Friday 31 August, 2018

Matthew 17:14-23

14 When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 16 I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.” 17 “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” 18 Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” 20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” [21] 22 When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. 23 They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief.

A couple of thoughts dwell with me as I read this passage.

The first – Lord have mercy…

God’s mercy is always bigger. Bigger than our desire to see people healed and restored. Whether someone is a person of God or a person lost, God has more mercy than we can comprehend.

The second – Why couldn’t we…?

I ask this question of myself and God often. I believe God does heal and I believe God wants peoples’ suffering to end. But sometimes (or often) prayers are not answered in the way or in the time that I want or expect.

This passage shows that sometimes its something that I can do differently to be more effective in my ministry to people, but other times, it just needs something else to work differently. Or sometimes I need to be more patient, and sometimes I just need to stand with someone while the pain continues. Whatever it is, I know that I am getting better at being at peace with the complexity of desiring to see people restored.

Lord, help me to continue to grow in my ability to see the lost won to you and to see the broken brought to a place of healing. Thankyou for those who have shown me what it is to live out their faith through suffering – May they experience your love and mercy and be given release.

Written by Ps. Justin Ware 

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Thursday 30 August, 2018

Matthew 17-1-13

17 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. 4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” 8 When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus. 9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” 10 The disciples asked him, “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?” 11 Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. 12 But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.

I’m sure we’ve all tried looking directly into the sun … it’s something that we just can’t physically do, even for a second it overwhelms us & we have to look away. Here Matthew tells us that this is the kind of light & intensity Jesus’s whole being became, from the inside out. He revealed his true glory to Peter, James & John. Just a week prior Peter had declared that Jesus was the Son of God (Matt 16:16), here not only does Jesus confirm this as He transforms giving them a glimpse of his true nature, but also the Fathers voice from heaven confirms it (see Matt 3:17 also), with the added command ‘Listen to him!’.

Inevitably, if this had happened to me I’m sure I’d be like the disciples – on my face, overwhelmed & babbling – one day I will see him in his glory but for now, I can ‘listen to him’. Listen to the Holy Spirit, listen through reading the Word, listen as he speaks through others into my life, listen by being part of his body – as I attend church. Listening to Jesus is an action, it requires something from me, an action that I can practice, it becomes easier to hear His voice the more we listen for it and as we do this, our lives change as we walk in obedience. We may not see Jesus in his true glory yet, but we can ‘listen to him’.

Jesus, I know I don’t always listen as well as I should, but for now, until I see you face to face, I will continue to Listen to you as it’s the only way I’ll live my best life.

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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Wednesday 29 August, 2018

Matthew 16:21-28

21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. 22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” 23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. 28 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Have you ever faced something that put you way out of your comfort zone?? We are tempted to think it couldn’t possibly be ‘God’s perfect plan’. It’s human to avoid discomfort, but Jesus calls us to have bigger picture thinking. Apparently it’s not all about me!! A life spent following Jesus is going to require sacrifice and personal discomfort at times.

So what does my cross look like? I am forever challenged by my need to face discomfort/ grief/ pain/disappointment in a way that honours Christ and the sacrifice he was prepared to make for me. We need to embrace our ‘cross’ and make the journey. I need to move past first world obsession with my own comfort and happiness, and accept that what God requires is far more important.

Father God give me the courage to face the challenges I struggle with. Help me to face life in your strength not my own. Lord I want to honour you in all I say and do. In Jesus Name. Amen

Written by Christine Knight

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Tuesday 28 August, 2018

Matthew 16:13-20

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” 14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

During my study with C3 College this year I was able to reflect more fully on Peter and how his identity and future changed through his relationship with Jesus. Jesus moved Peter from a place of shame in His presence to a place of importance and value. Peter’s identity was shaped through Christ giving him the name Cephas (the rock) to let him know that he had significance in Christ. In fact, he became the rock of the church following Pentecost – a fulfilment of this prophecy. Through knowing that Jesus is the son of the living God Peter came to realise his true potential. When we come to know Jesus and let ourselves be open to his revelation we move more and more into our God identity and into that place of significance He has for us to further His kingdom. No matter my human failings I am constantly amazed that God has given me “the keys of the kingdom of heaven”. Such grace!

Thank you Jesus, that no matter the current condition of my heart, you have placed significance and value on my life. Your sacrifice and love for me means I can enter into your kingdom both here on earth and in Heaven. Help me, through your holy spirit, to step into this place of significance. Amen

Written by Meredith O’Neil

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Monday 27 August, 2018

Matthew 16:5-12

5 When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. 6 “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 7 They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.” 8 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? 9 Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 11 How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

There are some things I should accept with faith and then move on. Like – God will provide, He will never leave me or forsake me, if God is for me who can stand against me. Basics like that and many more.

Jesus wants to teach me new things and lead me to greater challenges – to go deeper with Him. But sometimes I can’t seem to move away from the basics.

This is what’s happening in this passage. Jesus wants to warn the disciples about false teaching, He uses an illustration about bread, they’ve forgotten to bring something to eat and start to worry and the basics and they miss the point Jesus is trying to make.

The key phrase is “you have so little faith” v8.

What area am I stuck on? Where Jesus is calling me deeper but I won’t go because I don’t trust Him even in the shallows?

Lord, I want to be the kind of man that you can say “he has great faith”. Please do whatever it takes in my life that I can answer You and go where ever you call. Amen

 

Written by Boudy van Noppen

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Sunday 26 August, 2018

Matthew 16:1-4

16 The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven. 2 He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ 3 and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. 4 A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away.

Insisting on proof/demanding a supernatural sign – gosh these guys were rude. God had already given so many signs but they wanted one they specified. Isn’t that just like all of us – we want things the way that makes sense to us in the timing we want. God explains to us the signs He has provided about who Jesus was:

  • line of David
  • born in Bethlehem
  • range of miraculous signs that had already occurred
  • God’s introduction at Jesus’ baptism

to name just a few. We need to think of how we feel when people don’t believe what we say.

Unlike the guys who were speaking to Jesus we have access to many resources that can help us know what God has already said about who He is and how we can know Him – the Bible in many versions and lots of well written, well researched study tools – much of which is available online at no or low cost.

Lord, thank You for communicating with us, for telling us how we can know You and Jesus. That we can see Your love through Jesus coming to provide a way to relationship for us. Help us to remember what You have spoken to us and to not ignore what You have said.

Written by Therese Manning

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Saturday 25 August, 2018

Matthew 15:29-39

29 Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. 30 Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. 31 The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel. 32 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.” 33 His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?” 34 “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked. “Seven,” they replied, “and a few small fish.” 35 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. 36 Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. 37 They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 38 The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children. 39 After Jesus had sent the crowd away, he got into the boat and went to the vicinity of Magadan.

Two parts of this passage. Firstly, in verse 30, the people brought the unwell and sick to the feet of Jesus, and trusted Jesus to do something. For me, this strikes me as a beautiful picture of surrender and trust. I feel Jesus calling me to keep it simple – just come to my feet, and trust me for whatever troubles and sicknesses you face. Jesus doesn’t turn these precious lives away, but works His loving power. Likewise, for those I care about, followers of Jesus or otherwise, am I bringing them to the feet of Jesus in trust and surrender? Jesus doesn’t need more, to work His loving power in their lives.

The second part, is where Jesus says, “I am unwilling to send them (the crowd) away hungry.” The interesting thing to me is, He’s in conversation with His disciples. Makes me wonder – how much need in this world is Jesus willing to shift if he’s got a disciple or group of disciples listening to Him? And more than that, a group of disciples willing to enter into the conversation and the necessary steps to be part of His miracle working solutions? Jesus, I feel you calling me to be such a disciple. I’m listening. Lord, may we as a church be as well!!!

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh

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Friday 24 August, 2018

Matthew 15:21-28

21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” 23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” 25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. 26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” 27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” 28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

This passage is about ‘great faith’ and answered prayers.

Some people think faith is like a genie’s magic lamp, rub it the right way and you get whatever you want. This is not good. The faith that sees answered prayers is not procedural, it is relational.

In the case of this women she believed in the supernatural healing power of God, she believed Jesus was endowed with this power. She believed in the goodness of God, she believed in Jesus’s compassion for those in need, and when her faith was tested she did not give up. She fought for her daughters’ healing and in so doing demonstrated great faith.

I highly suspect her response to Jesus’s initial refusal to listen was divinely inspired and this showed Jesus that God had endorsed her prayer request.

I wonder? if God is please by faith (Heb 11:6) is God extremely pleased by ‘great faith’. I don’t know the answer, but I know faith will be tested and ‘great faith’ will most likely be tested greatly.

So, take the opportunity today to think about how your faith has been tested recently. It might be a big challenge, or it might be a small challenge, but have you responded to the ‘test of faith’ with perseverance. If you want answered prayers you may have to fight like a mother does for a child.

Lord, teach us to persevere when our faith is tested that we may see the blessing of answered prayers.

Amen!

Written by David Newton

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Thursday 23 August, 2018

Matthew 15:1-20

15 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!” 3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’[a] and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’[b] 5 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ 6 they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: 8 “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 9 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’[c]” 10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” 12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?” 13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides.[d] If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” 15 Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

I really love driving analogies, as I often feel God speaks to me when I’m driving to work or driving home. This passage reminds me of speed cameras.

The purpose of a speed camera is to keep everyone on the road at a safe speed so that there’s less chance of accident or injury. But let’s say I was so focused on going under the speed limit that I wasn’t focusing enough on the road, and ended up hitting a pedestrian. I couldn’t then argue “but I was going the legal speed!” Similarly, if I found myself in a position where going over the speed limit meant avoiding injury, I believe I’d do it in a heartbeat – even if it meant getting fined.

This passage speaks about the importance of the condition of our heart. Jesus powerfully explains to both the Pharisees and the disciples that it’s not meticulously following the rules and regulations that is the end goal, but having a healthy heart. In fact, having a healthy heart leads to us living in wisdom and obedience to the rules. Proverbs 4:23 sums it up well – “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

If the dominant purpose of my life is to follow all the rules and tick all the boxes, I’m going to end up hitting a pedestrian. I definitely want to live my life in obedience to God’s commands, but the first step is to surrender my heart to Him afresh each day. For it is not my effort, but God’s grace, that will enable me to live right.

So Lord, have my heart. Examine it, search it, and reveal what You find. Remove what’s bad, heal what’s hurt, and fill it with Your goodness. Amen.

Written by Matt Samperi

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Wednesday 22 August, 2018

Matthew 15:1-9

15 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!” 3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 5 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ 6 they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: 8 “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 9 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’”

This passage is a great reminder of two things. 1. actions speak louder than words. 2. your words reveal your true self. Verses 8 and 9 are straight to the point – that there are plenty of fakes out there. People can easily have big words and can beef themselves up that way. But at the root, their actions show the opposite of their words. The Bible says “their hearts are far from me”. That is a tough statement to read and then question ‘am I in the same position?’

Verse 18 reminds us what needs to be in good shape – your heart. It is the root of actions, of words and choices. Looking after our heart and keeping it pure is essential.  There can certainly be plenty of talk and big grand gestures, but in reality, how you respond, how you speak, what you do out of the view of others determines your character and who you are.

What kind of person am I? Do my actions reveal who I am? Do my words reveal my character? Think through this. If there are parts that you want changed, pray for help and start making the steps to see it changed.

God, I know I am not perfect but I thank you that I have your word to guide me and your Holy Spirit to lead me. Please help me to honour you with what I say, to keep my heart pure and entirely on you. Amen

Written by Sophie Botta

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