pretenders! You travel everywhere to win one person to your faith. Then you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are. 16 “How terrible for you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone takes an oath in the name of the temple, it means nothing. But anyone who takes an oath in the name of the gold of the temple must keep the oath.’ 17 You are blind and foolish! Which is more important? Is it the gold? Or is it the temple that makes the gold holy? 18 “You also say, ‘If anyone takes an oath in the name of the altar, it means nothing. But anyone who takes an oath in the name of the gift on it must keep the oath.’ 19 You blind men! Which is more important? Is it the gift? Or is it the altar that makes the gift holy? 20 “So anyone who takes an oath in the name of the altar takes an oath in the name of it and of everything on it. 21 And anyone who takes an oath in the name of the temple takes an oath in the name of it and of the One who lives in it. 22 And anyone who takes an oath in the name of heaven takes an oath in the name of God’s throne and of the One who sits on it.

Jesus reminds us in this passage that we should mean what we say, that if we say we will do something then we should do it. There are no magic words that make a promise one we can’t break versus other promises we can break. What we say should be straightforward and clear and we should follow through. Jesus wants us not to be two faced or misleading in our words. It means we need to think before we speak. It also means we need to do what we promise even if the promise was spoken in haste and the promise is inconvenient. This is a great principle to live by. It’s about building trustworthiness in us. Just as God is worth trusting so He would like us to be.

Lord God help me to be trustworthy. Please help me to take care in my words so that I say those things I can actually do. Please also help me to take my commitments seriously – to respect the belief others have in me. Teach me Lord that my words matter and they impact other people. Help me to use them well.

Written by Therese Manning

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Sunday 7 September, 2014

Matthew 23:1-12

23 Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples. 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat,” he said. 3 “So you must obey them. Do everything they tell you. But don’t do what they do. They don’t practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy loads and put them on other people’s shoulders. But they themselves aren’t willing to lift a finger to move them. 5 “Everything they do is done for others to see. On their foreheads and arms they wear little boxes that hold Scripture verses. They make the boxes very wide. And they make the tassels on their coats very long. 6 “They love to sit down in the place of honor at dinners. They also love to have the most important seats in the synagogues. 7 They love to be greeted in the market places. They love it when people call them ‘Rabbi.’ 8 “But you shouldn’t be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have only one Master, and you are all brothers. 9 Do not call anyone on earth ‘father.’ You have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 You shouldn’t be called ‘teacher.’ You have one Teacher, and he is the Christ. 11 The most important person among you will be your servant. 12 Anyone who lifts himself up will be brought down. And anyone who is brought down will be lifted up.

I see Jesus preparing His disciples for the new roles they will shortly have and He is giving them a class on leadership. The current models they have do not live out what they teach. Jesus affirms that what the scribes and pharises teach is good for the disciples to follow – but they are not to follow their actual life behaviour.

The new model of a leader is to be a perpetual student or learner and a servant.

The model Jesus outlines here hasn’t changed. This is to be my standard for any leadership or teaching role I have. The challenge he gave the disciples is our challenge. I am not to teach anything from God’s word I am not prepared to live out on a daily basis, I am to be a continual learner and most of all, a servant with a heart to serve those I lead not to be served.

Father, I want to live consistent with your Word – I ask your help that I would be a leader who is always prepared to live what I teach, to serve and to be a life long learner.

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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Saturday 6 September, 2014

Matthew 22:41-46

41 The Pharisees were gathered together. Jesus asked them, 42 “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” “The son of David,” they replied. 43 He said to them, “Then why does David call him ‘Lord’? The Holy Spirit spoke through David himself. David said, 44 “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your control.”’ (Psalm 110:1) 45 So if David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be David’s son?” 46 No one could answer him with a single word. From that day on, no one dared to ask him any more questions.

The Pharisees all knew that the messiah would be descended from king David, from Gods promise in the Davidic covenant. They accepted that David was a prophet of God and that he spoke of the messiah in many of his psalms. Then Jesus brings up the tricky bit of Ps 110 where David writes: the LORD (God) said to my Lord (the messiah Jesus), sit at my right side, until I make your enemies into a footstool for you.
The logic in Jesus question is unrefutable; the spirit of God led David to write those words, and David would not refer to himself or his own son or descendent as ‘Lord’. Jesus is therefore implying that the messiah would not be a physical descendent of David. We know this to be true, remembering that Joseph was Jesus’ legal father but God was His true father. David rightfully calls Jesus his Lord.
This argument is used again by Peter in Acts 2:29-36. V. 36 says ‘that God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ’.
I am reminded that Jesus is fully God and fully man. Messiah as foretold in the prophets, and Son of God as revealed in His life and ministry. I still don’t understand this concept but Jesus own logic here helps me to understand the question of Jesus being David’s descendent but then also being conceived of the Holy Spirit. Even the Pharisees could not argue with this.
Heavenly Father thank you for giving us the messiah you promised; not the one we expected, but someone so much greater. Your ways are so much wiser than I can comprehend, but please give me an understanding so I can pass on this good news in a way others can grasp.

Written by Dimity Milne

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Friday 5 September, 2014

Matthew 22:34-40

34 The Pharisees heard that the Sadducees weren’t able to answer Jesus. So the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them was an authority on the law. So he tested Jesus with a question. 36 “Teacher,” he asked, “which is the most important commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your mind.’ (Deuteronomy 6:5) 38 This is the first and most important commandment. 39 And the second is like it. ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ (Leviticus 19:18) 40 Everything that is written in the Law and the Prophets is based on these two commandments.”

Jesus faced a continual barrage of questions from the religious leaders of his day. Here, he is contending with two rivals – Pharisees and Sadducees. You can almost sense the gloating of the Pharisees because Jesus had skilfully answered the question of the Sadducees. They knew they could do better, so they selected an “expert in the law” whom they were convinced would silence Jesus.

What they did not realise was that “the law” was more about relationships than legalism. Jesus was brilliant in his answer to their question about what was the greatest commandment. What did they expect? They failed to understand that Jesus had authority to make a pronouncement so profound that they missed its significance.

In summing up the Law he laid the basic foundation for life in his Kingdom. Love God absolutely, and love your neighbour. They were two inseparable principles which had nothing to do with religious laws or standards. What Jesus said has never been revoked, so that, today, they are the principles by which we live our lives as citizens of God’s Kingdom. We do well to embrace them as the basis of our lives.

Lord, I praise you that you have laid down this foundation for my life in you. I honour you as my King , and pledge my allegiance to you. Holy Spirit I ask you to ensure that these principles shape my relationships in everyday life.

Written by Keith Bennett

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Thursday 4 September, 2014

Matthew 22:23-33

23 That same day the Sadducees came to Jesus with a question. They do not believe that people rise from the dead. 24 “Teacher,” they said, “here is what Moses told us. If a man dies without having children, his brother must get married to the widow. He must have children to carry on his brother’s name. 25 There were seven brothers among us. The first one got married and died. Since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. 26 The same thing happened to the second and third brothers. It happened right on down to the seventh brother. 27 Finally, the woman died. 28 Now then, when the dead rise, whose wife will she be? All seven of them were married to her.” 29 Jesus replied, “You are mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures. And you do not know the power of God. 30 When the dead rise, they won’t get married. And their parents won’t give them to be married. They will be like the angels in heaven. 31 “What about the dead rising? Haven’t you read what God said to you? 32 He said, ‘I am the God of Abraham. I am the God of Isaac. And I am the God of Jacob.’ (Exodus 3:6) He is not the God of the dead. He is the God of the living.” 33 When the crowds heard this, they were amazed by what he taught.

The Sadducees were religious leaders who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. They asked Jesus a hypothetical question regarding the resurrection of the dead. Jesus did not hold back and gives real clarity regarding this important truth. He points the Sadducees to the Scriptures. Onlookers were astonished at Jesus teaching.

I think the Sadducees were trying to trick Jesus with their hypothetical question regarding seven brothers marrying one woman ie. whose wife would she be in the resurrection? They didn’t believe in the resurrection yet they asked this “smart” question. Jesus bluntly says, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God.” Ouch!   Major ouch! These guys were leaders so it’s quite a criticism. Jesus went onto explain that after the dead rise no one will be married.

This passage of Scripture encourages me to read and know my Bible so I don’t miss stuff crucial to understanding the Christian faith. Much the same way it gives me a hunger to know and experience the power of God. May I know God’s power in my day to day. I also love that our God is a God of the living and not the dead. A God of the here, now and the resurrection, not the hypothetical!

Dear Lord help me to read and know your word and also understand the way you work. Amen

Written by Ainslie Woods

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Wednesday 3 September, 2014

Matthew 22:15-22

15 The Pharisees went out. They made plans to trap Jesus with his own words. 16 They sent their followers to him. They sent the Herodians with them. “Teacher,” they said, “we know you are a man of honor. You teach the way of God truthfully. You don’t let others tell you what to do or say. You don’t care how important they are. 17 Tell us then, what do you think? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” 18 But Jesus knew their evil plans. He said, “You pretenders! Why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin people use for paying the tax.” They brought him a silver coin. 20 He asked them, “Whose picture is this? And whose words?” 21 “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. And give to God what belongs to God.” 22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

Normally, the Pharisees and the Herodians two groups were bitter enemies. But in order to trap Jesus in His words they united together to against Him.

To trap Jesus, they said some nice words to Him in the beginning. Then they asked Jesus: what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?

If Jesus said Yes, then, the Pharisees would say Jesus was objecting to God. But, if Jesus said No, then, the Herodians would hand Jesus over to Herod for rebellion.

Actually, Jesus knew their evil intent and said “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? …….. give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

What great wisdom Jesus’ reply. No wonder they were amazed and left Jesus and went away.

The challenge of this passage to me is:

  1. Do I only say “nice words” to people instead of truth?
  2. Do I truly believe God knows everything inside of my mind?
  3. Do I give to God what is God’s? Or something not as important?

Dear Lord, you are the searcher of the heart, the tester of the thoughts. You knew me even before I was born. All things are naked and open before eyes. Help me to learn how to play the role of citizen in this nation and the kingdom of heaven, in order to glorify your name. Amen.

Written by Allen Leu

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Tuesday 2 September, 2014

Matthew 22:1-14

22 Jesus told them more stories. He said, 2 “Here is what the kingdom of heaven is like. A king prepared a wedding dinner for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the dinner. The servants told them to come. But they refused. 4 “Then he sent some more servants. He said, ‘Tell those who were invited that I have prepared my dinner. I have killed my oxen and my fattest cattle. Everything is ready. Come to the wedding dinner.’ 5 “But the people paid no attention. One went away to his field. Another went away to his business. 6 The rest grabbed his servants. They treated them badly and then killed them. 7 “The king became very angry. He sent his army to destroy them. They killed those murderers and burned their city. 8 “Then the king said to his servants, ‘The wedding dinner is ready. But those I invited were not fit to come. 9 Go to the street corners. Invite to the dinner anyone you can find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets. They gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad. Soon the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 “The king came in to see the guests. He noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man couldn’t think of anything to say. 13 “Then the king told his servants, ‘Tie up his hands and feet. Throw him outside into the darkness. Out there people will sob and grind their teeth.’ 14 “Many are invited, but few are chosen.”

This is one gutsy parable – Jesus is speaking with boldness before the people He is identifying in the parable as the ones who were invited but not responding!  Many want a feel good story of God opening heaven to all – no matter what.  The cry is to be tolerant, inclusive to let everyone in.  We recoil from judgment even judgement on the wicked, and as for holiness that’s for ‘super-saints’ isn’t it?  What of weeping and gnashing of teeth?  It really is in your face!

So how do I respond?  I find myself chastened by God to ensure I tell it like it is – even when those around me need to hear some tough truth.  I find myself grappling again with the truth that not all are going to be in heaven and I have responsibility to help those who are seeking Jesus to find Him – that they may see in me just who He is in His magnificence!  I am reminded that not everyone who claims to be a Christian is and that I need to ensure my claim to faith has the evidences of faith.

Father you are just, merciful and true.  You don’t just let things go – You do call me and others to account.  So Father in your mercy enable me to keep short accounts with You – may I continually seek and live in Your forgiveness, Your will and Your ways.  Amen

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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Monday 1 September, 2014

Matthew 21:33-46

33 “Listen to another story. A man who owned some land planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it. He dug a pit for a winepress in it. He also built a lookout tower. He rented the vineyard out to some farmers. Then he went away on a journey. 34 When harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the renters. He told the servants to collect his share of the fruit. 35 “But the renters grabbed his servants. They beat one of them. They killed another. They threw stones at the third to kill him. 36 Then the man sent other servants to the renters. He sent more than he did the first time. The renters treated them the same way. 37 “Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said. 38 “But the renters saw the son coming. They said to each other, ‘This is the one who will receive all the owner’s property someday. Come, let’s kill him. Then everything will be ours.’ 39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard. Then they killed him. 40 “When the owner of the vineyard comes back, what will he do to those renters?” 41 “He will destroy those evil people,” they replied. “Then he will rent the vineyard out to other renters. They will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.” 42 Jesus said to them, “Haven’t you ever read what the Scriptures say, “‘The stone the builders didn’t accept has become the most important stone of all. The Lord has done it. It is wonderful in our eyes’? (Psalm 118:22,23) 43 “So here is what I tell you. The kingdom of God will be taken away from you. It will be given to people who will produce its fruit. 44 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces. But the stone will crush anyone it falls on.” 45 The chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ stories. They knew he was talking about them. 46 So they looked for a way to arrest him. But they were afraid of the crowd. The people believed that Jesus was a prophet.

I’ve been thinking a lot about evangelism lately.

This passage is a story about a king who came to collect a harvest but the workers refused to give it to him. Jesus used the word “harvest” in Matthew 9:37 to describe the people in my life that are ready to hear the gospel and give their lives to him. It’s His harvest field, I’m call to work it and he wants to collect it.

Could this parable be for me? Do I have a harvest of people I can give Jesus? Am I a wicked farmer?

I’ve got to get to work! Time is so short. There’s seed that needs to be sowed right now (tactfully tell people in my world about Jesus). There’s watering to be done daily (got to be praying constantly). I need to learn how to drive the harvester (get equipped to help people who want to be saved and then help disciple them). I have to decide to be a good farmer (rearrange my time and priorities to save as many people as I possibly can before my time here is up).

Will Jesus say of me “where is my harvest?” or will he say “well done good and faithful servant?”

I can’t let this happen Lord. You mean too much to me. The harvest you’ve entrusted to me – my friends and family, anyone in my world who is yet to be saved – mean too much to me. I here and now commit to farming well for the rest if my days. Amen.

Written by Boudy van Noppen

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