Tuesday 31 July, 2018

Matthew 10:1-25

10 Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. 2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. 5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. 9 “Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— 10 no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. 11 Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. 12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13 If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. 16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. 24 “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!

When I first read this passage I focussed on all the wrong things.

I focussed on “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons” and it sounded so hard; but I should have focused on “Give as freely as you have received!”. They just had to speak the authority they had just been given.

I focussed on “Don’t take any money …  Don’t carry a traveler’s bag with a change of clothes”, and that sounded harder, but I should have focused on “Don’t hesitate to accept hospitality”. He was telling them to expect and be open to receiving all they needed.

I focussed on “If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message” which sounded like bad things were coming and I missed that “When you enter the home, give it your blessing” came first. He is telling them to look for good things in people, to expect welcome first.

I focussed on “you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues” and this sounded awful, but I should have focused on “But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me”. Attempts at evil will be confounded and turned into good.

I focussed on “When you are arrested” (that’s got to be bad!) but I should have focused on “don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time”. God was with them every step and doing the hard bits.

Jesus is realistic and honest about the opposition they (and we) may receive, but he is positive and optimistic. And I should be too.

Father, give me your eyes to see all that I have, the opportunities, the good (even if through the distraction of opposition) and to give as freely as I have received.

Written by David Cornell

3 replies
  1. David newton says:

    I really needed to hear that. I suspect for me there may be a few other scriptures that require a focus check.
    Thanks David!

  2. Suzie Hodgson says:

    Brilliant David! I too have not seen all the positives that Jesus gives us in this passage. Thank you & I echo your prayer. Suzie

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Monday 30 July, 2018

Matthew 9:35-38

35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

It’s easy to look at people and see a crowd, but Jesus looked at a crowd and saw people. And the people he saw were like sheep without a shepherd – lost, scattered, defenseless and helpless. And it was this that moved his heart with compassion and moved him to action. Jesus said to the disciples, pray to God that he would send workers into the harvest, and the next thing he did was to send the 12 disciples out to the people.

Sometimes the size of the task or the opportunity can be overwhelming. Maybe we feel like we can do so little when the need is so great and end up doing nothing because we see a crowd.

But when we see people and not a crowd, our hearts will be moved like Jesus, moved with compassion, and moved into action, whatever that action may be.

What were 12 men going to achieve? It didn’t matter, Jesus sent them anyway.

Father, it’s so easy to see a crowd, to see faces without names and do nothing. I’m not going to ask you to send us to the crowd, because you have already sent us into the crowd. Instead, help us to see the people like you see them and be moved to compassion and into action.

Written by Andrew Martin

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Sunday 29 July, 2018

Matthew 9:27-34

27 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” 28 When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they replied. 29 Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; 30 and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” 31 But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region. 32 While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. 33 And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.” 34 But the Pharisees said, “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.”

What was it like for these men who encountered Jesus? As blind men they were most probably unable to work, therefore unable to earn a living and dependent on others. In those times they would have been seen as unable to make good husbands and fathers if they could not support a family. They could not see the blue sky, or a sunset, or people’s faces… It is the kind of existence a person might feel trapped in.

Or what about the mute man? Not able to speak: to converse with others, to express his thoughts or to ask a question. How isolating it must have been.

How radical their encounter with Jesus was. The blind men could see and the mute man could talk. What a world of possibility opened up to them. What freedom, independence, connection, contribution and purpose was now open to them. No longer trapped, no longer isolated, they could take up their places in society with joy.

Am I experiencing this kind of radical encounter with Jesus? Am I telling others about what Jesus can do? Am I expecting and asking God to set people free?

God, please help me to live with the bold expectation of the blind men, and to believe that you want to heal, restore, deliver and liberate people today, just as you did then. Amen

Written by Bethany Waugh

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Saturday 28 July, 2018

Matthew 9:18-26

18 While he was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, “My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.” 19 Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples. 20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21 She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” 22 Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment. 23 When Jesus entered the synagogue leader’s house and saw the noisy crowd and people playing pipes, 24 he said, “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. 25 After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. 26 News of this spread through all that region.

This familiar but powerful passage presents 2 beautiful personal encounters with the Lord Jesus, which lets us see into his heart full of compassion.

Unlike the Pharisees and John the Baptist’s disciples in verses 11 and 14, Jesus was not obsessed with rules (note verse 13). Rather, he is obsessed with people’s lives, and what is important to them. This reminds me that we have a personal God who longs for relationship with us.

Both miracles relied on people stepping out in faith, as they activated their faith in Jesus’ authority and power, their encounters impacted so many others. Not only their own lives were changed by just a touch from Jesus, but just imagine the reaction of the people watching on or in the crowd. Imagine the generations of Jairus’ family who followed, hearing the story that their mother or grandmother had been raised from the dead by a touch from Jesus. I like to think that this little girl was the beginning of a long line of believers because her father acted on his faith.

When I exercise my faith, I give God the opportunity to show his mercy and power in my life, not just for myself but for all those “watching on” around me.

When I think about activating my faith everyday, I reflect on the cost to each of the people who were healed or asked for healing for someone else. They acted against the social and religious rules of the day, approaching Jesus and asking for a miracle. I can do the same and expect him to respond because my God is a loving God.

Jesus, thank you for your endless mercy to me, and for your touch just when I need it the most. Make me active in my faith, not relying on myself. Don’t let me wait till I am desperate, rather prompt me by your Holy Spirit to seek miracles! Thank you merciful Jesus. Amen

Written by Claire Moore

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Friday 27 July, 2018

Matthew 9:14-17

14 Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” 15 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast. 16 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. 17 Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

From reading this passage today and drawing on my knowledge and understanding of scripture, I think that this section of scripture reveals at least 2 things:

1) There is an expectation that modern Christians are meant to fast, even though Christ did not do it with his disciples

2) The context, application and approach to fasting is meant to be different to what it was in the old testament.

I am certainly not an expert on fasting. While I have done it a couple of times and found it very beneficial, I am certain that there are a bunch of things about fasting that I can still learn, and I am fairly certain that there have been times when I could have had benefit from fasting, but I have decided it would be too hard.

Lately I have been diving in to learning about prayer and I have been developing my prayer life significantly and I am learning that there is a link between the power that can be released through prayer and the concept of fasting.

Lord, help me to deepen my desire for you and out of that may I grow to love and understand fasting.

Written by Ps Justin Ware

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Thursday 26 July, 2018

Matthew 9:9-13

9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. 10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’[a] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

In a culture where religious leaders sought to keep themselves separate and “pure”, Jesus is doing something shocking here. He is not only talking to known “sinners”, he even goes so far as to share a meal with them!

In ancient culture, eating with someone was considered extremely significant. You would only eat with someone if you wanted to be identified with them, to make yourself one with them. That is why the religious leaders were shocked and asked the disciples why would Jesus want to be identified with these lowly people?

Perhaps Jesus’ disciples did not really know how to answer this question so we see Jesus stepping in to help them out with an answer. His reply is clear: You Pharisees don’t think you need Me, but these people obviously do. I am coming down to the level of the lowly sinners to identify with them so that they can identify with Me and be lifted up.

Don’t you love how Jesus doesn’t wait until we are good enough to qualify to be His people, but He comes down to our level saying “I’ll identify with you – now You identify with me. Follow Me and I’ll get you out of this mess”.

This is so amazing and wonderful on a personal level, but also an incredibly challenging example of how we should now live as followers of Jesus.

Lord help me follow Your lead to identify with those who are in need and to guard against religious pride.

Written by Shelley Witt

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Wednesday 25 July, 2018

Matthew 9:2-8

2 Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” 3 At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!” 4 Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? 5 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 6 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” 7 Then the man got up and went home. 8 When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.

This passage is such a great portrayal of Jesus’ compassion, authenticity & humility.

He saw the man who was unable to walk, and spoke to him that he should not lose hope. He then tells him that his sins are forgiven and later in the passage goes on to heal him physically, showing great love & kindness.

When the teachers of the law were angered by his actions, Jesus knew what they were thinking & saying about him. Yet he did not back down or worry about displeasing them or anyone else, rather he stood firm in who he knew he was – the Son of God. When the people were amazed at this, it says they praised God for giving such authority to Jesus, not that they praised Jesus himself. In all that Jesus did, he pointed to God the Father, never seeking praise for himself.

This causes me to reflect on my own thoughts & actions. Often I am wrapped up in my own world which sometimes causes me to lack compassion, to act in ways that a child of God should not, or to seek to serve myself first. I am so grateful for the example of Jesus – the ultimate example of how we should live!

Jesus, thank you for who you are & for showing us how we should live. Help us to follow this example, that we would be people who reflect your compassion, authenticity & humility in all that we do, say & think. Amen.

Written by Ps. Madelaine Tarasenko

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Tuesday 24 July, 2018

Matthew 8:28-9:1

28 When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. 29 “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” 30 Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. 31 The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.” 32 He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. 33 Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region. 9 Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town.

This passage tells the story of Jesus casting a legion of demons out of 2 tormented men, and into a herd of pigs. We’re not told if these men are Jewish or gentile, it makes little difference really – their internal lives, (head space, thought life) were in the midst of a storm, a demonic storm bringing nothing but torment, confusion, rage & destruction – something that takes no notice of race or colour. Jesus on his way to these men, quieted the storm on the lake, now he is about to quite the storm within & bring complete restoration.

Marks gospel in 5:15 tells the same story though with the detail that once Jesus cast the demons out, the man was now in his right mind. Peace.

Regardless of how our internal storms come about, what they are or by what they are influenced, the fact that Jesus can bring peace, calm & restoration is a huge comfort to me.

Lord I thank you that you care about the storms in our lives, I invite you today to come & bring peace to my thoughts. Amen

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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Monday 23 July, 2018

Matthew 8:18-27

18 When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. 19 Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” 21 Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 22 But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” 23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” 26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. 27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

I think we all understand clearly that being devoted to Jesus is more important than gaining the things of the world.

We find that when we come to Jesus for salvation, we not only exchange sin and death for righteousness and life, but we also change families. We become part of the family of God and our primary allegiance is now to God the Father, not to our earthly dad. We may love our families very much and be very close to them, but the greater love has to be to God.

When we make a decision to follow Jesus we may not fully understand what will be required to follow Him. If we love the world more than Jesus, then we have yet to come to grips with what it means to be a Christian. At times we can get excited about following Jesus – to cross to the other side of the lake. We believe that there is nothing that will divert us from this decision. We may be like the scribe who professes allegiance, but will not even go across the lake. Jesus was reminding His followers that there is a cost – it might impact on our relationships, it may require sacrifice of material things; it may require having to face fears and anxieties.

This passage reminds me that when I am letting other things take priority over my relationship with Jesus I am to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:33). Jesus isn’t saying I can’t have these things but when we seek Him first, all these things will be ours as well.

Thank you God that you are our Father and you provide for us much more than we can ever imagine. Amen

Written by Meredith O’Neill

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Sunday 22 July, 2018

Matthew 8:14-17

14 When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. 15 He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him. 16 When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.”

Pay it forward. That’s simply what Peter’s mother in law did. She was healed. Jesus gave her a gift she couldn’t have bought. The Bible goes on to say that she then got up and cared for Jesus. I’m sure after Jesus left her house she cared for many more. The beauty of Christianity is it being grounded with being a people with a heart to serve. To not be aspiring for title or being the ‘boss’ but to live your life looking after other people, helping other people, serving other people. Quite the contrary to today’s society.

What can I do today to serve? To look after another? To help someone out?

Thank you God that your number one priority is people and seeing the best for people. Help me do the same I pray.

Written by Soph Botta

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