Monday 31 August, 2015

Mark 15:1-15

15 Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate. 2 “Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate. “You have said so,” Jesus replied. 3 The chief priests accused him of many things. 4 So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.” 5 But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed. 6 Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. 7 A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. 8 The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did. 9 “Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, 10 knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead. 12 “What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them. 13 “Crucify him!” they shouted. 14 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” 15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

There are two things that strike me in this passage.

Jesus is almost completely silent, and Pilate recognises Jesus’ innocence.  Most innocent people cry out their innocence – yet not Jesus.  Most people who recognise the innocence of another work to prove that innocence – yet not Pilate.  This is altogether different.  I have no real idea what I would have done if I were Pilate.  The expedience of killing one man to keep the peace in a strife torn corner of the empire – that has its advantages.  What takes a hold of you that while knowing the innocence of the one accused you condemn him to death – how tortured Pilate must have been.  It is too easy to paint Pilate into the naughty corner as if I would not have done the same – and I hope I wouldn’t have – but where is my heart at.  Am I hard hearted wanting to keep the peace, am I prepared to open my motives to the light of Christ and have Him search me.

I need to let God search me and find any offensive way within me so that I can be the bringing of life that Jesus calls me to be you to be.

Father, in the light of Pilate’s deception help me to have an open heart before You and fulfil Your plan in all things.

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

2 replies
  1. Andrew Mellor says:

    Amen, it’s much better to be a friend of God and have him know us so that we might know more of him, than to have him still work his plan through us, but we are none the wiser.

  2. Justin Ware says:

    Here I see Pilate as being a highly competent civil leader applying worldly wisdom to a scenario of religious conflict. I see reflections of this same wisdom being applied to today’s world by media outlets when they brush up against the spiritual world.

    Then and now, what these leaders lack is spiritual wisdom, insight and discernment. Whether my intentions are good or evil, whether I am wise or foolish in the way of the world, whether I possess a great deal of knowledge or a little, I will always be blind to some degree in making decisions unless I am open to the Holy Spirit guiding me and revealing deeper truths in a situation.

    Lord, help me to continually depend more on You and Your Holy Spirit as I make every decision in my life.

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Sunday 30 August, 2015

Mark 14:66-72

66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. 67 When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him. “You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said. 68 But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway. 69 When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” 70 Again he denied it. After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” 71 He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.” 72 Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

Peter was determined to stand by Jesus. “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will” (Mark 14:29). When the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, Peter was ready with his sword. He was fighting back (though all he hits is an ear). And now he has followed right into the courtyard of the High Priest’s house.

He had been ready when they were challenged by soldiers, but he’s not ready when he’s challenged by a servant girl. He was ready to die protecting Jesus, but not ready when he’s challenged with simply knowing him. He crumbles and denies Jesus, as Jesus knew he would.

I always plan that I will have exactly the right things to say when I’m challenged about knowing Jesus, but I often crumble too when it happens differently. I need to be better at listening to the Holy Spirit, not so much at planning.

But God’s purposes don’t crumble because I do.

Father, I’m sorry when my planning gets in the way of your plans. I’m glad that yours are more robust than mine.

Written by David Cornell

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Saturday 29 August, 2015

Mark 14:53-65

53 They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together. 54 Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire. 55 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. 56 Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree. 57 Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.’” 59 Yet even then their testimony did not agree. 60 Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 61 But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” 62 “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 63 The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. 64 “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” They all condemned him as worthy of death. 65 Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.

I read this passage with a sense of disturbance, as it describes the unfairness, the injustice, the brutality that Jesus faced and endured. Here he was, in front of the entire hierarchy of the religious leaders, having to hear the lies against him, which even by the people were recognised as being inconsistent, and then later in the passage being spat upon, blindfolded, beaten, mocked. Remember, this is the Son of God, the Creator, enduring this humiliation!

What is highlighted to me in this passage is that Jesus did not answer to the false testimonies against him. He remained silent when He listened to the lies, and the twisted comments against Him. He could have called on an army of angels to down his accusers. But he did not. Why?

The only question he answered to, was the question of “Are you the Christ?” I believe Jesus would never be silent to this question, regardless of who asked.

Jesus knew his purpose at this time. He knew he did not need to defend himself. He knew that he would “lose” this battle but would win the war. He even exclaimed this to the Chief Priest etc in v62. He was focussed and had full intent to go through to death, regardless of what he had to endure, for he knew this was to save us.

There are times when we face false accusation, or are wrongly judged, where our first reaction is to defend ourselves. This is a natural response. But Christ’s response shows me great humility and purpose, knowing when to be silent and when to answer.

Lord, may you continue to teach me and transform me into greater humility, and understanding of Your ultimate purpose in all situations.

Written by Stephen Fell

2 replies
  1. Zoe Stewart says:

    Thanks Stephen. Self justification and being right is so pervasive in our culture and fuelled so strongly by our pride. But I find it so tiring. And there seems to me to be such contentedness and peace in just being OK with God knowing our hearts and stopping there. It’s such a relief to be covered by his grace, set free by his blood and made right with God. But yet I take so long to learn humility and get there. Great reminder today!

  2. Stella ng says:

    Thanks Stephen for the remimder of being humble. May we all have such great wisdom of when to speak and when to be silent.
    I will continue to learn and practise this great humility in my life.

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Friday 28 August, 2015

Mark 14:43-52

43 Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders. 44 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” 45 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. 46 The men seized Jesus and arrested him. 47 Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 48 “Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” 50 Then everyone deserted him and fled. 51 A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, 52 he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.

Jesus was betrayed by one of his disciples. One who had walked with him for nearly 3 years. By one who had shared meals, stories, laughs and tears. Judas calls him Rabbi (teacher) and identifies him with a kiss. A greeting of brothers.

His response to this and to those coming after him with clubs and swords is interesting. He says he hasn’t come to lead a rebellion and that this is all happening to fulfil scripture.

Jesus appears to be incredibly focused in the midst of such a sad and scary situation. It is a scary situation, Mark the writer, tells us that an on looking man ran off so scared that he left his clothing behind (Mark 14:53).

Jesus is focused on his purpose and calling, on the crucifixion and his role as Saviour. He is not focused on his offence, on getting his own back, in his rightness or his rights. He knows what he has to do and how that has to come about. He’s certain of His Father’s way.

Jesus, help me be more like you. Give me greater clarity of my purpose and calling. Help me to fix my eyes on you. To be less concerned with my rights and more concerned with what you would have me do. Help me to trust and obey as you did.

Written by Zoe Stewart

1 (reply)
  1. Andrew Mellor says:

    Thanks Zoe, I’m electrified by Christ’s passion and focus, his resolve to love the Father and us.
    Lord I want that focus too

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Thursday 27 August, 2015

Mark 14:32-42

32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” 35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba,[a] Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” 37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him. 41 Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

This passage reminds me of how much Jesus suffered not just on the cross but in the times leading up to His arrest, His trial, His beating, the mocking and then the crucifixion. It also reminds me of what is it to be a friend. He knew what lay ahead – He was the Lamb of God to be sacrificed for the world. He knew He was born to die. He knew He would be separated from His Father and bear the sin of the world. Yet His words are “Yet I want your will not mine.”

There are moments in our life when we also are required to take up our cross and follow Jesus….even unto death. So often we cry out in times of difficulty, darkness or despair…why me, this isn’t fair, if only this…..and yet the Bible tells us there will be times of suffering or trouble, persecution and difficulty.

Help us and teach us to pray at these times:  Help me Lord to be a witness of you and your grace in no matter what the season is that I am in.  Help me Lord to cry out to you….yet I want your will not mine.

What is a good friend: Jesus needed 3 friends to go with Him at this dark time in His life and they heard Him cry out in horror and anguish. Ask yourself – Who is walking with me?  Who is able to hear me cry out in anguish, horror and deep distress at times? If Jesus needed friends to be with Him at these times; how much more do we need people to walk with us in our darkest moments.

Help us and teach us to pray at these times:  Lord help me to be a good friend to others at times like this.  Help me to listen and care.  Lord bring others around me when I journey through my dark times.  Teach me Lord how to be a good friend. Help me Lord to be a good friend.  Help me to be diligent, alert and pray always.

Written by Ps. Sue Botta

4 replies
  1. Stephen Fell says:

    The intensity of the distress and anguish that Jesus experienced in the Garden always moves me. And yet his response. . . .”not my will but Yours”. Incredibly challenging and thank you Sue for your words of wisdom

  2. David Newton says:

    As a person who has experienced a degree of hardship in my life I can tell you it is very hard to find people who will journey with you and when the road is long it is a very lonely place.

  3. STELLA Ng says:

    Thanks Sue for your insight on these verses. It reminds me again how gracious our God is! Despite his distress and overwhelming from seeing the disciples falling sleep again and again, ‘the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak’ he had forgiven them.
    How many times in our life we deal with things not as Godly as could be due to our weak flesh. My prayer today is that we all can spend time with Him more everyday no matter how busy we are, so that our spirit is not only willing but also getting stronger.

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Wednesday 26 August, 2015

Mark 14:26-31

26 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 27 “You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written: “‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” 29 Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” 30 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.” 31 But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.

Peter has walked with Jesus for years at this point. He has known him personally, learned about him, been taught all about God and heaven and the scriptures, all directly from Christ. Peter has always been self, confident, a natural leader. But he is about to learn something about himself and Jesus knows it. “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times”

I am a lot like Peter. Although I have walked faithfully with Christ for a long time and I am in a position of leadership amongst other followers of Christ, there are times where I fall well short of my own standard for where my faith should be.

Thank you Lord, that your Holy Book isn’t a collection of truisms or nice teachings, but contains historical facts about real people and how you engage with them. Thank you that you continued to walk with Peter and continued to put him back on his feet each time he fell. May I be like him so that I can continue always to grow in what you have called me to do!

Written by Ps. Justin Ware

3 replies
  1. Andrew Mellor says:

    Thanks Justin, how many times I’ve even thought to myself ‘I’m doing all right, things have been good’ and within a short space of time God has me on my face thinking ‘wow, I have so far to go’.

    Thank God he promises to complete this good work in us

  2. Richard says:

    You will all fall away! Now that is not encouraging!

    Think of it Jesus is falling apart. He has been a strong and confident leader, purpose driven. Now he’s talking about his own death, effectively snuffing out any sense of the future, or at least as the disciples envisage it. Peter steps in to support Jesus, to take some of the heat from Him. He acts protectively like most followers do for their leaders, they defend them in a time of crisis.

    Jesus further exacerbates the issue though saying that even Peter’s good intentions will come to nothing, even worse, they will lead him to deny Jesus, to deny his leader.

    What do I do when someone tells me a truth I do not want to hear? Do I try to gloss over it, not face its reality, fix the situation? I ‘get’ Peter, he must have been devastated to be told this news by Jesus. Of course he stood up to try to fill the gap. But to be told he would even further fail, now that must have cut him to the core. We know the end from the beginning of this story, we know it turns out but it would have been so difficult for Peter. I like that he defends Jesus, and I’ld like to think I would do the same, go to Jesus’ defence.

    Father, may I never shrink back from following Jesus, even to the point of defending Him when I need to.

  3. David Newton says:

    It is an awesome lesson and we should all take it to heart.
    .
    1 Corinthians 10:12 says ‘So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!’. We always think we will stand firm with God and if we pattern our lives according to a firm foundation of the gospel that may be true. However we only really stand firm because of God’s faithfulness to make us stand, and little else.

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Tuesday 25 August, 2015

Mark 14:22-25

22 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” 23 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. 25 “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

For Jesus, this is a final moment of fellowship with His twelve disciples [Matt 26:18, Luke 22:14-16]. They gathered around the table in an upper room for the Passover, & His Last Supper.

The Last Supper [or Communion] was meant to be different to the Jewish Passover. In the Passover observance, they partook of roasted lamb, unleavened bread, bitter herbs (Ex. 12:8-20), and the cup. But when the Lord institutes the Lord’s Supper, He only gives the bread, & the fruit of the vine. That is because the Lord was replacing an Old Covenant ordinance with a New Covenant ordinance.

When we observe the Lord’s Supper, we should examine ourselves before we eat or drink. [1 Cor 11:28]

[1] We remember that as we confess to our Father any sin in our life we receive His gift of forgiveness, and we are cleansed by the blood of Jesus [1 John 1:9].

[2] We remember that these elements are meant to be the essence of our life in and with Christ. We are completely united with him.

[3] We are reminded that we are partakers of the benefits of the sacrifice of Jesus. The Kingdom He established is ours to enjoy by faith in Him. The bread speaks of Him being our life source as we live in him. The juice represents the source of our cleansing and forgiveness.

Lord, thank you for the privilege of partaking of your life. We seek the filling of the Holy Spirit so that our life in you is worthy of the sacrifice you made for us.

Written by Keith Bennett

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Monday 24 August, 2015

Mark 14:17-21

17 When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18 While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.” 19 They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely you don’t mean me?” 20 “It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me. 21 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

This sad, painful scenario takes place immediately before Jesus introduces to His disciples the very first Communion (as we now call it).

As Jesus reveals the sad truth of what is about to take place, the disciples had very heavy hearts and utter disbelief that one of their own band of 12 could commit such a betrayal of Jesus.  “Surely you don’t mean me?”, they all say one by one.

With this fresh reminder of what the human heart is capable of, Jesus told them that His blood would soon be poured out for them. Yes, it was shocking but true – the human heart is corrupt and Jesus was about to lay down His life for us all.

“Surely not me?” is a classic human response to being confronted with the sinfulness of our hearts. Like the disciples, how often I have adopted this attitude of pride about my own heart?

Today, rather than trying to deny my own sinfulness, I humble myself and embrace my need of the saving grace of Jesus, replacing my pride with gratitude that He has “saved a wretch like me”.

Written by Shelley Witt

2 replies
  1. Andrew Mellor says:

    Thanks Shelley, it’s so liberating to embrace my need for Jesus, to have my mixed motives exposed and see him embrace and cover me

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Sunday 23 August, 2015

Mark 14:12-16

12 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?” 13 So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. 14 Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15 He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” 16 The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

I have to spend time with Jesus every morning. I can’t miss it. Not because of superstition or fear – that I’ll have a bad day if I don’t (although, not too surprisingly, I usually do have a bad day if I don’t spend time with Him).

And it’s the little words that mean so much to me now. It’s the encouragement and the peace. It’s the injection of hope he gives. It’s the arming and protective coating that comes and the disarming and shedding of sin, satan and the world’s influence over me. And it happens almost without me knowing it’s happening. I’ve got to have that and it only comes from being with Him.

But something else happens when I spend time with Jesus in the morning – it’s something that the disciples discovered in the passage above…

Jesus knows what’s going to happen in the day ahead.

When Jesus says “this is how you fix that car” or “this is what to say in that meeting” or “this is how you need to respond to that person today”, I am given the most profound and amazing gift. The God of all Heaven is reaching out to help me!  In real time and in real life. (See Ps 46:1)

What a wonderful God!  I praise and thank and worship you Jesus. Your answers and guidance to the seemingly small problems in my life absolutely mean the world to me. You are everything to me.

Amen.

Written by Boudy VanNoppen

2 replies
  1. Andrew Mellor says:

    Wow, thanks Boudy, I’ve forgotten about this gift of late. I bring my whole day ahead before Jesus and he can guide me into it! Thanks brother

  2. Stephen Fell says:

    Thanks Boudy. So many times a day has started poorly and thi is reversed because I have spent time with God. Great reminder that our Lord loves to provide and empower us for the day

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Saturday 22 August, 2015

Mark‬ ‭14:1-11‬ ‭‬‬‬‬

14 Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. 2 “But not during the festival,” they said, “or the people may riot.” 3 While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. 4 Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages[a] and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly. 6 “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 The poor you will always have with you,[b] and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9 Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” 10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. 11 They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

“They should do church like this…” “That guy is really excessive in taste, he shouldn’t spend his money like that…” “Well technically the biblical way to go about this sort of ministry would be…”

I can nitpick very well, I can observe the way other people seek to love and follow Jesus and decide if it is ‘the best way’. This story from Jesus life challenges me greatly because it is a strong rebuke to this sort of behaviour. The way I read it, Jesus is basically saying “if you have great ideas for serving the poor, go do it! They aren’t hard to find. Just go do it and stop judging other people’s work.”

The other challenge to me is the way this woman has eyes only for Jesus, not romantically but in worshipful devotion. She is willing so pay a great price financially and socially to lavish her love on Jesus. On the other hand, Judas is willing to sell out Jesus for financial and social gain.

“Lord Jesus, draw my eyes and devotion entirely. Let there be no cost to great. Draw my eyes and devotion so entirely that I am not interested in critiquing other worshippers, other ministries. Take all of me Lord”.

Written by Andrew Mellor

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