Saturday 30 April, 2016

Luke 18:9-14

9 Jesus told a story to some people who were sure they were right with God. They looked down on everyone else. 10 He said to them, “Two men went up to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee. The other was a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed. ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people,’ he said. ‘I am not like robbers or those who do other evil things. I am not like those who commit adultery. I am not even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week. And I give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood farther away than the Pharisee. He would not even look up to heaven. He brought his hand to his heart and prayed. He said, ‘God, have mercy on me. I am a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you, the tax collector went home accepted by God. But not the Pharisee. All those who lift themselves up will be made humble. And those who make themselves humble will be lifted up.”

The Pharisee is comparing himself with the Tax Collector and thinking he comes off better. The Tax collector is comparing himself with God and is appropriately humbled.

Who am I am comparing myself with?

Lord I would love to able to write that I only compare myself with You but I know that I am more like the Pharisee than I would like to admit. It’s so easy for me to build my self esteem by comparing myself with people I think I’m doing better than. Whenever I’m quick to notice an area of struggle in someone else’s life that I am currently winning in – pride is taking hold. Your word tells me that You oppose the proud but give grace to the humble. ” God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

 

Written by Ps. Linda Quinn

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Friday 29 April, 2016

Luke 18:1-8

18 Jesus told his disciples a story. He wanted to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said, “In a certain town there was a judge. He didn’t have any respect for God or care about what people thought. 3 A widow lived in that town. She came to the judge again and again. She kept begging him, ‘Make things right for me. Someone is treating me badly.’ 4 “For some time the judge refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t have any respect for God. I don’t care about what people think. 5 But this widow keeps bothering me. So I will see that things are made right for her. If I don’t, she will someday come and attack me!’ ” 6 The Lord said, “Listen to what the unfair judge says. 7 God’s chosen people cry out to him day and night. Won’t he make things right for them? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, God will see that things are made right for them. He will make sure it happens quickly. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find people on earth who have faith?”

Luke’s gospel holds a great account of the parables that Jesus told.  This parable that we have just read is told in a particular way that was very familiar to the Jewish people of the time. It uses a type of Jewish logic, where whatever is true in the lesser instance must be even more true in the greater instance. Here the lesser instance is the unjust judge and his response, and the greater instance is God and his response. Using this logic would have made the message very clear and emphatic to the hearers of that time.

They would have heard it a bit like this… Even if God was an unjust judge, which we know he is not, even then he would hear and provide justice for the widow. How much more will your God, the God you know to be Just, answer your prayers for justice.

Other such examples are; the ravens and the lilies from Luke 12:24-28.  “ And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers (lesser version) that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you (greater version)”. And the sinful father who gives good gifts to his children from Luke 11:13 “So if you sinful people (lesser version) know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father (greater instance) give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” Luke 11:11-13

These parables emphasis the incredible character of God and are a great encouragement to me. Thankyou God for your word. Thankyou God that you are a just God who hears my prayers and will answer, that you are my provider and you provide splendidly, and that you are a good father who has given me your Holy Spirit (the best gift).

Written by Zoe Stewart

1 (reply)
  1. Claire Moore says:

    Yes the incredible character of God who wants to interact with his people, to hear our prayers and requests for justice, restoration. And he answers! I hope people will say of me “she prayed again and again”

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Thursday 28 April, 2016

Luke 17:20-37

20 Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.” 22 Then he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. 23 They will say to you, ‘Look there!’ or ‘Look here!’ Do not go, do not set off in pursuit. 24 For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. 25 But first he must endure much suffering and be rejected by this generation. 26 Just as it was in the days of Noah, so too it will be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 They were eating and drinking, and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed all of them. 28 Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot: they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, 29 but on the day that Lot left Sodom, it rained fire and sulfur from heaven and destroyed all of them 30 —it will be like that on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day, anyone on the housetop who has belongings in the house must not come down to take them away; and likewise anyone in the field must not turn back. 32 Remember Lot’s wife. 33 Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it. 34 I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 35 There will be two women grinding meal together; one will be taken and the other left.” 37 Then they asked him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”

God can’t be tricked. I’m intrigued by the two riddles presented to Jesus – one about money, one about marriage. Both get addressed by Jesus from the cosmic perspective: An emperor’s treasure can be returned to the emperor for all Jesus cares, a person’s priority should instead be focused on returning themselves to God’s possession. ‘Who belongs to who?’ and ‘What belongs to what?’ is irrelevant in the light of the reality of the perfection of eternal life in God’s unfiltered presence.

It is tempting to question Jesus’s trustworthiness sometimes – doubt rears it’s ugly head occasionally, attempting to obscure our vision of the good shepherd Jesus. I am reminded by this passage to take sides with Jesus – I am God’s valuable property and the goodness of Heaven is my ultimate destiny.

Jesus, stamp your image on me, fix heaven as the ultimate context for my life. Guard me against pettiness and doubt – I soften my heart to learn from you, to be teachable and ready for you to change me in your timing. Thank you that you are the God of life, amen.

Written by Sam Stewart

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Wednesday 27 April, 2016

LUKE 17:11-19

11 On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 13 they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16 He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18 Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

This band of outcasts sought company in each either, all suffering the same horrible disease that socially and, by law, meant that they could not associate with anyone else. (Lev 13:46). I assume they were a mixture of Jews and Samaritans, and they all called out to Jesus for mercy. They all recognised, maybe with desperation, that Jesus could help them.

Their healing was subject to a step of obedience, to go and present themselves to the priest. Subsequently, they all obeyed and were all healed.

However, I am drawn to the only one that returned to give thanks to Jesus, and he was a Samaritan, the unlikely one to do so! His gratitude inspires me, even though he was healed of a horrible disease that warranted great thankfulness. But he took time to return to give his thanks. What did Jesus mean by His reply “your faith has made you well”. I believe he was healed of far deeper than just the physical ailment he had suffered. True gratitude to God does this.

When I am truly grateful, and “thankful in all circumstances” (1Thess5:18), that is when God brings healing to my heart.

Father, help me to know this more and more, and to be truly grateful for all You have done and are doing in my life. Amen

Written by Steve Fell

2 replies
  1. Phil Pearsall says:

    Steve
    We are always happy to ask God for ‘this and that’ and on many occasions God answers. Our requests, we think are usually fair and reasonable be it for family, friends, work, etc.
    How often do we return to God and specifically say thanks.
    Regards, Phil Pearsall

  2. Andrew Martin says:

    Thanks Steve,
    This really shows what true thankfulness really is, and how important it is.

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Tuesday 26 April, 2016

Luke 17:1-10

17 Jesus spoke to his disciples. “Things that make people sin are sure to come,” he said. “But how terrible it will be for anyone who causes those things to come! 2 Suppose people lead one of these little ones to sin. It would be better for those people to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck. 3 So watch what you do. “If your brother or sister sins against you, tell them they are wrong. Then if they turn away from their sins, forgive them. 4 Suppose they sin against you seven times in one day. And suppose they come back to you each time and say, ‘I’m sorry.’ You must forgive them.” 5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Give us more faith!” 6 He replied, “Suppose you have faith as small as a mustard seed. Then you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up. Be planted in the sea.’ And it will obey you. 7 “Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. And suppose the servant came in from the field. Will you say to him, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? 8 No. Instead, you will say, ‘Prepare my supper. Get yourself ready. Wait on me while I eat and drink. Then after that you can eat and drink.’ 9 Will you thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10 It’s the same with you. Suppose you have done everything you were told to do. Then you should say, ‘We are not worthy to serve you. We have only done our duty.’ ”

There’s a fair bit in this relatively short passage. Firstly the temptation to sin will always be there but warns not to temp another person into wrongdoing – steer clear of this!   Believers are also instructed to rebuke a fellow believer if they know they are sinning and to forgive them over and over if necessary.

The apostles also ask Jesus how to increase their faith? On the surface this seems like an admirable request. The logic being the more faith I have the more I will achieve for God.   Jesus goes on to explain that there is no more or less faith. Faith either exists or it doesn’t. He was speaking to apostles here. Clearly men of faith. You can almost hear Jesus frustration, guys you have all the faith you need let’s just get on with stepping out and using it! It’s the same for believers today. I have often wished I had more faith, if I’d had more faith in God there would have been different outcomes. I am challenged afresh knowing that mustard seed faith is enough.

Dear Lord, help me to trust you and use the faith I already have to honour and serve you amen.

Written by Ainslie Woods

1 (reply)
  1. Phil Pearsall says:

    Ainslie
    Thanks for sharing. Knowing we have faith and need no more is empowering. It is what we do with it that matters to God.

    Phil Pearsall

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Monday 25 April, 2016

Luke 16:19-31

19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. 24 He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. 26 Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’ 27 He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ 29 Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ 30 He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

For me, this is one of the most interesting and easy to understand teachings on hell in the entire Bible. The fact that Jesus gives this message with such clarity tells me that, while many of his teachings were in parables, this one is more literal than figurative.

I remember reading an article about 12 or 13 years ago about why it’s not a good idea for preachers to talk about hell too much in their messages. I looked for the article but can’t find it now. The reasoning was that scaring people into responding to an altar call was unethical and also ineffective.

But what about those of us who are saved? Is it important for us to fathom how awful hell is? Jesus seemed to think so, and for me, it is a reminder of the importance of sharing the salvation message of the Gospel.

I once heard an atheist say: “I don’t mind when Christians proselytize. If they really believe there is a heaven and hell, and they aren’t willing to overcome some social awkwardness to tell someone about it, they must either really hate that person, or they don’t really believe hell is that bad.”

How much do I avoid thinking about hell so that I don’t think about the suffering that might occur for someone who I haven’t told about Jesus?

Lord, thank you for the clarity that you bring and the motivation you cause in me to act.

Written by Ps Justin Ware 

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Sunday 24 April, 2016

Luke 16:14-18

14 The Pharisees loved money. They heard all that Jesus said and made fun of him. 15 Jesus said to them, “You try to make yourselves look good in the eyes of other people. But God knows your hearts. What people think is worth a lot is hated by God. 16 “The teachings of the Law and the Prophets were preached until John the Baptist came. Since then, the good news of God’s kingdom is being preached. And everyone is trying very hard to enter it. 17 It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the smallest part of a letter to drop out of the Law. 18 “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery. Also, the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

I’ve heard it said that the best commentary to the Bible is the Bible. When a passage is hard to understand it needs to be read hand-in-hand with similar passages (like Matthew 19:9) and in context with what was happening at the time. Sometimes reading the same passage in a different translation helps too. (Eg The Message Bible)

This passage in Luke is a good example. On the surface, what Jesus is saying here about divorce is pretty hash. But reading it in the light of other scriptures and different translations gives a more accurate view of what Jesus was really saying.

It appears wives of the day were getting treated badly by their husbands – discarded like garbage when no longer wanted and the law was used as an excuse to do it. I love that there is no way in the world that Jesus was going to stand for this! He was in an argument with the Pharisees about money and turned it around to protect women. He is truly awesome!

Defender of widows and orphans – Jesus, You are awesome and worthy of praise!

Amen

Written by Boudy Van Noppen

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Saturday 23 April,2016

Luke 16:1-13

16 Jesus told his disciples another story. He said, “There was a rich man who had a manager. Some said that the manager was wasting what the rich man owned. 2 So the rich man told him to come in. He asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Tell me exactly how you have handled what I own. You can’t be my manager any longer.’ 3 “The manager said to himself, ‘What will I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig. And I’m too ashamed to beg. 4 I know what I’m going to do. I’ll do something so that when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’ 5 “So he called in each person who owed his master something. He asked the first one, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 “ ‘I owe 900 gallons of olive oil,’ he replied. “The manager told him, ‘Take your bill. Sit down quickly and change it to 450 gallons.’ 7 “Then he asked the second one, ‘And how much do you owe?’ “ ‘I owe 1,000 bushels of wheat,’ he replied. “The manager told him, ‘Take your bill and change it to 800 bushels.’ 8 “The manager had not been honest. But the master praised him for being clever. The people of this world are clever in dealing with those who are like themselves. They are more clever than God’s people. 9 I tell you, use the riches of this world to help others. In that way, you will make friends for yourselves. Then when your riches are gone, you will be welcomed into your eternal home in heaven. 10 “Suppose you can be trusted with something very little. Then you can also be trusted with something very large. But suppose you are not honest with something very little. Then you will also not be honest with something very large. 11 Suppose you have not been worthy of trust in handling worldly wealth. Then who will trust you with true riches? 12 Suppose you have not been worthy of trust in handling someone else’s property. Then who will give you property of your own? 13 “No one can serve two masters at the same time. Either you will hate one of them and love the other. Or you will be faithful to one and dislike the other. You can’t serve God and money at the same time.”

LOL. This should be the reading for April fools… Jesus says “embezzle your employers money to get favours in the future”… Just kidding!

What the heck is going on here?

On second glance it’s not so bizarre. Jesus is telling a story to make a point. The manager saw the future accurately, and behaved accordingly. The fact that the manager in the story is dishonest adds shock value to get the attention of those listening to Jesus.

Jesus is issuing a call to consider the future, consider our ends. I am not to behave as though the earth will just keep spinning, I will keep on living and everything will be the same forever. No, everything will halt at the second coming of the true king. Jesus will reorder everything so that righteousness and goodness prevail for eternity. This means I must consider how I spend my money, time and talents now. Am I living for this worldly order or am I living for Jesus’ order? Am I loving the least and the last..? For one day Jesus will make them the first!

“Lord, let your Kingdom come and reign in my life today. I want to contribute to the Kingdom that will be forever, not the one that is passing away. May all I do, think and say be geared towards your Kingdom that will last!

Written by Andrew Mellor

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Friday 22 April, 2016

Luke 15:11-32

11 Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. 14 When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16 He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. 17 But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’ 20 So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. 21 Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate. 25 “Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27 He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ 28 Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ 31 Then the father[d] said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”

Here we see a dramatic change in attitude in the younger son as the story progresses.

In the beginning this son has a sense of entitlement as he tells his father to give him his share of the estate – the “it’s mine and I deserve it” mentality.

After taking what was given to him and squandering it, the son comes back to his father in a very different state. He is deeply humbled and plans to beg his father for mercy, realising his sinfulness and unworthiness to be called a son.

As a person who grew up from a young age as a Christian, I can recognise this pattern in myself.  In the beginning there was a sense of entitlement to all of the goodness of God the Father because I was a “good girl” and deserved it.

It’s really been a process of revelation over the years that without the goodness and mercy of God in my life, this “good girl” would be out wallowing in the pig pen of life. I do not deserve the blessings of my Father – it is only because of His mercy through Jesus that I have been given them.

For me, this is a reminder of the deceptive nature and the ugliness of pride that regularly wants to worm it’s way into my heart and make me feel like I am entitled. It is also an opportunity to remember what I have to be grateful for in the mercy and forgiveness of Jesus.

Written by Shelley Witt

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Thursday 21 April, 2016

Luke 15:1-10

15 The tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were whispering among themselves. They said, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3 Then Jesus told them a story. 4 He said, “Suppose one of you has 100 sheep and loses one of them. Won’t he leave the 99 in the open country? Won’t he go and look for the one lost sheep until he finds it? 5 When he finds it, he will joyfully put it on his shoulders 6 and go home. Then he will call his friends and neighbors together. He will say, ‘Be joyful with me. I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you, it will be the same in heaven. There will be great joy when one sinner turns away from sin. Yes, there will be more joy than for 99 godly people who do not need to turn away from their sins. 8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the house? Won’t she search carefully until she finds the coin? 9 And when she finds it, she will call her friends and neighbors together. She will say, ‘Be joyful with me. I have found my lost coin.’ 10 I tell you, it is the same in heaven. There is joy in heaven over one sinner who turns away from sin.”

These are two of a group of stories about someone who has lost something: a sheep, a coin and (tomorrow) a son. In each case, the owner cares enough about what has been lost to go looking for it and to keep on looking until it is found. Whatever is lost isn’t where it should be, so the shepherd or the woman goes looking in all the places it shouldn’t be.

It’s true these people shouldn’t be where Jesus is looking, but he keeps looking where they are until they are found.

The other part of each story is the reaction of the owner’s friends when it is found. They rejoice. And heaven rejoices when a lost person comes back. Because they care for the owner, they care for what the owner cares for.

These Pharisees and teachers (like the brother in the story of the lost son) are certainly not rejoicing.

I think we all have an innate sense of justice. We like it when the baddy comes undone at the end of the movie. We don’t like it when bad people win. Much as I know they are out of step with God, there’s probably a bit inside us all that might think the same way as them. If I got to Heaven and found Hitler or Stalin there after a death bed repentance, how would I respond?

I have to remind myself that I’m one of the “bad people” that Jesus came looking for. And it’s in no way just that Jesus had to give his life for me. But I’m so grateful for His wonderful, generous love for me. I need to make His heart my heart. (Ezek 32:36)

That person at work who hurt me… I need to pray for them to be found … and maybe I have a part to play in it. That person who cut in front of me in the queue … a blessing on you.

Father, give me your heart for all your children who are lost.

Written by David Cornell

1 (reply)
  1. Dimity Milne says:

    David I love how you say that we look for lost things in the places they shouldn’t be- I never thought about that before. Of course that’s where the lost people are. But that’s not the places we feel comfortable in is it. Got to work on that.

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