Thursday 12 July, 2018

Matthew 6:19-24

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

So much of our lives (time, effort, focus) revolves around bringing in money so that we can pay our bills.

No longer living for today, we now save and plan for when we don’t work.

Jesus says that it is difficult for a rich man or woman to enter the Kingdom Of God.

Australia is an extremely wealthy country and it is good for us to continue to remind ourselves to check our motivation.

Why are we doing what we are doing?

Is it fear driven?

Selfish driven?

Are we serving others with our time and our talents? Are we giving sacrificially to church and to others?
“Where is our treasure?”

Let’s serve God not money.

Lord let me always be looking for ways to impart your presence and your spirit.  As I go about each day help me and prompt me to what my motivation is.  I want to serve you Lord.

Written by Ps. Sue Botta

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Wednesday 11 July, 2018

Matthew 6:16-18

16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

“When you fast” – I can’t get past this first phrase.  “When” – not “if”, not “perhaps if you fast”; not “on the occasions when things are really difficult and you need to get God’s attention” but “when”.  The presumption of Jesus is that fasting is a normal element of the Christian life.  In fact if we look at the introduction to the previous passage on prayer we get the same construction – “When you pray” (vs. 5).  I guess the question is ‘do I pray?’  The answer for pretty much everyone is Yes – like you even need to ask?  Yet why is it that fasting seems, well, extreme.  Is this denial of food so difficult, is it for super-Christians?  Or is it that our flesh, our appetites are so domineering that we don’t give fasting a place in our lives?  Is it that while prayer is kind of a religious duty that really doesn’t cost us much fasting, because it means giving something up at its core is somehow a bit too – well extreme?

I find myself reflecting on my need to fast – Jesus makes it plain – when – He expects it – so I should fast, I will fast!

Father, I ask that you would help me to put to death the appetites of my flesh which get in the way of an authentic Christian life – which includes devotion to You as shown in fasting!

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

1 (reply)
  1. Kim says:

    Great comments & reflection Richard, fasting is not my most joyful thing to do, but it does reap its rewards

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Tuesday 10 July, 2018

Matthew 6:5-15

5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ 14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Jesus makes clear that prayer is not a ritualistic act but a relational one. It is relationship between father and child. Therefore, it is important that I don’t try to make the Lord’s Prayer ritualistic, rather, it is like a reminder of who my Father is so that I am confident in my relational prayers with him:

  • He is my Father
  • He is God, and life only makes sense when I honour him
  • He has a mission and asks me to be part of it
  • He wants to provide for my needs
  • He wants to forgive me but expects that I will forgive others
  • He will enable me to overcome all that is evil

As I read this list, it makes me want to pray!!

My Father, thank you for this wonderful revelation of who you are! I couldn’t be more blessed then to be called your son, look at all these blessings, help me introduce others to their Father as well.

Written by Andrew Mellor

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Monday 9 July, 2019

Matthew 6:1-4

6 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Motives can be such troublesome squirmy things.

If I am generous because I want people to praise my generosity, it’s an expression of my self-focus (not my generosity). If I’m recognised as being generous, my goal has been satisfied. But it’s an empty, worthless goal. Jesus doesn’t say it’s bad – just that it’s shallow.

If I’m generous because I want God to reward me, it’s still an expression of my self-focus, my heart for myself rather than my heart for God. God wants prosperity for his people, but it becomes a trap if I seek prosperity before God.

And I can’t fool God: “People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

Generosity is a natural consequence of a heart that seeks God first. “Generous” is a word that is used over and over again to describe God. As my mind and heart become more closely aligned with His, my life inevitably becomes more generous. And as I take on more of His generosity, he gives me more to be generous with, whether it’s money or time or talents or words from Him: gifts for someone else that He allows me to deliver for Him.

“Light shines in the darkness for the godly. They are generous, compassionate, and righteous.” (Psalm 112:4)

Jesus, I want to be a light shining in the darkness today: not in the spotlight, but reflecting you – “the light of the world” (John 9:5)

Written by David Cornell

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Sunday 8 July, 2018

Matthew 5:43-48

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
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Saturday 7 July, 2018

Matthew 5:38-42

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[a] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Radical. Crazy. Delusional even. That’s how I first tend to think of this teaching of Jesus. What does Jesus mean for me to take away from what He’s saying here?

Jesus appears to be speaking to what we are to do with those who have it in for us – who want to take our shirts, eyes and livelihoods, for whatever sinister reasons. Jesus seems to say – the response I want you to take is this: give them your other cheek, your other eye, your coat as well! Is this possible to live out, I think to myself? And then I think of Martin Luther King Jnr, and the practice of nonviolent protest. In the face of serious violence against the African American people, Martin Luther King Jnr led a movement that refused to react violently to the violence done against them. It was costly indeed, but unjust laws were being changed as the movement got into full swing.

Left to my own devices, this is impossible teaching to live out. I need a change of heart to even begin to understand this, let alone live it. But this is the way with Jesus. Instead of my natural, default reactions, Jesus wants to empower response to violence and injustice in the world that is radically generous and crazy in kindness!

Lord, help me understand this teaching more, and live it out – especially in the places where it’s easiest to react defensively rather than give generously!

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh

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Friday 6 July, 2018

Matthew 5:33-37

33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

In the chaos of life, it can be hard to find focus. Our lives place demands on our self and our time. This passage reminds me that I need to keep it simple, not just in my day to day but in my relationship with God. While God understands what we face, this is a reminder that we don’t need to make things more complicated than they need to be.

My relationship with God is meant to be one of simplicity and integrity, perhaps a counterpoint to the chaos of daily life. It is easy to be distracted by the side issues, in this passage for example the number of things you could swear an oath on. God just asks us to keep it simple, yes or no. He asks us to negotiate life with integrity, we need to keep our word to God and to those around us.

This passage encourages me to concern myself with those things I have control over and leave the rest to God. The pace of my relationship with God needs to be reflected in my response to the rest of my life. It’s good to know the creator and controller of the universe is on our side.
Help me Lord to reflect your grace and glory in my life. Help me Lord to keep my thoughts focussed and clear. Help me to walk in integrity. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Written by Christine Knight

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Thursday 5 July, 2018

Matthew 5:27-32

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. 31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

This passage is another part of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus wanted to get us all to understand how we can do or say one thing but think another and that both our doing and our thinking are important. God wants us to grow in character and to become more like Jesus. He wants us to line up what we think with what we do. To not be two minded. We can’t fool God. We can’t hide what we think by doing what other people think is the right thing or what we think God thinks is the right thing. God wants us to be whole people who have integrity and respect for others.

Lord God please help us to be thoughtful about our lives, values and beliefs. Help us to think about the consequences of our actions before we go there. Help us to come to You with the big and the small, to ask for Your help to do life well, to love those You have put in our lives like You do. Help us to be people who bring love, grace and peace to the world we inhabit.

Written by Therese Manning

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Wednesday 4 July, 2018

Matthew 5:21-26

21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,[a] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister[b][c] will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’[d] is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. 23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. 25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

Jesus continues his teaching and addresses the issue of murder. But how relevant is murder to his audience? How relevant is it to us? I can’t say that I have knowingly met a murderer, and I certainly haven’t murdered anyone. But Jesus did what he usually does and makes this relevant to us by saying that being angry at someone is just as bad as murder. That’s how serious disunity is to God.

But more than telling us not to get angry, Jesus asks what if there is any one angry toward us? What if someone has something against you?

Jesus says, if you know or remember that someone has an issue against you, then go immediately and be reconciled to them. Go and make things right between you.

Even if you have prepared to make an offering to God at the altar, stop, and go and be reconciled. Most of us would finish making the offering then go and be reconciled.

But if there is any division, any disunity, Jesus says that the offering can wait, unity is more important and is a requirement before making an offering to God.

It’s not a matter of fixing relationships when it’s convenient. Instead, when you remember it, that is when you deal with it, don’t put it off for anything or anyone, even God himself.

Father, help me not to simply go through the motions in worshipping you, but to remember how important unity between us is to you.

Written by Andrew Martin

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Tuesday 3 July, 2018

Matthew 5:17-20

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

It’s interesting that Jesus stresses he has not come to take away from any of what God had already done. Jesus is carrying on God’s great story, and is the living answer to the many prophecies from long ago.

It reminds me that God is not interested in starting something, sketching it out, then crumpling up the paper and throwing it on the rubbish pile. He sees things through to completion, including us.

What an encouraging reason to trust God.

Am I also committed to the process? Am I partnering with God in terms of what He is doing in me, in those around me and in the world at large? Am I exercising patience in the waiting, and trusting that fruit WILL grow, people WILL come to faith and I WILL change…

God, please help me to remember that you are the God who does not quit on your people or your promises. Help me to pray and live with that in mind. Amen.

Written by Bethany Waugh

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