Daily readings from Matthew week commencing 1st Jan 17

Child at cross-road within a maze

As you read each passage, pray for God’s help. Ask yourself:

  • What does God reveal about Himself?
  • How is your own heart revealed?
  • How does this passage underline the wonder of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ, and your own need of Christ as Saviour and Lord?
  • Turn these truths into prayer and praise.

1 January Mt 6:1-18

There’s such a thing as showing off in religion – practising our piety in a way that says “Look at me! See how virtuous I am!” God isn’t impressed. So whether you’re giving (v.2), praying (v.5), or fasting (v.16), Jesus says “Be careful!” (v.1). Why do you do the things you do? Of course, Jesus is not saying that our good deeds should never be witnessed (compare 5:16). Rather, all we do should be for God’s glory, not ours. Which matters more to you?

2 January Mt 6:9-13

What an instructive framework for prayer! First exalt God and seek His glory (vv.9-10), then our needs can be confidently brought (vv.11-13). The fact that Jesus includes both in the same prayer teaches us not to separate our lives into “the Christian part” and “the ordinary part”, for all of life belongs to God. And notice the plural: OUR Father – and OUR daily bread. That’s striking, in the light of Jesus’ emphasis on praying privately. Here’s a reminder that we pray together too – and never selfishly.

3 January Mt 6:19-24

Choices! Jesus sets before us a choice of treasure (vv.19-21), vision (vv.22-23), and master (v.24). These are the choices that reveal what really matters to us. It’s not enough to be able to spot the right answers; we have to live by them. And we’ll be living with the consequences for eternity. Have you made your choice and determined your goal? Or are you still trying to live your life in several different directions – reaching for everything but taking hold of nothing that will last?

One thing should be fixed in your mind after reading these words: “Jesus does not want me to be anxious about material things” (vv.25, 31, 34). Worry is unproductive (v.27) and unnecessary (v.32), not because we’ll never face trouble, but because our Father God knows how to meet our needs. So concentrate on pursuing God’s Kingdom and He will provide all you need to fulfil His purpose in your life (v.33). A great blessing attaches to this teaching: the blessing of living one day at a time (v.34).

5 January Mt 7:1-12

“Don’t judge,” says Jesus (v.1); but then He requires us to judge people’s attitude to the gospel (v.6). How do we hold these together? We must avoid a judgemental spirit which is harsh toward others (vv.1-2) or hypocritical (vv.3-5), but we must still discriminate between good and evil (v.6). Then we’ll be like our Father in heaven, for He is both wonderfully generous (vv.7-8) and discerning (v.11). In short, Jesus isn’t telling us to be naïve; He’s telling us to be generous (v.12). Is that you?

6 January Mt 7:13-20

Time to make up your mind, says Jesus. It’s a straight choice between two gates (wide and small), two roads (broad and narrow), two teachers (bad and good). Choose rightly and you find life; choose wrongly and destruction is inevitable. Jesus won’t accept our benign neutrality. We must commit ourselves to Him or be lost forever. This is disturbing for a generation that loves to be uncommitted, but Jesus doesn’t want us to sleep-walk over a precipice. Which road are you travelling?

7 January Mt 7:21-29

Vv.21-23 shows Jesus presiding on the Day of Judgement. That’s why to reject Jesus is fatal: it is to spit in the face of the Judge. Alarmingly, many who claim to follow Jesus turn out to be frauds. Despite their outwardly spectacular ministry, J says to them, “I never knew you.” The proof that our relationship with Jesus is firmly founded is not our miraculous powers but OBEDIENCE to the will of the Father (v.21), which is expressed in the words of the Son (vv.24-27). Check your foundation.