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Posted By Nan

Matthew 11:1-6
It is said by some Bible commentators that there are six accents of Jesus’ voice and they are contained in this chapter of Matthew. This is the accent of confidence.
Jesus has sent His disciples off on their mission to the people in Galilee and continued on His way. John the Baptist, in prison, heard about all the things Jesus was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus if he was the one the prophets spoke of coming. It has always puzzled me that this man, who recognised Jesus when He came to be baptised should now be acting as though he was not sure Jesus was as he had declared at His baptism. There are many suggestions amongst the commentators. One is that he asked the question because his disciples where wondering why Jesus would not rescue him. Another suggestion is that John was impatient, that he had the wrong idea of what Jesus would do. I find that one hard to believe. John had the Holy Spirit in him before he was born. With all that divine teaching I cannot see him forming an incorrect picture of what Jesus would be like.
Yet others think John’s question was a reflection of him being able to reflect on Jesus, now he was not in a position to preach and was able to devote his time for Jesus to grow more as John became less (John 3:30). His faith in Jesus was increasing and his certainty of faith and hope in Jesus was growing. He was asking the question as a confirmation of what he already knew.
Jesus answered John’s question with the accent of confidence. He told the disciples to tell John what He doing and what was happening, and in telling them this He was quoting from old testament prophesy in Isaiah 35:4-6.
Jesus spoke of the blind having their hope restored by the opening of their eyes. Even today He continues to open the eyes of those who are blind to the truth. Jesus spoke of the lame walking and today those who are not strong enough to follow the right way are strengthened when they put their faith in Jesus. In Jesus’ day the lepers were cleansed, and today those whose sins are their disease are cleansed in the blood of Jesus. John was told of the deaf hearing and we see those who could not hear God able to listen. Likewise, the dead in their sins are now raised to the new life in Jesus and for all, especially the poor in spirit, we inherit the richness of the love of God.
To ensure the message was received by John and his disciples, Jesus ended with the statement that the person who took no offense in Jesus and found no cause for stumbling because of Jesus and were able to see the truth were blessed. John preached repentance for sin and the coming judgement. Jesus preached repentance for sin and the love of God. John’s disciples needed to know this. As Bible commentator William Barclay comments “sometimes a man can be offended at Jesus because Jesus cuts across his ideas of what religion should be.” Be careful that you do not fall into that trap.

Posted By Nan

Matthew 10:28-42
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul …”v28
This verse goes on to say that we should fear the one who can kill our soul and body in hell. Fear God. Yes, it is not pleasant when we are bullied, criticised, physically harmed, or persecuted in any other way, but that is no excuse to deny God.
God cares about all living thing and He cares for you and me more than all other forms of life. This may sound cliché, because it is repeated so much, but He knows how many hairs are in your head. What does that matter? What is so important about how many hairs are in your head? It doesn’t matter. That is the point. He knows things about us that don’t matter and he cares about us in ways that do matter.
If He cares so much then we should respond to that care by standing up for God. After all, it is the behaviour of people calling themselves Christians that drags down God’s reputation. It is the harshness and hatred of many Christians that is used by those who don’t believe to denigrate God. It is the fallenness of so many who profess to be Christians, the double standards in their lives, that is used as an excuse to not take God seriously. We give God a bad reputation. Yes some of that is due to people looking for reasons to not accept God but much of it is due to the unJesus-like behaviour of those who claim to be Christians. Probably the worst of these are the ones who fail to love.
The second worst of the unJesus-like Christians are those who won’t stand up for God. When criticism and mocking appears to be on its way, they put the world’s opinion first and fail to stand up for God. The other type of world opinion you need to defend God against is that dressed up in religious garb. Just because someone claims to represent a church group does not mean they will always be giving God’s messages. We are all capable to giving the messages that suit us. Some more than others. Those who allow the Pharisee attitude to creep in are particularly vulnerable.
Jesus did not come to earth to make our lives easy, despite what people like to think. Firstly, we may have to choose between God and our families, even when our families profess to believe. If they are pressuring you to do something against what God has told you, don’t assume you heard God incorrectly! That is child think, when a child automatically believes all adults are right. God is always right. Get to know God so well you are in no doubt He has instructed you.
Remember Jesus is number 1. Stick by Him. Continue on that narrow path all the way to heaven. Life is a journey and your journey with Jesus continues after that gate on the path. Step off the path and you step away from Jesus.
Start small in your service to others. Start with those you see all the time. The person you pass every day in the street. Say hello to them. Offer a kind word, a hand of assistance, even a glass of water.
Jesus says “Forget about yourself and look to me. There you will find me and yourself”.

Posted By Nan

Matthew 10:1-27
Jesus prayed and instructed his disciples to do the same. He asked them to pray for God to send workers for the harvest. No sooner had He prayed this than he instructed His twelve core disciples to go out and harvest. Not what they would have been expecting, but how often do we pray for something and find that God sends us to do that thing.
Jesus did not send the disciples to the traditional areas the Pharisees and Jewish society saw a needing conversion – those who lived outside Israel’s borders – He send them to the people of supposed faith. They were to look in their own neighbourhoods amongst the believers for those who were lost and confused. If you attend a church, never assume those who attend with you have any belief in Jesus. Many don’t. There are many who are seeking, or find the social interaction of churches to be beneficial, or who think it is a way to network, or think they believe because they have been raised to this faith but have never had a personal encounter with God. Jesus asked them, as He does to us now, to seek for those who are lost and confused.
He told them to go. They didn’t need training, or a massive fundraising campaign, or detailed plans in triplicate, reviewed by a committee. They just had to go. On their own. No equipment or money. Just themselves.
This was radical. And it still is. Rely on God? Are you sure? The Israelites in the wilderness were dependant on a column of smoke to lead them. We need to learn to rely on God, just as they had to. We need to trust God in everything. Whew, tall order.
They were to rely on offers of accommodation and food to give them shelter and nourishment. God prompted those who supplied their needs.
They were to forget the sense of entitlement. This was about trusting. If people did not welcome them they were to shrug their shoulders and leave and leave it to God to deal with! That takes faith.
But Jesus instructed them not to be naïve. The world is a dangerous place. Be alert, but maintain your righteousness in God and don’t be rude.
Don’t let those who defame you upset you. Jesus said “I will deal with them”. And don’t forget, when you need to speak, the Holy Spirit will give you the words.
You will face persecution because people want to reject God and you represent Him.
Don’t allow yourself to be bullied. Speak out. God holds your entire life in His hands.
That was a challenge for the disciples and is a challenge for us today in our walk with Jesus on that narrow way.

Posted By Nan

Matthew 9:35-38
Jesus had compassion on the crowds because they were sheep without a shepherd. (v36). He had compassion on the people. Jesus had compassion. He cared. He loved the people and He cared so much for them. That is the greatest truth in these verses. He cared.
He had gone out into Judah, travelling from village to village. He taught in the synagogues, he taught the good news of the kingdom of God. He also healed those who were sick. And He had compassion on the crowds because they were helpless sheep that did not have a shepherd. They were not supported by their religious hierarchy, they had impossible burdens of the law to carry and they had no hope of any salvation. Very much like people today. So many are stumbling in darkness and have no idea where to go. Have you ever been on a tour of a cave where the guide has turned out the lights so that you can experience the total darkness of the cave? Imagine the lights never came on and you stumbled in the darkness, bumping into others, maybe clinging on to them, or calling out to others to help, wondering if you would fall into one of those deep pits lining the path. This is the darkness people without God stumble in. And Jesus cares so much for them.
Jesus told His disciples that there was a plentiful harvest with many people seeking to be saved. Unfortunately, there were not many workers to harvest them. He told His disciples to pray to God for workers for the harvest.
We still need workers for our modern day harvest. Sadly there are still not many, and when the people are harvested, there is a shortage of those who can teach them how to follow Jesus. I am not talking about churches, but individual followers of Jesus who can share their love for Jesus and teach others about Jesus and how to follow Him on that narrow path after Him.
As I read these verses, two songs came to mind. The partial lyrics are below. They give different messages. One is more about spending less time on the warm hug worship and more on reaching out to others. The other is more about growing spiritually so that we may fulfil the instructions of these verses. What do you need to do to take your place in the harvest?
There’s another kind of famine (John Clark)
“There's another kind of famine, you don't see it in their eyes. You don't see the children dying; you don't see the people cry. There's a hidden kind of hunger, see the victims all around. They don't even know they're dying; they don't even make a sound.
Are you talking to the Father, do you share your deep concerns? Or are you singing hallelujah while the man beside you burns? Do you quench the Holy Spirit; don't you feel the need to pray? Are you feeding on the word of God at the start of every day?
Now the Father's heart is calling, now He asks whom He can send to feed the hungry hearted, to love and not pretend. Will we be His faithful servants and obey the Master's voice? Will we cry out in the wilderness? If we're His we have no choice.
It’s time for tears (Chris Bowater)
It’s time for tears, to break the fallow ground of all the squandered years. As sand slips through the hands the precious moments disappear; it’s time, it’s time for tears. It’s time to weep for a church with so much revelation still asleep, divided by suspicion and with wounds still running deep; it’s time, it’s time to weep. It’s time to be broken, and contrite in your eyes. Let those with ears to hear know, it’s time to cry, for the generations in darkness slipping by. Without light, without hope, we’re leaving them to die; it’s time’ it’s time to cry.
The harvest is plentiful, are you prepared to go out and harvest?

Posted By Nan

Matthew 9:32-34
The final verses of the section of the three miracles cover a fourth miracle. A man, possessed by a demon that renders him mute, is brought to Jesus. Jesus casts the demon out. It is unbelievable that the attitude of the Pharisees was that Jesus healed by Satan. They were so desperate to deny Jesus they attributed His miracles, that had come from God, to demons. These verses make the point that there it is never possible to be neutral about Jesus. We either love Him or we hate Him, we can never be indifferent to Him. Sadly, those who are determined to hate Him will never see His miracles because they will block them out.
It is interesting to note that the Pharisees loved the past. Everything belonged in the past. They had no respect for or interest in the present or the future. This is why they did not see Jesus. Likewise, those who sit in a church and love the old doctrine of the past and refuse to see the present or the future but cling to the traditions will also fail to see Jesus. I am not citing the references because they are numerous, but Jesus often mentioned how the Pharisees of the past had killed the Prophets sent by God for the same reasons. Traditions were more important than the living word of God.
The Pharisees lacked a willingness to accept change, to be challenged by God. They lacked the humility to humble themselves before God and admit they were wrong. They were so determined to protect their false doctrine they refused to see the amazing revelation of God presented to them by Jesus. Be careful you do not fall into that trap and beware those in the churches who already have.
But there is another type of Pharisee, those who say they are Christians and eagerly study their Bibles and may even argue doctrine with others, who are zealous for the practice of religion but are just as zealous about their political beliefs and will follow political beliefs that interfere with the way Jesus instructed us to act. Those people are often at the extremes of politics. They mould their Christian faith to fit their political views and expound their views with all the legalism and harshness of their political fervour. They have forgotten to love God and to love their fellow man. Instead they spread hatred and negativity and give those who do not want to believe in God an excuse not to. Be wary of falling into that trap.



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