Tuesday 11 August, 2015

Mark 11:20-26

20 In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21 Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!” 22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” [26]

Peter was surprised when he saw the fig tree withered from the roots after Jesus cursed it only a day ago. Then, Jesus said to Peter “if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.”

What a great “promise”! If we just scratch the surface of this message from Jesus. I like it. And we (I guess) all like it, don’t we? We can move the mountain without construction-company’s’ hard work! We can get whatever we want (money, position, fame and wealth …) or what ever we like (luxury car, dress, jewellery, house…) and it will be done…… because of what Jesus said here….

Well, actually, what Jesus said here is a metaphor for his believers to have faith in God who can make everything possible, including moving a mountain by His word.

Also, there are some requirements that have to be met before God answers our prayer:

  1. We must be a believer.
  2. Not hold anything against anyone, forgive him.
  3. Believe we have received what we are requesting.
  4. For the good of God’s kingdom not selfish motives.

God loves us no doubt, “He will not keep back any good thing from those whose ways are upright”. The problem is do I have faith in God and that my prayer is for the good of God’s kingdom or just my personal desire? I am not saying we should NOT pray for our health or job. But what’s inside my heart?

Dear Jesus, nothing is impossible with you. Thank you for reminding me only faith can please you. Because, the person who has doubt in his heart should not expect to receive anything from the Lord (James 1). Help me to have faith in you at all times, no matter in good or bad condition. Amen.

Written by Allen Leu

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Monday 10 August, 2015

Mark 11:12-19

12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14 Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it. 15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” 18 The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching. 19 When evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.

This passage of scripture gives us two different locations and responses of Jesus as he journeys with His disciples:

The Fig Tree – green but not bearing fruit: Jesus curses a fig tree even though it was not a season of bearing fruit.  It becomes withered and dead – v 20.

I have questions of God when I consider this scripture yet I sense that the expectation of Christ is that we would be fruitful despite the seasons that come in our lives. Even in our wilderness seasons, our ‘boring’ seasons, we should be actively looking to bear fruit in our lives and in the lives of others.

Business in the Temple: Jesus continues onto the temple where he finds people doing business in the temple. He finds that it has become more about their business of selling ‘sacrifice’ items and money changing than worshipping God. He overturns tables and publically shows his displeasure and determination to make a point of how ‘religion’ has overtaken worship. He is unafraid of what they can do to Him.

Lord Jesus help us to always be fruitful in our lives no matter the season we are in. Help us to be strong to stand for what pleases you rather than what the world would want. Help us to put you first in all that we do.

Written by Ps. Sue Botta

1 (reply)
  1. Andrew Mellor says:

    Thanks Sue, I had a bad night’s sleep last night, so in a simple way this is a Grat reminder to be fruitful in Christ today irrespective of the night’s rest

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Sunday 9 August, 2015

Mark 11:1-11

11 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’” 4 They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, 5 some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 6 They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. 7 When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” 10 “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” 11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

The great tragedy of this passage is that the very same people who were shouting Jesus’ praises, would days later be shouting “Crucify Him!” There is a lot more meaning hidden in these verses and a lot of context to explore, but that is one thing that sticks out to me.

My application is to freshly ask and believe in the glorious grace of God. He first loved us, even when we were His enemies, even when we were sinners and beyond hope. Without the sacrifice, grace and love of Jesus, I am without hope, and to recognise that is to recognise my utter need for Him.

Jesus, thank You for Your sacrifice, and thank You for Your love. Thank You that You stopped at nothing out of Your love for me. Please show me mercy and grace each day as I walk with You.

Written by Matt Samperi

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Saturday 8 August, 2015

Mark 10:46-52

46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. 51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” 52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

There’s Bartimaeus sitting where he usually sits, hoping for some coins to come his way probably.  He needed help to get there and someone to lead him home. When you are dependent for some things in life, people tend to boss you around. The people told him to be quiet, he was drawing attention to himself. Of course he was. He wanted Jesus to hear him. He wasn’t giving up that easy.
Jesus did hear him, and called him over and asked what he wanted. He didn’t say he wanted a new cane or a roast dinner. He simply asked Jesus for his greatest need and desire. “I want to see”. Jesus saw Bartimaeus and heard his cry and gave him sight instantly.
This says to me that when I have a need, it’s up to me to shout out to Jesus. He doesn’t walk past us when we call to him. I can ask him for my most fundamental needs, because he cares. Faith leads us to believe that Jesus is on our side and that He can help us. So faith says ask, and Jesus says I give because you asked.
Dear Lord give us faith and boldness like Bartimaeus. Let us know that you want to bless us and make us whole. Thank you.

Written by Dimity Milne

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Friday 7 August, 2015

Mark 10:41-45

41 When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. 42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

How disappointed James and John must have felt when Jesus, replying to their request to sit on His left and right in positions of honour in heaven, answered with a statement about sharing in suffering and being a servant to all.

Hadn’t Jesus come to make them, Gods chosen people, powerful leaders with all authority? Wasn’t Jesus here to change the record? For so many long years Gods people had been subject to others. Servants and subjugated to the Persians, Greeks and now the Romans. And Jesus would appear here to be saying its not over. Opposite, he seems to be saying choose servanthood. Jesus, this radical teacher, who has taught about equality for all people, who accepted outcast, who turned over the tables in the synagogue and who challenged the religious leaders. The victorious messiah that they had waited for, Jesus had come, and he had performed all kinds of miracles with great power, this Messiah was saying they must be servants to receive honour and glory. I don’t think it was the response they were hoping for.

And I’m not sure it’s the answer I really like either, if truth be told. Its easy to ask Jesus to help me be all that he wants me to be, to lift me up and make me an influencer and so on. But I think it is the same for us, as it was for the disciples then. If we want to be people of influence, if we want to lead and have God given authority in the church, in our workplaces or in the community then we too must be servant hearted leaders. Following the example of Jesus, who gave it all, who gave his life for others.

Jesus, help me to be a servant hearted person who is willing to “lay down my rights”, to put others first and to serve.

Written by Zoe Stewart

2 replies
  1. Stephen Fell says:

    A great reminder to anyone in leadership. It is not about position, or power. It is about being a servant to those you lead, and this means going the star mile and doing the things that maybe aren’t noticed, and never will be. I am inspired and thankful for this reminder.

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Thursday 6 August, 2015

Mark 10:35-40

35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” 36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. 37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” 38 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” 39 “We can,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, 40 but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”

Sometimes we really don’t know what we are asking. James and John really didn’t understand what was going on so when they had a bright idea they just came out with it. They didn’t think it through. One of those “it seemed like a good idea at the time” concepts. They wanted something so they asked their friend to help them which is a great idea.

We too have “good ideas” that we bring to God and ask Him to implement. Sometimes they are ideas to look after ourselves in some way, other times they are ideas that could have impacts on others we just haven’t imagined. God is wise and He does think through where actions may lead. Sometimes our good ideas need refining.

We need to talk things through with God rather than just ask “please do this”. It takes more time but it builds our relationship with the Lord and grows wisdom in us as we adjust our requests to bring them into line with what we hear from Him. We should bring our “good ideas” to God as our friend (and so much more) but have a discussion with Him rather than jumping right in with the unrefined idea. Let God lead you to an even better idea.

Lord thank You that You are more wise than we are, that You see where some of our “great ideas” could take us. Help us to learn how to talk things through with You, help us to engage with You to refine and improve our ideas. Help us to give appropriate time to thinking through the ideas we get and discussing them with You. Thank You that You want us to do great things and You want to help us to do such things well. Help us to let You help.

Written by Therese Manning

2 replies
  1. David Newton says:

    Quote of the day: ‘We need to talk things through with God rather than just ask “please do this”.’ Thanks Therese

  2. Andrew Mellor says:

    Agreed! So insightful Therese. Our aim is relational growth with God and from that flows good works and contentment in our souls. Such a practical application of ‘talking things through’ with God.

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Wednesday 5 August, 2015

Mark 10:32-34

32 They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. 33 “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, 34 who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.”

On the way to Jerusalem we have Jesus leading the way followed by the disciples and then others. The disciples were filled with awe or amazed with Jesus while those further behind were afraid. Jesus took his disciples aside and told them what was to happen concerning his death. He did not share this information with the others.

Jesus disciples were in awe of him while the other folks following along were overwhelmed with fear. Jesus disciples or followers had been with Jesus for about 3 years and knew him well. After all they had done life with Jesus and complete awe was the result. The others who were tagging along did not know Jesus the same way and were freaking out. It was also the disciples that were let in on what was to happen next and Jesus ultimate purpose. This encourages me to know Jesus better.

Jesus accurately foretold what was to come concerning his betrayal and the gruesome details of his treatment and death. God was in complete control. Jesus knew exactly what to expect and what was to come. I do wonder how the disciples took this information. How did they feel? Jesus had mentioned this to them before. Was Jesus speaking figuratively or was he serious? No matter how the disciples took the news, God’s will was going to come to pass. I am encouraged that as believers we too can understand God’s will from his word and see it come to pass in our lives.

Dear God, thank you for the relationship we can have with you through your son, Jesus. Help us to understand your purpose for our lives as clearly as Jesus understood his. Amen

Written by Ainslie Woods

2 replies
  1. David Newton says:

    Interesting observation Ainslie. It seems that those who were with Jesus in the good times were in a far better positioned to endure with Jesus through the hard time. It reminds me of Genesis 41 where 7 good years was followed by 7 bad year of drought. Ultimately It is better to build faith and relationship in the good times then to wait until the hard times and have nothing stored in the barn.

    Thanks Ainslei

  2. Justin Ware says:

    The disciples were filled with awe and the others with them were filled with fear.

    Jesus here is on his way to Jerusalem where, after healing a blind man in Jericho, he will make a triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem via the mount of olives, riding on a colt. To a casual reader in modern times this seems like a collection of interesting anecdotes about Jesus’ life, but there is an indication here that to those who were with Jesus, his actions and approach to Jerusalem had significant meaning.

    It was foretold across the old testament that the Messiah would enter Jerusalem (Zechariah 9:9) and visit the Temple (Malachi 3:1) and there was an understanding from elsewhere in scripture that The Messiah would bring about an enormous shift in the way that people lived their lives. The people clearly had an idea that Jesus might be the Messiah, but they really had no idea what that meant for them, so their response was awe, or fear.

    The same misreading of Christ happens today both inside and outside the Church. Regardless of whether people are certain that he is The Messiah, they have a sense that he is important because of what he has done in the lives of His followers across history and today.

    The trouble is that people see Jesus as fulfilling so many different roles that they miss his actual mission, which is what he is telling the disciples about here in this passage.

    Jesus, may I always see your death on the cross as central to everything you do, everything I have and every way that the world operates. May I never lose sight of the significance of the sacrifice and the love poured out on the cross.

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Tuesday 4 August, 2015

Mark 10:23-31

23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” 28 Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!” 29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

In this interaction between Jesus and His disciples, I hear a warning. The human heart needs and wants to find fulfillment – ultimately, salvation. The temptation of the rich is often to think their riches = their salvation. As a result, their hearts are full and satisfied already because they “have” salvation. The trust of their heart is fully invested in their riches.

I read Jesus point about it being hard for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God being one of – it’s almost impossible for anyone who is greatly invested in another trust other than Jesus to give up that trust and follow Jesus. Why would you give up your salvation, unless you knew it was a false salvation. Impossible unless God is involved in the process of bringing freedom to our hearts!

The disciples have been freed to trust in Jesus, as evidenced by their following him. But Peter is concerned, thinking something along these lines – “our highest trust is now given to you Jesus, but we’ve left some pretty comfortable life trusts work, family, etc. – to put you first. I do hope this will all work out.”

Jesus responds: “It’s all good Peter, I know what you’ve done and there is great promise ahead for you. With me, the future is incredible, beyond what you can imagine. But it’s not going to be an easy journey to get there, so let’s set your expectations right. Don’t expect a cushy journey. Nothing of such great worth ever comes easy and without being contested. But know that the future is as sure and true as I am.”

I am thankful for Peter’s honest engagement with Jesus, as well as Jesus’ response. The bottom line is thus: to enter the Kingdom of God, I must lay down whatever else has ultimate allegiance and priority in my life in favour of Jesus. Any desire, any purpose, any “thing” that does not help me keep my trust in Jesus and His promises of ultimate fulfilment are a dangerous distractions that can turn my heart away from Him.

Lord, You call us to have our hearts full of trust in you. Jesus, help me to remain strong against the temptation to accumulate as “salvation security” wealth and riches instead of you.You promise incomparable fulfilment and true riches, so Lord I trust in you above all else.

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh

1 (reply)
  1. Andrew Mellor says:

    One way, Jesus. You’ve boiled this down Rob to the essence for anybody, we must leave our fortress because it is doomed, no matter how secure it feels. Lord, lead us, we have left behind our ‘security’

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Monday 3 August, 2015

Mark 10:17-22

17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’” 20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” 21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

I taught this story recently in both scripture at school and in kids church.

The man in this account liked and respected Jesus and Jesus liked the man. But liking Jesus, even respecting him as a good teacher wasn’t enough. Knowing and following the rules wasn’t enough. It was helpful to the man but it wasn’t what Jesus was looking for. When Jesus asked him to sell up, to give his riches to the poor and follow him, the man turned and sadly walked away from Jesus. He got the answer he was looking for – but he couldn’t let go of what was in his way.

Holding on to stuff is so easy. Putting my trust in stuff, leaning on stuff, is a huge temptation. Jesus isn’t against my stuff – he’s against my stuff robbing me of the life-bringing connection that comes when I let it go to trust in Him.

Lord open my eyes to see when I am leaning on my stuff instead of You.

Written by Ps. Linda Quinn

 

1 (reply)
  1. Andrew Mellor says:

    Thanks Linda, he wants unfettered devotion, wow, I think we have these moments many times in life. Take my hands Lord and keep my eyes locked on you

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Sunday 2 August, 2015

Mark 10:13-16

13 People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.

This is such a small passage & yet what an amazing impact. The people were bringing their children to Jesus so that he would touch them. The disciples saw this as irrelevant to Jesus’ ministry. They were clearly wrong & publicly told so.   Jesus goes on to use this as a picture of the Kingdom of God. The Message version says that “Unless you accept God’s Kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” Then Jesus gathers the kids in his arms and blesses them.

This must have been so refreshing for Jesus. No arguing Pharisees just kids to bless. Jesus is wanting/longing to touch us & bless us, not keep us at arms length or ignore us or argue with us. Children are precious, not complicated and we are to be like them. I think I have often missed the longed for touch of Jesus because I’ve been .. complicated ..

Lord, thank you for the simplicity of your grace, all we have to do is accept it.

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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