Monday 10 September, 2018

Matthew 20:20-28

20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. 21 “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” 22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered. 23 Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.” 24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

I’m trying to imagine this scene without laughing. James and John, the ones Jesus called sons of thunder, wanted to ask Jesus about a position of honour. But they couldn’t ask him themselves so they had their mother ask Jesus.

That didn’t go down to well with the other disciples. The ten were hurt and offended by this, (Message Bible – thoroughly disgusted). Immediately Jesus steps in to settle things down.

But seriously, how often have we been hurt or offended by the words or actions of other believers? It happens. James and John probably didn’t intend to hurt the other disciples, but they did.

But worse is to not deal with it immediately. An offense that is not resolved quickly becomes a deeper hurt that can last year’s. That’s why Jesus steps in immediately.

Jesus offers a solution. Don’t try to get back at them or try to win, instead be a servant to everyone. Follow the model of Jesus who came not to rule over us but to serve us and gave up his rights and life for us. It’s not about seeking honour for ourselves, it is actually just being a servant to all, and in this way giving honour to the only one worthy of honour – Jesus.

Jesus, help me to be more like you, and be more interested in serving than about my getting.

Written by Andrew Martin

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Sunday 9 September, 2018

Matthew 20:17-19

17 Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, 18 “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death 19 and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”

If the disciples hadn’t got the message yet, then they’d have until the end
before they could understand. Could Jesus describe his destiny any more
clearly? You and I are aware of the bigger story, the trajectory of the
other gospels, the beginning of the Bible and the end; you know that the
all first disciples still got caught out by the climax: Jesus’ tragic
death and triumphant resurrection was a surprise to everyone.

My imagination is sparked by the thought that we Christians so often
suffer from the same problem. Even with the benefit of hindsight, even
with knowing the Jesus stories, even with living the Christian way we
might still refuse to accept the deeper significance what the Jesus life
can mean. Jesus takes us on the road to Jerusalem, a unique road that
only Jesus can navigate for us. A road marked by exactly the same type
of highs, lows, miracles, burdens and victories that we read about in
the New Testament. Imagine the overwhelming love and happiness the disciples
felt after the day Jesus returned from the grave and they started to
remember all the words he said. With 20-20 hindsight, remembering Jesus’
words, the troubles they had experienced would’ve been eclipsed by the
immense value of the treasure that was now in their possession: they had
lived with Jesus, talked with Jesus, hung out with Jesus. They had
walked the road to Jerusalem with Jesus. Now Jesus, and eternal life,
were theirs forever.

Dear God. Thank you for the clarity and meaning that your Spirit gives
me and my life history. Thank you for your hand of protection, provision
and comfort. Thank you for leading, inspiration and healing. Thank you
that my Jerusalem road ends in triumph with you. Thank you for the
overwhelming value of love and grace that you deposit into my life. Amen.

 

Written by Sam Stewart

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Saturday 8 September, 2018

Matthew 20:1-16

20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard. 3 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went. “He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’ 7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. “He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’ 8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’ 9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’ 13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

As I come to the end of this passage I find myself empathising with the workers who had laboured for 12 hours. It seems unfair that they should be paid the same as those who worked for only one hour. Unless, the wages were a reflection of the owner’s generosity, and not a de-valuing of the original workers’ labour.

If I stop and think about it, the original workers spent the day knowing they would be paid and were purposefully employed. Right from 6am in the morning they had the peace of income, and could sleep well that night satisfied with a solid day’s work. But what about the others? Maybe they had slept in, maybe they had lazed about… but maybe they had waited in the market all day hoping to be hired. There would be no peace in that, no purposeful activity… they were no better off than the original workers. How good even to work for an hour, and feel that even if the pay was generous, you had contributed to the owner’s business.

Wow, how generous is God in supplying our needs and also giving us the opportunity to work. And how generous and just is He in extending salvation to all who choose to believe, at any point in the ‘day’. Bless you God. Amen.

Written by Bethany Waugh

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Friday 7 September, 2018

Matthew 19:16-30

16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” 17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 “Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” 20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” 26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

Religious leaders often came to Jesus to challenge him, because they were looking to drag him down.

Now Jesus challenges a young religious leader because he loves him (Mark tells us “Jesus felt genuine love for him” Mark 10:21). This young man thinks he can earn eternal life by what he does. He’s confident that he’s done all that the law requires, but his question shows he knows something is missing. Jesus sees his heart and points straight to a command that he can’t obey. He loves himself more than his neighbour. He’d rather walk away from his God than walk away from his wealth. Paul puts it plainly “For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.” (Romans 3:19-20). The young man is placing his confidence in himself. He needs to put is trust in Jesus. Jesus tells them clearly that salvation is impossible for man, only possible for God.

Next Jesus challenges his disciples. They looked at the young man’s wealth and power and thought “everybody knows they must be a reward for his godly life”. And now Jesus is telling them it’s a barrier to entering God’s kingdom (because he loved it more than Jesus).

But Peter’s still caught on doing things to be saved: “We have left everything to follow you! What reward will be given to us?” He’s missed the point. It’s not the giving things up that would save him; it’s following Jesus.

Now I’m challenged. What wrong concepts are holding me back? What do I love more than Jesus?

Jesus, I want to walk with you. Show me everything that is holding me back. Speak into every area where my mind needs to be renewed, and brought into line with you.

Written by David Cornell

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Thursday 6 September, 2018

Matthew 19:13-15

13 Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. 14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.

I know Jesus cares about the kids.

I know Jesus’ heart is for ALL kids. The babies, the toddlers, the teens and the kids that are no longer kids.

I know that some kids have walked away from Jesus yet their parents are still invited and welcomed by Jesus to “bring” them to Him.

I know Jesus loves the faith of a concerned and caring parent. A faith that never ceases to pray, to bring before Him the kids that need the blessing of the Saviour so badly.

I know these parental tears of concern are so precious to Jesus that He collects them and stores them in His bottle (Psalm 56:8).

I know that these kids may be far from Jesus yet somehow are still within His embrace.

I know that Jesus is all about the prodigal – all about calling them back to Him.

And I know one day that child will return. And what a joyful day that will be!

Written by Boudy Van Noppen

1 (reply)
  1. Andrew says:

    B
    Very succinct and hit the nail on the head.
    Jesus loves our kids even if we are worried about them.
    He knows everything past, present and future while we struggle with just today.
    Dear Lord Jesus help me to trust you with my kids.

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Wednesday 5 September, 2018

Matthew 19:1-12

19 When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. 2 Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. 3 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” 4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” 7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” 8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” 10 The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.” 11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”

God’s care for women is demonstrated here, as Jesus will not condone the accepted practice which allowed men to divorce their wives for whatever reason they wanted to. Women of that time did not have the same powers as men, and if the husband decided to divorce her, she could potentially be left with little or no financial support or recourse.  Jesus is quite direct in saying to the men that this is not acceptable, except in the case of adultery.

This is yet another example of God’s care for all people equally, and the foundation of our modern understanding of gender equality.

When I read Jesus’ responses in the Bible, I always feel like I am in safe hands. His answers to questions are wise, loving and direct, and make sense of the world. What a radical difference Jesus has made to those who have followed Him and His teachings.

Jesus, we are forever grateful.

Written by Shelley Witt

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Tuesday 4 September, 2018

Matthew 18:21-35

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. 23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. 26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. 28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. 29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ 30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. 32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. 35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

V35…forgive your brother from your heart.

The kingdom of God is a kingdom of forgiveness. Wholehearted forgiveness. The “master” in this story Jesus is telling, forgives a massive debt “completely”. He responds with mercy and forgiveness for the entire, enormous, life-crippling debt. There is now no longer anything owing. He is free.

The absolutely mean spirited and greedy response of this free man to his servant, stands in stark contrast to the actions of his master.

I live in the Kingdom of God. A Kingdom of extravagant forgiveness and freedom from debt.

It is my culture.

Lord God – you have mercifully and completely forgiven me. Fill me afresh Holy Spirit – I need your help. May Your kingdom come here on earth as in heaven – through me, as I forgive as you do.

Written by Ps. Linda Quinn

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Monday 3 September, 2018

Matthew 18:15-20

15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. 18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

This is an interesting passage of scripture that covers how we are to handle sin within the church.  It basically goes through the process of firstly bringing up the matter privately with the person who has sinned then if this fails bring in another believer as a witness and if this still fails to achieve reconciliation then the matter is raised with the church.  Sin is to not to be taken lightly as it has ramifications beyond those directly involved.  There is accountability for sin yet it is to be done in love and with the aim of maintaining unity between believers.  The final verses encourage believers to take these areas of sin to God in prayer.  He has promised to be there alongside us when we raise these matters of sin to him.

My first read of this passage and I thought to myself this is quite confronting.  It is a reminder of the seriousness of sin and that it simply can’t be overlooked.  It’s challenging for sure.  Hand on heart who wants to go and confront someone?  What I am encouraged by is that Jesus encourages us to pray about these things and to do it together.  We are not left on our own to try and work these things out.  God promises to be there with us in these moments.  His grace and wisdom are there, the Holy Spirit is there softening hearts and helping us love and forgive one another.  This gives us great assurance.

Dear Lord, thank you for your promise to be there when we come together in prayer.  Help us to have courage in the area of raising sin and offence with one another and to bring these matters before you.  Help us to represent Jesus well and live in unity with other believers.  Amen.

Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods

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Sunday 2 September, 2018

Matthew 18:1-14

18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. 6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! 8 If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell. 10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. [11] 12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.

Who will be the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven? Jesus answers this question with an illustration about little children, which reveals that the question itself comes from a prideful and self centred perspective. He says (my paraphrase) “no the kingdom of God is not like that! Those most revered in heaven are those that are humble.”

In the following passages, Jesus goes on to instruct the disciples in how they should live… he links humility and other person centred with:

  • Not causing others to sin
  • Not over-looking the 1/100 who is lost

Jesus is encouraging his disciples to be concerned about others. To live in a way that does not lead others into sin but rather towards God. And to actively go out and find any who is lost. Jesus shows how he values people equally, he values all people: the youngest to the oldest, the least honoured to the most honoured, those who know him and those who don’t yet know him, the crowd and the one. He wants his disciples, that now includes us, to value people as he does and to live and work as he does to see them found and living a Christ filled life.

Jesus please help me to change and to become more like you. Help me to live a humble life and to be other person centred. To value each person equally. Help me to find and love the lost. Thank you that you came and found me, that you loved me and you keep on loving me and forgiving me. Thank you that you give me strength and humility, through your Holy Spirit, to do all that you call me to do.

Written by Ps. Zoe Stewart

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Saturday 1 September, 2018

Matthew 17:24-27

24 After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” 25 “Yes, he does,” he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?” 26 “From others,” Peter answered. “Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. 27 “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”

Polite conversation amongst friends never covers death or taxes. Riddle me this: “Do Kings
charge their children taxes?” A: No (at least in the ancient world anyways). The implied answer (you can visualize the twinkle in Jesus eye during this conversation) “I don’t need to pay the temple tax, I’m
temple royalty”. Once again Jesus ‘goes there’ and once again Jesus is in the spotlight for his behaviour in connection religious rules. Jesus decides to avoid controversy, directs a miracle and moves on. The disciples are left, slightly dizzy and witnesses to another very intriguing episode in the Jesus story.

I’m drawn to what seems like Jesus taking a mischievous or cheeky tone in this story. Jesus probes his team with a rhetorical question. The implied answer that Jesus leads to – his placing of himself as equal to the temple, as royalty at the God level – must have seemed overly bold at first. Jesus’ disciples must have been exhausted sometimes trying to unlock the deeper meaning of these kind of grand claims. Consider also that Jesus’ teaching was balanced with miracle after miracle and you wonder what kind of emotional state this roller coaster adventure left his followers in. I imagine the utter joy and relief the disciples must have felt when Jesus’ story triumphed in front of their eyes with his resurrection: suddenly it would’ve started to make sense. All those stories, all those miracles, all of Jesus’ instructions. Jesus truly is the very presence of God. The thing that every faithful Jew was attending the Jerusalem temple and waiting for, was standing amongst them. The literal royal mark of God, the very house of God’s spirit was no longer the ancient temple but was now here, standing, with them, as their friend.

Jesus, my King and friend. Thank you that I am saved, cleaned and have been adopted to be a part of your royal household. I want to live for you with the kind of dedication that the first disciples showed: led onwards by your activity and your words, committed to you wholeheartedly, living the great adventure that comes with following in your ways. Amen

Written by Sam Stewart

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