Category: Posts from Pastor Eddie


Time for a change? Time for a Transformation Group

Tim,
Dilapidated sign hanging from one end reads 'Time for change'

Do you recall Eddie asking what holds you back from spending more time with members of your church family a few weeks ago (assuming you’re not part of one or another of the small groups)? Here’s the initiative he outlined at the church meeting in case you missed it.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” – Romans 12:2

Transformation Groups is a new initiative at CBC, but based on ancient ideas! We want to provide a means to encourage one another to deeper discipleship. We already have a range of small groups as a church, which offer valuable support and encouragement. The aim of Transformation Groups is to provide more intentional discipleship and accountability with a few, for a time, and to seek deeper engagement with how we are doing as disciples. Transformation groups offer greater flexibility of timing than the existing groups, and are aimed to cater particularly (though NOT exclusively) for those who are not yet in a small group.

WHY: We are made for growth, to be transformed into Christ, and for deeper relationships with a few. We all need support in our Christian and everyday life. A smaller group enables this in a different way, allowing greater scope to listen and support each other.
WHO and WHEN: Each group will be for 4 people only, all male or all female groups, meeting 6 times, once a month, at times convenient to the group.
WHAT/HOW: When they meet, the group will share in:

  • A short Bible study, applying the Bible to life with reflection questions.
  • An intentional discussion to encourage, challenge, and nurture growth as Christians. There are 6 set topics to guide discussion.
  • Prayer with one another.
Monarch butterfly emerges from chrysalis

Become what you were born to be

Between the meeting times, there is of course opportunity for ongoing encouragement and prayer, for social time, and contact by emails, text, facebook, etc., as well as at church or elsewhere.

Transformation Groups don’t replace existing small groups or prayer triplets, but they are available as a different option. Each group will have a leader who receives training and support. These are not counselling meetings, but opportunities to give and receive encouragement, pastoral care, wisdom and input.

I [Eddie] hope that, in God’s hands, these groups will be enriching, challenging, encouraging and transforming; safe spaces to be authentic and honest with how we are, and to see God bless and change us together.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

MATTHEW: DAILY BIBLE READINGS week commencing 22nd May

Eddie,

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.

22 May Mt 27:45-50

Where later writings, paintings and films give graphic portrayals of Christ’s physical sufferings, the gospel writers are remarkably restrained. Why? Because they know that the gruesome details would not help us grasp the meaning of Jesus’ death. Far more enlightening is the cry of dereliction (v.46): Jesus, the innocent One, experienced the separation from God that is the penalty due for our sin. He endured our darkness that we might enter His kingdom of light and love (Col 1:12-13).

23 May Mt 27:51-54

The death of Jesus paid the price of our sins, and God confirmed this with spectacular signs. The temple curtain was torn open, inviting us to enter God’s presence. The dead were raised, signalling the end of debt we owed for our sins (Ro 6:23) – true, this was resuscitation, not yet the full-blown resurrection of the Last Day; it is only a sign, but it makes its point. And new life flows from the cross, as the most unexpected people confess Jesus not as a despised criminal, but as the Son of God (v.54).

24 May Mt 27:55-66

There were those whose love for Jesus endured even when all seemed lost. The wealth of Joseph (vv.57-60) and the steadfast devotion of the women (vv.55-56, 61) were offered in the service of Jesus. In stark contrast is the hatred and fear shown by Jesus’ enemies. Their demand for the tomb to be made secure (v.64) highlights how insecure they felt even after Jesus’ death. Truly, there is no peace for the wicked (Isa 57:20-21), and no way of triumphing over the Lord’s Anointed (Ps 2:1-4).

25 May Mt 28:1-9

Easter morning, and the guards were terrified by the unexpected appearance of an angel. The women, however, found their fear mingled with joy (v.8) because of the angel’s message: Jesus has risen, just as He said (v.6). Obediently, they ran to tell the disciples, even though they had not yet seen the Lord. On the way, their years of faithful service were acknowledged as they received the first audience with the risen King (v.9). Thank God, the cross is not the end of the story!

26 May Mt 28:10

Not here, but – Galilee! Why? The disciples are instructed to meet Jesus there (vv.7,10) in keeping with an emphasis that runs through Matthew. Jesus’ birth drew worshippers from distant lands (2:1-2). His public ministry began in “Galilee of the Gentiles” (4:12-17) as Isaiah had foretold (Isa 9:1-2). And now in Galilee the disciples will be commissioned to make disciples of all nations (v.19). The gate to life is narrow (7:13-14), but the call to enter is as wide as the world. As Gentiles, let us be grateful.

27 May Mt 28:11-15

This picture of the Jewish authorities crowns all we have seen of their determination to reject Jesus as their King. Rather than heed the guards’ testimony (v.11) – rather than repent with tears in order to receive life with joy – they put all their energies into suppressing the truth. Had the guards really been asleep, they could hardly have known that the disciples had stolen the body. But no attempt to twist the truth can remove the bedrock of Christian faith: Christ is risen indeed, Hallelujah!

28 May Mt 28:16-20

Satan had taken Jesus to a mountain to offer Him (fraudulently) the kingdoms of the world (Mt 4:8-9). Now, Satan defeated, Jesus again surveys the nations from a mountain (v.16). He has won our salvation, and despite the weakness of His disciples (v.17), He sends them to bless all nations with the Good News (v.19). His authority (v.18) and His presence (v.20) are all they need. Thus Matthew ends where He began: the promise that in Jesus “God is with us” (1:23; 28:20). ALWAYS!

MATTHEW: DAILY BIBLE READINGS week commencing 15 May

Eddie,

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.

15 May Mt 26:47-56

Whenever we share in the Lord’s Supper, we date it back to “the night on which He was betrayed.” Judas has an armed crowd with him, but Jesus is the One who controls events. He gives Himself over to death (v.50) and forbids any attempt to prevent His arrest (v.52). He could be delivered with ease (v.53), but He is committed instead to fulfilling the Scriptures (vv.54,56). Not blind fate, but a Father’s love, directs His course, in order to save us. Thus Jesus died willingly for those who deserted Him.

16 May Mt 26:57-68

The Sanhedrin scramble for evidence – true or false – to enable them to put Jesus to death. Finally the High Priest gets to the heart of the matter: is Jesus the Messiah? “It is as you say,” replies Jesus (v.64), emphasizing the point by identifying Himself with Daniel’s Son of Man to whom is given divine honour (v.64, compare Dan 7:13-14). “Blasphemy worth of death” is the verdict of the earthly court (vv.65-66). The verdict of a Higher Court will be given on Easter morning (Mt 28:5-7, 18).

17 May Mt 26:69-75

Jesus had warned Peter of this fall and urged him to pray, but Peter didn’t listen (vv.34-5; 40-41, 43). The result was failure and bitter tears (vv.74-75). Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves, and when He warns us of our weakness we need to believe Him. He has provided for us to stay close to Him through prayer and the Scriptures; do we neglect these means? If so, we are heading for a fall. Yet how wonderful that Peter was later restored! He forsook Jesus, but Jesus did not forsake him.

18 May Mt 27:1-10

Judas came to regret what he had done, but that is not the same as repentance. We may regret our sins merely for the consequences they bring. Repentance, however, involves not only sorrow, but turning in faith to Christ for salvation. Judas did not seek forgiveness, but instead went to his destruction (Mt 26:24; Jn 17:12). The stories of Peter and Judas are placed side by side so that if we fall into sin, we might not stop at regret, but seek the forgiveness promised to all who desire a new start (1 Jn 1:9).

19 May Mt 27:11-26

Having condemned Jesus, the Sanhedrin took Him to Pilate hoping that He would be executed (vv.1-2). Pilate’s wife has dreamt of Jesus’ innocence (v.19), and Pilate confirms this verdict (vv.23-24). Yet still he orders Jesus’ execution, fulfilling Isaiah’s words: “By oppression and judgement He was taken away …” (Isa 53:8). As Jesus takes the place of Barabbas, we’re given a picture of the meaning of His death: He died as a righteous man as a substitute for the unrighteous (1Pe 3:18).

20 May Mt 27:27-31

Pilate’s soldiers mocked the idea that Jesus was a king. A little later on, the title “King of the Jews” was attached to Jesus’ cross in ridicule (v.37), and soon the religious elite joined in the mockery (vv.41-42). His enemies believed that Jesus could not possibly be a king if He yielded passively to such humiliation. Yet it was precisely through His willing sacrifice of Himself that Jesus established His kingdom. By His cross He overcame sin and death and won for His people eternal glory (Rev 5:9-10).

21 May Mt 27:32-44

It seems the whole world despises Jesus: not only the religious leaders (v.41) but also the casual passers-by (v.39) and even those crucified with Him (v.44). No doubt these mockers thought themselves clever, but the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom (1Cor 1:25). Jesus was destroying the temple of His body, and in three days it would be “rebuilt” (v.40, compare Jn 2:19-22). And He did indeed save others precisely because He refused to save Himself (v.42). Glory be to God!

Matthew Bible readings week commencing 8th May

Eddie,

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.

8 May Mt 25:1-13

The three parables in this chapter support the teaching of ch.24 that we must wait patiently for our Lord’s return, serving faithfully meanwhile. The first parable teaches us to be ready to wait longer than we may have anticipated (v.5). Neither the wise nor the foolish virgins are blamed for needing some sleep (v.5), but the wise have made provision for the groom’s coming whenever that might be, whereas the foolish have not. Are you ready for the long haul, if that is what Christ demands?

9 May Mt 25:14-30

This parable shows us that our “waiting” for the Lord’s return is not passive, but active. He gives us different gifts to use in His service, and will assess our efforts accordingly. Not all are given the same ability or opportunity, but faithfulness is expected of all, and is lavishly rewarded by our Master who is generous (vv.21,23 – not at all the “hard man” suggested by the wicked servant, v.24). Whether God has given us great gifts or small ones, He will graciously reward our faithful service.

10 May Mt 25:31-46

Although the Bible elsewhere teaches us to love all people, here the focus is narrower. Jesus’ “brothers and sisters” are not all people, but His disciples (Mt 12:50). Neither the sheep nor the goats seem to have realized that by their treatment of Christians, they were actually showing their love – or contempt – for the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet here is the irrefutable proof of their loyalty to the King – or their treason. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ, but faith is shown by deeds.

11 May Mt 26:1-16

Those who conspire to kill Jesus (vv.1-5) value Him at 30 pieces of silver (v.15) – the compensation price for a dead slave (Ex 21:32). Contrast this with the value placed on Jesus by the woman who anoints Him with expensive perfume (vv.6-7). She acts in love, and Jesus affirms her in the face of all her critics (vv.8-11). Indeed, He immortalizes her example (vv.12-13). We can never give too much in our devotion to the Lord of glory. Our best remains “an offering far too small.”

12 May Mt 26:17-30

Despite the evil plotting of His enemies, everything in the text points to Jesus as the One in control of His destiny. God’s love, not man’s hatred, will triumph. The Passover had marked God’s deliverance of His people from slavery in Egypt. Jesus now redirects the meal so that it speaks of His people’s deliverance from the guilt and penalty of sin through His sacrifice of Himself (vv.26-28). What Judas and others meant for evil, God intended for the greatest good: our salvation.

13 May Mt 26:31-35

There is something touching, if tragic, about Peter’s declaration of loyalty (v.33). He meant well, as did the other disciples who echoed him (v.35). Jesus knew better. He is neither surprised nor dismayed by our weakness (vv.31,34); nor is His love for us destroyed by our failures. God had foretold it all (v.31), and Jesus knows that the story will ultimately end in triumph, not defeat (v.32). Our Lord’s hold on us is much more reliable than our hold on Him. Rest on that today, and walk humbly with God.

14 May Mt 26:36-46

Rejecting our Lord’s warning of their weakness (vv.34-35), the disciples failed to pray (vv.40-41,43). So when the test arrived, they were not able to meet it (v.56). Jesus, in His agony of anticipation, threw Himself wholly on God (v.39,42) and was enabled to do God’s will. If we want strength, we must pray. The first Adam failed the testing in the garden and so paradise was lost and a world fell. Praise God, the second Adam (Jesus) succeeded for us, and won our redemption! He gave us life, and a future.

MATTHEW: DAILY BIBLE READINGS week commencing 1 May 17

Eddie,

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 May Mt 24:1-3

Jesus foretells the judgement that will soon fall on the temple (v.2). This provokes the disciples to ask when this will happen (v.3). But they also ask about the end of the age (v.3). Perhaps they assumed (wrongly) that the destruction of the temple would immediately be followed by Jesus’ return. But as we’ll see, in Mt 24 Jesus does not answer the WHEN question, but the WHAT: what should we be doing in the present age? Obedience in the present is better than speculation about the future.

2 May Mt 24:4-14

Jesus describes life on earth between His first and second comings. We should not be surprised that sin produces upheaval and distress of every kind, including persecution of the church. Nor should we be deceived by self-proclaimed messiahs who promise to sort this world’s ills. Instead, we should get on with gospel ministry, undeterred by hardship, confident that God will bring restore His broken world at the right time (v.14). Once again, Jesus is equipping us for present service, not future speculation.

3 May Mt 24:15-21

Jesus foretold the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple which took place in AD 70. The disciples had asked specifically about this (vv.2-3), and now Jesus addresses the issue (vv.15-16). The appalling suffering of those days foreshadows the final judgement at the end of the world. Jerusalem was judged for its rejection of the prophets, and ultimately of Christ. So it will be at the end of time for all who have persisted in rejecting God’s mercy. Jerusalem’s tragedy should drive us to God.

4 May Mt 24:22-28

Since Jerusalem’s distress prefigures the wider troubles of the present age, we might wonder how humanity can survive at all. Yet God will finally intervene and bring salvation for the sake of His people (v.22). In troubled times we are vulnerable to being misled by the claims of bogus “saviours” (vv.23-25); hence Jesus repeats His earlier warning (compare vv.4-5). We should not flirt with these false claims. When Jesus returns for us, there will be no uncertainty about it (vv.26-28).

5 May Mt 24:29-35

Thank God, the appalling distress of this present age will not have the last word. It will be overtaken by the glory of Christ’s return, and while His enemies mourn, His elect people will be gathered to safety at last (vv.29-31). As spring gives way to summer, so Christ’s return will certainly follow this present age (vv.32-34). We cannot know the precise date (v.36), but we can live in the light of the promise, because Jesus words stand forever (v.35). Set your course through life by the promise of His coming.

6 May Mt 24:36-41

In view of v.36, we should not spend time trying to work out a detailed calendar for our Lord’s return. The comparison with the days of Noah underlines how unexpected His coming will be. Even if troubles are increasing and persecution reaches new heights, for most people it will be “business as usual” (vv.37-39). The final and irrevocable separation of believers and unbelievers (vv.40-41) will catch many unawares. The only way to be ready is … to be ready at any moment. Are you ready today?

7 May Mt 24:42-51

Our sinful nature makes us slow to make changes in our life, even when we know we should (vv.42-43). Hence Jesus calls us to vigilance (v.44), because the time His coming will be unexpected. Yet our waiting is not to be passive, but active (vv.45-46). Serve the Lord faithfully and you will be richly rewarded (v.47). But to ignore or abuse our opportunities for serving Christ is to court disaster (vv.48-51). In the light of these words, would you say you are living wisely? Pray for the grace of faithfulness.

MATTHEW: DAILY BIBLE READINGS

Eddie,
heart containing the text matthew 22:37-40

         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.

12 March Mt 22:34-40

Jesus sums up God’s law in two positive commandments: wholehearted love for God and neighbour (vv.37-40). No surprise here, for God’s law is not arbitrary. It reflects His own character of goodness and love, and we should too. But the call to love exposes our hearts, for we still love our own kingdom more than His. So even while we pray for strength to live a life of love, we confess our failings, and give thanks that we are not saved by the perfection of our love, but by His perfect love for us. Hallelujah!

13 March Mt 22:41-46

This time Jesus puts a question to the Pharisees concerning the Messiah’s identity. How can he be both David’s son (v.42) and David’s Lord (v.43)? Surely if he is David’s son, then David must be ‘lord’ to him? The incarnation provides the only answer. As to his humanity, the Christ is born in the line of David as his son (Mt 1:1-17), but as the eternal Son of God he is also David’s Lord (1:20,23). They marvelled at his wisdom (v.46), but alas, still refused his truth. That is always our danger.

14 March Mt 23:1-12

Mt 23, like the Sermon on the Mount, exposes religious hypocrisy (“they do not practice what they preach” v.3) where concern for external performance and reputation trumps real love for God and others. Jesus calls His followers to a different way of life. The desire to be exalted in the eyes of others is natural to our fallen hearts (vv.5-7), but is not to be our way (vv.8-12). My daily prayer is, “Lord, kill my pride before my pride kills me.” Perhaps, as a church, we should pray this together.

15 March Mt 23:13-24

Jesus spells out His complete rejection of hypocritical religion. It hides the way of salvation rather than making it plain (v.13) and becomes even more corrupting when it is passed on (v.15). It leads to hair-splitting folly (vv.16-22) and focuses on minutiae at the expense of weighty moral issues (vv.23-24). No wonder Jesus condemns its proponents as “blind guides” (v.24). May God preserve us from deceiving ourselves and others. Ps 139:23-4 is a suitable prayer in response.

16 March Mt 23:25-28

Washing only the outside of a cup leaves the inside dirty still. Likewise, whitewashing the outside of a tomb in no way cleans what’s inside. This, says, Jesus, is the problem with a religion that concentrates on externals: it overlooks the fact that the seat of our corruption is in the heart (vv.25-28). External ritual is powerless to bring about internal change. For that we need the transforming grace of Christ – the very thing that the Pharisees so tragically rejected. Seek that grace on your knees.

17 March Mt 23:29-36

Jesus’ final woe warns of the deceptive power of this kind of religion. The Scribes and Pharisees build monuments to past martyrs and boast that they would not have killed the prophets as their ancestors did. Yet at this very moment they are preparing to kill Jesus, and they will soon persecute His followers too. Thus they not only follow the way of their fathers; they actually bring it to its terrible climax in the murder of God’s own Son. Take heed to what is really in your heart.

18 March Mt 23:37-39

God’s long-delayed judgement on those who persecute His prophets was about to fall (vv.35-36). Yet this brings lament from Jesus, not gloating (vv.37-39). This chapter of woes arises from His heart of love, not from vengefulness. And still He offers grace to Pharisees. Was not Saul of Tarsus “a Pharisee of the Pharisees” (Ac 23:6) and the leading persecutor of Christ’s people? Yet grace was given to this “chief of sinners” so that we too might seek Christ’s mercy for our own severe failings (1Tim 1:16).

Matthew: Daily Bible readings for 5th – 11th March

Eddie,

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.

5 March Mt 21:18-22

The cursing of the fig-tree is an acted parable of the judgement that was coming on the temple. The tree bore leaves but no fruit (v.19). In that way, it mimicked the temple which also looked impressive from a distance but was spiritually barren. The disciples were amazed by the rapid withering of the tree, but Jesus promises them that prayer – the very thing the temple lacked (v.13) – will accomplish greater things (vv.21-22). Read Acts to see how these disciples proved it! Do you pray?

6 March Mt 21:23-27

Jesus exposes the hypocrisy of the religious leaders who were trying to trap him. They won’t admit John’s authority because he identified Jesus as the Messiah (v.25). Yet to condemn John’s ministry would lose them all credibility in the eyes of the people who honoured him as an authentic prophet (v.26). Their answer is a cop-out (v.27), allowing Jesus to refuse to answer them on their terms (though in vv.33-46 He makes the basis of His authority plain). Sadly, they were fighting against God. Are you?

7 March Mt 21:28-32

The tax collectors and prostitutes are the son who at first refused to do his father’s will but later obeyed. At John the Baptist’s preaching they repented and believed. But the religious authorities rejected first John and now Jesus – they are the son who boasted he would serve but didn’t. Even when the evidence of God’s work was overwhelming they refused to believe (v.32). They were left without excuse. Pray that we may never harden our hearts in this way, but gladly follow our Lord.

8 March Mt 21:33-46

The vineyard is a common biblical image for Israel (e.g., Isa 5:1-7). The tenants represent the religious leaders, as they knew (v.45). Throughout Israel’s long history, they refused to give God due honour, but acted as though they owned the vineyard. With incredible patience, God pleaded with them through a succession of prophets. Finally, He sent His Son, whom they murdered, resulting in judgement on them, but – amazingly – salvation for others (vv.42-44). God’s love WILL have a harvest!

9 March Mt 22:1-14

The marriage of the King’s Son is a picture of our salvation through union with Christ (Rev 19:9, 21:2), and is the goal of history. To reject the King’s invitation, as Israel’s leaders have done, is not merely rude; it is rebellion. But the King does not cancel the banquet; He invites others to the feast. Those who come in humble gratitude find a welcome, whatever their past (v.10) but there is no place for those who try to come on their own terms (vv.11-13). “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life” (Jn 3:36).

10 March Mt 22:15-22

Jesus’ opponents were hoping to get him into trouble either with the common people (for supporting the Roman taxation) or the Roman authorities (for opposing it). Jesus refuses a simplistic answer, but offers one that is both witty and wise. He sets out the bigger framework. Caesar’s authority is legitimate but limited – he must not claim what belongs only to God. By all means give him the coin bearing his image. But give only to God the thing that bears His image: yourself (Ge 1:26-27).

11 March Mt 22:23-33

The Sadducees did not believe in an afterlife (v.23) and sought to ridicule this idea as an absurdity (v.28). Replying, Jesus rebuked their ignorance of Scripture (vv.29,31-32). Did they really think that even death could break God’s covenant relationship of love with the patriarchs? They had not grasped God’s power to create a new order of life in which marriage is no longer necessary (v.30). Still today, much of our confusion and misery stems from ignorance of God’s word and doubting His power.

Daily Bible readings from Matthew, week commencing 26 Feb

Eddie,

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.

26 February Mt 19:13-15

The disciples’ hesitation about the commitment of marriage (v.10) is now matched by their attitude to children whom they seem to regard as an intrusion and an inconvenience vv.13-15). Just like the Pharisees, the disciples need God to change their hearts. They have not yet grasped that denying our selfishness and laying down our life for others – essential in both marriage and parenting – are at the heart of God’s kingdom. The one who loses His life for Jesus’ sake will find it. Are you learning this?

27 February Mt 19:16-30

The rich young man saw himself as a commandment keeper, but he had not begun to keep the first commandment (Ex 20:3). His heart was enslaved by his love of money, which far exceeded his love for God (vv.21-22). Jesus exposed the man’s inability to change his own heart. Thankfully, God can change us (v.26), as the disciples had begun to experience (v.27). Every sacrifice made for God will be rewarded, for in His kingdom the world judges as “last” will indeed be first (vv.28-30).

28 February Mt 20:1-16

This parable is not meant to be a business model! Jesus is not teaching us about pay-scales. His point is that the kingdom of God does not operate on the basis of merit at all. If it did, we would all be lost, for our sin merits judgement. But Jesus compares God to a landowner who is generous to a fault, lavish in His kindness. We must not despise His grace when we see it given to others, as though we are more deserving of it than them. We have no cause for complaint, only for gratitude. Do your life show it?

1 March Mt 20:17-28

Jesus sees a terrible death before Him (vv.17-19). He will not die as others do, not even as other crucified men do, but uniquely He will die bearing the price of our sin in order to save us (v.28). And the disciples? Their mind is set on self-promotion and honours (vv.20-24). That may be the world’s style of leadership, but Jesus’ followers are to have nothing to do with it (vv.25-27). “This is our God, the Servant King; He calls us now to follow Him …” Will you?

2 March Mt 20:29-34

The crowds are enjoying Jesus but do not share His compassion. Hence they try to silence the blind men (v.31), but these desperate men shout louder, and Jesus heals them (v.34). Are we desperate enough to do serious business with God? That’s often the missing link. There’s no other basis for coming to Jesus except our need and His unique ability to meet it. Jesus opened their eyes not just to the trees and flowers, but to the God who had come to save them. They followed Him (v.34) – you too?

3 March Mt 21:1-11

At last Jesus makes an open and deliberate statement of His identity as the Messiah. He does this by arranging His entry to Jerusalem in line with the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 (vv.4-5): let everyone know that He is the King of whom the prophet spoke! Yet He comes in gentleness, not with the stern vengeance on God’s enemies that so many expected when Messiah came. This does not mean that God will fail to judge wickedness. But before that day arrives, God offers us His peace and reconciliation.

4 March Mt 21:12-17

Jesus was appalled to find commerce driving prayer out of the temple (vv.12-13). He interrupted the trading and replaced it with healing grace (v.14). The religious leaders were furious, and more so when children praised Jesus in messianic terms (v.15). Jesus’ quotation from Ps 8:2 (v.16) is a devastating reply, as Jesus accepts for Himself the praise which, in the psalm, is offered to God. How dare He? Because He is God with us (Mt 1:23), with the right to judge what happens in His house (v.13).

Matthew daily Bible readings w/c 19 Feb

Eddie,
Bana peel under foot

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.

19 February Mt 17:22-27

Even though Jesus had been glorified on the mountain (17:2-5), the disciples continued to misunderstand Him and His mission. He speaks of His death and resurrection, but their grief suggests they heard only the first part (v.23). Nor has Peter grasped that Jesus is the Son of the God of the temple in a unique sense, and therefore exempt from the temple tax (vv.24-26). Yet despite their failures of faith – and ours – Jesus continues to supply every need (v.27). Such is His grace!

20 February Mt 18:1-5

Aren’t you glad you didn’t ask the question in v.1? How embarrassing it now seems. Plainly the disciples were motivated by more than just theological curiosity. They were arguing about their own importance – something that’s destructive in any family, including the church. So Jesus reminds us that the rule of His new family is humility (vv.2-5). To enter His kingdom we must stoop low (Mt 5:3). The one God counts great is the one who willingly accepts the lowly position (v.4) – as Jesus did (Php 2:8).

21 February Mt 18:6-9

Jesus continues to show us how to treat those who become like little children by believing in Him (vv.3,6). We are to understand that other Christians, so precious to the Lord, are vulnerable, and we are to protect them. Our life influences others, for better or for worse. If we turn others away from Christ, His judgement on us will be terrible indeed (vv.6-7). So let us take drastic action before we cause others to sin and are ourselves condemned (vv.8-9). Act now!

22 February Mt 18:10-14

Jesus underlines how precious every one of His followers is to Him, and how they must be dear to us too. They have great importance to God (v.10), so much so that no matter how many sheep in His flock, He goes after the one that strays (vv.12-14). How, then, can we be carelessly indifferent when another Christian falls into sin and wanders from the church? Surely we must seek to bring them back, not simply write them off. Whom is Jesus asking you to help restore?

23 February Mt 18:15-20

Jesus tells us how to restore one who strays (vv.15-17), beginning privately but ending publicly in excommunication by the church if the warning is not heeded. Church discipline is not alien to the spirit of Jesus, for it is He who commands it in love. The goal is not punishment, but restoration, and as we work to this end Jesus is with us and working through us (vv.18-20). Do we practice what our Lord teaches here? A church with no discipline does not care for the flock as Jesus does.

24 February Mt 18:21-35

But what do we do if the straying one repents? We forgive! And if it happens time and again? More forgiveness! Peter’s attempt to put a limit on forgiveness (v.21) is embarrassing in the light of how much God has forgiven us (v.24). Jesus’ parable makes one big point: since God has forgiven us so much, we must be ready to forgive one another. Forgiving grace transforms us, so that we can and must forgive others. An unforgiving spirit warns us of our own need to repent and seek grace.

25 February Mt 19:1-12

The Pharisees’ question about divorce reflects their whole difficulty with Jesus: they are not truly seeking God’s purposes. Grounds for divorce were much debated in Jesus’ day. However, Jesus rejects their starting point (“How much freedom do we have to divorce?” v.3) and speaks instead about God’s purpose in marriage (lifelong union vv.4-6). Consider this carefully, if you are not yet married (vv.10-12); commit yourself fully, if you are. Remember: Jesus, not our broken culture, is Lord.

Matthew daily Bible readings w/c 12 Feb

Eddie,

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.

12 February Mt 15:32-39

Matthew has already shown us Jesus feeding a great crowd in the wilderness, so that all ate and were satisfied (14:13-21). We noted then the echoes of the Exodus story: the God who delivered the Jews from Pharaoh is now present in Jesus. But in this second wilderness feeding (15:32-39) the hungry people are mostly gentiles (15:31). So we learn that the Exodus was a picture of the much greater salvation Jesus would accomplish for people from every nation – including us.

13 February Mt 16:1-4

The Pharisees and Sadducees were like many people today: skilled in everyday affairs, yet woefully blind in the things of God (vv.2-3). Their demand for a sign (v.1) rings hollow, because Jesus has performed so many signs which they have ignored. Only “the sign of Jonah” (v.4) will be given, namely Jesus’ resurrection (see Mt 12:40), which Peter pointed to on the day of Pentecost as the decisive proof that Jesus is the Christ (Ac 2:32-36). Beware of being worldly-wise yet spiritually foolish.

14 February Mt 16:5-12

The Pharisees and Sadducees had many differences, but Jesus sees they have a common fault. He calls it their “yeast” and twice warns His disciples against it (vv.6,11). The context shows he is referring to their unbelief, despite all the evidence (16:1-4). This, says Jesus, is our great problem: not a lack of bread, but a lack of trust in Him. Despite the feeding miracles, the disciples still show little faith or understanding (vv.7-10). Have we grasped that our greatest danger is unbelief?

15 February Mt 16:13-20

In response to Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ, our Lord announces that Peter will have a foundational role in the church. This was dramatically demonstrated when 3000 responded to Peter’s message on the day of Pentecost. It was by the preaching of the gospel that the keys of the kingdom were exercised (Ac 2:36-41). All subsequent church growth takes place on this foundation (Eph 2:20); a church that is not true to the apostolic gospel is certainly no church of Christ.

16 February Mt 16:21-28

Immediately we see that despite his high calling, Peter is no infallible Pope. He has given Jesus the correct title (v.16), but he doesn’t understand what it means. Jesus will suffer and die (v.21), and we must learn, as Peter had to, that all our attempts to avoid the cross are satanic (vv.22-23). There is a cross for Jesus, and for every disciple too (vv.24-28): a death to self. “When Jesus calls a man, He bids him come and die” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer). Are you ready for this?

17 February Mt 17:1-13

Jesus appears with Moses and Elijah and is transfigured (transformed) so that His glory outshines even these two great prophets from Israel’s history (v.8). If the Israelites needed to obey the words of Moses and Elijah, how much more then should we listen to God’s beloved Son (v.5) – even when He calls us to take up the cross (16:24-26)? But just as John the Baptist was misunderstood and suffered, so Jesus will suffer, and His mission will not be understood till after His resurrection (vv.9-13).

18 February Mt 17:14-21

As Moses descended from Mt Sinai to the chaos and unbelief of the golden calf (Ex 32), so Jesus leaves the mountain for a scene of spiritual turmoil. His remaining disciples seem to have gone backwards in His absence, unable to help a demon-possessed boy despite their earlier authority (Mt 10:1). Were they now looking to their own gifting rather than to God? That’s not faith – it’s folly. True faith, even as small as a mustard seed, always keeps the focus on God’s power, not on our ability.