Friday 11 March 2022

Jesus is again condemning the Pharisees and Sadducees for their rejection of him as The Messiah. Here again they were asking him to prove himself to them – to show them a sign from heaven that proves he is the Messiah. The fact was they had already been shown plenty of signs that he was. Instead they rejected him mainly because he did not fit their preconceived ideal of the conquering Messiah come to free Israel. The ultimate sign Jesus refers to – the sign of Jonah by which he was referring to his death, burial and resurrection (see Matthew 12 v 40) – wasn’t going to convince them either – who ever heard of a conqueror being killed?

Of course, I can be just like the Pharisees and Sadducees when I ignore Jesus’ claims over my life. I decided to follow him, and this can come at a cost and make demands on me I’d rather avoid. Sometimes he does not answer my prayers in the way I’m wanting, or just seems to leave me to struggle on through situations. My ideas about how Jesus should be treating me are getting in the way of me being able to see him for who he is. He gently draws me back and says This is who I really am, walk with me.

I see so many signs in my life that Jesus is Lord. But many people have no concept of Jesus, let alone preconceived ideas. This passage challenges me to share Jesus with them so they can choose to follow him too.

Dear Lord Jesus

People of all eras have wanted to put you into a mould to suit their agenda. Thank you that your agenda is to have a relationship with each of us individually. That is such a blessing, coming out of your heart of love. I am so grateful. Amen.

Written by Claire Moore

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Thursday 10 March 2022

I know you’re thinking, ‘didn’t we just read this in chapter 14, surely Matthew isn’t repeating himself?’ This miracle of feeding the 4,000 is quite different from the 5,000 even though we don’t hear quite so much about it. It’s taking place in a different location, very likely a crowd that is mainly non Jewish who have been with Jesus for days, many miracles had already taken place in their midst, and this time the disciples had the bread & the fish.

I’ve thought about the disciples in this passage and verse 33. It seems that they had forgotten how Jesus had come through for them previously and how like us they are! Even though the location, the faces, the situation had all changed, they didn’t seem to believe or have the memory that Jesus could provide for them, that he could do another miracle, that he cared for them in the same way as he had before.

I know that I stress and worry over the next big thing in my world and yet Jesus has always been there, provided and cared even though the situation is different from the last time. This passage has reminded me to trust Him, to remember how Jesus has responded in the past for me, to relax into his love and care for me, to do what I can do and allow him to do the rest.

Thank Jesus that you are always there for us and even though circumstances alter you do not. You walk with us in each and every situation. Jesus, remind us through the Holy Spirit of your goodness.

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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Wednesday 9 March 2022

Jesus’ response to this woman is shocking, and her response to him is astounding. I suspect he intended the whole exchange to shock his followers, including us, and to shake us out of lazy preconceptions.

I can’t be sure, but I think Jesus’ was putting into words what his good Jewish disciples were thinking. They all knew that Israel was God’s chosen covenant people, conveniently forgetting God had chosen them to be a “kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:6) to bring all the nations to him. It’s as though Jesus – always so good at seeing into people’s hearts – is pushing her to give voice to the extraordinary faith that he knows is in her. Twice in Matthew’s gospel Jesus describes someone as having “great faith”, and both are Gentiles and outsiders: the centurion in 8:5-13 (despised as Israel’s conqueror); and this Canaanite woman (despised as conquered by Israel). Yet both came in dramatic humility but with firm conviction that Jesus would hear their cry and respond in compassion.

It challenges me. Who have I made into an outsider? Who have I assumed there would be no point introducing them to Jesus because they would never put their faith in him? What preconceptions and prejudices obscure my view of what Jesus is doing?

Jesus, give me at least some this extraordinary woman’s humility and faith in you. Please shatter all of my preconceptions that would limit what you’re doing.

Written by David Cornell

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  1. Richard says:

    David – fabulous!! Love your insights

    What an encounter with Jesus – bruising, confrontational, wow Jesus knows how to get into someone’s face. No gentle Jesus meek and mild here – which for some of course is not the picture they want to see of Him, if He is only gentle then He is containable, here He shows there are many facets to His character and nature.

    I am drawn in this passage to what Jesus saw to be great faith from this woman. It is an uncommon phrase in Jesus arsenal of language and a very high affirmation. From the text I can only think that her boldness, perseverance and belief that Jesus, even though she had no ‘religious rites’ was the answer was what Jesus saw. I am also struck with the thought that the faith was ‘seeable’.

    How ‘seeable’ is my faith?

    Father help me to be bold and courageous in my steps of faith.

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Tuesday 8 March 2022

Well who wants to hear these words of Jesus, “This people honours me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men”.

We love some of Jesus words and then we gloss over others, particularly those words that may be difficult to understand or sometimes simply don’t fit with our preferred view of Jesus.  Yet here He is, saying some hard truths.

So what do I do with this? I need to listen; I need to let these words chasten my heart.  Where do I give Jesus lip service?  Is it to do with the way I treat others the way I speak about others, or the sin I turn a blind eye to because, let’s face it, I like my sin, just as you do yours. I wouldn’t get trapped in its snare if it were not a temptation to me!

So let’s get bold, let’s get obedient. Where are you honouring Jesus with your lips but, in truth, your heart is far from Him? Where are you more reliant on the opinions of men than on God’s Word?  As I ask that question, various things come to mind that I recognise may be a snare to me!

Father, give me the grace of repentance that I may change and follow you unencumbered by the opinions of men and women and truly following your Word, will and ways.

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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Monday 7 March 2022

This passage reminds me that I need to expect Jesus in the ‘down’ times. The disciples had spent the day experiencing Jesus feed 5000+ people miraculously. The ministry high must have been tremendous, but when the moment had passed, and they were back to doing ordinary things (like sailing in a storm) the disciples were unexpectedly met by Jesus. They struggled to take the miraculous faith moment forward into their everyday lives. I come to church/connect group/conferences expecting and experiencing the mighty power of God. But do I expect and look for him in the everyday? In the stormy parts of life where things aren’t going well? Sometimes I think it can be a struggle to see the power of God at work in those moments. And yet Just like Jesus walking out to meet the disciples I am confident that He does the same today for you and I in the quiet times, the ordinary times and in the stormy times. Even the disciples who knew Jesus best did not recognise him immediately. Their fear and their circumstances overwhelmed their capacity for faith. But Jesus did not turn his back. He urged and encouraged them to exercise/grow their faith. Today in your ordinary, your mundane or your storm He is with you and calls you to do the same.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, mighty God of all things, help me to recognise you today in the midst of my circumstances. Thank you that you are standing beside me right now. Help me Lord to take the faith that I have and step ‘out of the boat ‘when you call me. Help me Lord to keep my eyes on you and not on my circumstances. In Jesus mighty name I pray. Amen.

Written by Christine Knight

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Sunday 6 March 2022

I like it that this passage begins with Jesus being tired. He wanted to withdraw and go and pray. He knew that spending time with his Heavenly Father would refresh him. In this way, Jesus reveals the importance of spending time with his Father.

But a lot more revealing was about to happen. In this well-known story, we see that Jesus performs an amazing miracle: the feeding of the 5000+ people. This has always spoken to me about God’s amazing provision: our Heavenly Father has way more than we need.

But to me this time, Jesus has revealed the truth about my Heavenly Father’s heart towards me. As one who was often dismissed by her father and told to go away and not to be a nuisance, it echoes the words of the disciples, “send them away” (v15). Jesus’ response? Nope. Don’t send them away. Actually, tell them to sit down and stay a little longer – we’re going to have a meal together.

How awesome is that and how opposite to my experience!

Lord Jesus, thank you for not giving in to your humanity but choosing to reveal the heart of my Heavenly Father. Help me to walk in this truth and not my previous experience.

Written by Gab Martin

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Saturday 5 March 2022

The tragic end of John the Baptist unfolds in these verses. We see here how Herod feared people, however John feared God.  Herod’s foolish pride and vanity force him into a ridiculous trap that causes him distress. John is an example of incredible integrity. By speaking truth, John demonstrates boldness and commitment to God, providing an amazing example to us.

I think about my commitment and boldness in sharing the Gospel and where can speak truth and love in peoples’ lives. I can echo Jesus, John the Baptist and other Christian who are driven in their love of Jesus: William Wilberforce who campaigned against the slave trade, Martin Luther who nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenberg church, William Tyndale who illegally translated the Bible into English, or even Eric Liddell who put God first, no matter what.

Knowing who to place your trust in, as John did in God, is of vital importance. Trusting God’s plan, and not human plans, leads us to a ‘good’ life. We see how Herod rewards up to half his kingdom to a foolish dance, but Jesus rewards an entire kingdom to those who call upon his name!

Lord, we thank you that you are mightier and wiser than anyone in this world. We acknowledge your plan for us. Even though times of trouble and turmoil will enter our lives; you promise to be faithful and good. Help us to hold onto your truths, to seek you, and to fear you Lord. In your precious name, Jesus.

Written by Sven Bessesen

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Friday 4 March 2022

What I believe about who Jesus is, really matters. I remember hearing apologist Dan Paterson grouping the possible thoughts about Jesus under these headings:

Lunatic: Jesus didn’t mean any harm, he was just crazy. He made some bold claims, but couldn’t back them up. This idea is not true. Multiple eyewitness accounts, including some reliable sources outside the bible verify that Jesus did back up his claims. 

Liar: Jesus made bold claims and backed them up, but it was all illusion and trickery. He did it to gain fame and power. This idea is also clearly false. The teachings of Christ did not elevate himself and He knew at least 3 years before His death that His mission was to die on the cross. His disciples, including his brothers who knew him since He was a child, followed Him so passionately that they laid down their lives for His cause in the years after his crucifixion. 

Legend: Jesus didn’t really walk the earth. His story is just myth and fable. This belief about Jesus is actually quite recently emerging. Through history, secular, non-christian, academic and practical historians have remarked on how strong the evidence is that Jesus truly walked the earth. 

Lord: Jesus was the Son of God and Messiah. He is worthy of worship, and He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. I must live my life according to His commands and teachings. This fourth option should be the response of anyone who investigates the claims of Christ fully. 

But it seems that people in Matthew 13, and people today like to take a fifth path: Likelihood. It’s easy to figure that it’s not likely that God would send His Son to Nazareth. It’s not likely He would do things the was Jesus did. It’s not likely that simply believing in Him will save me from sin and death. 

The reality for me is that even though I have faith, I can also fall into a sixth category! 

Lazy: Even though I submit to Him as Lord, I fall short of being fully devoted as His follower. 

Lord, help me to live my life in full devotion to You. And help me to lead others to understanding of your truth. 

Written by Ps. Justin Ware 

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Thursday 3 March 2022

I love the disciple’s response to Jesus’ question, “do you understand these things?” I think I would have said, “Ah, not really.” Because, lets face it – God’s Kingdom seems too good to be true. Could it really be that God considers me a treasure that is so precious that He’d sell everything in order to acquire me? Could He actually be desperately searching for me and when He finds me will stop at nothing to have me in His Kingdom? Yet, this is exactly what happened. God made a way for me to be part of His kingdom – Jesus. This is the Gospel – this is the really good news. 

And it was His plan all along. To seek out the humble – those who would turn to Him in faith and trust Him for a new righteousness, a true rightness before God, not just an old law-keeping standard, or a lame justification like, “but I try to be a good person.” He was looking for people that knew they could never rise to God’s perfection by themselves. Yet, when these “righteous ones” realise how deeply they are loved, and the cost by which they were saved, they turn to Him gratefully and helplessly in faith, and in turn, receive a righteousness not their own. It is these people that begin a kingdom life, in the here and now, that reflects their New Kingdom’s King. 

Lord God,

How is it that I am so dearly loved by You. You have been pursuing me – today I will let you catch me! I want to be part of Your Kingdom.


Written by Boudy Van Noppen

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Wednesday 2 March 2022

Having done an Agricultural Degree, I understand the concept of sowing and reaping.  When you sow a crop, it may not be perfect conditions, it may be too dry, it may be too wet, however if you sow nothing – you reap nothing.

What we do, how we spend our time, how we spend our money, all have far reaching consequences.  If we choose to sow to this world, we will reap nothing of eternal significance, however if we choose to sow to His Kingdom, we lay foundations far greater than what we will ever know.

What if Paul had never gone church planting, what if Peter had never gone to Rome, what if the disciples had not left their businesses and spent time transforming their communities and other places in the world.  What if Charles and John Wesley had not answered the call of God, what if William Wilberforce had not used his position in parliament to end the English slave trade, what if John Newton had not got saved and written Amazing Grace?

I remember the story about the South African potato farmer, Angus Buchan, who dared to believe God rather than his circumstances.  Once a hard drinking farmer, he met Jesus.  His future transformed forever.  He is now still a farmer, BUT also an international evangelist, holds healing rallies in his 500 seat auditorium on his farming land, he has set up AIDS clinics, and travels to share his faith in Jesus.

In 2022, WHAT IF YOU AND I …………?

Prayer:  Lord, this world is so very broken, we look around, we listen to the news, and we see so much wrong.  Lord, we pray that you would use us this year to bring about a revolution for Jesus in our Community.  Lord we know your Kingdom overcomes the world.  Use us we pray.  Amen.

Written by Ps. Sue Botta

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  1. Richard says:

    “He who has ears – let him hear”.

    It is a pretty straight forward phrase, it is packed with a punch. Jesus has just given us a parable that gives us a stark contrast about the nature of the end times when He will judge the peoples of the earth. Clearly the righteous and unrighteous have coexisted up until this time but there is a day when they will be separated. Jesus is calling it – He is warning us. It can be easy to get focused on the things of this world. All too often the evidence of Christ’s kingdom can be obscured from our sight, it can be seemingly slow, even unlikely.

    But the kingdom of God is real and it is coming, though not fully here as yet.

    Jesus states “Him who has ears let him hear”. What does He mean? Clearly everyone in ear shot heard what He was saying. But did they take it to heart, will they act in the light of what Jesus says, will I act in this knowledge and understanding of life. This is a call to obedience to the life Jesus calls us to – I choose God!

    Father, help me to live in obedience to You in all ways at all times.

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