Thursday 20 September, 2018

Matthew 22:34-40

34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

When I read this passage the first thing that always comes to mind is a worship song that was popular back when I was a very young Christian. It’s engraved in my memory which is wonderful but it also has the effect of brushing over the impact of what Jesus is saying & how it should impact my life.

Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees question comes from both Deut 6:5 & Lev 19:18. I’ve been meditating on how exactly I live this out … loving God with ALL my heart, soul & mind & my neighbour as myself, I’m finding it’s easier to read (or sing) than to live, there always seems to be something, someone, some situation, attitude or motive that comes in and competes for that place in my life, which should be God’s alone. Then I realised that this is exactly how Jesus lived. This is how Jesus was able to live a sinless life.

I am so aware that the only way that I can attempt to love God and my neighbour as Jesus did is through the help of the Holy Spirit living in me, otherwise my sin nature will just take over, my selfishness will rule, after all, this world would have us think that this life is ‘all about me’.  I know I need help!

Dear Lord, you know my heart better than I do, I need your grace and compassion, to enable me to love others as you do, I need your Spirit to keep me centred and focused on You and not myself, and walking in Your ways always.

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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Wednesday 19 September, 2018

Matthew 22:23-33

23 That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 24 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. 26 The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. 27 Finally, the woman died. 28 Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?” 29 Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 31 But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” 33 When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.

Throughout the Bible, there are some amazing descriptions of what heaven will be like: Streets paved with gold, a throne with a river flowing from it through the middle of a city with incredible fruit trees along side it.

But I love thinking about how heaven will be when the new creation comes. This passage gives a fascinating insight into how we will relate to one another in the next life. For me, this passage raises more questions than it answers, but I am so thankful for this revelation, as well as the testimony of guys like Ian McCormack, who was stung by a box jellyfish and describes what he saw while he was being pronounced dead before coming back to life here

https://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=%23&ved=2ahUKEwiTqejfg-fcAhXEWbwKHeMTDgkQwqsBMAF6BAgKEAo&usg=AOvVaw0VTJzWxrN8ZFOD4xbU2nov

Thankyou Lord that we can have confidence of seeing heaven if we have faith in Jesus and relationship with You.

Written by Ps. Justin Ware

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Tuesday 18 September, 2018

Matthew 22:15-22

15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?” 18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” 21 “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” 22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

I love this! This is ‘sassy’ Jesus at his best. He wasn’t intimidated by the Pharisees, and he didn’t put up with their games. No ‘gentle Jesus meek and mild’ here! I want to be like Jesus – wise, smart, ready with an answer, to the point. We need to be like Jesus, ready to face those who try to take us down for our faith and beliefs. We need to ask God for wisdom so our words supernaturally expose the truth.

Jesus help me be more like you. Give me wisdom in dealing with those who attack me because of my faith. Help me to be bold and may my words reveal you. In Jesus name Amen

Written by Christine Knight

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Monday 17 September, 2018

Matthew 22:1-14

22 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. 4 “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’ 5 “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless. 13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

Parables are interesting reading, filled with metaphor and interesting potential applications. For me, Jesus is illustrating the need to spread the good news about Him, inviting all to come and join in the feast, the party, the celebration of life and freedom in Him. That Jesus is looking for people willing to go wherever He’ll send them, inviting whoever He wants to come in, even to the streets that whoever would hear and respond, would be welcome. I want to be one such willing person, Jesus!

The part about “wedding clothes” or garments is interesting to me. I simply think that this is an important thing to note in the invitation. We do this for weddings today – what’s the dress code? Black tie? Cocktail? Etc. Here, I feel Jesus calling me, in my invitations to people, to be clear about the dress code – we come to this freedom feast in the clothes, dress, in the garments of salvation – grace, forgiveness, and hope in Jesus. Help me Lord remember to include the dress code in my invitations to people!

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh

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Sunday 16 September, 2018

Matthew 21:33-46

33 “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit. 35 “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36 Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way.

This passage is a small part of a series of stories told by Jesus to illustrate the true nature of the kingdom of God. At that time Israel was ruled by the Roman empire but the imagery of agrarian society was well understood. In fact, the idea of tending a garden to make it productive is found throughout all of scripture and so is the idea there are influences that work to derail the labour. In a corporate way this is a picture of the Church but in an individual way we are the garden and we are to tend to the condition of our own mind and heart.

Later scriptures clearly state this story was directed at the religious leaders of Jesus’s day as the ones who were working against the purposes of God. It’s a scary thought but it has left me wondering what things I am doing to hinder my own fruitfulness or worse, am I in some way interfering with the fruitfulness of another person.

I suspect these issues are sometimes far subtler that we realise and require the conviction of the Holy Spirit to be revealed.

Lord, I ask you to help me to be a more fruitful person and how I can encourage others to be more fruitful as well.

Amen!

Written by David Newton

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Saturday 15 September, 2018

Matthew 21:23-32

23 Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?” 24 Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 25 John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ 29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. 30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. 31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.

The religious leaders had looked at John the Baptist’s ministry with scepticism. John kept all the religious laws but he was unconventional and definitely not part of the religious ‘inner crowd’. John had disrupted business as usual for the Jews. So the religious inner crowd (the Pharisees) rejected him. But he was accepted by the irreligious, they were compelled to find new life in John’s message of repentance.

Jesus had come as the fulfilment of John’s message. John called people to turn away from sin, and Jesus is the one to turn to.

Nothing has changed today. Jesus calls me to to turn away from sin and to follow him. Now that I have become a child of God and belong in his church, I must not make a routine of religion, I must not commit myself to a Christian version of ‘business as usual’. If I do, I might find myself rejecting the one who saved me. Jesus has saved me for a dynamic journey of following him, not mere religious routine. I am not to be like the son that says the right things but doesn’t actually do them.

Lord, I repent of going through the motions. I’m your disciple. By your power at work in me I will be obedient.

Written by Andrew Mellor

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Friday 14 September, 2018

Matthew 21:18-22

18 Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered. 20 When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked. 21 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

Jesus gave a shocking demonstration of his power this particular day with his disciples. A tree, not fit for purpose, is cursed, followed by Jesus speaking about faithful prayer. How could these be connected?

The tree was not fit for purpose as it failed to provide fruit. Luscious juicy fruit is what Jesus was craving. (The disciples may also have realised the association with the nation of Israel. The fig tree was often associated with Israel – as in Hosea 9:10 and Jeremiah 8:13 – and Jesus is pronouncing judgment on Israel.)

We are fit for purpose when we pray with belief. This isn’t some wishful thinking kind of belief, or a “feeling positive” belief. We pray with confidence. Our confidence is sure because it is based on knowing our God we pray to. He cares for us – for the small and big issues we face. He does not forget us or leave us. He is faithful. He is God who empowers us, just as Jesus promises. Our prayers will be powerful and we will be fit for purpose because we know who it is we pray to. We will see things change because of this type of prayer. We will see transformation and miracles. Wow!

Dear heavenly Lord. When I pray I know you incline your ear, you love to hear me crying out to you, sharing with you, worshipping you. Thank you for making me fit for your purposes. I am expectant. Amen

Written by Claire Moore

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Thursday 13 September, 2018

Matthew 21:12-17

12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’” 14 The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant. 16 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?” 17 And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.

In this well-known passage, Jesus clears out the temple because the people are not doing what they should be: God’s house was intended to be a house of prayer but they were using it as a marketplace. I wonder how it got to be this way? Did it start little by little, setting up mats on the ground, then stalls and selling things??  Jesus was concerned and so he reminded them, using scripture, saying “it is written….” (NIV).

As I read this I wonder what areas of my life are not being used for God’s intended purpose? What clearing out do I need to do? Where am I little by little moving away from how God intends me to live, think, act?  I keep going back to the phrase “it is written”. When I’m not sure, I need to align myself with God’s word, remembering “It is written” in scripture for my benefit.

In V16 Jesus also says, “have you never read…” He expects us to be reading and living according to it.

Lord, I want to continually live according to your word and your ways. May my actions reflect a life based on your word.

Written by Gab Martin

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Wednesday 12 September, 2018

Matthew 21:1-11

21 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: 5 “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’” 6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” 10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” 11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

It’s a parade! Parades are meant to promote a concept or a cause. But this ‘parade’ was both different and unique. Riding on a donkey Jesus portrayed himself as a king. The nature of this parade was meant to announce the significance of his kingship – so different to the world’s concept of authority with its display of military power. Jesus wanted to depict a reign of an entirely different order – the Kingdom of God!

Most Jews in Jesus’ day expected a different kind of Savior. They thought that Messiah would be a mighty political deliverer who would lead Israel to military victory over Rome. They were not looking for a lowly Savior, riding on a donkey. They could not conceive of a suffering Savior, who offered Himself as the sacrifice for sinners. And so, tragically, they missed the coming of their King!

Christianity is still the one authentic faith which believes in Jesus as our Saviour and King who established a new Kingdom based on his sacrifice and powerful resurrection. Now by faith we are not only spectators of Jesus’ procession of victory but we are actively participating with Him in that victory parade! [2 Cor 2:14]

Praise and honour to you Jesus that by your ultimate sacrifice on the Cross you established an indestructible kingdom. Thank you that there is no more need for confusion because you have made it absolutely clear that you are the King. Thank you that you have called me into your Kingdom of love and peace and given me a royal status.

Written by Joan Bennett

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Tuesday 11 September, 2018

Matthew 20:29-34

29 As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30 Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” 31 The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” 32 Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. 33 “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.” 34 Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.

It is thought that Jesus asks about 200 to 300 questions to people through His documented travels in the Bible.

I love this question that Jesus asks whilst on a ‘normal’ journey from Jericho.  The story tells us He HEARS these ‘noisy’ blind men and then He asks them:  “What do you want me to do for you?”  These persistent men have continued to yell and to get their ‘Lord, Son of David’s” attention.  They are unafraid by the crowd and unashamed to be noticed, yet they are blind.

Jesus’ questions are always leading us to ACTIONS not ANSWERS and DECISIONS not DEBATE.

If Jesus was to say to you “What do you want from me?”  Can you give a decisive answer?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I bring to you my request today:  I am asking for you to……………………………………………………….. (complete what your request is). 

Continue to ask Him decisively and completely.  Are there any actions that you and I need to do to bring about an answer.

Written by Ps. Sue Botta

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