Saturday 30 June, 2018

Matthew 4:23-25

23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. 25 Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.

Here we read about the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee. Jesus ministry is characterized by Him going out all around the area teaching, proclaiming (preaching), healing every sickness presented to Him and casting out demons.

Not surprisingly, this extraordinary power that Jesus demonstrated here attracted a lot of attention, and large crowds began to follow Him.

Contrast this early fame and apparent popularity seen here at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry with how he ended His life – alone, unpopular, forsaken by crowds and even by His closest friends.  Clearly the powerful miracles created interest, but when the going got tough, it had not produced lasting devotion or change in most of the crowd.

If you are like me, sometimes we wish for the quick fix, the miracle, the flashy show of power from God to get us out of a mess. But I’ve discovered over the years that, for the most part, this is not God’s chosen method.

I’ve found that my character and my devotion to Jesus grow as we walk together side-by-side though the trial.  I still may wish for the quick fix, but more and more I’m prepared to accept and be grateful for the “slow fix” of His ways and His timing.

Jesus, I’m grateful for the long, slow walk in the direction of becoming more like You. Thank you for your incredible patience with me, and unfailing love.

Written by Shelley Witt

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Friday 29 June, 2018

Matthew 4:18-22

18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him. 21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

I am fascinated by Jesus’ calling of His first disciples as written in this passage and in other accounts in the gospels. There are a few aspects of this account that arouse my consideration.

  1. Jesus’ calling of these men appears random, but I would think that it is not random at all, but rather had been considered by Jesus in prayer. He had not long before, endured the 40 days in the desert, a time of very saturated communion time with his Father. I would safely guess that His prayers would have included that of building a team of people who would be discipled by Him.
  2. He called two sets of brothers, each working in the family business of fishing. They were not recreational fishermen but were working for their income.
  3. The response of the fishermen was immediate. With such a brief invitation, these men left their profession and their income, and even their father, to “fish for people”.

With these points in mind, they still had the option to accept or reject the invitation.

And so what is my response to this passage? What do I believe God is saying to me through this? I too work in a family business, and also with my brother, as the fishermen did.

Do I hear Jesus calling me to leave the business for a different role? At this time, no I do not, but I am challenged that I need to make it more a prayer of mine to be obedient to His call if He so did ask me to step into a new and different chapter. And if He did, that I would respond with the same immediacy that these fishermen showed.

Father, you have blessed me in a role that brings income and responsibility. I pray that today, and each day into the future, that I will be prepared to step with courage into whatever, and whenever, you call me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Written by Steve Fell

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Thursday 28 June, 2018

Matthew 4:12-17

12 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. 13 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— 14 to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah: 15 “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— 16 the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” 17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

When Jesus heard that his cousin and friend John the Baptist had been put in prison – He withdrew (from Nazareth) to Capernaum near the Sea of Galilee.  I imagine He went for time out, for prayer, for removing Himself from his hometown.

However it’s here that his life crosses paths with Andrew and then his brother Simon Peter.

So often when ‘bad’ things happen in our lives or to our families or to those we love – God has a far bigger plan.  He uses all things, the good and the bad to strengthen, encourage and redirect our paths.

In this season Jesus begins to preach.  His ministry begins…..

I wonder where we are at. If something is not working for us – do we complain and try to fix it or do we ask the Lord to show us if this is a change of direction?

Lord, help us to be in tune with your Spirit, your leading and your guiding.  Show us the doors we need to open in our lives for your work to begin and flow through us.

Written by Ps. Sue Botta

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Wednesday 27 June, 2018

Matthew 4:1-11

4 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

It strikes me that not once in this passage does Jesus try to resist temptation by his own strength. How many New Years resolutions have been broken by a lack of self control? How many lives are ruled by addictions that cannot be tamed? I know at times I feel powerless to resist temptation. But that’s probably because I am. Jesus knows the only power capable of overcoming temptation is the power of God. Jesus doesn’t say ‘I am better’ or ‘stronger ‘ he uses scripture- the living word of God to face his temptation. Jesus doesn’t overcome – God does. When faced with temptation I need to be like Jesus – ready with scripture and the power of God to face down the opposition.

This passage gives us a glimpse of what was coming in terms God’s victory over sin and death.  I want to live a life of victory and freedom, not a life of defeat.

Jesus help me to be just like you. Thank you that you have shown us how to live. Help me to know the mind of God and to have wisdom in every situation. Holy Spirit fill me with your power. In your mighty name. Amen

Written by Christine Knight

1 (reply)
  1. David newton says:

    I think self control is such an important issue in the 21st century. Great observation.
    Thanks Christine!

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Tuesday 26 June, 2018

Matthew 3:13-17

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. 16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

If ever I need motivation to do something – pray, witness, fast, read the Bible – I can’t really get a better reason than “because Jesus did it”. In this passage Jesus goes to John in the Jordan and gets baptised. Right here we have a case for our need to be baptised: Jesus did it, so we do it. Baptism is to publicly commit our lives to God.
Baptism is to be symbolically washed and cleansed. Now that we have the hindsight understanding of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we can see Baptism as a metaphorical copy of going down into the grave like Jesus (going underwater) and then being raised back (coming out of the water) with new life. Our Jesus did this, we also do it because we are his followers.

Jesus, your baptism with John set you up on the trajectory that lead into your destiny. Lord I want to find my destiny in you, baptise me for your purposes, Amen.

Written by Sam Stewart

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Monday 25 June, 2018

Matthew 3: 7-12

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10 The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

This passage has always intrigued me.  It starts with a rebuke of those who should know better but who had reduced faith to religion and the politics of power.  John has no time for them and I think we are given insight into why in the passage.  He explains what he is doing – providing a way forward through the gateway of repentance and the baptism that is associated with this and then points to Jesus.  In pointing to Jesus John speaks of Baptism in the Spirit, yet perhaps not in a manner we are all that familiar with.  He speaks of the Baptism in Spirit that is associated with fire and it is clear that the fire is not the fire of enthusiasm but the fire of cleansing.

The work of the Spirit in cleansing is not that often spoken of yet the Apostle John reminds us in John 16:8 that the Spirit convicts with respect to sin, righteousness and judgment.  It is clear that God judges us and expects us to repent when His judgment comes.  However, it is not uncommon that people rather than expressing repentance lash out blaming others for the guilt they feel for their sin – a totally appropriate emotion.  This was evidenced in the reactions of the Pharisees and Sadducees of the day in their religious behaviours!

So what of us when the Spirit comes in conviction – do we blame shift or humble ourselves before Him and ask for His cleaning fire to burn the impurity from us – perhaps it is best to ask when was your last confession session at the feet of Jesus.  If it was days ago – or ‘I don’t remember when’ – take the time now to get on your knees and repent of your pride and independence and of your hard heart before the King and ask Him to burn His fire within you and soften your heart.

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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Sunday 24 June, 2018

Matthew 3:1-6

3 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3 This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” 4 John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5 People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6 Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.

This passage opens many years later & we find John preaching & baptising people who have repented from their sin. We’re told that John had been prophesied about some 7 centuries earlier by Isaiah as the ‘One preparing the way for the Lord’, preparing people’s hearts for the coming Messiah – Jesus.

This has got me thinking about the people who ‘prepared the way for the Lord’ in my life. People & events come to mind, conversations, invitations, all playing their part which prepared my heart to accept Jesus as Lord of my life. These various ones were faithful to play their part as John was, I’m certain I wouldn’t know Jesus without them. I’m reminded again at how relational the Gospel is and how God can use each one of us to impact the heart of another.

Lord Jesus thank you for the faithfulness of those you used to prepare my heart for you. You know their names, even though I’ve forgotten some, bless them today. I pray that I can be so faithful in my relationships in speaking about you, use me in similar ways, to prepare hearts for you.

Written by Suzie Hodgson

1 (reply)
  1. Andrew says:

    What a wonderful thing to reflect on. Who helped prepare my (rather hard, stubborn and closed) heart to receive the Lord?
    A few come quickly to mind, and they know that I am so grateful. But upon reading your message tonight, as I reflect there are many more.
    In fact, I will now take a few days to reflect and think and be grateful for all those other people who were not there at the finish line as I crossed from one kingdom to a better one, but did put in a word, a nudge, a year or 25 of prayer for me (my praying Grandma), gave me wise counsel, or a good book.

    It is easy to remember those that helped me “turn the corner”, but there was a long journey before then, and many people preparing the way for me.

    I am taken by the bold sounds of the beginning of the musical Godspell. “ PRE-EE-PARE YEE THE WAY OF THE LORD !!! “

    Thanks Suzie for giving me much to think about.

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Saturday 23 June, 2018

Matthew 2:19-23

19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.” 21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.

Matthew 2:19-23

Have you ever had that situation where you have been notified from on high that you must act now to avoid disaster.

We don’t know much about Joseph, but we do know he had several angelic visitations in dreams. These experiences were so striking he followed the guidance to pack up his family and move to another country.

When we read these stories, we do so with the benefit of hindsight, almost from God’s perspective. Come on Joseph everything will work out, have some faith. However, we live our lives the same as Joseph did, without the benefit of knowing what will happen next. True, may not receive angelic visitation, but it is not uncommon for committed Christians to receive divine guidance.

As a Christian it takes practice to hear the voice of God amidst all the noise of modern life. For me the hearing has never been a problem, it is the responding in the right timing I often mess up.

Joseph heard, and he responded, he heard again, and he responded. No doubt there was fear and doubt, but he still responded. He wasn’t told the eventual outcome of his actions he was given just enough information to avoid disaster.

Not all guidance is about avoiding disaster, sometimes it is about small matters, but it still requires hearing and responding.

So, take the opportunity today and ask yourself ‘am I listening for that small still guiding voice’ amongst the clutter of electronic noise. Am I ready to respond when I hear?

Lord, we thank you that you guide us in the big and small things in life. Please help us to hear and respond to your guiding voice today! Amen

Written by David Newton

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Friday 22 June, 2018

Matthew 2:16-18

16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: 18 “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”

So, Herod was furious because the Magi didn’t report back to him with the location of this new king of the Jews. So furious, that he orders the death of all boys in Bethlehem under two years of age. Although Herod was deceived, he had tried to deceive the Magi himself.

It is a tragic story, and possibly we could ask why didn’t God do anything about it? Why did all those boys have to die? Couldn’t the Magi just tell him where Jesus was, but God have Jesus flee in time?

The fact that the weeping was prophesied reminds us that God knew in advance what Herod would do and all that would happen. Nowhere does it say that God’s plans mean there will not be any suffering.

The danger here would be to just focus on the suffering and forget that God’s master plan for the salvation of the world was no longer a prophecy but is now a reality. Emmanuel God with us. This is not an “end justifies the means”, but God has a plan and he will see it through. Our suffering is only for a short time when compared to the Joy in eternity to come.

When we suffer, its tempting and even normal to question God whatever his plans for us are. But we should not lose sight of the fact that God has bigger plans, good plans for each of us and he will see it through for us.

Thank you, Father, for the plans you have for me. Help me to continue to walk each day by faith and not by sight.

Written by Andrew Martin

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Thursday 21 June, 2018

Matthew 2:13-15

13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” 14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

What was Herod thinking? “If I just kill God’s son then I will be safe as the king of my world.” Really? It sounds absurd, but an astonishing number of people today seem to think that they can be kings of their worlds if they could just kill off God.

I’m not sure what Joseph was thinking, but he responded with extraordinary faith. It would have been tempting to think “Who’s in control here, God? You or Herod? Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” But right away, in the middle of the night, he takes his family, abandons his life and flees to Egypt. (I love Joseph: such a man of faith!)

We get a fairly good idea what Matthew is thinking. He’s seen that God said this would happen 750 years earlier. God knew exactly what he was doing. Matthew saw how Herod’s efforts to destroy Jesus end up validating him. Yet again, God brings good things out of evil (Romans 8:28).

What am I thinking?

Jesus showed he was prepared and able to confront his enemies. But he also tells us to be discerning: “Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.“ (Matthew 7:6); and “be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16).

I think I should be bold in taking my place in God’s battles. But not every battle is one he wants me to fight. If it’s God’s battle then I will be on the winning side if I stick close to him. But if I charge in without him, I’ll lose badly.

How will I know when to fight and when to run? I have to listen to God as carefully as Joseph, and respond with as much faith. How can I be sure that what I am doing is part of the things God is doing? Watch him as carefully as Jesus did (John 5:19).

Jesus, where are we going today?

Written by David Cornell

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