Food for the Soul
Food for the Soul
29 He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. 30 When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. 31 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
Jesus gave us a simple analogy and the disciples understood this; when they look at a fig tree and saw leaves, they knew that summer was almost near. When you see these things happening, you know that the coming of the Kingdom is near. Every generation since Jesus has been faced with the reality of signs pointing to the end of the age. The generation that sees all the signs, will then know that Jesus Christ is near.
Jesus talks about two things to prepare ourselves for – tribulation and His second coming. We have seen a lot of tribulation in our generation alone; Jesus used the fig tree to teach his disciples an important lesson. The fig tree bore fruit twice a year, in autumn and early spring. Jesus told them to look for the signs of spring, and so are the signs of God’s Kingdom. Let’s pray that our hearts are open to His word, even though we do not know when He will return. He gives us signs to wake us up and to ignite our spirits to see His Kingdom come. Jesus is really emphasising this truth, He wants us to eagerly anticipate His return, and to seek His Kingdom in everything that we do.
God keeps His promises, they are faithful, and this means that I will always have hope in my heart, never forget His word, or stray from His ways. He wants me to always remember I am saved by the living and everlasting Word, His word will not fail in my salvation, and I will be bought to glory by that same Word. Thank you God for Your truth, in this I have hope, thank you that you called me, help me to incorporate your word and promises in my daily life.
Written by Cathy Croft
20 “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. 22 For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. 23 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. 25 “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26 People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. 27 At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
In response to a question the disciples asked in verse 7, Jesus continues in His description of the signs that will precede the destruction of the temple and signal end times. This includes the destruction of Jerusalem and the judgement of the nations. In verse 22: Jesus says “For those will be days of God’s vengeance, and the prophetic words of the Scriptures will be fulfilled.”
Clearly God has warned of these days – and as terrible as they seem, they are part of God’s plan.
But what do I take away from these verses? Is it God’s intention to fill me with fear and dread about the days to come?
As I have reflected on this, it is the final verses that ring in my ears.
I don’t know when this will happen or if it is even happening now. My job is not to stand around waiting for it, but to continue with the job God has given me to do now, ready – when it does happen – to look upward – confident that God is in control and that my salvation is near!
Written by Ps. Linda Quinn
5 Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, 6 “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.” 7 “Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?” 8 He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. 9 When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.” 10 Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. 12 “But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13 And so you will bear testimony to me. 14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17 Everyone will hate you because of me. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 Stand firm, and you will win life.
Jesus appears to be pointing to a time ahead before his return where there will be great trouble, distress, and disruption in the world.
But Jesus has strong words for all who follow him – “do not be frightened;” “make up your mind not to worry;” “I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict;” “but not a hair of your head will perish;” “stand firm, and you will win life.”
Jesus appears to be warning his disciples, and us, but it is not so that we will shrink back in despair and defeat. Rather, the clear call from Jesus is neither to be afraid, nor worried, because Jesus will be right with us, giving us poise, giving us insight, giving us wisdom, and giving us incredible protection. We have one ultimate call in such times of trouble – stand firm, in faith, in Jesus, and we will win life.
If Jesus tells me not to fear or be worried in these circumstances he describes – wars, famines, opposition, and betrayals…then surely I don’t need to fear or be worried in anything less than these worst of circumstances. I can trust him likewise for the provision of wisdom, and the right words, for every circumstance and interaction that I walk into each day.
Lord, help me to stand firm and win life, for with you, there is truly nothing to be afraid of nor worry about, because you know the end from the beginning.
Written by Ps. Rob Waugh
21 As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
Jesus watches an offering, something I am unlikely ever to do. His review is interesting. He is clearly not commenting on the amount the people give, but the proportion. More than that the widow’s contribution Jesus says was more than the combined value of all the rich people had given.
Jesus explanation is clear, the rich people had given a small portion of their surplus, the widow had given everything she had.
When you do not have much it is as difficult to give as when you have much. It is never easy to ‘give it all’. The rich person giving it all wonders what someone in authority will do with the offering. The poor person wonders whether their gift will even make a difference.
Clearly the heart is the issue.
I love the heart of this widow. I need to emulate her in her generosity. It is really quite challenging. I have never given everything I have. I have given generously, and continue to do so, and I need to engage my heart in my giving, more than my head as it can become a steel trap to my generosity.
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
45 While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, 46 “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 47 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”
In this passage Jesus delivers two warnings: one to the teachers of the law, and one to his disciples. He challenges the behaviour of the teachers of the law; he shows them to be religious imposters, not serving God but serving themselves. At the same time Jesus warns his disciples not to follow the example of the teachers, for it will lead to punishment. There are two clear applications of this for my life: does my example led people toward God or away from Him? Am I being careful about whose example I am following? Are the people that I’m watching, listening to, reading about, drawing my inspiration from – spending my time on – living and modelling the kind of life that I want to live?
Written by Beth Waugh
41 Then Jesus said to them, “Why is it said that the Messiah is the son of David? 42 David himself declares in the Book of Psalms: “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand 43 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’ 44 David calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?”
Jesus is unravelling the thinking and teaching of the Pharisees. They make the mistake of thinking they know better. He leaves this topic on a question – unanswered and confusing for the Pharisees who were putting so much weight on lineage. He is shifting the weight to say that the Messiah is the Son of God.
How to apply this? Jesus is my Lord. I don’t want my thoughts and faith with the weight on the wrong thing. I never want to limit Him by my thinking – guessing that I know His ways. The only solution is to seek Him and be open to Him changing my mind and heart from the inside out.
Written by Lyndall Gourlay
27 Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question. 28 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. 30 The second 31 and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. 32 Finally, the woman died too. 33 Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?” 34 Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, 36 and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. 37 But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’[a] 38 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” 39 Some of the teachers of the law responded, “Well said, teacher!” 40 And no one dared to ask him any more questions.
The Sadducees were trying to trap Jesus. They were asking questions about the resurrection which they did not believe in. Jesus answers their question explaining some of the nature of the Kingdom to come and of the resurrection of dead.
I love how Jesus, even when asked a question that is designed to trap Him, answers the question, and so well that some of the people there were impressed and said so while others decided to ask no more questions because He could clearly not be caught out.
I need to ensure I develop this kind of grace to people and the wisdom to go with it!
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
20 Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be sincere. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said, so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor. 21 So the spies questioned him: “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. 22 Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” 23 He saw through their duplicity and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. 25 He said to them, “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” 26 They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent.
I love how Jesus turns things back to the real issue. “… give to God what is God’s”. Jesus comes back to the issue of right relationship with God.
Am I in a right relationship with God? Am I giving to God the best of me – my time, my love, my heart, my soul, my mind, my strength, my wealth, my assets and resources, my worship, my all? They are not mine after all. They are all His. And for all He has done for me by sending His Son to die in my place – He is so deserving of them.
When Jesus cut through all the patronising rhetoric and pretense the spies came to Him with, they were left speechless and awestruck by His words. Sometimes Jesus needs to do that to us as well. We too, will be left awestruck at his penetrating perceptiveness. His kind but firm, merciful words will cut to the real issues in us and bring us back to right relationship so we can get on with giving to “God what is God’s”.
Thanks so much Lord, for Your breathtaking, merciful words; that bring me back to a right relationship with You. Thanks for making a relationship possible through the cross. May my “giving to God” take on a whole new meaning from now on.
Written by Boudy van Noppen
9 He went on to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. 10 At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. 12 He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out. 13 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’ 14 “But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. “What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When the people heard this, they said, “God forbid!” 17 Jesus looked directly at them and asked, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’[a]? 18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.” 19 The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest him immediately, because they knew he had spoken this parable against them. But they were afraid of the people.
I’ve read this story of the evil farmers many times, and it never ceases to amaze me the lack of respect shown – the lack of respect for people & for others property. In this passage, I know that Jesus is referring to the religious leaders & priests, and their disrespect for Jesus God’s only son. It makes me mad to think that they could disrespect Jesus this way. That they would let God down this way – the one they called Lord …
BUT, am I (or we) any different? I know there have been times in my own life where I have not treated others in a respectful way. Whether as a teenager and thought I knew better than my parents – after all they were never young and couldn’t understand that the fun didn’t start until after curfew time!! Or choosing not to follow a leader/boss because “my way” was always better. Through my disrespect at these times, I was letting God down. I may have never murdered anyone to get what I wanted (and that’s a good thing…) but I still disrespected God’s plan and way, thus letting Him down. His heart & plan is all about loving God and loving others – when I choose to do different to this, I step outside of His plan.
Respect comes in many ways – with our spouses & families, boss, pastor, leader, friend, the list goes on… it’s really all about our heart and attitude towards God and others. Know that God loves each of us, more than we could ever comprehend.
Written by Ps. Mandy Miller
20 One day as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple courts and proclaiming the good news, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to him. 2 “Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this authority?” 3 He replied, “I will also ask you a question. Tell me, 4 John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin?” 5 They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ 6 But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ all the people will stone us, because they are persuaded that John was a prophet.” 7 So they answered, “We don’t know where it was from.” 8 Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”
Jesus is teaching. He is questioned by the ‘Religious’ leaders of the day. Where did he get the authority to do these things (probably referring to cleansing the temple in previous paragraph). Jesus turns it around and catches the leaders in their own question. The leaders completely avoid giving a real answer to Jesus.
I read this story and am convicted. I judge these guys for only being worried about their own skin and positions – how they will look before others. But
how often do I give an answer that is not an answer to avoid exposing my heart, my sin, avoid telling what I think or feel because it would expose my beliefs, my faith, my heart as it is ‘safer’ for me to remain hidden.
Sadly I am now thinking I might be too much like these guys!
Father, I am sorry for all the times that I too have avoided questions about my beliefs & faith and ask for courage to answer the questions asked of me.
Written by Suzie Hodgson
45 When Jesus entered the temple courts, he began to drive out those who were selling. 46 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’[a]; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” 47 Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. 48 Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.
Jesus must have had a presence like those clever orators we see sometimes today. There are some people who can just capture a room in the way that they speak. This description of Jesus teaching in the Temple after he cleared it, reminds me that Jesus was one of those people. I am not good at picturing Jesus and how He might have been. But its important to have some sort of a picture as it helps us to learn about Him, His character and how to be His friend – how we can relate to Him.
Being His friend and being able to introduce your friend to others, means you need to respect Him and see that He has much to give others. While so much of that we get from what He spoke about, some of it has to come from the non-verbal stuff, like it does for each of us in relationship with other people. That says more sometimes than what we actually say. How awesome that we have a leader who was a “Leader” – who had presence – who could capture your attention so well – who knew how to communicate what we need to hear – someone who you could really respect and be happy to introduce Him to others.
Praise you Jesus – you not only know me, know what I need to hear, are my friend but you are awesomely good and skilled at all those things. Help me to learn more so I can grow my picture of you into the rich portrait it should be.
Written by Therese Manning
41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 The days will come on you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”
Jesus gives a very forthright summation of Jerusalem. He makes plain that the people of the city have missed their opportunity of salvation. What a dreadful thought that there can be a time where we place ourselves beyond salvation.
I pray that I would remain soft before you Lord at all times experiencing Your salvation.
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
28 After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, 30 “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’” 32 Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 They replied, “The Lord needs it.” 35 They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. 37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: 38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”[a] “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” 40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
Verse 30 begins with “Go…” So many times in Jesus interactions with His disciples He tells them to do something with clear directions about how to handle the situation. In this case He tells them what to do, what to say and how to answer when questions are asked. All the disciples have to do is be obedient. They are. It doesn’t say they thought about whether they would do it or not; or whether they should do it; or whether they had in fact heard Jesus or made it up themselves…. they listened, they heard they obeyed and it happened to them just as Jesus described. This obedience provided a donkey that carried Jesus on His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The crowds cheered and shouted praise – declarative prophetic praise!
Oh God, how often do I question you when you speak to me… to go… to do… to respond…?
How often do I miss out on partnering with you obediently in situations that would lead to your triumphant entry into people’s lives? Help me be obedient – opening the way for you to enter into those situations in all your glory!
Written by Ps. Linda Quinn
11 While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. 12 He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. 13 So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’ 14 “But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’ 15 “He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it. 16 “The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’ 17 “‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’ 18 “The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’ 19 “His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’ 20 “Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. 21 I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’ 22 “His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’ 24 “Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’ 25 “‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’ 26 “He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 27 But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.’”
What is incredible to me in this passage is how quick the king is to reward faithfulness in what he has given responsibility over. Interestingly as well, the reward was the blessing grander responsibility. Two of the three servants were to “take charge” of 10 and 5 cities respectively, because of how they used the money he gave them before he left.
It would appear that Luke is saying that Jesus taught this parable because people thought that the “Kingdom of God was going to appear at once.” As history tells us, however, Jesus has ascended to heaven to return some day soon, and has given us gifts and “mina” to “put to work” in the meantime.
Interestingly, the third servant in the passage “laid away” their mina. They treated what the king had given them as though they had never been given it.
Just as all the servants in this parable had at least some resource and responsibility from the king, so too has Jesus given me resources and responsibility. This parable does not allow me to have such an attitude whereby I think I have nothing to give. It rather calls me to know and uncover the resources that God has given me to use, and to use them responsibly – put them to work for his glory.
Lord, help me to discern, and put to work, every bit of resource you have given me – my time, my talents, and my treasure – so that you may be supremely glorified in my life. And keep me from ever considering myself as a “have not” – for there are no “have not’s” in your Kingdom.
Written by Ps. Rob Waugh
19 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. 7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” 8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
There is something comical about a disliked, short, rich man, probably wearing a robe climbing a tree out of excitement to see Jesus. Comedy aside though, I find myself wondering: What did Zacchaeus see in Jesus that made him so excited? What was it that had him so quick to climb down and take Jesus to his house “in great excitement and joy”?
Previously I have envisaged a bumbling man with no friends, eager to receive some love and attention from a great leader who had the approval of crowds of people. Perhaps there is an element of this, but I wonder if there is more going on within him than this, and possibly, this is what Jesus sees.
Whether due to an act of the Holy Spirit, an act of emotional excitement or his own wisdom, Zacchaeus saw who Jesus really was, and responded to him in repentance. Members of the crowd clearly did not respond in the same way.
I am encouraged by the way that Christ can cause such a response and I am reminded that this is a response to Him that we should expect and pray for in others far more often!
Written by Justin Ware
35 As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. 36 When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. 37 They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” 38 He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39 Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 40 Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord, I want to see,” he replied. 42 Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” 43 Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.
The blind man heard a commotion around him and knew something big was happening but he didn't understand it. So he asked, “What's happening?”
Sometimes in the confusion of life we too can wonder “What's happening to me?… What's going on here?”
I really like the blind man's response to the situation – he basically yells out “God, help me!!”
As we see here in Jesus's response, this is a cry that God likes to hear. Jesus asks him, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Sometimes, I find that I am actually afraid to tell God exactly what I want Him to do
for me. Maybe it's because it feels too selfish or bold to ask Him for something. Or maybe it's because I'm afraid that He won't answer the way I want Him to and then I'll be disappointed.
As we see here, Jesus liked the man's boldness and his faith, and was pleased to answer his request. Sometimes, we don't have something because we don't ask.
Help me Lord, to openly, honestly and boldly bring my requests to You. Thank you that You are always willing to hear and respond to our faith filled cry.
Written by Shelley Witt
31 Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. 32 He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; 33 they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.” 34 The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.
What comes across loud and clear is Jesus announcing his death and his resurrection. There were no hints or guessing, this announcement was to the point and brusque. Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem, to where He knew He would die. He took his disciples aside and predicted the awful events to come. The disciples didn’t understand; they believed Jesus was the Messiah, how could he be put to death? In the middle of an ordinary day He took them aside to prepare them for what was to come. For Jesus, He was not a victim, He knew where His journey would lead, and this was a victory. Even though the disciples didn’t understand, they still walked with Jesus onto Jerusalem.
Sometimes in the middle of my
normal day, I receive news that I might at first not understand. It could be that I will be embarking on a journey of grief and suffering, and I do not grasp what is happening. However, when I feel shaken and bewildered, I need to keep walking with Jesus and allow Him to walk with me through the trials. In this I will come to trust in the knowledge and the wisdom of God, not in my own understanding and abilities. He has promised me peace, joy and strength. I pray I will not try to reason God’s purpose for me, and then miss the great things He is doing. I pray I will have courage when trials come my way, and to always be obedient to the will of God.
Written by Cathy Croft
18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’” 21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?” 27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with human beings is possible with God.” 28 Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!” 29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30 will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”
The religious leader asks the ultimate question ie. “What should I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus refers the man back to the commandments which he already knows and has adhered to since he was young. So the religious leader is a decent human being.
Jesus identifies his weak spot – his wealth and possessions. These things are preventing him from following Jesus and it saddens the religious leader as he wasn't prepared to give them up. This man's security seems to lie in his wealth and possessions.
Those that overheard this conversation were disheartened as this was a “good” man. ie. who can be saved? Jesus went on to reassure the people that all things are possible with God. In Jesus conversation with Peter he states that those that give up their homes, families etc. to follow Jesus w
ill not only be repaid in this life but also in the life to come.
The religious leader knew he had to do something more than he was currently doing. His walk with God wasn't quite right. This is a challenging piece of Scripture. Can we be brave and ask the same question about our lives, knowing the Lord will be able to pin point an answer pertinent to us. ie. Lord what do I need to do to inherit eternal life or what do I need to do to follow you more fully? Seems to open up a series of questions really, such as:
Lord, please highlight those things in my life that prevent me from following you and give me the wisdom and strength to obey. Amen
Written by Ainslie Woods
15 People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
Jesus was the master of the moment, using every opportunity and situation to teach another lesson, another principle.
When children are sent away by the disciples he calls them back and uses them for an object lesson, teaching that to receive the Kingdom one must be like a child.
What is Jesus getting at? Children lack knowledge are naive, impuls
ive. Is this what He wants me to be like? I don't think so. I think it is a call to trust, innocence, wonderment.
I have become cynical as I have grown older. I need to regain these qualities of childlikeness to fully experience God's Kingdom.
Father help me to do just this.
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
Luke 18: 9-14
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Jesus’ parable is about self-righteousness (Pharisee) and a humble-sinner (Tax collector).
Both Pharisee and Tax collector went to the temple to pray:
Attitude: proud (v11: stood up and prayed about himself)
1. I thank you..
2. I am not like other men and this tax collector …
3. I fast twice a week.
4. I give a tenth of all I get.
Attitude: humbled (v13: stood at a dista
nce and would not even look up to heaven, but beat this breast.)
Contains: Repentance (God, have mercy on me, a sinner)
Jesus applauded the tax collector. He did not mean “fast or tenth“ were not important for His disciples, but because “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit.” (Psalm 51:17). Without the humble heart/spirit, we cannot please God.
Dear Lord, help me always to be humble before you, no matter what circumstance I am in.
Written by Allen Leu
18 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ 4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’” 6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
I used to read through this passage and think, ‘but I don’t have any adversaries? I don’t need justice.’ In researching the passage further I realised that I have discounted the spiritual adversaries, the devil, and even sin itself. God has promised believers victory over the devil and over sin. When I am oppressed by these adversaries I am challenged to be like the widow, to cry out to God continually and He will deliver me from my enemies. I am weak and defenceless on my own, like the widow, but that’s where the simila
rities end. I do not seek justice and deliverance from an unjust judge, but from a righteous judge. I appeal to my heavenly father, who loves me and is moved by compassion towards me. If the widow persevered and won in poor circumstances, how much more should I be full of hope and expectancy that God will deliver me.
Lord, please help me to apply this to my life, that I would identify enemy activity and cry out to you, that you would intervene on my behalf, and deliver me. Amen.
Written by Beth Waugh
20 Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.” 22 Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. 23 People will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. 24 For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. 26 “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 “It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. 29 But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 “It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day no one who is on the housetop, with possessions inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. 32 Remember Lot’s wife! 33 Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it. 34 I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 35 Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.” 37 “Where, Lord?” they asked. He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.”
Dodgy questions. I love the language Jesus uses when responding to dodgy questions. So direct and yet still makes you think. And getting the question wrong doesn’t seem to matter to Him. He gives the answer we need despite getting the question wrong.
In Luke 17:37 Jesus was talking to the disciples about when He would come back and that some would go to be with Him and some that didn’t choose to believe would be left behind. Heartbreaking. The disciples stammer out the dodgy question “where is this going to happen?”
The dodgy question/awesome answer that gets to me though is the one at the start of this passage…
Pharisees – “when will the Kingdom of God come?”
Jesus – “It is so close – it is inside of you”
I sometimes think that my family and friends are so far from God – so far from believing in Jesu
s but in reality they are so close – the potential is inside them. Their salvation is on a hair trigger. It’s a grace and love deluge from God that is ready to pour into their lives and is held back by the tiniest twig.
I wonder if I could help break the twig.
What would happen if I ask them a ‘dodgy’ question i.e. the unusual, slightly awkward question?
“what’s your take on Jesus?”
“where are you at with God?”
“has anyone taken the time to explain how to become a Christian?”
“what’s stopping you from believing in Him right now?”
Oh God, my heart breaks for those I love that will be left behind. Grant me the wisdom to know what to say to them and the courage to say it. Please break the twig and may your love and salvation flood their lives.
Written by B van Noppen
11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy[a] met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” 14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. 15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
The part of this passage that really speaks to me are verses 17-18. Jesus notices gratitude! In fact, it is the gratitude of the Samaritan that reveals the depth of his faith!
I have much to be grateful for – my recent recovery from brain surgery, my beautiful husband and 2 kids, my life in general. And yet, how often do I remember or take the time to thank God specifically
for everything He has done and continues to do for me?
“Lord, I pray that I will not be like the other nine lepers who were so consumed with what had occurred that they didn’t take the time to stop and thank you. Create in me, Lord, an attitude of gratitude and may that be a demonstration to others of my faith in you.”
Written by Ps. Jen Irving
17 Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. 2 It would be better for you to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around your neck than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. 3 So watch yourselves. “If a brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 4 Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” 5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you. 7 “Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? 8 Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? 9 Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10 So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”
Forgiveness is a powerful thing.
The context of another believer sinning is brought into focus by Jesus here. There are some clear instructions given:
1. Rebuke the sinner – that is to bring to the attention of the person that they have sinned. We should not expect the person to know they have sinned and in the case of our brothers or sisters we should love them enough to say something.
2. The sinner should re
pent as a result of them being made aware of their sin.
3. On the basis of this repentance we are to forgive, even if they sin again, we are to forgive on the basis of them repenting. If there is not repentance there seems, at least here, to be no obligation of forgiveness. However, the Scripture is plain; if there is repentance then there MUST be forgiveness.
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ 25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ 27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ 30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
There are many interesting things about this passage, especially since there are not very many stories in the Bible that give us a glimpse into both heaven and hell. It actually makes me feel quite uncomfortable because I don't like the thought of people being tormented in hell. But it's a really good reminder of eternity and also of what is most important in this life (and it's not making lots of money!).
I think my response to this passage must be to renew
my heart and my prayers for those who are on the road to an eternity without God.
I will have an eternity of comfort. I don't need to seek comfort in this life as my main goal. I need to seek to play my part in bringing others to know Jesus.
Father God, stir my heart to pray and to obey Your Spirit in all that I do. Help me to push aside the goal of seeking a comfortable life and to align my goals with eternity.
Written by Shelley Witt
14 The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15 He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight. 16 “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and people are forcing their way into it. 17 It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law. 18 “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
These stories are rather perplexing.
Is Jesus condoning theft, for isn't that what the steward is doing, cutting the value of the bills simply for his own gain?
Do worldly resources truly benefit us for eternity?
What are true riches of h
The clear lesson of the stories is that how we deal with our money has an impact on our futures. It is a window into our character, a clear indicator on our ability to deal with people.
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
16 Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. 2 So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’ 3 “The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg— 4 I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’ 5 “So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 “‘Nine hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied. “The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty.’ 7 “Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’ “‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied. “He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’ 8 “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. 9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. 10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? 13 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
Jesus tells a story of a manager being sacked because he was dishonest. Then a twist, the dishonest manager is praised for being smart in finding a way to look after himself once he is out of work. His dishonesty stands but it's his quick thinking for his survival that is praised.
The Message Bible puts verse 9 like this ” … I want you to be smart in the same way – but for what is right – using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, …”
This man was neither honest or faithful in the responsibilities he was given.
Whether at work, school, church, family, friends, I see this as being a stor
y about how we handle the things we have been given responsibility for. Whether that's money, people, ministry gifts or just doing what I've been asked to do.
Honest or dishonest I will be seen – by man and by God. Better to make sure it's honesty I am seen for and even more so when I have responsibility for what belongs to another.
Father, I want to be smart about doing the right thing in the first place. Help me to be diligent in even the smallest things asked of me, help me to be a person of integrity, honesty in all situations – small or big.
Written by Suzie Hodgson
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ 28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ 31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
The picture of the loving father in the parable of the Prodigal Son is unimaginable really when we look at how we love others. I find this parable a great blessing. This part of the parable about the older son is interesting and challenging. Its easy to be confused by the picture – to think why didn’t God reward him, he did the right thing. This is a great reminder about how generous God is if only we would reach out. The older son did “the right thing” but didn’t understand why nor did he understand how the father thought of him. We need to engage with God, to reach out, to work with Him, alongside Him. When we work with God we see the world through His eyes and we have access to everything He has made – all the ri
ches of the universe.
The older son was as far away from really understanding what was going on as the prodigal son. They both needed to learn how much the father loved them and how life working together with him would provide everything. The prodigal son appeared to learn but the older son was just starting to hear when we leave the story. It would be nice to know what happened next.
I need to learn more about how to be the person who understands how You organize things, how You want us to engage with You. I want to learn the lessons of both sons and to live my life working with You not for You. Help me to see the picture you are painting here – really see.
Written by Therese Manning
Phone: +61 2 9875 0300
PO Box 2744,
Carlingford NSW 2118
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NSW, Australia 2118
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Carlingford High School Hall,
547 North Rocks Rd, Carlingford
NSW, Australia 2118