Monday 28 February, 2022

Matthew 13:18-23

18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

I so appreciate this parable, it reminds me again of the significance of the Word and inspires me not to take it for granted. 

How cool that God has seeds and He is scattering them across the ground, it reminds me that God is active in the world and wants to bring life. What a helpful metaphor, God’s Word is like those seeds, each verse is a tiny package with expansive and reproductive life potential. God partners with His people across the globe to scatter tiny packages of expansive and reproductive life potential. What about John 3:16, ‘For God so loved the world that whoever believes in Him will not die but have eternal life’. A tiny package of one sentence, but what potential for life and freedom is in that one verse! 

God, forgive me for underestimating or dismissing your Word. Please help me to have a heart of good soil, that I would receive the seed of your Word and that it would bear much fruit in my life. Amen. 

Written by Ps. Beth Waugh

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Sunday 27 February, 2022

Matthew 13:1-17

13 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.” 10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” 11 He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. 14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15 For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ 16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

* This passage of Scripture is about the readiness of a person’s heart to receive the word of God.
* God so desires for us to listen to him and to be fully engaged.

* The Kingdom of Heaven has secrets that not everybody understands but believers have been given insights and this is a great privilege

How often have you felt that those around you simply “don’t get” why you believe in Jesus and why the Christian faith is central to all you do?  This passage of Scripture goes some way in explaining the reasons. On one level it seems a little cruel in that those who listen to God will be given even more knowledge in regards to the Kingdom of God.  They already had some level of understanding and now they get more while those with hard hearts, the little they knew is taken from them.  It’s the hard hearted that really need the revelation but they are not ready to receive it. They are not looking or listening to God.

Jesus uses parables or storytelling to stir and ready people’s hearts so that they will be in a position to see and hear God.  Storytelling is such a powerful form of communication because it engages us from the outset.  As a story unfolds an image is brought to mind as we try and work out the plot. The image and therefore the message sticks in one’s mind.  Jesus used stories to explain God’s Kingdom because he wants to communicate with men and women. A story can bring a different perspective, the flicker of hope and the beginnings of faith. I am encouraged to share stories rather than principles or facts alone.

Dear God, help me to tell your story to those around me like Jesus did. Amen

Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods

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Saturday 26 February, 2022

Matthew 12:46-50

46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. 47 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” 48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

So frustrating! Jesus has just finished some really deep and important teaching about listening to God and the nature of evil spirits and some random guy in the crowd breaks in with a comment completely off topic. “Hey Jesus your mum and brothers are out here and want a word.” Was he even listening?

Jesus, true to form, doesn’t miss a beat. He points to his disciples and says to the guy “do you see these guys? That’s my family!”

Can Jesus point to me and say “look at that guy! Do you see him? Putting God first in everything, immersing himself in Me, crying out and begging for the Holy Spirit, obeying and imitating me even when its costly. Look at him go! That’s my brother!”?

Oh, Jesus. May you say this of me. Amen

Written by Boudy Van Noppen

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Friday 25 February, 2022

Matthew 12:38-45

38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” 39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here. 42 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here. 43 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”

The request for a sign revealed the character of that “generation’s” hearts.  Jesus had already been providing signs, and his opponents were disputing their validity (12:22–24).  All too often we ask for a sign and then ask again not convinced that what has been given is enough.  Jesus explains that his generation needs no greater sign that He is from God than his own message.  He insists that the only sign the sign-seekers would be given was the sign that God supplied the Ninevites: Jonah’s restoration after three days.  The Ninevites repented without recognizing a sign, whereas Jesus’ opponents were too hard-hearted to repent despite the many signs he had been giving them.  Jesus was greater than Jonah yet the generation were not prepared to repent. 

Where am I asking God for more – is it to convince me of who He is?  God is God and I need to get with that program and stop requiring Him to prove Himself! 

Father help me to honour You and take You at Your Word – for You are Almighty, All loving, All wisdom…

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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Thursday 24 February, 2022

Matthew 12:22-37

22 Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. 23 All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” 24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.” 25 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 “Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder his house. 30 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31 And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. 33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

There is a popular saying, “actions speak louder than words”, but here Jesus is reminding us that our words are just as important and directly linked to the state of our hearts…

“But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

We often talk about “bearing good fruit” in our lives with regards to the way we live and the things we do, but here Jesus is using the metaphor of “good fruit” in the context of what we speak.

I recognise here that the Pharisees are just speaking lots of rubbish –accusing Jesus of doing miracles by the power of the devil in order to distract and hide from the obvious truth that is before them. They don’t want to acknowledge who Jesus really is and what He is requiring of them, because that would involve humbling themselves and exposing their sinful hearts.

How many times have I done that – made excuses and used distraction techniques to avoid facing what’s in my own heart?

I am on a journey to dig deeper and get to the root of any thinly disguised pride in the form of false words used as smoke-screens to hide behind.

May I know (acknowledge) the truth and speak the truth – for the truth will set me free.

Written by Shelley Witt

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Wednesday 23 February, 2022

Matthew 12:15-21

15 Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. A large crowd followed him, and he healed all who were ill. 16 He warned them not to tell others about him. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: 18 “Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. 19 He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets. 20 A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory. 21 In his name the nations will put their hope.”

Matthew puts this OT scripture confirmation (Is 42:1-4), of who Jesus was, right in the middle of story’s of Jesus miraculously healing & delivering people which brought hatred from the Jewish leaders. This passage is confirming God’s love, authority & Spirit given to Him & it confirms His character – justice.

The verse that I have gravitated to is v21. ‘In his name the gentiles will hope’. Hundreds of years (700) before Jesus, God spoke this & thousands (2,000) of years later I’m reading it. This speaks to me of Gods unswerving control of history & my life in the midst of eternity. He is there before I am. He knows I need hope. He knew I’d need Jesus, He knows my life & He is in control of all my circumstances. What an amazing God, how can I not put my trust in Him.

Father God the future & hope you have given me in Jesus is such a huge comfort & assurance, even when things look the opposite, I know that you have got this. Thank you from a grateful heart.

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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  1. Richard says:

    Thanks Suzie.

    I am drawn to the phrase “Aware of this Jesus withdrew from that place.” The previous verse says that the Pharisees were conspiring against Jesus with a view to destroy Him. Well who wouldn’t withdraw, what a natural reaction. Of course we do not know the motive of Jesus for withdrawing. We are aware that He commonly went to lonely places to pray. This was one of His rhythms of life. So He could have just been following one of His rhythms for life or it could simply have been that it was not yet His time as John reflects in John 7:30 and John 8:20 or of course He could have been protecting Himself. All of this to say there are times when the best thing to do is to withdraw. We are not built to always be taking the hill, always advancing. We do well to note when we should be on the advance and when we should withdraw.

    Father, give me the wisdom to know in what circumstances I need to withdraw and the courage to do so.

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Tuesday 22 February, 2022

Matthew 12:9-14

9 Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10 and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” 11 He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.

The Pharisee’s are out to trip Jesus up. They are trying to catch him doing or saying something ‘inexcusable’. Any mistake that Jesus might make, they want to use to tear him down. They are so hell-bent on getting at Jesus they are missing the forest for the trees. Jesus is saying and doing everything they could have hoped for: Miracles in their day, good news for all people, the enthusiastic crowds that follow Jesus are proclaiming God’s goodness. The very fundamental purpose of Sabbath ‘Sunday’ is demonstrated in front of the Pharisee’s with a miraculous healing and they prefer to quarrel and fume. Can’t they just be happy for the bloke whose hand is healed? 

I’m reminded that this is an illustration of God’s fundamental attitude towards us: to heal, to restore, to show his love. The opposite of this attitude, being a Grinch over the technicalities, is tempting territory for most people. It is so easy to want to seek power through re-enforcing rules, quibbling over definitions, protecting laws and leveraging hierarchies. eg. “That man with the deformed hand is out of line! This isn’t right. Something is wrong, he’s unclean!” 

Jesus. The story of you is often so direct on the pages of the Bible. “The man was healed by Jesus, let’s celebrate!” But still this message was lost on certain people. Jesus, I don’t want to be ‘certain people’ – I want to be your disciple and celebrate your love, your ways and your plan with you. Amen.

Written by Sam Stewart

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Monday 21 February, 2022

Matthew 12:1-8

12 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. 2 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.” 3 He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. 5 Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? 6 I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. 7 If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’[a] you would not have condemned the innocent. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Everybody loves the stories of Jesus being challenged by the Pharisees.  With a single scripture he silenced the Pharisees and brought freedom from the letter of the Law.

When I was a younger Christian I would have said, ‘Yes and Amen to that, I am on Jesus’s team, I would never use the scriptures to my own advantage’, however the older I get the more I wonder how often I act like a Pharisee and do not realise it.

The problem with these Pharisees was a preoccupation with legalities without understanding the underpinning principles of ‘love and grace’.  Simply, God has shown great ‘undeserved favour’ to us and in turn, asks we show ‘undeserved favour’ to others.

Grace that has been shown to us must be passed on.

What is interesting about the verse ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice’ is it’s speaking to people who are already devoted to God.   This is less about how we treat God and more about how we treat others.

So, take the opportunity today to observe your own behaviour and attitudes to others.   Do I show the same quality of mercy to others that is shown to me.

Lord, I ask you to help me today to be more sensitive to others and how I may practically show mercy to those I come into contact with.  

Amen!

Written by David Newton

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Sunday 20 February, 2022

Matthew 11:25-30

25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. 27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

This passage is not meant for me.
For years I’ve claimed this passage, particularly verses 28-30, as my own – one of my favourites. But it’s not intended for me. It’s not intended for people who are already Christians – already set free from their past and their sin and are following Jesus as His disciples. Jesus was not speaking to His disciples – He was speaking to “the crowd.” (See Matthew 11:7 – where this conversation began)

This passage is a call to those who are currently stuck in darkness, loaded down helplessly with a burden of sin and guilt and separation from God that they just can’t shift no matter what they do. It is for those who are weary from striving to be good enough for God’s heaven and know they haven’t made it and can’t make it. This is a loving call to those who’s lives are broken and to the broken hearted.

This is the wonderful ‘swap’ of the gospel! The amazing and incomprehensible exchange – that Jesus takes my burden of sin and guilt and separation and darkness and puts it ALL on Himself. And in exchange He gives me His rest. He takes the death that I deserve for my rebellion against God and pays for it on the cross and in exchange gives me His eternal life.

He simply asks us to come.

The best way to do that is simply to talk to him…

God, I’m sorry for my rebellious life. I don’t want to live that way anymore.  Thanks, Jesus, for taking all my burdens and my death onto yourself when you died on the cross.  Jesus, I come to You now. To learn from You how I am to live, to receive rest for my soul and the eternal life You offer.  I know these things can be found in no one else.   Amen

Written by Boudy VanNoppen

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Saturday 19 February, 2022

Matthew 11:20-24

20 Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades.[a] For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

I read this passage and think about the places where Jesus did miracles but there was no turning from their sin and turning to God.    This verse 20 – makes the Fear of God rise in me.

Has God done a miracle for you?  Jesus has done miracles for me.  We must make sure we walk in repentance and freedom of Christ.  Set free from our sin and walking free in His Spirit and His grace.

Let’s each of us take Jesus by the hand each day and walk with Him.

Lord help me to walk free.  You took the punishment for my sin and shame.  Help me to walk each day with you.  Help me Lord to know your freedom, love and grace afresh today.

Written by Ps. Sue Botta

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