Hearing and Doing

Friday – The Gospels
Matthew 7

Click or touch “Firestarter”
To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.


Photo Courtesy – http://www.angeloakcreative.com/

Hang upon the words of Jesus in this concluding chapter of “The Sermon on the Mount.” Various brief instructions are arranged one after another. Receive each of them as precious gems of Jesus’ wisdom which he lovingly shares with you, his disciple. Each comes from the inmost center of Jesus; will you receive them at that same point within yourself?

The concluding six verses present an image developed in the letter of James, reminding us not only to be hearers of the word, but doers as well. As you look upon the movement of your life and learn from Jesus’ words, what action is called for? You might miss this, if your reading is hasty—a hearing only.

Amid the declarations that Jesus makes, three questions are interposed. Feel the questions first, then respond from the depths of your spirit.

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
Judging not, I’ll not be judged. v. 1
Measure given, measure get v. 2
Taking the log from my eye v. 5
Ask and it will be given. v. 7

Click or touch the image
for the version for children and families.

This is the Eighth Week in Epiphany, Year A.
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
We read the Gospel of Matthew, except during Advent, the Infancy Narratives of Luke.

Scripture Recordings in over 700 languages!
Faith Comes By Hearing

Audio Bible App from www.bible.is

The Firestarters and readings are posted in the timezone UTC+12,
so that they are available in New Zealand and other regions
near the International Date Line.

The Violence of Love

Sunday – The Gospels from the Lectionary
Matthew 5:38-48

Click or touch “Firestarter”
To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.


Photo Courtesy – http://www.leaveoutviolence.org

There are familiar sayings of Jesus here that have been misunderstood. In no way does Jesus want you to be someone else’s doormat. The refusal to co-operate with violence brings forth a “violence” of love. Let us see this in the familiar “turning the other cheek.”

The first blow comes to the right check. In the ancient world, this could not be a blow of attack, since this would only be done by the person’s right hand; the left hand was used only for cleaning oneself. The punch with the right hand would hit the person’s left cheek, not the right one. The scenario here is of one receiving a blow of insult with the back of the right hand onto the right cheek of the other. Turning the other cheek means this: “Your first attempt to degrade me by this blow has failed; would you like to try it again?” The unrighteous anger of another is turned back upon that other.

Reinterpret your life’s experience according to fresh ways of understanding Jesus’ teaching about transforming non-violence into the shaking violence of love.

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
Struck on cheek, turning other v. 39
I will go the extra mile v. 41
Loving well my enemies v. 44
Being whole as You are whole v. 48

Click or touch the image
for the version for children and families.

This is the Eighth Week in Epiphany, Year A.
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
Sundays are dedicated to the Gospels from
The Revised Common Lectionary.
Year A is dedicated to the Gospel of Luke.

Scripture Recordings in over 700 languages!
Faith Comes By Hearing

Audio Bible App from www.bible.is

The Firestarters and readings are posted in the timezone UTC+12,
so that they are available in New Zealand and other regions
near the International Date Line.

The Means of Grace

Friday – The Gospels
Matthew 6:16–34

Click or touch “Firestarter”
To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.


Photo Courtesy – http://www.faithbookcovers.com

Jesus uses the image of the secret place in his teaching about fasting. Fasting is one of the “means of grace,” taught by John Wesley and uplifted in other spiritual traditions. By setting a limit to our response to the appetite for food, the soul is purified, the focus shifting to God alone as nourishment, as is found in Deut. 8:3 and Matt 4:4: “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (NRSV). The other means of grace are prayer, searching the Scriptures, Holy Communion, and holy conversation.

Listen to these words from the Sermon on the Mount as special inspirations from the Lord to live this season in the grace that flows from that mountain.

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
Father in secret rewards. v. 18
Where my treasure, there my heart v. 21
More value than birds of air v. 26
Kingdom first, all else given v. 33

Click or touch the image
for the version for children and families.

This is the Seventh Week in Epiphany, Year A.
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
We read the Gospel of Matthew, except during Advent, the Infancy Narratives of Luke.

Scripture Recordings in over 700 languages!
Faith Comes By Hearing

Audio Bible App from www.bible.is

The Firestarters and readings are posted in the timezone UTC+12,
so that they are available in New Zealand and other regions
near the International Date Line.

The Demands of Discipleship

Sunday, February 16
Matthew 5:21-37

Click or touch “Firestarter”
To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.


Photo Courtesy – http://howard-carter.blogspot.com

Jesus cuts no corners on the absolute demands of integrity. The law, however strictly maintained in outer details, will not make one just or worthy of the Kingdom. Jesus “raises the bar” on life—beyond words, to actions fed by grace.

Only by grace can we steer away from the demands of the flesh in anger or lust. Anger is destructive of relationships, unless released in prayer and action on behalf of those treated unjustly. As for lustful feelings, flirtatious or inappropriate behavior toward another in a sacred relationship damages holy expressions of love.

Take Jesus literally here. Why not? Why wiggle around looking for exceptions to these exalted ideals of living? Let us examine ourselves carefully, repent, and be open to all the joys Jesus is teaching you.

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
Anger released in silence v. 22
First reconciled, then my gift v. 24
Blessed are the pure in heart. v. 28; 5:8
My word, “Yes, Yes” or No, No” v. 37

Click or touch the image
for the version for children and families.

This is the Seventh Week in Epiphany, Year A.
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
Sundays are dedicated to the Gospels from
The Revised Common Lectionary.
Year A is dedicated to the Gospel of Luke.

Scripture Recordings in over 700 languages!
Faith Comes By Hearing

Audio Bible App from www.bible.is

The Firestarters and readings are posted in the timezone UTC+12,
so that they are available in New Zealand and other regions
near the International Date Line.

From the Secret Place

Friday, February 14
Matthew 6:1–15

Click or touch “Firestarter”
To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.


Photo Courtesy – http://saints.catholic.org/

Clear, straightforward instructions come from Jesus about the dispositions of the heart when we do good deeds, and how the heart itself is to be transformed by prayer. Jesus’ instruction about prayer is a blend of two inseparable aspects. Each person is encouraged to go alone to the inner, secret place of one’s spirit. There is an inward privacy to prayer. However, as The Lord’s Prayer reminds us, there is always a communal dimension. The prayer is “Our Father,” not “My Father.”

Lent is coming soon. What does the Lord suggest to you about growth in prayer as the dark, secret place of winter yields to the open, expansive light of the coming spring?

Ponder the parting warning of Jesus in verse 15.

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
Father, hallowed be Your name v. 9
Will on earth as in heaven v. 10
Give this day our daily bread. v. 11
Forgive us as we forgive. v. 12

Click or touch the image
for the version for children and families.

This is the Sixth Week in Epiphany, Year A.
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
We read the Gospel of Matthew, except during Advent, the Infancy Narratives of Luke.

Scripture Recordings in over 700 languages!
Faith Comes By Hearing

Audio Bible App from www.bible.is

The Firestarters and readings are posted in the timezone UTC+12,
so that they are available in New Zealand and other regions
near the International Date Line.

Both-And

Sunday, February 9
Matthew 5:13-20

Click or touch “Firestarter”
To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.


Photo Courtesy – http://www.redbubble.com

Mount Sinai and the Mount of the Beatitudes stand beside each other in our imagination. From the former comes the foundation of how to live a godly life. Moving beyond the “Thou shalt nots,” the Beatitudes begin with positive expressions of blessing: How blessed and fortunate you will be, that now having the foundation, you understand how to live in the Kingdom.

Imagine that you are salt and light—one at a time. Salt offers zest to others’ lives; light illumines the way of Jesus.

In the second half of our reading, Jesus uplifts “both-and” of his teaching, referring to the Law and to his words. It is not “either-or” for Jesus, but rather “both-and.”

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
“You are the salt of the earth.” v. 13
My light shining for others v. 16
Keeping the heart of the law v. 19
Righteousness for the kingdom v. 20

Click or touch the image
for the version for children and families.

This is the Sixth Week in Epiphany, Year A.
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
Sundays are dedicated to the Gospels from
The Revised Common Lectionary.
Year A is dedicated to the Gospel of Luke.

Scripture Recordings in over 700 languages!
Faith Comes By Hearing

Audio Bible App from www.bible.is

The Firestarters and readings are posted in the timezone UTC+12,
so that they are available in New Zealand and other regions
near the International Date Line.

The Need of God

Sunday, February 2
Matthew 5:1–12

Click or touch “Firestarter”
To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.


Photo Courtesy – http://www.authordawnbarker.com

As though with a magnifying glass, look more closely at the Eight Beatitudes. The first one from the New English Bible exposes the essence of what it means to be “poor in spirit.” “Blessed are those who know their need of God.” Poor indeed! The only source of our coming into existence is God.

Have you ever wondered why you came forth from your mother’s womb on the day of your birth, and why it was not someone else? It is a fact of God’s loving favor toward you that God decided some time ago to allow the idea of you take flesh at your conception. You need God alone for that fact. You need God alone for every breath, from the first gasp of air at birth, to the final sigh surrendering you in death.

If you truly live by the First Beatitude, the Kingdom of Heaven will be yours, not only after your final breath, but also in all the breaths, from the first to the last.

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
The Kingdom of God is here v. 17
I leave all and follow You. v. 19
Dancing with the Lord of life
You are the Lord, my Healer. v. 23

Click or touch the image
for the version for children and families.

This is the Fifth Week in Epiphany, Year A.
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
Sundays are dedicated to the Gospels from
The Revised Common Lectionary.
Year A is dedicated to the Gospel of Luke.

Scripture Recordings in over 700 languages!
Faith Comes By Hearing

Audio Bible App from www.bible.is

The Firestarters and readings are posted in the timezone UTC+12,
so that they are available in New Zealand and other regions
near the International Date Line.