Monday 11 December, 2017

Mark 14:10-21

10 Judas Iscariot was one of the 12 disciples. He went to the chief priests to hand Jesus over to them. 11 They were delighted to hear that he would do this. They promised to give Judas money. So he watched for the right time to hand Jesus over to them. 12 It was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. That was the time to sacrifice the Passover lamb. Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover meal?” 13 So he sent out two of his disciples. He told them, “Go into the city. A man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. 14 He will enter a house. Say to its owner, ‘The Teacher asks, “Where is my guest room? Where can I eat the Passover meal with my disciples?” ’ 15 He will show you a large upstairs room. It will have furniture and will be ready. Prepare for us to eat there.” 16 The disciples left and went into the city. They found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover meal. 17 When evening came, Jesus arrived with the 12 disciples. 18 While they were at the table eating, Jesus said, “What I’m about to tell you is true. One of you who is eating with me will hand me over to my enemies.” 19 The disciples became sad. One by one they said to him, “Surely you don’t mean me?” 20 “It is one of you,” Jesus replied. “It is the one who dips bread into the bowl with me. 21 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But how terrible it will be for the one who hands over the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

This is a confronting passage of scripture. Jesus sits with His disciples to share the Passover meal, only to reveal to them that one of them will betray Him. Their responses (other than Judas) reveals something of their character – they don’t turn to pride, declaring it could never be them. Rather, they are greatly distressed, with each of them asking, “Am I the one?”

This question, “Am I the one?”, is a tough one to ask, but I think has great merit. We obviously live in a context far removed from actually being able to betray Jesus to His enemies, however we are quite capable of actions which betray Him. Whenever you hear stories of good Christian men and women ‘betraying’ God and turning away from Him, it’s so easy to declare “That would never be me!” But perhaps the more humble response is, “Could that be me? Am I the one?” Taking care to guard our hearts is essential to living a life of integrity and faithfulness towards our loving King.

Jesus, may I never become conceited and think I am beyond the clutches of sin. Help me to always remain humble and honest before You, keeping short accounts and drawing nearer each day, so that on the day You return You are able to say “Well done, good and faithful servant”.

Written by Matt Samperi


Want to join the discussion?

Sunday 10 December, 2017

Mark 14:1-9

14 The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were only two days away. The chief priests and the teachers of the law were plotting to arrest Jesus secretly. They wanted to kill him. 2 “But not during the feast,” they said. “The people may stir up trouble.” 3 Jesus was in Bethany. He was at the table in the home of Simon, who had a skin disease. A woman came with a special sealed jar. It contained very expensive perfume made out of pure nard. She broke the jar open and poured the perfume on Jesus’ head. 4 Some of the people there became angry. They said to one another, “Why waste this perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s pay. The money could have been given to poor people.” So they found fault with the woman. 6 “Leave her alone,” Jesus said. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 You will always have poor people with you. You can help them any time you want to. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body to prepare me to be buried. 9 What I’m about to tell you is true. What she has done will be told anywhere the good news is preached all over the world. It will be told in memory of her.”

Time and time again I am struck but the difference between worldly wisdom and priorities and God’s. Even the people who knew Jesus best missed the deeper significance of the woman’s actions and were distracted by superficial appearances. Jesus however cut to the heart of the woman’s actions, looking beyond the surface and seeing the love and devotion in her.

We need to be slow to jump to conclusions and open to the possibility that God has a purpose in everything that happens, even beyond what we can immediately see. The person who was best used by God in this story was the one whose heart was open to him as opposed to the disciples standing on the sidelines, critiquing events. The woman was not put off by their judgement – she finished what she set out to do. I hope that when God calls me to step out and do something I will be as brave as her.

Father God give me your eyes to see your purpose at work in me and in those around me. Help me not to judge the actions of those around me. Use me Father to further your kingdom. In Jesus name Amen

Written by Christine Knight

1 (reply)

Want to join the discussion?

Saturday 9 December, 2017

Mark 13:32-37

32 “But no one knows about that day or hour. Not even the angels in heaven know. The Son does not know. Only the Father knows. 33 Keep watch! Stay awake! You do not know when that time will come. 34 It’s like a man going away. He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge. Each one is given a task to do. He tells the one at the door to keep watch. 35 “So keep watch! You do not know when the owner of the house will come back. It may be in the evening or at midnight. It may be when the rooster crows or at dawn. 36 He may come suddenly. So do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone. ‘Watch!’ ”

Jesus asks his disciples what they have been discussing and like a group of naughty children they go silent. They know they should not have been arguing over who is the greatest among them. They, I assume, feel ashamed for their ridiculous conversation. Ever had one of those? A ridiculous conversation where your pride really comes out, and you feel ashamed or embarrassed shortly afterwards, as you think about what you actually said?

The disciples don’t appear to answer Jesus. But Jesus, the Son of God knows. He doesn’t scold them for their conversation or behaviour, he simply makes 2 statements to answer the question, who is the greatest.

  1. Jesus says If anyone wants to be first then they should be last and a servant of all.
  2. Whoever welcomes a child, welcomes me and the one who sent me.

Jesus makes mute all their arguments. He shows them the radical nature of God’s kingdom values. What God values is totally different. He shows them that they need to give up; wanting to be best, to be first, to be noticed, to be served. And to start thinking of others before themselves. In this first statement he also subtly points out that He is the greatest. He is the only human who has served all people. He is the servant of all.

Why the second statement? Why welcome a child? Because in the ancient world a child was not highly valued. A relationship with a child definitely did not get you status. Jesus is saying, to be great, love people, all people, no matter who they are. Welcome the “nobodies” and I will welcome you and so will my father. It’s about relationship – serving and loving. Putting others first, for their sake, not our own.

Jesus thank you for forgiving my pride. And for taking away my shame. Thank you for your reminder today of your kingdom values. Thank you that you are the servant of all. Help me to love and serve others out of a grateful heart. Help me to be more like you.

Written by Zoe Stewart


Want to join the discussion?

Friday 8 December, 2017

Mark‬ ‭13:24-31‬ ‬‬

24 “So in those days there will be terrible suffering. After that, Scripture says, “ ‘The sun will be darkened. The moon will not shine. 25 The stars will fall from the sky. The heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ (Isaiah 13:10; 34:4) 26 “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds. He will come with great power and glory. 27 He will send his angels. He will gather his chosen people from all four directions. He will bring them from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens. 28 “Learn a lesson from the fig tree. As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 29 In the same way, when you see these things happening, you know that the end is near. It is right at the door. 30 What I’m about to tell you is true. The people living now will certainly not pass away until all those things have happened. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away. But my words will never pass away.

In these words Jesus is reminding me that this world will not continue on as it always has. There will be a time, approaching us still, when the universe itself will be shaken from its normal course. Jesus will be at the centre of the inauguration of this restoration, the renewal of the universe.

I am therefore asked this question “am I more heavily invested in this world order, or in the coming order of Jesus Christ’? The test is simple. Am I more interested in following my own desires or in obeying Jesus?

Lord please create in me a cheerful heart of obedience, knowing that I am a citizen of your Kingdom, and you are a good King.

(Side note, when Jesus states that “this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened”, he is referring to what he discussed earlier, the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem that occurred in the life time of many of his disciples in 70AD).

Written by Andrew Mellor


Want to join the discussion?

Thursday 7 December, 2017

Mark 13:1-23

13 Jesus was leaving the temple. One of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What huge stones! What wonderful buildings!” 2 “Do you see these huge buildings?” Jesus asked. “Not one stone here will be left on top of another. Every stone will be thrown down.” 3 Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, across from the temple. Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him a question in private. 4 “Tell us,” they said. “When will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to come true?” 5 Jesus said to them, “Keep watch! Be careful that no one fools you. 6 Many will come in my name. They will claim, ‘I am he.’ They will fool many people. 7 You will hear about wars. You will also hear people talking about future wars. Don’t be alarmed. These things must happen. But the end still isn’t here. 8 Nation will fight against nation. Kingdom will fight against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in many places. People will go hungry. All these things are the beginning of birth pains. 9 “Watch out! You will be handed over to the local courts. You will be whipped in the synagogues. You will stand in front of governors and kings because of me. In that way you will be witnesses to them. 10 The good news has to be preached to all nations before the end comes. 11 You will be arrested and brought to trial. But don’t worry ahead of time about what you will say. Just say what God brings to your mind at the time. It is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. 12 “Brothers will hand over brothers to be killed. Fathers will hand over their children. Children will rise up against their parents and have them put to death. 13 Everyone will hate you because of me. But the one who remains strong in the faith will be saved. 14 “You will see ‘the hated thing that destroys.’ (Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11) It will stand where it does not belong. The reader should understand this. Then those who are in Judea should escape to the mountains. 15 No one on the roof should go down into the house to take anything out. 16 No one in the field should go back to get their coat. 17 How awful it will be in those days for pregnant women! How awful for nursing mothers! 18 Pray that this will not happen in winter. 19 Those days will be worse than any others from the time God created the world until now. And there will never be any like them again. 20 “If the Lord had not cut the time short, no one would live. But because of God’s chosen people, he has shortened it. 21 At that time someone may say to you, ‘Look! Here is the Messiah!’ Or, ‘Look! There he is!’ Do not believe it. 22 False messiahs and false prophets will appear. They will do signs and miracles. They will try to fool God’s chosen people if possible. 23 Keep watch! I have told you everything ahead of time.

Jesus did not leave His disciples or you and I without assistance and guidance in our walk with Him. I am so thankful for the Bible – the written word of God that we have the privilege of being able to read and study in our homes. I am so thankful for the Holy Spirit – His ability to give us words, truth and guidance – straight from heaven.

Here is Jesus like a parent warning His disciples and us – telling us what will happen and how to stand strong….watch out; be on your guard.

The Bible is God’s manual for Life.  If we have questions we can search the scriptures for answers.  If we grapple with Truth – we can look at Jesus and study Him and how He lived and spoke.

Wars and rumours of wars, disasters, famine, brother against brother….we see so much of this now….a world struggling to find it’s heart and lifeblood. Jesus says like the building the disciples were in awe of – it will not stand.  This world will be gone, and all will become new.

Let us not lose sight of the fact that this life journey each of us has –is a rehearsal for the real thing – ETERNAL LIFE – LIFE WITH JESUS – HEAVEN.

Jesus I pray that you would help me to be about your business – speaking, sharing and living the gospel in all areas of my life.  Help me to be who you made me to be.  Help me to be the example that I can be of Your Life in Me.  I long for the day when you return. Thank you for your warning and your Holy Spirit to guide us.  Teach me to rest in you, to lean on you always.

Written by Ps. Sue Botta


Want to join the discussion?

Wednesday 6 December, 2017

Mark 12:41-44

41 Jesus sat down across from the place where people put their temple offerings. He watched the crowd putting their money into the offering boxes. Many rich people threw large amounts into them. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins. They were worth only a few pennies. 43 Jesus asked his disciples to come to him. He said, “What I’m about to tell you is true. That poor widow has put more into the offering box than all the others. 44 They all gave a lot because they are rich. But she gave even though she is poor. She put in everything she had. That was all she had to live on.”

Mark paints quite the picture of contrast in this brief but powerful passage on giving. As I’ve meditated or thought about this scene – 2 things have struck me:

Ritual verses Relationship

Outward appearances verses inward

Jesus always focuses on our hearts. God had the widows heart and her offering showed it; He did not have the hearts of “the rich”, their offerings were only ritual and for appearance.

The challenge for me has been to re-think my financial offerings. Has something that began from relationship moved into ritual? The Holy Spirit has highlighted to me that the ease of ‘set and forget’ EFT giving can also easily become ritual. This is something that I’ve never considered before and so I need to make sure there is always room for Him to impact my heart in my giving & not just to think that I’ve got that covered and ‘set and forget’.

Lord Jesus forgive me for where my heart has become complacent and moved into ritual in my giving into your Kingdom. I pray that my heart will always remain soft in generosity as your generosity to me has been so overwhelming. Amen

Written by Suzie Hodgson


Want to join the discussion?

Tuesday 5 December, 2017

Mark 12:35-40

35 Jesus was teaching in the temple courtyard. He asked, “Why do the teachers of the law say that the Messiah is the son of David? 36 The Holy Spirit spoke through David himself. David said, “ ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your control.” ’ (Psalm 110:1) 37 David himself calls him ‘Lord.’ So how can he be David’s son?” The large crowd listened to Jesus with delight. 38 As he taught, he said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in long robes. They like to be greeted with respect in the market. 39 They love to have the most important seats in the synagogues. They also love to have the places of honor at dinners. 40 They take over the houses of widows. They say long prayers to show off. God will punish these men very much.”

Earlier in this chapter Jesus is being badgered by Pharisees, Sudducees and Scribes with questions, mainly designed to trap him. The Scribes – those who were responsible for teaching the law and opening the scriptures for the people – are the ones aimed at in these next passages.  In the first passage, Jesus asks a question – which he doesn’t answer – ironically Ps110:1 which he quotes, is speaking about himself. And in the second passage Jesus is warning the crowd, who were loving listening to him, about appearances and false respect given to the Scribes.

Respect is the word that has jumped out at me in these passages. Respect is something given by others to us yet so easily lost. Jesus is giving us a very valuable lesson. There will always be people who think better of themselves who think that they should have our respect, but as always, Jesus brings it back to our heart, it’s not what’s on the outside but what’s on the inside that He ultimately looks for. Is what we do and who we are gaining God’s respect?

Dear Jesus, help me to not get caught up in what others may think of me or even to deceive myself into thinking more of myself .. but to be mindful of where my heart is at and what it looks like before you. Amen

Written by Suzie Hodgson


Want to join the discussion?

Monday 4 December, 2017

Mark 12:28-34

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard the Sadducees arguing. He noticed that Jesus had given the Sadducees a good answer. So he asked him, “Which is the most important of all the commandments?” 29 Jesus answered, “Here is the most important one. Moses said, ‘Israel, listen to me. The Lord is our God. The Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your mind and with all your strength.’ (Deuteronomy 6:4,5) 31 And here is the second one. ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ (Leviticus 19:18) There is no commandment more important than these.” 32 “You have spoken well, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one. There is no other God but him. 33 To love God with all your heart and mind and strength is very important. So is loving your neighbor as you love yourself. These things are more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 Jesus saw that the man had answered wisely. He said to him, “You are not far from God’s kingdom.” From then on, no one dared to ask Jesus any more questions.

This passage is foundational to how we are to live our lives. It says clearly in vs 30, that we are to love the Lord God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. This has led me to consider afresh what it means to do this in its entirety. To me, this means loving God with my thoughts, my actions… with every part of my being. God, in His perfection, is so worth all the love I have to give.

What challenges me most in this passage, is whether or not I can say that I love all those around. Humans are not perfect, and it can be hard to love when they come against us. However, verse 31 says that this is equally as important as loving God. I am reminded today to be aware of my neighbours and love them with the unconditional love that God has for me.

God, I thank You for the love that You have for me. Please help me to love You and love others the way that you call me to. In Jesus’ name.

Written by Laura Samperi

[comments closed]

Sunday 3 December, 2017

Mark 12:18-27

18 The Sadducees came to Jesus with a question. They do not believe that people rise from the dead. 19 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us about a man who died and didn’t have any children. But he did leave a wife behind. That man’s brother must get married to the widow. He must provide children to carry on his dead brother’s name. 20 There were seven brothers. The first one got married. He died without leaving any children. 21 The second one got married to the widow. He also died and left no child. It was the same with the third one. 22 In fact, none of the seven left any children. Last of all, the woman died too. 23 When the dead rise, whose wife will she be? All seven of them were married to her.” 24 Jesus replied, “You are mistaken because you do not know the Scriptures. And you do not know the power of God. 25 When the dead rise, they won’t get married. And their parents won’t give them to be married. They will be like the angels in heaven. 26 What about the dead rising? Haven’t you read in the Book of Moses the story of the burning bush? God said to Moses, ‘I am the God of Abraham. I am the God of Isaac. And I am the God of Jacob.’ (Exodus 3:6) 27 He is not the God of the dead. He is the God of the living. You have made a big mistake!”

This passage is an interesting discussion. The Sadducees were trying to catch out Jesus. They wanted to give Him a question that was too difficult to answer. But no, Jesus had an answer and He called them out about how well they really knew God’s word. You can imagine how embarrassed or angry these guys would have been because Jesus was not worried by their question – probably the most tricky one they could think of, I am guessing. They had no more “polite” ways of grilling Him. He wasn’t who they thought the Messiah would be and He was undermining their strong belief that there would be no resurrection and they just wanted Him to go away.

Jesus, however, knew who He was, what job He had to do and He understood the amazing view of the world and us that God the Father has. He wants to help us to understand His picture of the world and how to work with Him and the Father to bring God’s love into every life we touch. We can trust Him. He knows what He is doing. He recognises the way the enemy works and how we can be misled. He also recognises how strongly we can hold to wrong thinking and He wants to help us transform our thinking so that God’s love, grace and peace pour out of us.

Lord God please help us to see that Jesus is strong, trustworthy, patient and loving. That He knows what we need to hear to help us continue our journey with You. Thank You for being interested in even the small things in our lives. Help us to connect with You and to listen daily. Help us to put what You say first.

Written by Therese Manning

[comments closed]

Saturday 2 December, 2017

Mark 12:13-17

13 Later the religious leaders sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus. They wanted to trap him with his own words. 14 They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know that you are a man of honor. You don’t let other people tell you what to do or say. You don’t care how important they are. But you teach the way of God truthfully. Is it right to pay the royal tax to Caesar or not? 15 Should we pay or shouldn’t we?” But Jesus knew what they were trying to do. So he asked, “Why are you trying to trap me? Bring me a silver coin. Let me look at it.” 16 They brought the coin. He asked them, “Whose picture is this? And whose words?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. 17 Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. And give back to God what belongs to God.” They were amazed at him.

Once Jesus told the parable of the talents, the religious leaders could see the people were turning against them – v 12. So representatives (Luke 20 v 20 refers to them as spies) of two of the major Jewish sects, the Pharisees and Herodians, came to Jesus to corner him with a challenging question. Their purpose – to have Jesus arrested for treason or to have the people turn against him.

 

The question is all about authority – social or political and divine. Being occupied and subjugated by a foreign power, most Jews were keen to see the back of their Roman rulers. One particularly odious aspect of occupation was paying tax, once per year, so if Jesus said there was no obligation to pay it he would be a hero to the people. However he would also be arrested for treason, the Jewish Herodians being allied with the Romans.

Jesus teaches something important in his answer. Authority comes from God, so I am to respect those God has established and pay what I owe (Paul expands on this theme in Romans 13). However I am also “to give to God what is God’s”. God has the ultimate authority over my life, whether I recognise it or not. What am I “to give to God”? It’s more than a question of money. I give God honour and praise because he is my wonderful Lord who saved me when I was his enemy. I give God my disappointments and struggles because he lifts me up and strengthens me. I give him my future because he loves me and has a plan for me. I give everything to God.

Thank you Jesus for your humility that when trickery was played out against you, you showed grace and pointed us to the Father. I recognise your authority over my life and the whole world.   Amen

Written by Claire Moore

 

[comments closed]