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A funny thing you can have the chance to experience at the Elk Island National Park._edited.jpg

What's In Your Way?

Matt 16:1-4

Once the Pharisees and the Sadducees arrived together to test him, and asked him to give them a sign from Heaven. But he replied, “When the evening comes you say, ‘Ah, fine weather—the sky is red.’ In the morning you say, ‘There will be a storm today, the sky is red and threatening.’ Yes, you know how to interpret the look of the sky but you have no idea how to interpret the signs of the times! A wicked and unfaithful age insists on a sign; and it will not be given any sign at all but that of the prophet Jonah.” And he turned on his heel and left them.

J B Philips Version

In the above passage I really think the Pharisees and Sadducees made one vital mistake, they forgot who Jesus is. If they had believed him to be the Messiah they wouldn’t dared have asked him for ‘a sign’ to prove his identity, yet I know that, at times, I make the very same mistake.

As I write this, we have just left the Christmas season behind us and most of us (okay if I’m honest, you) have put away your decorations with their pictures of the meek and helpless, probably blond, baby Jesus, laying passively in a manger and being worshiped by people and assorted barnyard animals (with maybe even a lobster or two).

Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas, I revel in celebrating the joy the season brings, in singing those old familiar carols and listening to the lyrics in the decidedly theologically dodgy Christmas songs blaring out from just about every radio and shop. However, I also think Christmas can highlight a simple truth that Jesus is getting at in the passage above. It is very easy to mould our view of who Jesus is into something other than the Saviour that stands before us.

At Christmas we are encouraged to think of Jesus as tiny, helpless, and at the mercy of Herod – as if he couldn’t have destroyed Herod with one blink of those Baby eyes. It can be easy to forget who Jesus is in all the nostalgia and celebration over his birth. And it isn’t just at Christmas that this happens.

Our lives have many facets, we are parents, employees, employers, competitors, missionaries, volunteers, courageous, frightened, secretive, ashamed, in fact anything you can imagine, and we tend to view Jesus through the lens of those facets. Sometimes seeing him as gentle, sometimes terrifying, sometimes, to borrow some words from Delirious, ‘closer than my skin, sometimes further than the moon’, but the truth is, Jesus doesn’t change. Jesus is Jesus. Our saviour and Messiah. He is the same today, yesterday and forever. It is our expectations and our willingness to accept him, and what he asks of us that change and that is a truth we must try to guard against.

Let us encourage one another to get to know the real Jesus, and then to guard against seeing him as anything other than he really is. 


Lord, Saviour, Brother, help me to know you as you are, help me to see you clearly and hear you perfectly. Show me the prisms that distract me from the truth and free me from their hold. Thank you for your love, your patience and your endless grace. Amen


Write a description of Jesus as you see him then compare it to the real Jesus, identify any prisms that are deflecting your view and seek help to correct them.

Image by Ivan Rohovchenko

Dough Is So Sticky!

Matthew 16:5-12

When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. 6 “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

7 They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.”

8 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? 9 Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 11 How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.                                                                                                  NIV

In the above passage Jesus is warning against allowing the legalistic teachings and attitudes of the Pharisees and Sadducees to infect our faith, however, his analogy of bread gives rise to another warning, particularly pertinent in our modern lives. 

I don’t know if you’ve ever made bread by hand but when you, one thing you become very aware of is just how sticky the dough gets – it coats every finger, then your nose when it inevitably itches and woe betide you if you leave a ring on! If we aren’t careful our routines and worries can become  a little bit like that, coating every part of our lives, making a mess and blinding us to the path God wants us to take.

One of my favourite people in the Bible is actually Gideon, whose story you can find beginning in Judges 6. Gideon was God’s mighty warrior and God did amazing things through Gideon, but that’s not why he’s a favourite. I like Gideon because I recognise my own response to God’s call in him, not in the battles he fought and won, not in his unflinching faith, but in his initial response. That unsure, dare to ask the living God for proof not just once but three times, totally honest response. If you can’t remember the story it is well worth refreshing your memory.

Gideon is a man of faith, asking God to make sure he is really hearing God’s voice and not being tricked by the enemy. That is not what the Sadducees and Pharisees are doing in the passage above. They are not asking Jesus for a sign in faith that he is the longed for Messiah, they are not looking to ensure they haven’t fallen for a trick of the enemy before they do what God is asking of them. They are asking for a party trick they can use as ammunition against Jesus. They have become so used to having power over people and ensuring people stick to their rules in order to maintain that power that they aren’t able to see the real Jesus or accept him as the one they say they are waiting for.

It is all to easy to tut-tut at them, to laugh at their blindness and to shake our heads in judgement, knowing we could never be so blind, but actually, in today’s busy and distracted world, it is all too easy to be blinded to God’s call on our lives by our daily routine, by the needs of our family, by work pressures or even the feeling we’ve earned the right to some time for ourselves. We can become comfortable or even overwhelmed and let other things blind us to the message Jesus has for us, and for the work he would have us do.


Lord, thank you for sending your Messiah to rescue us and give us a full, fruitful and fulfilling live. Help us to be aware of your calling in our lives and to be ready to answer that call no matter how it disrupts our ordered lives. Amen


Take a look at your routines, write them out, then pray over them, and check with God to make sure you aren’t too busy or set to have time to answer God’s call.

Image by Ian Murphy

Adaptability for Sustainability

Psalm 127

Unless the Lord builds a house,
    the work of the builders is wasted.
Unless the Lord protects a city,
    guarding it with sentries will do no good.
2 It is useless for you to work so hard
    from early morning until late at night,
anxiously working for food to eat;
    for God gives rest to his loved ones.

3 Children are a gift from the Lord;
    they are a reward from him.
4 Children born to a young man
    are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.
5 How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!
    He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates.

New Living Translation

During week three of the Matthew 16 series Mike preached on verses 16:13-20 and he spoke about different types of buildings and what their structure can tell us about how they are used. This got me thinking about what type of building Watchet Baptist Church resembles, and I decided with joy and gratitude, that it is most like Dover Castle, in Mike’s analogy. Those who have inhabited it in the past have always adapted it to best suit the needs of those it serves, to make it more accessible and welcoming to those who need to hear God’s message of love and grace and, in thinking this through, I found I couldn’t get Psalm 127 out of my mind.

I don’t know the whole history of WBC but I know that they sold their original building when the repair costs became too great, not wanting building maintenance to become their focus, that they bought the old school to give them space to engage with the community, that they again refuse to be swayed from their purpose and that that enabled them to have a strong input into the building of the new school, and that they worked hard to buy The Sanctuary, our shared living room.

Because those earlier generations, some of whom are still in todays congregation, listened to God’s call, because they had the faith and courage to radically change how they did things, because they never sat still but were always searching for ways to do things better, the church has a central position in Watchet and is today being used to offer hope and safety to many more members of the community than it ever could have if it had stayed a building up on the hill.

They worked with God to build his church in Watchet, and were rewarded with generations of spiritual ‘children’ – we who came along as a result of their efforts.

I don’t know what the future holds for Watchet Baptist Church, but, as the advert goes, I know a Man who does and my prayer is that we will trust Him to lead us in building the next phase so that those future generations can join us on this journey.


Lord, we are grateful beyond words to those who came before us for having the courage to hear your voice and step out in faith, help us to discern your will for the future of Watchet Baptist Church and to move towards in in unity, love and faith. Amen


Sign up for a slot during the prayer weekend, attend some of the Tuesday evening prayer meetings, pray about the onward shape of Watchet Baptist Church and cast your vote as you feel led in February.

Image by K. Mitch Hodge

A Fair Exchange

Matthew 16:21-28

21-22 Then Jesus made it clear to his disciples that it was now necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, submit to an ordeal of suffering at the hands of the religious leaders, be killed, and then on the third day be raised up alive. Peter took him in hand, protesting, “Impossible, Master! That can never be!”

23 But Jesus didn’t swerve. “Peter, get out of my way. Satan, get lost. You have no idea how God works.” 24-26 Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for? 27-28 “Don’t be in such a hurry to go into business for yourself. Before you know it the Son of Man will arrive with all the splendor of his Father, accompanied by an army of angels. You’ll get everything you have coming to you, a personal gift. This isn’t pie in the sky by and by. Some of you standing here are going to see it take place, see the Son of Man in kingdom glory.”

The Message

In the above passage we can see just how important sacrifice is to Jesus. Firstly he begins to warn his disciples about the ultimate sacrifice he must make to bless us with true, everlasting fellowship with God, and he also talks to them about the kind of sacrifices they will be expected to make too.

Throughout the Bible there are many examples of people sacrificing things for the sake of the gospel, Rahab sacrificed everything she knew, Abraham was willing to sacrifice his promised and dearly loved child, Mary sacrificed her good name and put her future and very life on the line to obediently bear the Christ child.

Most Christians I have known have also made sacrifices for the sake of the gospel, maybe not on the same scale, but sacrifices that cost them dearly nonetheless. Sports fixtures missed to attend Church, unethical job roles they could no longer keep, relationships that were not what God wanted for their lives, but here’s the thing. After every case of sacrifice comes blessing. God clears the way, through our sacrifice, and pours out his blessing on his church in ways we can hardly ever imagine.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not talking about a prosperity gospel, we don’t sacrifice to get blessing. We sacrifice because the Spirit leads us to and because we know in our heart of hearts it is the right thing to do and, although we may benefit from the blessings, they are not for us alone, they are for the good of the kingdom, and they are good for building our trust.


Lord, thank you for those who came before me, who sacrificed so much to help build your Kingdom and allow me my place in it. Father please speak clearly to me if there is anything you need me to sacrifice, and give me the faith and grace to be able to do so. Amen


Search your heart, spend some time in prayer and ask Holy Spirit to reveal to you any areas of your life which you may need to sacrifice to His will.

Image by Naomi McKinney

The Convoy

Matthew 16:4, 11, 16 & 22

4 A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.’ Jesus then left them and went away.

11 How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’

16 Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’

22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’

New International Version

Even though we have had five weeks of teachings on Matthew 16, and long discussions in our discipleship groups too, each of us will read these verses above and focus on differing aspects of them, they will say different things to each of us.

Why? Because, as it says in 1 Corinthians 12, we are all different, but equally valuable parts of the body. We all have individual giftings, insights and understandings that together make the Watchet Baptist expression of Church what it is. We are united in our difference and all working towards one goal, the expansion of the Kingdom, and God will use each and every one of us to get the work done.

As Mike says in his fifth teaching on Matthew 16, although we have different methods of travel we are all on the same journey – the journey of discipleship.

As we travel on this journey it is vital we understand that we cannot travel alone, we need each other to point out if we take a wrong turn, to help us find fuel, to help clear the road of obstacles for those who come behind and to give us a lift if we break down.

As Psalm 133 says:-

1 How good and pleasant it is
    when God’s people live together in unity!

2 It is like precious oil poured on the head,
    running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
    down on the collar of his robe.
3 It is as if the dew of Hermon
    were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the Lord bestows his blessing,
    even life for evermore.


Lord, as we walk through this season of decisions please help us all to remember that we are all equally important to you, that we are all called to be a vital part of your church in Watchet, and that we will always have a great love for you in common. Lord, have your way with our expression of that church, for your purpose and to your end. Thank you Lord, Amen.


Go for walk and take note of all the different people you encounter, imagine their stories and how their experiences might differ from your own.

Image by Emily Morter

Who Am I?

Matthew 16:13-20

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

New International Version

At some point in our lives, if we are believers, we will have all faced the same question as Peter does in verse 15, when Holy Spirit asks us who we say Jesus is. Usually, at that point, we agree with Peter, and we are overwhelmed with gratitude.

As the years of our discipleship roll on we find out that we were right, Jesus is our Messiah, but just as we get to know our friends more the longer we know them, we also get to know Jesus more and to find out he offers us a much deeper relationship than being that distant figurehead, Messiah.

In my own life he has been the most honest friend I have, able to stand against my storms of injustice and fear and lead me back to a place of peace. He has gently, and persistently when necessary, pointed out things in my life both physical and spiritual that I would be better without and helped me to leave them behind. He has been my comforter through life’s dark valleys, my provider in times of want and my conscience in times of plenty. He has proved himself interested in the tiniest details of my life and shown himself to be ever faithful and steady through times of turmoil and change.

Whatever life holds I know that Jesus, my friend, brother and Messiah will walk through it with me, will help me make sense of that which I can and will carry me through that which I can’t. I’m excited by the future because I know, whatever happens, I will have Jesus.


Dear triune God, thank you for sending your one and only Son to rescue us from our sin, thank you for wanting such a personal and intimate relationship with each and every one of us, thank you for your patience and your grace in building that relationship. Please help us to play our part. Amen


Did you know Cruden’s Concordance lists 198 names and titles for Jesus? Each one is cause for wonder, celebration and thanks giving.  Make a list of Jesus’ names that have been meaningful to you and make a note next to each one the reason it is special to you, as a reminder of Christ’s faithfulness throughout our lives.

Pencil with Eraser

Keeping A Record

Matthew 16:8-9

…“You really are a little-faith lot! He said, “Why are you discussing with each other that you haven’t got any bread? Don’t you understand, even now? Don’t you remember the five loaves and the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you picked up afterwards?”

 The Message

I know that I have looked at this passage in the previous devotion, however, I think there is a little truth here it is easy to miss. It’s in that little question that Jesus asks his disciples, “Don’t you remember…”. I think it shows that when Jesus acts in our lives he isn’t just acting for the moment but with an eternal perspective. I think, for want of a better phrase, when Jesus acts it is always a ‘teachable moment’ and I think we are supposed to remember those acts in order to learn the lessons he has specifically for us.

Each act can teach us something about the character of God, can help us grow in our faith and be used to introduce our God to those who haven’t met him yet.

Holding on to the memory of what God has done for us, not just the big things but the little things too can be a really important tool in our developing discipleship, can help us in those times of doubt that we all get and act as a shield when the enemy attacks.

However, it can be all too easy to forget in life’s busy-ness, the wonder and the awe the intervention into our every day lives by the God who created the universe should induce and lose this valuable tool.

Let’s make our 2023 resolution to keep a record of the times when God touches our everyday lives. We can do it so many ways. We can keep a journal; or write each event down on a slip of paper and keep it in a bottle, tin or box; we can tweet about them or post on Tic-Tok or other social media so that we can have a record in our feed, though this may not be appropriate for every instance; we could paint or draw pictures, even sculpt something; we could collect mementoes from the place we were when the event took place, in fact the options are as varied as our God given imaginations.

However, you choose to remember those times God intervenes in your life, keep it active, look at it often, let it build your faith and help you to learn the lessons God is teaching you.


Lord I am amazed and astounded that you who created the Universe and masterminded my salvation take such an interest in each one of us that you intercept our daily lives for your purposes. Help me to remember, to marvel and to share your interventions to the glory of your name. Amen.


Begin an encounter diary in any form that is meaningful to you

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