Tuesday 29 Aug 2023

August 29: Matthew 23:23-26

Key Verse: Matthew 23:24
You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

I love the descriptive nature of some languages and Jesus was using some descriptive terms here. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees were supposed to be the ones who were teaching the people how to behave like God had asked them to. Instead they were focusing on the letter of the law from the prophets and ignoring the worldly laws of justice and mercy.

In our modern law system there is always room for justice and mercy which is why we have judges who should be the ones to discern what has happened and provide justice to all. The teachers and Pharisees were ignoring the people and demanding the giving of one tenth of everything. What happens when there is a family who cannot afford to give one tenth whilst the others around them are all giving just enough because that is what the law says. Where is justice and mercy in that?

Jesus wanted people to think more about the people around them and to express love to their neighbours instead of simply doing what was written down. If you are just doing what God said to do then you may not be doing what He wants you to do. Jesus came to show us how important love and mercy are. Without love and mercy we do not have a society in which Christians can thrive.

Jesus came to show us how to be different from the world. Without thinking we do tend to express what is in our hearts and minds and the people around us may have a very different view of what we are than what we say we are. Jesus wants us to focus on what we are thinking and feeling so we can aim to be more like Him than like the Pharisees described here. We have to balance what we know God asked for and what we know is a life living with Christ. Love and mercy need to be at the centre of our lives!

Points to Ponder:
Do you always try to follow the law?

How close is your heart to the law Jesus is talking about here?

Monday 28 Aug 2023

August 28: 1 Thessalonians 1:4-10

Key Verse: 1 Thessalonians 1:8
The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia – your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it

If you get scared about trying to explain the Gospel to others and you are worried you are not obeying God by telling others about the Gospel, then just be yourself and allow people to see you for what and whom you are. If you have a good relationship with God and talk to Him all the time, then you are a good example to others already. Here the apostle is telling the people from Thessalonica they are renown for being who they are!

Somehow I got a name for being someone of great faith in our community when all I thought I was doing was being a normal Christian and following what I believed God was asking of me. If you are able to do the same, someone is going to notice and it may be the encouragement they need to seek God in their own lives!

We cannot reach all people all the time through what we do and say, but people like to talk to other people and if they have noticed something different about you, your reputation will go before you. Now, what sort of reputation goes before you is going to be based on how other people see you!

We need to be honest and open about our lives with God so others can see we are in a good place with Him. This will encourage them to seek a good place with God too because they will see the joy and peace you have in your life. We don’t have to be able to recite the gospel, though it does help if you can give others encouragement through knowing the gospel. You don’t have to preach in front of a crowd of people – just be yourself!

Points to Ponder:
Do you know how other people see you?

Are you showing them you trust Christ?

Sunday 27 Aug 2023

August 27: Isaiah 51:12-16

Key Verse: Isaiah 51:12
‘I, even I, am he who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mere mortals, human beings who are but grass,

How often do you have to be reminded about someone who does good things in your life? I am probably not the best at acknowledging the good others do in my life; I do take some people for granted some of the time. It does not take much to go wrong in your life before you begin to see just how much others do and how you depend on others for so much in your life.

Without the links and bonds we have with others in our lives we would not be able to do half the things we do. From the friends and family who stick by our sides to the professionals who’s task is to serve and protect us, we are all bound in communities in many ways.

The prophet was reminding the people of all the things God had done in their lives to make it possible for them to live the relatively free lives they now looked forward to having. When we grow used to having good things in our lives we often do forget the people who put things in place so we could get to the place we are in now. It is well worth stopping and remembering things before, now and what we can look forward to in the future.

If we do not see God in every step in our lives, then, just maybe, we are taking Him for granted because we are too used to having all the gifts He has given us in our lives. Take time out to stop and thank God for all He has done in your life, from the people He placed in them, the places He has opened up for you and the promises He has given for your future with Him!

Points to Ponder:
Do you take people for granted?

Do you take God for granted?

Saturday 26 Aug 2023

August 26: Ruth 2:1-11

Key Verse: Ruth 2:8
So Boaz said to Ruth, ‘My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me.

I don’t pretend to understand the ways of the ancient people of Israel and how they felt they had to do things in accordance with ancient rules – but they did. Here we are reading about a woman and daughter in law who used to be in a ‘normal’ family but have been all but destroyed. Naomi and Ruth were living by whatever means they could; following the harvesters and picking up the pieces they dropped or left behind was their way of life now. No longer did they have the money to spend on food coming from the farmers...

What I find amazing is just how God works behind the scenes and how much He does look out for us when we place our faith and trust in Him. Naomi knew all the rules and what was expected. She knew Ruth would be able to follow the harvesters  and glean some food left behind during the harvest. Ruth was the one who was willing to go out into the hot day and do the work for her and her mother in law.

What neither of them expected was for Boaz, a distant relative and owner of the field she chose to work in. The workers did not have to allow the people to glean after them but it was understood they should allow people to do so. This was one way God allowed the poor people to be able to get some food – not a hand out but something they had to work for.

God softened Boaz’s heart who told Ruth to continue working in his field alone to make sure they got enough food. He even offered water to Ruth as she worked, and, later on in the chapter we hear how he instructed the harvesters to leave a little more than normal for Ruth to pick up. The rest, we say, is history. They get together, have a child which turns out to be King David’s grandfather!

Points to Ponder:
Do you wonder how God could ever change your life?

Will you trust Him to do what he knows is best?