You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it. (Matthew 21:22)

Thought:

Why would Jesus curse a fig tree and cause it to die? Well, Jesus was hungry and the fig tree held the promise of fruit that might satisfy his hunger. But when he arrived at the tree, he found it had no fruit for him. It had given him the hope that he might find food and then not delivered. Jesus cursed the tree and immediately it withered and died. Jesus’s disciples were surprised and amazed at this, (which is odd if you remember the number of miraculous headings they must have seen him perform). Perhaps they were surprised that his miracles now appeared to be extended in to the realms of destructive power. The fig tree stands as a metaphor for all that offers us spiritual truth and nourishment but when approached, is found to be barren and fruitless. Many many people in our society today believe the church to be as barren and fruitless as this fig tree.

Word:

Matthew 21:18-22 NLT

In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry, and he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” And immediately the fig tree withered up. The disciples were amazed when they saw this and asked, “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”

Goal:

My goal today is to trust that my faith is the key to the power of my prayer.
Dear Lord and Father, I pray you will keep me strong in my faith that my prayers might be powerfully answered for your glory. I will dare to pray for the things I truly hope and desire in the knowledge that I will receive what ever I ask you for in faith. Today I pray especially that many people will come to know you Lord, through this TWG project of sharing a little piece of scripture every day. In the powerful name of Jesus, I pray. Amen

Today’s readings:

Exodus 12:14-13:16, Matthew 20:29-21:22, Psalms 25:16-22, Proverbs 6:12-15

Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?’ (Matthew 20:15)

Thought:

I am counting on the promise of complete forgiveness and a place in God’s kingdom. But I have only come to faith half way through my life. In the beginning of the parable (from which I have quoted the end below) the landowner finds workers to hire throughout the day. I could say I was hired at noon to work in God’s kingdom. I will work hard for the rest of the day – the rest of my life. Whatever else God might seem to give to others, I agreed to work hard for God in return for forgiveness and a place in his kingdom.

Word:

Matthew 20:8-16 NLT

“That evening he told the foreman to call the workers in and pay them, beginning with the last workers first. When those hired at five o’clock were paid, each received a full day’s wage. When those hired first came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more. But they, too, were paid a day’s wage. When they received their pay, they protested to the owner, ‘Those people worked only one hour, and yet you’ve paid them just as much as you paid us who worked all day in the scorching heat.’ “He answered one of them, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair! Didn’t you agree to work all day for the usual wage? Take your money and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you. Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?’ “So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.”

Psalms 25:6, 7 NLT

6 Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love,
which you have shown from long ages past.
7 Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth.
Remember me in the light of your unfailing love,
for you are merciful, O Lord.

Goal:

I would like to pray everyday, in some form of words, the verses from psalm 25 above. I just want to remember how grateful I am for My lord’s compassion and mercy which we can read he has shown from long ages past. I would like to pray that my Lord will forgive me for wasting half my life ignoring him and behaving badly as a result. I pray that by His grace I will be allowed a place in his kingdom. First or last matters much less than just being allowed in at all.

Today’s readings:

Exodus 10:1-12:13, Matthew 20:1-28, Psalms 25:1-15, Proverbs 6:6-11

Humanly speaking, it is impossible to be saved. But with God everything is possible. (Matthew 19:26 NLT)

Thought:

Many people I know wonder about faith. They wonder about God too. They feel that they have no need for either because they are good people. They are law abiding citizens who look after their friends and families. They are polite to their neighbours and recycle their rubbish and give to charity…etc.

But they still wonder about God. Just like the rich man in the passage below, many good people are wondering if there is more they can do, if there is more to it than just being a good person.

Word:

Matthew 19:16-26 NLT

Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” “Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” the man asked. And Jesus replied: “‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honour your father and mother. Love your neighbour as yourself.’ ” “I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?” Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked. Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”

Goal:

Jesus says there is something more you can do. You can give up all the stuff in your life that prevents you from seeing “the only One who is good”. But he also knows how hard it is to do.
These days, even the poorest among us is richer than many of those who Jesus was teaching. What are the reasons people can’t see God? What ever it is – pride, education and reason, peer pressure from family, friends or society, – modern life with all its innovation and comfort often seems a bit pointless without God. My goal is to let go of enough stuff that gets in the way, so that I can always see God.

Today’s readings:

Exodus 8:1-9:35, Matthew 19:13-30, Psalms 24:1-10, Proverbs 6:1-5

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. (Psalm 23:1)

Thought:

Moses kept on doing what the Lord was asking of him even in the face of total failure. His own people didn’t believe him and Pharaoh certainly didn’t. In fact, Moses’s action actively worsened life for the Israelites. But Moses had spoken directly with God. He was in no doubt of the truth of God. Imagine if God actually spoke directly to you. Imagine he did it all the time. Faced with the reality and the immensity of God, does it seem likely that you would refuse to believe in him? Does it seem likely that you would just be able to ignore it? God had chosen to reveal himself to Moses and so Moses had no ability to deny what had been revealed to him. He followed him like sheep follow their shepherd. He had all that he needed…

Word:

Exodus 5:22-6:3

Then Moses went back to the Lord and protested, “Why have you brought all this trouble on your own people, Lord? Why did you send me? Ever since I came to Pharaoh as your spokesman, he has been even more brutal to your people. And you have done nothing to rescue them!”
Then the Lord told Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh. When he feels the force of my strong hand, he will let the people go. In fact, he will force them to leave his land!” And God said to Moses, “I am Yahweh—‘the Lord.’ I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty’ —but I did not reveal my name, Yahweh, to them.

Psalms 23:1-4 NLT

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.

Goal:

The Lord had revealed himself to Moses and so he followed. Moses revealed God to Pharaoh and the Israelites with signs or miracles performed with his staff. As the psalmist says in Psalm 23:4: I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.
My faith comes from having seen the truth in the word of God. The Lord is my shepherd, I have all that I need.

Today’s readings:

Exodus 5:22-7:25, Matthew 18:21-19:12, Psalms 23:1-6, Proverbs 5:22-23

What sorrow awaits the world, because it tempts people to sin. (Matthew 18:7)

Thought:

For a very long time I have struggled to understand this passage. Especially the bit about cutting your hand off of gouging your eye out. But today it occurs to me to be much clearer. If your hand, foot or eye cause you to sin, cut them off and throw them away. In other words – nobody is perfect. However, if you repent of your sins and turn from them, then you can have a chance of finding the kingdom of heaven. Or put another way: if you regret your sins and cut them out and throw them away, although you will still have been a sinner, your past sins will not be carried forward with you because you cut them off and threw them away. You may still bear the scars of sin but you won’t still carry the sins themselves.

As for the children being the greatest in the kingdom, I have less trouble understanding this now I am a father myself.
My little daughter is so full of trust. She is so clearly utterly dependant on my wife and I for everything.

Word:

Matthew 18:1-10 NLT

About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. “And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea. “What sorrow awaits the world, because it tempts people to sin. Temptations are inevitable, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting. So if your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand or one foot than to be thrown into eternal fire with both of your hands and feet. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell. “Beware that you don’t look down on any of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly Father.

Goal:

This world of sin and temptation has robbed me of all of my innocence and most of my trust. My goal today would be to cut out my lost innocence and look to my own daughter’s example as one of the greatest in God’s kingdom. I would like to learn to trust in God in the same way she effortlessly and completely trusts us to provide for her needs and to love her always.

Today’s readings:

Exodus 4:1-5:21, Matthew 18:1-20, Psalms 22:19-31, Proverbs 5:15-21

But I am a worm and not a man. (Psalm 22:6)

Thought:

I am approaching a cross roads in my life. Along one road, I will set aside my career and begin a new chapter at home with my little daughter. I will provide practical home support for my wife as she resumes her career. Along another road, I have been increasingly convicted by what I read of God in the bible and by what I see happening in my life as a result. I find myself with decisions to make. But it seems it has never been easy to decide to stop what you are doing and follow God…

Word:

Exodus 3:1-10 NLT

One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian. He led the flock far into the wilderness and came to Sinai, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn’t burn up. “This is amazing,” Moses said to himself. “Why isn’t that bush burning up? I must go see it.” When the Lord saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses! Moses!” “Here I am!” Moses replied. “Do not come any closer,” the Lord warned. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. I am the God of your father —the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God. Then the Lord told him, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land. It is a land flowing with milk and honey—the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live. Look! The cry of the people of Israel has reached me, and I have seen how harshly the Egyptians abuse them. Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt.”

Psalms 22:4-8 NLT

4 Our ancestors trusted in you,
and you rescued them.
5 They cried out to you and were saved.
They trusted in you and were never disgraced.
6 But I am a worm and not a man.
I am scorned and despised by all!
7 Everyone who sees me mocks me.
They sneer and shake their heads, saying,
8 “Is this the one who relies on the Lord?
Then let the Lord save him!
If the Lord loves him so much,
let the Lord rescue him!”

Goal:

Moses was afraid of God and afraid of the Hebrews and the Egyptians! He didn’t know what to do or say. But God gave him precise instructions and said he would be with Moses. Moses didn’t feel he was any kind of man for this work, as the psalmist says, Moses felt like “a worm and not a man” before God. All men are! But God doesn’t expect us to be Him, he just expects us to do what he asks and instructs us. My Goal is simply to have enough faith to trust that God will be with me if he asks me to do anything for him.

Today’s readings:

Exodus 2:11-3:22, Matthew 17:10-27, Psalms 22:1-18, Proverbs 5:7-14

…if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it (Matthew 16:25)

Thought:

So far this year, I have read several accounts in Genesis in which God’s people illustrate the verse above from Matthew. Noah drops everything and turns his whole life and those of his family to building the ark in order to be set adrift and alone in the world. Abraham was prepared to, and almost did sacrifice his own son’s life to God. Joseph humbly accepted his sudden fall from favourite son to slave and prisoner. Now we see in the passage below, Moses’s mother is forced to comply with the Pharaoh’s decree that all baby boys be thrown in the Nile because she can no longer hide him. So she does what she can to give him a chance and then she gives him up to the river. But she doesn’t give up hope that he might be saved…

Word:

Exodus 2:1-4 NLT

About this time, a man and woman from the tribe of Levi got married. The woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She saw that he was a special baby and kept him hidden for three months. But when she could no longer hide him, she got a basket made of papyrus reeds and waterproofed it with tar and pitch. She put the baby in the basket and laid it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile River. The baby’s sister then stood at a distance, watching to see what would happen to him.

Matthew 16:24-26 NLT

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?

Goal:

Jesus is telling his disciples that he will suffer and die at the hands of the authorities in order to fulfil his destiny as God’s son and our saviour. In the passage above he goes on to say that if you are going to be his disciple you to must be prepared to sacrifice you own life if need be. Now that might mean literally following him to death on your own cross, but equally it can mean giving up the life you lived before you knew Jesus and beginning a totally new one. Perhaps that seems impossible right now, but my goal is to let go of all the things I have gained in this world and trust that my soul will survive and that I will know how much that is worth.

Today’s readings:

Genesis 50:1-Exodus 2:10, Matthew 16:13-17:9, Psalms 21:1-13, Proverbs 5:1-6