Matthew daily devotional thought -  written by Trevor Williams

Matthew Chapter 1

A record    verse1

The genealogies in our Bible stories are usually passed over without much attention and we laugh at the difficult names, so unfamiliar to our tongue.  Yet when we start to read we find a potted history to bring our attention to the point of the writer.   In verse 1 we find that Jesus was a direct descendant of King David.  Undoubtedly many other people were as well, but right here and now the author Matthew, states the claim of Jesus as King.  Jesus is also declared son of Abraham, making him a true Hebrew.  Matthew’s story is about a true Jew, a true royal, the one who ruled over Israel at this time, King Herod, was neither.

The rest of the genealogical list goes on and shows nearly 2,000 years of history, of kings good and evil, of slavery and deportation, of anxiety and heartbreak.  Then the story leads us to one small family unit; a young couple betrothed but not yet married.  The scene is set for majesty to be shown among the poor, for the presence of God among the young and inexperienced, for grace to be shared in mercy.

The Holy Spirit, who was first read about in Genesis chapter one is now read about here.  That which hovered over the waters when the earth was formless and empty now descends on a young woman and creation starts again.  Not a creation of mountains and seas but one of a new life, a special creation of human flesh and living God.  Here Heaven and Earth are joined together.  Here the story that shakes the world and the soul of mankind begins.  Here is holiness amongst the sinful and the fullness of light in darkness.  The virgin conceives and bears a son to be known as ‘God with us’

Then so gently the chapter closes with the words that Jacob took Mary home as his wife.  In the quietness of a loving home, God came to mankind.


Matthew Chapter 2

Come to worship  verse 2

It is interesting to note that the Magi came from the east, how far to the east we are not told but we can be assured that they had travelled a great distance and at great personal cost.  The gifts they brought were fit for a king and so they go first to the palace of a king, but they were sadly disappointed.  They had presumed that the King of the Jews would live in the palace but the Magi had to travel further, the star they had followed had not finished its heavenly journey and neither had these men from the east.

Following the guidance of the star they eventually did find the one they sought; in an ordinary house.  We discover that when they saw the star in its resting place, they were overjoyed and when they saw the child their bodies were lowered in honour and respect and they worshipped him.  It was only then that they presented their gifts.

The scene is quite separate from that of the shepherds in the field.  We do not know how much later this event took place but it has stirred the imagination of thousands ever since.  Who were these men, what were their names? No one will ever know until they are revealed in heaven.  What is important is that they fulfilled their mission and their joy has been recorded for all time.

So often we will look for a star to guide us and we do not see what is obvious to us.  Bright lights of mankind and desires of self will cannot guide us to the Christ.  The road map is the sacred word – The Bible.  This will lead us to faith and faith takes us on the journey to see Jesus.  But like the Magi we must not be led astray thinking that Jesus is found in the great buildings designed by mankind.  Jesus is in the house and wants to make our bodies his new house.  We must go to the Lord of Lords wanting to worship him.  Do not look for him just for the purpose of looking, but worship him, offer him the gifts of your heart and then like the men so long ago you too will be overjoyed.


Matthew Chapter 3

Produce fruit in keeping with repentance   verse 8

The Pharisees seem to be looked down upon in the gospels for their hard line theology.  These men may have not found the spirit of God in their studies of scripture or they may have been proud of their studious way of life, we do not know, but what we do know is they knew their scriptures but did not know the tenderness of heart which they should have brought.

Repentance is a command; we are carefully instructed to change our life direction and this is a continuing development.  We go down one way for a while, but then realise that it needs more navigation.  Life is not easy nor is the road clearly marked.  The Christian does not repent only once at the time of baptism but continuously as the Holy Spirit gives direction.

John the Baptist in this passage urges that fruit must be seen with repentance.  The Apostle Paul in Galatians 5:22-23 teaches about the fruit of the Spirit.  Note there is only one fruit, but it has many parts.  So it is with repentance.  There must be a change in our inner most being in the depths of our souls.  Giving ourselves to God and others is not easily done but the more we give of ourselves the more fruit we produce by being a blessing.  Our Spiritual lives must also change, we do not go to church, we are the church, the living breathing body of Christ on earth.  This requires the production of the fruit in stability.  Then we must produce the fruit of repentance in our bodies.  We think our flesh and blood is ours but no, not a drop of blood a speck of flesh or bone must remain ours.  All must belong to King Jesus.  Our bodies are loaned to us for a while but in the fullness of time even these are taken away.

The choice is ours.  Shall we bring fruit in keeping with repentance?  May we have the strength to do so.


Matthew Chapter 4

Jesus went throughout Galilee   verse 23


Going on a journey can be a harrowing experience particularly when that journey involves different forms of transport in places yet unknown.  Then if we are on God’s business we jump through hoops of faith not knowing where we will end up.  For as surely as the wind blows where it will, so the Spirit of God moves us where he wishes.

Things had become difficult for John the Baptist in Jerusalem and so they would have been for Jesus if he had not moved north.  Jesus went throughout Galilee with a three pronged purpose.  First of all he went as teacher in the synagogues.  Oh, what a delight that must have been, no clouded mysterious theology but a clear message lighting the hearts of the people.  Secondly he preached the good news of the kingdom, making the hearts and men and women rejoice.  This was not to be a political violation leading to the hand to hand fighting in the streets.  Life is a precious gift and the Saviour would have his listeners hear good news that would bring peace to their souls.  Thirdly he went to heal every disease and sickness among the people.  Illness comes in many forms those we see and those we do not, note Jesus healed those in severe pain.  The master of the world even cares when our joints hurt.

The result of this activity was that large crowds from the area followed Jesus and the news of his activities carried all across Syria.  What wonderful, amazing journeys and all because he decided to go.

Perhaps journeys for us now will be less notable, but when you go make sure you go with Jesus and for him.  Each journey we make can be an adventure with God.  We may not necessarily be going on a mission but life is an adventurous journey.  Let God guide you, his Spirit lead you and see what God can do with you.


Matthew Chapter 5

You are the salt of the earth    verse 13

Most of us do not think too highly of ourselves.  Life has a rhythm that goes from year to year with high and low points.  We go to work, pay our expenses and like millions of people across the world we turn our own cogs of life and hope that it does not get too difficult for us.  As Christians we try to do our best with the abilities and talents given to us.  But few of us would dream of saying that we are any better than anyone else and often knowing the failings of the sinful nature we would say we are not even good.  Yet Jesus proclaims his followers as ‘the salt of the earth.’

Most food stuffs need a little something to bring out the flavour and from the most ancient of days it has been salt.  Salt in times gone by had the value of currency and it is said that the word salary has come from the word salt.  If therefore, salt brings out the flavour of food how much more shall the Christian bring out the flavour of God among people.

Many suffer from ill health physically and mentally and we are told that a ‘joyful heart is a good medicine’ – Proverbs 17:22.  If this is the case each of us needs to share the joy around just like salt.  We may not be able to lay hands on the sick but we can make someone else smile, offer a hand of care and a moment of love.  By doing, we share our spiritual salt.

Heavenly salt is also needed in the pulpit.  Many brothers try to teach God’s word but only some succeed.  We all need to endeavour to share the Bible with others, but only some are good at public speaking.  Like some people are better cooks than others because they have an ability to better flavour the food.  Salt must be used in the kitchen and also in the pulpit.  A list of Biblical facts does little to the taste of the soul.  The preacher must learn how to present his lessons so that others can taste his meaning and thereby enjoy.  Each of us is the salt of the earth; we must now learn what to do with it.


Matthew Chapter 6

‘Each day has enough trouble of its own’   verse 34

Never a truer phrase than this has been said.  With enough experience of life we all hope that we can get through.  Each day brings both joy and sorrow, what is important is how we deal with it.

Jesus in the previous verses of the text encourages his hearers not to be worried about the things of day to day living, food, drink, clothes.  Yet these are important to us.  No one likes to be hungry, thirsty or walk around in dirty rags.  But these day to day concerns do not need to be the beginning and end of importance.  We need to be thankful for our daily needs and yes we do enjoy them but they are there for the scaffold of our daily life.  What we do and what we are, who we mix with and where we go are far more important.

When Jesus said do not worry about tomorrow, he did not expect us to ignore it.  It is pointless having money today and not making provision for tomorrow.  A farmer sows crops with the plan to have a harvest; that is care for tomorrow.  Jesus teaches us not to worry about tomorrow.  By being careful today we may not have to concern ourselves about tomorrow.

But our text encourages us for today.  It is good for the Christian to expect blessings from God and to realise when they arrive.  We must also expect the normal run of life’s disappointments.  Some sorrows come as a surprise, an awful shock, others we can see coming and for these as wise people we can at least be prepared.  Some people will cope with the hurt of daily life and to others they are major heart breaks.  What we choose is up to us.

The foundation for our day must always be our reliance upon Jesus.  When he is the beginning and end of our day he can then be the substance to help us stand during the day.  Hold the Saviours’ hand, hear that Heavenly voice; let him be on your tongue and in your heart.  Perhaps then we shall face our days more bravely.


Matthew Chapter 7

Amazed at his teaching    verse 28

We would do well to be amazed constantly at the teaching of Jesus.  In reading the whole chapter we see neither complicated theology nor instructions for complicated rituals.  Here we find simple everyday guide lines that make sense in any society and at any time in history.

Wisdom is not always gained with knowledge, wisdom is the understanding and living of knowledge.  We all need daily guidance for practical living.  We are people in society.  We live in families and communities and we need to know how to do it if we want an effective and happy life.  Sooner or later we come across people who are bullies and try to frighten us into submission, this often happens in children’s lives and it is noticeable that it is rarely those of higher intelligence that are those bullies.  All through life we encounter people who try to dominate us, break us, and spoil our God given lives.  Jesus teaches that we should not cast our pearls before swine.  We must learn that there are some people we just have to turn away from.

Life does not consist of always doing what we want to do.  Life consists of a narrow way.  We must find the gate that leads to life, it takes some effort but when we start to look, it is not so difficult.  We must first go to the cross of Jesus and know his story, the story of love and forgiveness in which we may share.  The result of following Jesus will be like a tree that bears good fruit; and those around us will want to share in the harvest that God gives in our lives.

There are many people who have good ideas for living but really all of those basic ideas are in the teaching of Jesus.  It is little wonder then that the people were amazed.  We can share in that same amazement and it starts at the cross where love was shed for all mankind.


Matthew Chapter 8

‘I am willing’   verse 3

Twice in this exciting chapter Jesus touches people to heal them.  Here we see Jesus the miracle worker, the healer, and Matthew quotes Isaiah 53:4; ‘He took up our infirmities and carried all our diseases.’

At the beginning of the chapter we find a clash of peoples.  There were a large number of people following Jesus and suddenly a leper falls at his feet begging for help.  Lepers were usually outcasts in society and should not have been with the crowd that had gathered, but there he was.  His plea to Jesus was to ask him if he was willing to make him clean.  Clean of leprosy as a disease but perhaps to be clean in his soul as well.  The reply was simple; ‘I am willing.’

What happens next is dramatic, the healer says ‘Be clean’ and immediately he was cured of his leprosy.  What joy the man must have felt is not recorded for our pleasure.  It can be imagined that the man’s heart would have leapt in happiness and his body would have wanted to stand and run and shout about what happened.  But Jesus simply says, ‘tell no one but fulfil the Law of Moses.’

On one hand we have crowds and on the other Jesus telling the man to tell no one.  We may well ask ourselves did no one see what happened?  There is every possibility that no one did see because when there are many people they are not looking for the obvious.  Jesus wanted to heal this man for the man’s sake and not for the crowd.  The incident was over and done within the matter of a minute.  Jesus had touched the untouchable and turned his life around.

The wonder of Jesus is that he still touches the untouchable and heals each one of us, taking away our sins.  It is good if we also kneel before Jesus to ask him if he is willing, even for us and the answer will always be yes; I am willing.


Matthew Chapter 9

Sinners came and ate with him    verse 10

It is always a pleasant time when we can eat a meal with people whose faith and practise is the same as our own.  Even when we do not know others well, because we have a common bond we can sit down in peace and enjoy each other’s company.  On this occasion Jesus decided to eat with people who were different; tax collectors and sinners.  We wonder what sort of people they were.  The writer of the book introduces his own calling by Jesus and now at his own house people like him had gathered around Jesus.  These tax collectors worked for the enemy; the Romans.  No one liked them.  But what did the sinners do to be so labelled.  Were they immoral or hateful?  We wonder just what their crime was.  We will never know.  But the religious people of the day condemned the whole group including Jesus.

Perhaps we as Christians will never be in that same position of being called sinners by local religious leaders, but we may need to ask ourselves what sort of people we invite to eat at our table.  Are the visitors to our home always the nice people we would like them to be, or are they sinners?  Are our own homes places that people can come to and find sanctuary and a welcome for their sorrows? Are you willing to share your food with those who have not been wise in their lifestyle or whose religious thinking is different to yours?

Our homes are precious places to us but if they are only for our benefit then we are not finding the full benefit.  We must welcome all, their theological or moral position does not matter for when we welcome others we have the opportunity to share the love of Jesus and it is him, not you, who can change hearts and minds and the souls of mankind.


Matthew Chapter 10

I am sending you out like sheep among wolves    verse 16

Being a Christian is not for the weak but for heroes.  Each faithful member of the body of Christ is a soldier of the cross and made of steel.  Of course we have our weak days; times when we struggle, become tired and weary, all valiant people do but they keep on going.  Each battle won, each day gone through has been offered to Jesus as a sacrifice, an offering to our God. 

Jesus knows what we are like and addresses his followers as such; we are sheep, we need cool, green pastureland.  We need a shepherd to tend to our wounds, to heal us when we are hurt and the guide us to protected places.  Jesus also sends us out among the wolves.  Certainly the wolves enjoy seeking out the sheep, they want to frighten them, mock them and get them on their own to destroy.  Therefore Jesus warns us to be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.  We may have to fight a few battles in our lifetime but the war has been won, the enemy just do not know that yet.

As sheep we do well to avoid controversy.  We do not have to defend the Bible nor win every discussion.  We have the privilege of giving a reasonable answer to those who ask questions of us.  We do not convert people, that is the work of the Holy Spirit.  We do not save people, that is the work of Jesus.  Our job is to be sheep in the pasture of Almighty God, to be wise and innocent. By so doing, day in and day out, we are faithful to the Shepherd of our souls who is our victor and hero.  Enjoy being a lamb of God and keep your eyes open for the prowling wolves.


Matthew Chapter 11

Are you the one who was to come?   Verse 2

Sometimes in life we are called to be the one who is needed for something or someone special.  Very often we do not expect the situation but it can present itself on the spur of the moment.  We may arrive at someone’s home just at the moment of need or visit the sick at a moment of crisis.  The Christian must always remember that we are royal priests and as such we are at all times on duty to pray and assist in whatever cause.  This calls for careful preparation to be ready for whatever God calls us to and whenever we are needed.

The disciples of John the Baptist went to see Jesus when it seemed that John could do no more.  He was in prison, his ministry had stopped and he needed to know for absolute certain the Jesus was indeed the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.  John had immersed Jesus, seen the heavenly dove and heard the call from Heaven, but now in the dark and filth of a dungeon he needed that vital affirmation.  So the question is asked ‘Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?’  Jesus answers simply that the miracles have happened and the good news is preached to the poor.

When we are called to be the one who is needed we should always do more than we are asked.  There should never be a cry among us that there was a need for someone else.  It is our privilege to serve, to see to the needs of others, to go beyond our abilities to help.  The result is that our love for Jesus allows us to share the good news whether the people are poor or rich.

May our heart be bold in such times when we are called suddenly to special duties and may we remember that wherever we go we are the Ambassador of Christ and we are there on his behalf.


Matthew Chapter 12

‘A bruised reed he will not break and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out.’  Verse 20

This moving chapter in Matthew’s story sees Jesus active in caring and helping, but the more he did this the greater the opposition to his teaching and ministry.  We see Jesus in action caring for the hungry, healing a man with a withered hand, and perhaps saddest of all giving freedom and physical healing to a man who was blind, mute and demon possessed.  The greater the miracle the greater was the attack by religious authorities, shame on such who knew the scriptures and used them against the Messiah.

Matthew under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit chooses to refer to Isaiah 42:1-2.  In verse 20 we read the tender words now fulfilled in Jesus Christ ‘A bruised reed he will not break and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out.  These tender words may, in this chapter, initially meaning those who were ill or taking their first faltering steps of faith in Jesus but they must also be for us today.  Those of the greatest faith and ability in the church are still only a bruised reed and a smouldering wick.  We all, every one of us, are close to breaking point.  The most valiant for Christ is only one day away from rejecting him.  Even the Apostles ran from Jesus and denied him.  If such as these can dismiss their Lord, it would be easy for any of us to do the same.

Our weakness is our strength.  We may have given our whole life to Jesus, our money, home, talents are all his, yet we are weak.  We may trust our Jesus absolutely but it is not in our strength but his that we stand.  The hope we have comes from him.  The light we walk in is from the Saviour.  Then as we come in our weakness he grants the victory.  This is our strength; Jesus is Lord and will not break us, nor will he snuff us out.


Matthew Chapter 13

Some seed fell  verse 4

In this chapter we see Jesus as the master storyteller.  This well known story of the sower has four distinct results and these results affect every part of our daily life from childhood to old age.  Some people will receive their education with joy and make use of it for their future careers.  Sadly even though some children may attend good schools they cannot be bothered to try to put any effort in and the result is a poor harvest, if any at all.

In life we meet new people, some we have no future relationship with, some become friends for a short time only, others are just part of the many we know and then occasionally we meet some who is part of our lives for years.

Although this parable’s main thrust is the Kingdom of Heaven and the effects of the gospel of Jesus, in our lives its message goes much further.  Here Jesus teaches about life; we must consider our own life to date as we read the whole parable.  Why have some things, abilities, jobs, money, ideas or whatever it may be, fall on stony ground?  Was it because we were hard hearted?  Or perhaps these things fell into our lives and we were not ready for committing time and effort.  So they sprang into our lives and simply died a speedy death.  Or were we so involved in so many things that we ignored what we should have really followed.

In order for us to have good harvests in life we must use the good ground of good friends and companions, hard work and worthwhile effort.  When we cultivate our relationship with our Lord first of all, then good things will follow.  We must have good soil and offer a place in our lives for a good harvest.


Matthew Chapter 14

He went up on the mountainside by himself to pray    verse 23

The purpose of the Lord at this time was to pray, the course may be obvious; he had just performed a miracle among more people than at any one time before.  We may wonder if he felt that he had emptied himself or was it to give thanks for this great event.  Or did Jesus simply need time by himself?  Sometimes being the centre of attention can be hard work.  For the preacher or teacher in a congregation answering many questions and endeavouring to lift peoples’ spirits up is not an easy task.  Those in positions in the work place will always have to make decisions and be able to perform well.  And in the home, parents must always be able to cope with the needs of their children.  Having to give of ourselves without some sort of a time of ease is too much for the human spirit and soul, and we reach breaking point when we can no longer be effective.

Jesus went to a quiet place.  It is sometimes hard to find anywhere quiet in busy cities, but we must find them.  Somewhere there must be a place where we can be by ourselves.  But note; Jesus did not go to the mountainside for rest but to pray.

Life can be exhausting, rising early in the morning, working hard all day and going to bed late can drain the spiritual life out of us.  If all fails, God still wants our prayer arrows; those prayers which we can easily and quickly send before the throne of grace.  We are to pray without ceasing and all we say and do can be taken before God.  But quick snatches of conversation do not develop a relationship.  There is far more to prayer than text message information.  The Christian may need to learn how to pray and it would be good to follow the Master guide lines.  Go to a quiet place by yourself and then pray and find what God can then say to you.


Matthew Chapter 15

What comes out of a man’s mouth makes him unclean    verse 11

‘Lord wash out my mouth and make it clean.’  Every one of us has prayed a prayer like this at some time or other.  We are often too speedy with our tongue and we have not clearly thought out what we wanted to say.  Sometimes the volume of our speech is too loud, or it may have been said in an unkind way.  We know that sometimes we even wonder why we have said certain things, things which we had no real intention of saying.  But like feathers blown about in the wind which can never be gathered up together again, so our words once said can never be taken back.  Our souls are grieved and we would gladly cut out our tongues to un-say words which have cut deeper than any blade in the heart of those we speak to.

What can we do once said?  Immediately we realise our fault we must be quick off the mark to apologise, to offer our frailty and plead forgiveness.  One cut into the heart of a man’s soul must be quickly sewn up lest another cut be made.  We must be quick to search for love to serve as a healing balm.  How quick a pleasant association can be destroyed and how desolate we can feel afterwards, a desolation that may last for years and even until the day of our departure.

It is good to exercise our mouths to endeavour to cease from harsh words, to learn to speak kindly and peaceably.  When difficulties arise out of our own mouths we do well to practise seeking forgiveness even before we have to.  Then when harsh words are given to us, we like an expert sportsman, must learn how to deflect that hurt and gently come alongside our friend to try to resolve the matter.   So we pray, give me a clean mouth O God that nothing unclean will come out of it.


Matthew Chapter 16

Yeast used in bread     verse 12

People have been making bread for thousands of years with different grains and in different styles, but the raising agent has always been the same – yeast.  The yeast cell is microscopic, but in the right conditions of flour, moisture and warmth, the yeast cell may divide and multiply itself every 20 minutes.  All around us there are yeast cells in the air.  People down through the ages have seen the results of its development in bread, giving both flavour and lightness to the dough.  But yeast can also destroy; under different circumstances and with different foods yeast cells can cause fermentation which causes bacteria to grow and food to spoil.

In this passage Jesus talks about the ‘yeast’ of those who oppose him and who would eventually cause his death.  It is possible to feel the emotion with Jesus’ words as he speaks of that terrible time.  Slowly he teaches his beloved disciples that he would not be there forever, his time on earth was limited.  The great miracles and teaching that could draw thousands together was for a short time only.  The message was to be given into the hands of Jesus’ followers and they needed to understand what was good and what was false.  They needed to understand about good and bad ’yeast’.

Today the church also needs to understand good and bad ‘yeast’.  It is possible to see all sorts of things done in the name of Jesus but we must find out what sort of ‘yeast’ make it grow.  Different theologies, different faiths abound all over the world; we must be aware that some are from good ‘yeast’ and some bad.  How we lead our life is important to God.  Doctrine is important and each of us must take time to read, study and follow.  May God grant us today, the wisdom to find ‘good yeast’ and may it produce goodness in our lives today.


Matthew Chapter 17

A four drachma coin   verse 27

Three great stories are told in this chapter; the wonderful account of the transfiguration, when Jesus was seen with Moses and Elijah.  Secondly the healing of a little boy with seizures whom the Apostles could not heal and then Jesus and Peter pay their Temple tax with a coin found in the mouth of a fish.


There are a number of people who complain that the church is asking for money all the time.  The tradition of most churches is to take a collection at some point in the Sunday service so that the church may function as an organised group.  We read of this guidance in I Corinthians 16 for the early church to fulfil their promise of giving; but there is no direction to the church to do this or when to do it.  The tradition is that we follow an example and it is a useful one.

Money is vitally important to everyone.  The bulk of the world lives in cities and so we have to work for money and spend it to live.  There are many who would like more money, there are many who do not have sufficient, but when we work with God we work with trust that he will help us.  When God is first in our finances, there is usually enough for other things.  When God is an afterthought, there are often insufficient funds.  The Temple tax was the equivalent of two days pay for every man.  Jesus, it seems did not have that much in his pocket at the time, but provision was made.  So often when we live by faith, when we walk with Jesus the needed coin may well appear.  It may not be waiting for us in a fish but in the generosity of our brethren or a hundred other ways.  We still may have to go and gather in the blessings like Peter had to catch the fish but there will be a blessing somewhere when we reach out with Jesus.


Matthew Chapter 18

Just between the two of you   verse 15

When someone has hurt us one way or another our natural reaction is to get angry and in somehow hurt them back.  This is a natural reaction and one which glorifies the prince of darkness rather that the Prince of light.  Each person we know is a precious gift to enrich our lives.  Of course other people do not always agree with us.  How could we discuss anything or improve anything if everyone agreed at the time.  It is how we conduct ourselves that is important.  Do we wish to enrich each other, develop a greater depth of understanding or do we think that only our way of thinking is the correct way? Such impudence and stupidity on our part does not enrich the journey of life, nor strengthen the bonds of friendship.

Jesus stresses that when problems arise between two people, they talk it out in private.  More difficulties can be sorted out over a friendly drink in comfortable surrounding that facing each other on the battle field.  Indeed some problems are of such a tender and personal nature, that these very discussions cut to the heart of both people.  In such circumstances it is as if we walk on shards of glass, we cut ourselves if we speak or if we remain silent. We do well to pray a great deal before starting such a discussion.  The Holy Spirit must lead, guide and touch hearts and will do so far better than our own selves.  It must not be for ourselves that we seek such times but the benefit of others.  Be gentle when you speak to others.  Let there be just the two of you.  Never raise your voice for in so doing we raise a verbal fist.  Gentleness must be in our voice and let that be the voice of none other than the voice of Jesus.


Matthew Chapter 19

Let the little children come….  Verse 14

There are some who think this passage refers to the innocence of small children but those who are parents know only too well that little children are usually demanding and can only function on self interest.  They can indeed be loving, charming and cute, but when playing with others of the same age they may not always be nice.  Then when these same children learn to speak, often among their first words is a definite ‘NO’.

Fortunately children in most countries now have rights provided by law.  They are to be cared for, nourished and protected by family and nation.  This has not always been so and many children in the days of Jesus would have no legal position and many in the ancient world would have been slaves, owned and often abused by others.

When Jesus rebukes his disciples for sending the children away he rebukes them for sending away those who could make no comment for themselves, who had no rights or power.  These Jesus receives and blesses.  For all who will come to Jesus to be blessed will indeed find a blessing.  He receives the children, the poor, the powerless, and the insignificant.  Jesus would bless the least in humanity and so must his church do today.

Every opportunity should be taken to bless all manner of people but especially should we take notice of what Jesus did.  The parents wanted a blessing on their children and he was more than willing to do it.  The people of God must always be a blessing to children.  It does not matter if they wriggle or cry during a church service let their voices blend with those of adults to praise our God.  Let the children come to Jesus and do not turn them away.


Matthew Chapter 20

Why have you been standing here all day doing nothing?   Verse 6

Is there any reason for God’s children to be standing all day doing nothing?  Absolutely not.  We may have faith in Christ but without action our belief means nothing.  All down the ages people have stood around waiting for others to teach them, lead and encourage them.  Some are like sponges filled with the teaching of other people, but of what use are these people?  Very little.  They may fill a seat on Sunday, give a token offering but their lives must be changed.  Their darkness must be turned into light, their inaction into vitality, their quietness into song.

If the church is to grow it must be filled with living stones, creating a Holy Temple.  No laziness can be tolerated.  There is work for all to do and we should be quick to take on any task for Jesus.  The King of Kings speedily took water to wash feet, a few loaves to feed thousands.  He touched the untouchable and loved the unlovable.  We never read of Jesus standing all day doing nothing.  Every moment he was ready to heal, to teach and to encourage.

My soul must be eager to work in the vineyard all day and for as long as it is day.  Each moment is a precious gift, once lost can never be regained, used well it may touch the borders of eternity.  How long should we serve Jesus? The longer the better for we have the chance of knowing him more, but if our time is short we must not waste a second.  No one will receive any greater blessing for doing more, for the reward from Jesus will fill us and cause overflowing blessings.  If we have been slow in getting into action move more quickly today and no longer stand around doing nothing.


Matthew Chapter 21

Do you hear what these children are saying?   Verse 16

One of the most joyful sounds known to mankind is to hear children sing.  It may not be a perfect sound but children can sing with more enthusiasm than adults usually attain.  In the singing of God’s praise by the young there is little worry about hitting the correct notes or keeping the right notes.  They do not even have to be overly concerned about the meaning of the words; they sing for the pure joy that it makes them happy.  Their young souls enjoy what they are doing.  Singing praises to God is perfectly natural.  There is neither embarrassment nor fatigue when they sing; their hearts are thrilled, their eyes shine and can often burst into laughter afterwards because they feel so good.

But this can be so different when adults sing.  Older people are aware of their imperfect voices and they fully understand the meaning of the words they sing.  Some hymns present the gospel so strongly that the weight of sin and failure can be heavy upon their shoulders and sometimes this is essential.  Our praise to God must be offered with an expression of faith and obedience.

So how can we join the two together; that of the joy of the children and the dedication of the adult?  Perhaps when we sing God’s praises we should all realise that we are always children of God and we sing for the joy of our Father in Heaven.  Then we must sing with a pure heart knowing that in Christ our sins are fully forgiven.  And like the young we should sing for the sheer enjoyment so it puts a thrill in our hearts and a smile on our face.  Few churches end a hymn with laughter but perhaps our inner selves should be able to say we feel better.  So from time to time we may do well to hear what those children are saying.


Matthew Chapter 22

When the crowds heard this they were astounded at his teaching    verse 33

What a privilege it must have been to hear the voice of Jesus.  Some religious people in this chapter had been to Jesus to test him and to trick him.  What a shame and disgrace.  It is worthy of note that it was the crowds who were really listening to Jesus and not the religious leaders.  These men of renown may have known their scriptures well but their hearts were not softened by them.  The crowds however, were ordinary people and could do nothing else but be astounded by the teaching of the Master.

Unfortunately such behaviour as the Pharisees and Sadducees can be found in the church now.  There are those who are well educated in the Bible who may be able to quote book, chapter and verse but when they teach there is nothing astonishing in their teaching because their knowledge is not reflected in their lives.  Every teacher and preacher should be thrilled emotionally with Jesus.  They must have fallen in love with him for Jesus himself teaches that it is on the basis of love that we keep his commandments.  Those who speak to others are called upon to perform a noble task and they must share with others in a way that lifts up the soul of the hearers and encourage them to live a life of faith for Jesus.  The preacher or teacher is a messenger and as such stands in the place of an angel before the hearers.

Let the preachers share with boldness but if the people are not thrilled by the message then let another take that place.  The people are not there to see how clever the preacher may be but are there to see Jesus.  And it is with Jesus that the crowds even today must be astonished.


Matthew Chapter 23

You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces    verse 13

This whole chapter is the teaching of Jesus against the religious leaders of his day.  The Master teacher speaks clearly and boldly against those who had studied scripture and who were cold and hard in their hearts.  These men may have been spiritual leaders in the community but these men certainly did not have a spiritual life.  Instead of the living word of God spurring them on to love and good works their studies had dried their religion to dust and emptiness, then sadly, each one enjoyed being in the company of those who thought the same.  They were thrilled about their misery, proud of their own efforts and it had the result of shutting the kingdom of Heaven in men’s faces.  These religious people had the opportunity of opening the doors of Heaven for ordinary people to catch a vision of the glory of God but they threw their chance away to offer nothing more than law, tradition and drudgery.

What happened all those years ago can happen in the church today.  Certainly we must contend earnestly for the faith that was once and for all delivered to the saints, but that contending for the faith must not be contentious.  It is easy to disagree with someone on a fine matter of doctrine or practise in the church but sometimes that disagreement becomes disagreeable.  Harsh words are said, fellowship broken and God’s love set aside.  This happens when we forget that we are servants of Christ and believe we should become masters bending the will of others to our own conclusions.  Such actions once again shut the kingdom of Heaven in men’s faces.  To those who walk by faith this brings about discouragement; to those who are learning about faith, the result is a rejection of the crucified Christ.  We may have studied scripture well but if it fails to move our hearts it will certainly not move others.


Matthew Chapter 24

So you must also be ready   verse 44

This verse encourages the disciples to be ready for the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem which eventually took place in AD 70.  But there are many instances in which all Christians should be ready.  Firstly we must make sure that we are ready to meet Jesus and be with him for evermore.  We may have a faith in him but we must also develop a relationship with him and learn to enjoy his presence.  There is no need to be shocked about living with Jesus eternally if we are living with him now.

Then we need to be ready to let Jesus work in our lives now.  Things can change when we allow Jesus to take control.  As we allow the fruit of the Spirit to grow and mature in our lives our thinking should change and hopefully we shall be more Christ like.  Jesus only wants to be first in our lives so that he can do his best for us.  Be careful you do not push him away but be ready for him to be active in your life.

Thirdly we need to be ready for Satan to become upset with us.  The reason that many people who have no regard for Jesus, are successful, is that Satan leaves them alone.  He does not have to worry about them.  He is worried about the Christian.  Satan wants to spoil our lives and to destroy our faith, he is concerned about us because he wants us to leave Jesus and turn away from Him.  It is not easy being a Christian; in fact it is often easier not to be a Christian.  But without Jesus there is no salvation, no forgiveness of sin, no home in Heaven.  We must be ready for life’s hardships and ready for the joy of Heaven.  We must make ourselves ready with God’s word the Bible, an active life in the Holy Spirit and an open heart.  May Jesus help us to be ready for him.


Matthew Chapter 25

For everyone who has, will be given more.   Verse 29

It is all too easy to look around and see people who may appear to have more than ourselves.  They may have more money, more possessions, more education and are better looking.  When we see people like this, it is easy for our hearts to sink into despondency.  The result of this is that we can easily dislike ourselves and go down into a pit of despair and gloom.

Jesus has been teaching a story about a powerful man who intended to travel and so he gave three of his servants a large sum of money.  Those who were given more made more.  The servant who was given only one talent was unwilling to use his gift and did nothing with it.  Some people may have more abilities than our own selves but that does not mean that we can do nothing.  By using the gifts that God has given us we can all increase our abilities.  No one of the face of the earth has any more than 24 hours in any one day.  What we chose to do with our time is entirely up to us.

It costs nothing to smile or to be kind or thoughtful and by using even these simple gifts we can change our lives and the lives of those around us.  Even if we have education or wealth or ability if we cannot share the pleasantries of life with others we are in fact destroying our own natural gifts.  The Christian has the opportunity to go alongside others and demonstrate their care for their fellow man.  If Jesus has not affected our lives then we must consider if we have in fact given our lives to Jesus.  By using our gifts, other gifts develop.  It may even be good if we challenge ourselves to develop or to accomplish something each quarter of the year or at least work towards a goal that we can accomplish each year.  It may only be a small goal but one accomplishment will always lead to another.  May God grant us strength for our work.


Matthew Chapter 26

Why this waste?    Verse 8

If you read through this chapter you go on a journey of walking on holy ground.  Here at the beginning of the chapter we read of a woman anointing Jesus with expensive perfume, then after the betrayal of Jesus, his capture and trial, the chapter closes with the heart-breaking tears poured out in bitterness.

The disciples were angry with Jesus because he had accepted a gift for his own self from the woman.  The place where this happened was the house of ‘Simon the leper’.  Was the man cured of leprosy or was there some other physical problem with the man so named.  We do not know but we do have a scene where a man who was or had been ill had invited Jesus into his home and Jesus seemed to be pleased to be there.  The woman we know little of, perhaps she was a guest and instead of Jesus doing something for her, she did something for him.  She gave a gift and used it on the body of Jesus.  We do not know why the disciples were so angry.  Were they really concerned for the poor or were they jealous.  We will never know.

In the busy life of the Christian we must be careful to be like the woman and do something for Jesus.  Certainly we have responsibilities to the poor and what we give must be done in the name of Jesus, but this is not enough.  Jesus taught that the poor would always be there and in any generation the words of Jesus are true.  But what do we do for Jesus?  If he was with us now we would delight at washing his feet or feed him and be thrilled to anoint him who blesses us.  But he is not here, we walk by faith not by sight.  Perhaps sometimes we need to simply sit in his presence, or like Peter we need to cry.  Perhaps, we may need to realise that the business of life and our activity in church is necessary but without spending time with Jesus is not really touching the Saviour and our lives may be missing the most important gift of all.  There is no waste when we give to Jesus.


Matthew Chapter 27

He took water and washed his hands    verse 24

This chapter in Matthew’s gospel rises in sorrow and becomes the climax of the shame that was poured upon Jesus.  One person after another leaves the Saviour of the world.  Judas had betrayed Jesus; the chief of the religious leaders bound him and took him to the secular authorities, people who they themselves hated with a passion.  The crowds reject the one who had healed the sick and had taught them the greatest truths know to mankind.  The soldiers mock Jesus, hitting him and crowning him with thorns and they took him and put him to death.  The whole horror could have been stopped by one man.  The representative of the most powerful authority the world had ever known.  Pilate the Roman Governor shamed himself by being a coward; he took water and washed his hands in front of the whole crowd and declared himself innocent.  This man rejected the pleading of his wife, ignored the life-style of Jesus and worse still he rejected his own conscience; he was a coward in every sense of the word.

Though we point the finger at this man of history, how often have Christians done the same thing?  How often has the church ignored dealing with problems in congregations?  How often have church leaders turned away from shepherding the flock because of pressure from elsewhere.  They have washed their hands and proclaimed themselves innocent.  Yet they declare their guilt and false hood and became like Pilate, they have become cowards.

Life is not easy.  Being a faithful Christian is hard, we do have to make decisions and we do have to declare truthfulness.  We dare not wash our hands to back away from the work God has called us to.  Let us do with our might what God has put into our lives and let us be cleansed only with the precious blood of Christ which takes away all sins.


Matthew Chapter 28

Afraid, yet filled with joy   verse 8

This is Matthew’s remembrance of the great resurrection day.  The story is told simply and centres around two women, both called Mary.  These women go to the tomb, meet the angel who had rolled back the stone which had sealed the tomb and he gives these women a commission.  They were to be the first to tell that Jesus had risen and they were to tell others.  It is little wonder that they had two opposing emotions; fear and joy.  So they did what was asked of them and then they met the resurrected Jesus for themselves.  They worship him and are again commissioned with the same task. ‘Go and tell’.  It is doubtful if their emotions changed, fear and joy led them on.

In the same way every Christian now has the same commission ‘Go and tell’.  We may do it with fear and joy blended together but the message must be told to each succeeding generation.  Every preacher and teacher must have the resurrection of Jesus as the pinnacle of their lessons.  This day of resurrection is the day in which the gospel flies like a flag on a castle.  It is the foundation of every sermon and the proof that we too shall be raised from the dead.  As we share with others our faith in Jesus we may be afraid of the reaction we shall find, but when it is received with joy the very angels in Heaven are thrilled.  Many may reject Jesus, it is sad if they do but first of all they must have the opportunity to be able to reject him.  If they are not told they cannot reject or accept.  Down through history the most unlikely of people have accepted Jesus, their lives have been changed and his sacrifice has been accepted and made worthwhile.  We may go in fear to tell of Jesus’ resurrection but we must also go with joy and by so doing will demonstrate that Jesus lives in our own selves.

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