Tuesday 8 February, 2022

Matthew 9:2-8

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Madelaine Tarasenko

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Monday 7 February, 2022

Matthew 8:28-9:1

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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Sunday 6 February, 2022

Matthew 8:18-27

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

I have always been arrested by Jesus words here “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”  I mean this was a storm in the middle of the lake, known to swamp boats and drown the occupants!  Who wouldn’t be afraid?  Yet Jesus is forthright, powerful and perhaps a little ‘ticked-off’.  Somehow Jesus had a totally different reading of the situation.  A reading that meant that he was relaxed, relaxed enough to sleep.  A reading that meant he expected his disciples to be able to overcome their fears and know that everything would be alright!  A reading where He expected the disciples to rise in faith not fear!

You of little faith – even when we are pressed in a situation where our natural instinct is fear!

So when is it that fear overwhelms my opportunity for faith and sucks the oxygen out of the room so that faith doesn’t flourish!  When would Jesus say this of me?  For surely He has and with good reason.  When have I baulked in fear rather than risen in faith.

It is almost trite to say I will rise in faith – but that is how I must apply what I am learning here – I must choose faith, even when my natural instinct is fear!

Father, give me courage so that even when I am afraid I will rise in faith and so see your salvation come!

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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Saturday 5 February, 2022

Matthew 8:14-17

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

This chapter in Matthew is filled with Jesus healing many different people. It is evident that Jesus responds to each of these people and their individual needs with love and care. In the case of Peters’ mother-in-law, Jesus saw her and acknowledged her need. To Jesus, it did not matter that her illness may not have been as serious as those suffering from leprosy, nor did he approach her healing with indifference. Jesus saw her, acknowledged her need, then healed her with the touch of his hand.

This passage encourages me to remember that Jesus cares for both the small and big things happening in my world. It also challenges me to follow Jesus’ example when caring for people, to make sure I stop and see them and their individual needs.

Thank you God, that you never tire of loving me and caring for me. Thank you that you know what I need healing from, and that you have the power and authority to bring healing. Please help me to care for those around me just like you care for me. Amen.

Written by Ps. Andie Molteno

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Friday 4 February, 2022

Matthew 8:5-13

5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.” 7 Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?” 8 The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.

There are about 20 incidences of people receiving healing across the 4 Gospels, and it is likely that there were many other people who were healed by Jesus during his ministry that are not recorded in scripture. 

There is something special and unique about this story of healing though. I find it an incredibly uplifting and inspiring passage, and one of the interesting things about it is that it makes the person who was supernaturally healed a very minor character – The main player in the story other than Jesus, is a very noble centurion – literally an officer in charge of 100 men. 

There are so many reasons why it would be unusual for this Centurion to be seeking Christ – even in the story we can see that he commands significant power. Why is he coming to see Christ himself rather than sending one of his trusted men?

Also, his care for his servant seems to be incredible. Often we have seen Centurions and first century military personnel portrayed in literature to be harsh and uncaring, and this is a likely position for them to be in – the brutal realities that they would face in their lives would have been tough.

His faith though is what stands out to Jesus. The passage even says that Jesus is amazed by the man’s faith. He tells the Centurion “Because YOU have believed, it has happened.”

Lord, help me to have more faith, so that when I come to you on behalf of others, my own faith in your power and love will be enough to see miracles done in their lives!

Written by Ps. Justin Ware

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Thursday 3 February, 2022

Matthew 8:1-4

8 When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. 2 A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” 3 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. 4 Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

What a beautiful intimate moment between Jesus and the leper. All Jesus’ attention and energy was focused on this man for a few short minutes. But what transforming minutes these were.

When Jesus met me at age 14 it was a transforming moment, when the knowledge I had of God completely changed into a relationship with him. Meeting Jesus turned my life around and gave it meaning. I think it was like this for the leper too.

The leper was used to being treated as a non-person, living a life being shunned and at a distance from society. I have heard about a leper colony on a small Greek island where people were taken by boat and could never ever leave. The message was “keep away”. Like that, people did not look on the leper as a person, only as someone to be avoided. However, Jesus treated him as a person who mattered, who he could and did heal. Not just that, Jesus also wanted to restore him to the community, by sending him to the temple to perform the legal requirements. This says to me Jesus was interested in his future as well.

The leper was now a walking living testimony that Jesus was God. What do people see when they look at my life, my attitudes? Am I a walking living testimony to the restoration Jesus has brought about in me, a restoration of my relationship with him which will last for eternity?

Dear Jesus

You could have brushed the leper aside as you basked in the glow of the adulation of the crowd. But you took the time to transform and restore him to the person you wanted him to be. Thank you for your love and care for me, that you see and value me for who I am, and that you are bringing about your purpose for my life. Amen

Written by Claire Moore

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Wednesday 2 February, 2022

Matthew 7:24-29

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” 28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

These last paragraphs of chapter 7 bring to a close the last three chapters, the sermon on the mount.  Jesus gives us another brilliant word picture of storms and the foundations of houses, something his hearers were familiar with and today the imagery is not lost. He again is challenging us, storms will come, what are our lives built on?

What has captured my attention, that I’ve not see previously, is v 24 and v26 .. “everyone who hears these words of mine”.  You don’t hear someone speaking if you are not close enough to them when they speak. So as when Jesus literally spoke these words, everything that he said on the mount, he was talking directly to those who were there, and now he is talking directly to me and you, those of us who are believers, in church, followers of Jesus who are ‘hearing’ his words. I’ve always thought that I was safe as I had built on the rock, I was a believer, but the twist that I saw is that even though I’m a Christian, if I’m not practicing/living and doing what Jesus has said in his sermon (Chapts 5 to 7) then I’ve built my life on sand so that when storms come, and they have, I’ve been in trouble.

Lord Jesus, this passage has sobered me, I know that there have been many times where I have heard your words but not listened, been foolish and not put them into practice and therefore have been living on sand. Lord Jesus forgive me and help me to live a wise life based on your Word.

Written by Suzie Hodgson

3 replies
  1. Richard says:

    Love your thoughts Suzie.

    This is a very sobering passage, one of judgement. All too often we characterise Jesus as merciful without being the judge. Indeed there can be no mercy without judgement – for we would only take this mercy as licence for we would not know what we truly deserved. Jesus draws his teaching from the sermon on the mount together and says plainly ‘live it’ or there are consequences. Don’t merely discuss it, don’t merely read it or listen to it – do it and you will live in a house that stands forever – God’s house not the house of your own making which will fall when adversity of one sort or another comes.

    Father help me to live Your Word. Help me to discern Your Word accurately and with courage and faith fulfil to the best of my ability what and how you call us to live.

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Tuesday 1 February, 2022

Matthew 7:21-23

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Have you ever bought a ‘knock off’? Looks like the real thing, may even work like the real thing, but lacks quality. It’s a fake. The copy might present well to start with but eventually the true colours of these products will be revealed. My integrity as a Christian needs to have high value. What’s on the inside needs to match the outside (my actions, values and words). Every time news of a high profile Christian who has been caught doing the wrong thing comes out I feel sad. But just because I am not a Christian celebrity doesn’t mean that my integrity is any less important.

When the day comes, I am just as accountable to Jesus for my actions as any other. I want to be welcomed in. But that starts now. It is a reminder for me to watch my thoughts and actions and live a life of integrity. Who in my world is looking to me for guidance? As an example? What we do and say counts both now in this life and in the next.

Jesus, I give my life to you. Help me live with integrity. May your Holy Spirit give me the strength to overcome temptation. In Jesus name I pray. Amen

Written by Christine Knight

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