Saturday 21 September, 2019

Luke 3:15-20

15 The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with[a] water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with[b] the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” 18 And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them. 19 But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of his marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done, 20 Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison.

I find myself challenged by the single mindedness of John. No matter what people thought about him, good or bad, he stayed on mission. I wonder if he was ever tempted by the crowds?  The crowds loved him. They even thought that he could have been the Messiah that they were expecting to come.

Surely, he could have stayed on mission but enjoy a more comfortable lifestyle? No one would have questioned him or thought less of him. I mean, was it really that important to keep his Nazarene vow? Maybe not to the crowd, but it meant everything to John.

This is the path that God had set for him, and I imagine that never once did he consider anything else. For John, he chose complete obedience to God. Even though this obedience put him in jail, and eventually claimed his life, he didn’t waiver.

It’s easy to get distracted by life and all the ups and downs and not focus on the mission and plan that God has for us.

Father I thank you that you have a plan and purpose for each of us, and a mission to serve you with. Help me today to not be distracted but to stay on mission for you.

Written by Andrew Martin


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Friday 20 September, 2019

Luke 3:7-14

7 John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” 10 “What should we do then?” the crowd asked. 11 John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” 12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?” 13 “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them. 14 Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”

The crowds start coming to John and he wonders who encouraged them to seek God. Are they just wanting to escape God’s wrath or are they true God seekers.

So he asks them to prove they are true God seekers, that they have truly repented. John goes further by attacking the long held belief that being born as a Jew was sufficient for approval from God.

He calls for repentance, and the people wisely ask what does this mean – practically. John gives a series of examples of what a truly repentant person would do.

Clearly John teaches that repentance is not merely confession of sin when we offended someone or God. He is teaching that repentance is living a life where we look out for the needs of others, where we live righteously doing what is right and where we do not use our authority for unjust gain, but we live in contentment.

Written by Ps. Richard Botta


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Thursday 19 September, 2019

Luke 3:1-6

3 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— 2 during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. 5 Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. 6 And all people will see God’s salvation.’”

What a fascinating way Luke has chosen to write this portion of his account of Jesus. It is as if he starts with a long shot to establish the setting and then zooms in closer and closer until he reaches the extreme close up. Luke starts with the highest ranking leader in the Roman Empire, Tiberius Caesar; then the Roman Governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate; then the Roman installed leader of Galilee, Herod the tetrarch; then the Jewish religious leaders, Annas and Caiaphas; and then … John.

Starting with great political power and ending with humble John. In fairness, John belonged to the tribe of Levi, God’s chosen priests, and his birth was quite remarkable… but it is almost comical to consider his everyday life against that of Caesar.

What strikes me is that all the other people in this list had great political power, wealth and influence. But it was John who received the Word of the Lord, and it was John whom God was going to use to announce His son, the saviour of the world.

God uses those He chooses, not necessarily the powerful, or wealthy, or influential to bring about His purposes. Will I answer God’s call today? Who knows how He may use me! God, I want to be part of the big story you are telling. Help me to recognise your voice and follow your leading today. Amen!

Written by Ps. Beth Waugh


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Wednesday 18 September, 2019

Luke 2:41-52

41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” 49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them. 51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

In this passage, we read that every year Mary and Joseph go to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover, “as was their custom.” I am not sure if Jesus and the rest of the family joined them previously, but this year Jesus does. Today, these “customs” (or “traditions”) would be prayer, bible reading, giving and church attendance, etc. While sometimes it may seem we’re going through the motions as we do these “customs”, there’s something good to be said about them: they provide support. They become habits which help.

In this passage, I also notice how much Jesus enjoyed the relationship he has with His Heavenly Father. He loved learning and talking about him so much that he got caught up in conversation with others and lost track of time. Jesus seemed totally absorbed and energised by it that he was surprised that his parents didn’t think to check the temple first to find him but wasted three days searching for him elsewhere.

As I read this passage, I see how both customs and relationship go together. But the temptation for me can be to just focus on “doing” the customs. The danger is that if I allow these customs to take the place of my relationship with my Heavenly Father, I run dry.

Heavenly Father, may I not just rely on customs to know You, but choose to spend time soaking in Your presence too. Holy Spirit help me to stay a little longer.

Written by Gab Martin


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Tuesday 17 September, 2019

Luke 2:36-40

36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. 39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.

Lately I’ve been thinking about the human tendency to categorise life’s circumstances as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

In the case of the story of Anna here, she lost her husband after only 7 years of marriage and then lived as a widow for many years afterwards. That’s ‘bad’, right? But look at what this enabled Anna to do – she lived at the temple, worshiping, praying and prophesied that the child Jesus was the coming messiah.

But what if I look at life through the lens of Romans 8:28 – our God is able to work all things together for good for those who follow Him. This helps me see things from a different perspective, and instead of labeling circumstances as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’, I am prepared to see things as ‘both’.

When difficult things happen to us, when the enemy comes at us to cause trouble, our God is able to turn those ‘bad’ things into good. He is the God of ‘both’.

What things are happening around me that I am considering categorically ‘bad’ but God doesn’t see it that way? Lord help me to see through Your eyes of faith to be a person sees the ‘both’.

Written by Shelley Witt


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Monday 16 September, 2019

Luke 2:25-35

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss[a] your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” 33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

Today’s passage says that the spirit gave Simeon a revelation and led him to have an encounter with the living Christ.

Even though the way that the bible has recorded events, may seem to lack relevance to the culture I am ministering to and the events recorded happened over 2000 years ago, I can take confidence in the notion that people still come into relationship with Christ today through revelation of Him and through encounter with Him.

Lord, as I bear witness to Christ, may I seek to see Him revealed and encountered by people anew and afresh each day

Written by Ps. Justin Ware


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Sunday 15 September, 2019

Luke 2:21-24

21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived. 22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

Jesus is circumcised, named and presented to the Lord. While circumcision is a parental decision not a religious decision nowadays, although we are to be circumcised in heart, naming and presenting/dedicating our children is very important.

Naming speaks to the character, personality and nature of a child. God commonly changed the name of someone after an encounter with Him.

Jesus was also presented to the Lord. This act of dedication was made by the parents in thanksgiving to God for the child as well as to dedicate themselves to bringing the child up to know the Lord.

For each us, irrespective of what our parents may or may not have done, dedicating ourselves to knowing and following Christ is very important. Making a decision deep on the inside to obey Jesus whatever the cost, consecrating ourselves to a life of purity and purpose in pursuing the will of God is an important action.

Written by Ps. Richard Botta


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Saturday 14 September, 2019

Luke 2:8-20

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

This passage is part of the traditional Christmas nativity story however, it is v19 that caught my attention on this reading.

‘Mary kept all these things like secret treasure in her heart. She thought about them over and over’.

As Christians it’s important to ask the questions of ourselves ‘what do I value’ and ‘what are my priorities in life’. However, these questions are not easily answered, in fact it is often easier to answer these questions about others than ourselves.

Here is the beauty of v19, what we value either publicly or secretly and what we give priority to is revealed by what we think about most often.

All the best personal insights come from ‘thinking about what you are thinking about’. If you always think about eating cream buns, then you will eventual eat cream buns. In the same way if you regularly think about Christ as the saviour and risen king then your values and priorities will fall into line behind those thoughts.

So, take the opportunity today to consider how often you think about Christ each day, because that is what Mary did.

Lord, help us focus on You and give us the power to overcome any thoughts we shouldn’t be thinking.

Amen

Written by David Newton

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Friday 13 September, 2019

Luke 2:1-7

2 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

7 verses, simple everyday details- a girl, a boy and a baby. And yet these 7 verses describe the beginnings of events that have changed the world. To an onlooker, the events in these verses would have seemed unremarkable, but it makes me wonder how many times over the course of history has God taken ordinary events and turned them into the extraordinary. Mary and Joseph were just living their best life, and I want to do the same. Mary and Joseph did not work hard so they would be used by God. They just humbly lived their lives, loving God. He came after them and used them mightily.

So I am thinking if I want to be part of great things for God, then maybe I just need to live my best life, humbly and in obedience. Maybe I need to be open to God and allow him to use my ordinary everyday as part of his plans and let Him make my life significant for His Kingdom.

Jesus, I give my life to you. Use me Lord to bring glory to your kingdom. Help me to be faithful to your call on my life. In Jesus name I pray. Amen

Written by Christine Knight

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Thursday 12 September, 2019

Luke 1:67-80

67 His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: 68 “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. 69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David 70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), 71 salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us— 72 to show mercy to our ancestors and to remember his holy covenant, 73 the oath he swore to our father Abraham: 74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear 75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. 76 And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, 77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, 78 because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven 79 to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” 80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit[b]; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel.

Verse 66 poses a question. Zachariah answers that in his prophetic song. His son John is to be a prophet of the Most High to prepare the way for the Lord.

I love that Zachariah prophesied over his new born son, that he was involved in proclaiming his destiny.

I am grateful for how intimately our Father God is involved in our destinies and that he rejoices over each one of us. (Jer 29:11 & Zeph 3:17) Knowing that our Heavenly Father has a plan & purpose for me brings peace & purpose, I am not here randomly or by mistake.

Father I pray that you would enable each one of us truly know that you rejoice over us, you have a purpose for us and as we actively seek you, we can be assured that we will walk in the life you have for us.

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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