Day 31 – Isaiah 58:6–7
by Annie Kirk
A couple of days ago we read Matthew 6:16–18. Today’s text is along the same lines. It again reminds us that fasting is not for your own benefit. But this time, instead of making the point that fasting is for God’s benefit it’s for the benefit of the poor and the oppressed (= bullied). Good deeds for our own benefit are fine, but we need to have a wider perspective. This is really difficult! Maybe spend some time today thinking about if there is anyone in your life that needs your help. None of us can make the world a perfect place, but all of us can help make it a little better!
Day 28 – John 4:32–34
by Annie Kirk
One of the weirdest, yet most basic things we learn about Jesus is that he is 100 % God and 100 % human. It doesn’t make mathematical sense, but there you have it. As God it makes sense that Jesus didn’t need to eat, but as a human he would need food to survive. Yet, in this passage he refuses to eat, saying the only thing he needs is to do God’s will. What do you think Jesus means when he says that? As humans we obviously need to keep eating to survive, but do you think it’s possible to have the kind of relationship to God where it feels like food is unimportant and the only thing that really matters is your relationship to God? Or was that just for Jesus?
Day 26 – Matthew 6:16–18
by Annie Kirk
I don’t think I’m the only one who wants recognition from others after I’ve done something I’m proud of. And who when I don’t get it, discreetly tries to make people aware of how amazing I am (basically, I’m a lot like the people in the text). If you’re anything like this, you find today’s text very challenging. Maybe you even get annoyed, because let’s face it: having people praise you is half the fun of doing something good! Why would Jesus want to take that away? The thing is, fasting isn’t for your own benefit – it’s for God’s.
Therefore it really doesn’t matter what other people think, only that we’re faithful to God. Guess it’s a good thing lent isn’t over yet, because this is really difficult and we probably need to practise getting our perspective right for a while longer!
Day 11 – Matthew 4:1-11/James 1:19
Here, the 3rd temptation was in direct relation to the purpose that Jesus knew He lived for. He knew He would be King over all the lands, that He would be ruler of the lands, but not in the way that Satan used in this instance. Satan was offereing Jesus worldly glory and power, not the heavenly glory and power He came to show.
Again, Jesus, who was weary and vulnerable never took His eyes off of God, and could resist the test that Satan used to make His job easier. Jesus’ journey to glory and to giving salvation to us all was through the hardest way and there were no shortcuts… there never was a temptation there to bow to Satan.
This was all at the start when Jesus knew his purpose but was on the road to really accepting it for himself. He was at a vulnerable place, but there was never a hint that Jesus would give in. He knew who He was and He knew why He was there. He knew the Word to support Him. As James put’s it, He was ‘Quick to Listen, and Slow to speak’.
That’s a place I strive to be in, and a place I am on a journey to. Are you, too, on that journey?
Day 10 – Matthew 4:1-11
The second temptation was a direct threat on Jesus’ life, but also on His humanity, and Satan even uses scripture in order to back up His reasons for wanting Jesus to jump off the building.
In a recent Youth Group discussion we looked at how Satan mixes lies in with truth in order to bring us down, lower our self-worth. Here he is doing the same to Jesus to make Him test God. Jesus’ response was a testament to how well He also knew the scriptures and how to respond to them in the right context.
It is important when being tempted to weigh up God’s Word properly with the situation and really look at the big picture. Are you trying to twist the Bibles Words in order to justify your actions? It is something that people do, even Christians before they are again at Jesus’ feet asking for grace.
God’s strength is ALWAYS strong enough for you to resist any temptations you might be going through, and even though His grace is there when we mess up and come back to Him, wouldn’t it great if we could all learn to not mess up to begin with?
Day 9 – Matthew 4:1-11
Today, think about the 3 ways that Satan tempted Jesus during his time in the desert. Each time he used logic, fear and even Jesus’ own purpose to tempt him into straying from his path.
The first temptation was to break his fast. It was to attack an action Jesus had made and the enemy used the knowledge of Jesus’ power to give Him a way out when He was at His weakest. But if Jesus had turned a stone to bread, He knew that the time He had spent in the desert would have been wasted. He kept one eye on the consequences of His actions. Even in the other two temptations, which we will look at over the rest of the week.
Are you really being tempted at the moment to do something that you KNOW you really shouldn’t? Think about the consequences. Does that help with your decision?
Day 31 – Psalm 51:10-11/Jeremiah 29:11
I absolutely love these passages as we are ending 2015 and beginning 2016. When David wrote Psalm 51, he had just been caught having an affair with a married woman named Bathsheba. He then went on to have her husband killed to cover up what he did. Talk about a scandal!
Psalm 51 is so amazing because we see David pour his heart out to God and ask him to forgive him for these terrible mistakes. God, being the gracious and loving God that he is, of course forgave him. Although his actions didn’t come without consequence, we all know of David today as a man after God’s own heart. Despite his messy past, God used David in mighty ways.
As we enter into 2016 I want to encourage that you all search yourself before God and ask him if there’s anything you may have done in disobedience to him. Ask him for forgiveness for those things and enter into 2016 with a new pure heart. God has such huge plans for our lives and he wants nothing less than for us to have a true relationship. Not a bunch of rules and legalism but He just wants us to get to know him.
We hope that the readings have been beneficial for you and that you would continue this habit of reading the word every day in the New Year. God will meet you right where you’re at each day as you spend time with him.
Day 30 – Luke 2:22-35
Have you ever held a 40 day old baby? If you have, you’ll know that they are tiny, are asleep for most of the day and can’t even hold their heads! At this age, Jesus parents brings him to the temple in Jerusalem and an old man comes up to them crying out that he knows that this tiny, less than 7 weeks old, baby-Jesus will bring salvation to both the Jewish and the Gentile world! Pretty amazing how someone could recognise all of that in Jesus so early on, isn’t it?
Day 29 – Isaiah 54:10
This verse is about God’s love and it uses some pretty strong language to describe how there is nothing that can stop God loving us. In modern language we probably wouldn’t talk so much about mountains shaking or hills removed though. What metaphors do you think Isaiah would have used today to describe God’s unfailing love?
Day 28 – Philippians 2:9-11
Today we see God’s vision for our lives, that Jesus is number one for us, and that we acknowledge Jesus as Lord, so we live in love and harmony with each other. Wherever we are. We can see this is God’s visions where it says that God exalted him (or lifted Him) to the highest place (…) ‘SO THAT’ every knee shall bow and we should all worship Jesus.
I think the closest example I have seen this year is what I have experienced this Christmas. I spent a lot of time this Christmas with friends who have children, from 3 months old to 5 years old, and one thing I loved seeing was our friends talking about how proud they are of their kids and lifting them up for other people to admire. Your parents most likely do that now about you because they love you and are so proud of what you do, especially for family back in you home towns.
God does this to Jesus, lifts Him up, exalts Him, so that we can show our love to Him. What Jesus went through for us was more than anyone could do for anyone. We aren’t worshipped by our parents friends, but we do get some attention. In life, God wants us to give Jesus our complete attention, because what He did was FOR all of us.
Think of one thing today to thank Jesus for. It might be something personal from this Christmas, or something more general like the cross. Either way, thank Him and mean it.