Saturday 21 May, 2016

Luke 22:31-38

31 “Simon, Simon! Satan has asked to sift all of you disciples like wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon. I have prayed that your faith will not fail. When you have turned back, help your brothers to be strong.” 33 But Simon replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” 34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, you will say three times that you don’t know me. And you will do it before the rooster crows today.” 35 Then Jesus asked the disciples, “Did you need anything when I sent you without a purse, bag or sandals?” “Nothing,” they answered. 36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it. And also take a bag. If you don’t have a sword, sell your coat and buy one. 37 It is written, ‘He was counted among those who had committed crimes.’ (Isaiah 53:12) I tell you that what is written about me must come true. Yes, it is already coming true.” 38 The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.” “Two swords are enough!” he replied.

This is a serious conversation Jesus is having with the disciples to warn them that once He dies they will face greater challenges and opposition than they have experienced so far with Him. Jesus tells them Satan has asked to make life difficult for them to see if they have real faith. He reassures them that He is already praying for them, that their faith wouldn’t fail completely, and that what they learn from their times of failure would help them to support and encourage others in hard times.  Peter – full of bravado, says that he will never let Jesus down; Jesus says quietly: ‘yes you will’, and tells them they need to be prepared to support and defend themselves.

In these times too, we need to keep our defences up against satan and the ways that he tries to draw us away from our kingdom goals.  Satan sifts us in the hope that all our faith will be like chaff – the dusty rubbish parts of the grain harvest that fall through the holes of the sieve; however Jesus is praying for us to be like the grains of good wheat that stay firm and contribute to the wealth of his harvest. We need to be realistic about the dangers in the spiritual world and equip ourselves to fight effectively.  Better to have a sharp spiritual sword and armour than to have a warm and stylish cloak.

Lord God thank you that you are already fighting on my side, strengthening my faith. I will stumble and let you down but you will always pick me up again when I reach out to you. Please supply me with defences through the presence of your Holy Spirit. Amen

Written by Dimity Milne

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Friday 20 May, 2016

Luke 22:24-30

24 They also started to argue. They disagreed about which of them was thought to be the most important person. 25 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles hold power over their people. And those who order them around call themselves Protectors. 26 But you must not be like that. Instead, the most important among you should be like the youngest. The one who rules should be like the one who serves. 27 Who is more important? Is it the one at the table, or the one who serves? Isn’t it the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. 28 You have stood by me during my troubles. 29 And I give you a kingdom, just as my Father gave me a kingdom. 30 Then you will eat and drink at my table in my kingdom. And you will sit on thrones, judging the 12 tribes of Israel.

What a beautiful call to have an attitude and disposition of service wherever we have influence, authority and responsibility over others.

Jesus flips the cultural idea of leadership and authority on its head here. Instead of “lording” ones authority over others, instead of deeming ourselves special “benefactors” worthy of great respect and honour, Jesus says – be the lesser at the “table” of the world by serving. Be the one who “serves” in this life, not one who is already seated to be served at the table.

What’s Jesus basis for this call? His own example: “I am among you as one who serves.”

Jesus doesn’t say that our influence and authority will be without honour though. Instead, in verse 29-30, Jesus points to His Kingdom and says that we will have the honour and privilege of eating and drinking at His table in the Kingdom coming.

Jesus helps me get to the true spirit and goal of all leadership – to serve those “at the table”, rather than push and hustle to be one of those “honoured” at the table in this life. Leadership in the end is not about us, according to Jesus. It’s about those around us, those at our table.

Lord, help me live this attitude in all my roles, responsibilities and places of influence. Amen.

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh

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Thursday 19 May, 2016

Luke 22:14-23

14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles took their places at the table. 15 He said to them, “I have really looked forward to eating this Passover meal with you. I wanted to do this before I suffer. 16 I tell you, I will not eat the Passover meal again until it is celebrated in God’s kingdom.” 17 After Jesus took the cup, he gave thanks. He said, “Take this cup and share it among yourselves. 18 I tell you, I will not drink wine with you again until God’s kingdom comes.” 19 Then Jesus took bread. He gave thanks and broke it. He handed it to them and said, “This is my body. It is given for you. Every time you eat it, do this in memory of me.” 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup. He said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. It is poured out for you. 21 But someone here is going to hand me over to my enemies. His hand is with mine on the table. 22 The Son of Man will go to his death, just as God has already decided. But how terrible it will be for the one who hands him over!” 23 The apostles began to ask one another about this. They wondered which one of them would do it.

Jesus wanted his followers to understand what was about to happen to him, so he didn’t teach them a theory, He gave them a meal to share.  It was the Passover meal.  Jesus had come to do for the whole world what God did through Moses and Aaron and the Passover lambs in the first Exodus for Israel.  Jesus would deliver his people, his death would enable his people to escape.  Escape from the powers of evil.

Jesus had been looking forward to this meal. It was the moment when he would explain to his followers, in deeds and words, what he was about to do and how they could gain from it.  Whenever we receive, indeed celebrate, communion we are drawn not simply to this story but to this reality.  As we come together to obey Jesus’ command, to break bread and drink from the cup in His memory, we should find ourselves drawn into that salvation, that healing life that Jesus died to release to us.  Powers may still rage, like Pharaoh and his army pursuing the Egyptians after Passover, but they have been defeated, and rescue is secure.

Father thanks so much for sending Your Son to die on my behalf, on our behalf.  May we continually remember with overwhelming gratitude His sacrifice and live worthy of the life He has given to us!

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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Wednesday 18 May, 2016

Luke 22:7-13

7 Then the day of Unleavened Bread came. That was the time the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8 Jesus sent Peter and John on ahead. “Go,” he told them. “Prepare for us to eat the Passover meal.” 9 “Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked. 10 Jesus replied, “When you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house he enters. 11 Then say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks, “Where is the guest room? Where can I eat the Passover meal with my disciples?” ’ 12 He will show you a large upstairs room with furniture already in it. Prepare for us to eat there.” 13 Peter and John left. They found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover meal.

At first glance this is a short passage about directions. Jesus is giving very specific directions to Peter & John about the location of where to prepare for the Passover meal that they were to eat together.

But the phrase that has stopped me is back in verse 7, “ the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.” In hindsight, I see that this brief passage has a double meaning.  The literal one where the disciples were to have the meal in remembrance of the Israelites release from Egypt when the Lord spared or passed over the homes of the Hebrews who had the blood of the sacrificed lamb on their doorposts (Ex12:21-27) and now a new meaning, where the blood of Jesus, as our sacrificial lamb, means that our sin is passed over by the wrath of God.

I can’t imagine the thoughts and emotions of Jesus at this time knowing that He was now to be the new Passover lamb with absolutely everything that this signified.  My only response is Lord Jesus, thank you for your passion for me, for being my pass over lamb, I truly will never know the price you paid.

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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Tuesday 17 May, 2016

Luke 22:1-6

22 The Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was near. 2 The chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for a way to get rid of Jesus. They were afraid of the people. 3 Then Satan entered Judas, who was called Iscariot. Judas was one of the 12 disciples. 4 He went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard. He talked with them about how he could hand Jesus over to them. 5 They were delighted and agreed to give him money. 6 Judas accepted their offer. He watched for the right time to hand Jesus over to them. He wanted to do it when no crowd was around.

I’ve always wondered why Judas did what he did. After spending all the time he had with Jesus – watching the miracles, hearing Jesus teach with authority, seeing his love for the people expressed so many ways. Then today I read v3 “Satan entered Judas” and I wonder what was the doorway that Judas opened to let Satan in. I don’t know what it was – but it reminds me today that I have to be vigilant in my walk with Christ to leave no doorway for Satan to enter my heart.

Ephesians 6 reminds me to put on the armour of God – everything I need to be protected is provided – I just need to wear it! Who I Am “In Christ” and What I have “In Christ” is vitally important for me to know and to believe and to live in.

Lord Jesus – I’m sorry for the times I have betrayed you. Thank you for the cross – You have victory over the enemy – and “In You” I am victorious and fully equipped to live for You. Holy Spirit alert me to those places, mind spaces and relationships that take my mind off You. Strengthen me as You lead me back into Your presence.

Written by Ps. Linda Quinn

 

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Monday 16 May, 2016

Luke 21:5-38

5 Some of Jesus’ disciples were talking about the temple. They spoke about how it was decorated with beautiful stones and with gifts that honored God. But Jesus asked, 6 “Do you see all this? The time will come when not one stone will be left on top of another. Every stone 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 Jesus replied, “Keep watch! Be careful that you are not fooled. Many will come in my name. They will claim, ‘I am he!’ And they will say, ‘The time is near!’ Do not follow them. 9 Do not be afraid when you hear about wars and about fighting against rulers. Those things must happen first. But the end will not come right away.” 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Nation will fight against nation. Kingdom will fight against kingdom. 11 In many places there will be powerful earthquakes. People will go hungry. There will be terrible sicknesses. Things will happen that will make people afraid. There will be great and miraculous signs from heaven. 12 “But before all this, people will arrest you and treat you badly. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison. You will be brought to kings and governors. All this will happen to you because of my name. 13 And so you will be witnesses about me. 14 But make up your mind not to worry ahead of time about how to stand up for yourselves. 15 I will give you words of wisdom. None of your enemies will be able to withstand them or prove them wrong. 16 Even your parents, brothers, sisters, relatives and friends will hand you over to the authorities. The authorities will put some of you to death. 17 Everyone will hate you because of me. 18 But not a hair on your head will be harmed. 19 Remain strong in the faith, and you will receive eternal life. 20 “A time is coming when you will see armies surround Jerusalem. Then you will know that it will soon be destroyed. 21 Those who are in Judea should then escape to the mountains. Those in the city should get out. Those in the country should not enter the city. 22 This is the time when God will punish Jerusalem. Everything will come true, just as it has been written. 23 How awful it will be in those days for pregnant women! How awful for nursing mothers! There will be terrible suffering in the land. There will be great anger against those people. 24 Some will be killed by the sword. Others will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be taken over by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles come to an end. 25 “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. The nations of the earth will be in terrible pain. They will be puzzled by the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26 Terror will make people faint. They will be worried about what is happening in the world. The sun, moon and stars will be shaken from their places. 27 At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud. He will come with power and great glory. 28 When these things begin to take place, stand up. Hold your head up with joy and hope. The time when you will be set free will be very close.” 29 Jesus told them a story. “Look at the fig tree and all the trees,” he said. 30 “When you see leaves appear on the branches, you know that summer is near. 31 In the same way, when you see these things happening, you will know that God’s kingdom is near. 32 “What I’m about to tell you is true. The people living now 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. 34 “Be careful. If you aren’t, your hearts will be loaded down with wasteful living, drunkenness and the worries of life. Then the day the Son of Man returns will close on you like a trap. It will happen suddenly. 35 That day will come on every person who lives on the whole earth. 36 Always keep watching. Pray that you will be able to escape all that is about to happen. Also, pray that you will not be judged guilty when the Son of Man comes.” 37 Each day Jesus taught at the temple. And each evening he went to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives. 38 All the people came to the temple early in the morning. They wanted to hear Jesus speak.

Human life is lived in tension. We seek the assurity of God’s full victory on our lives, or alternatively, the knowledge of the ultimate meaning behind the trials and challenges we face. Reality is sometimes uncomfortable in the middle ground, grey spaces: simultaneously observing wondrous vistas or gruesome realities. Much like the disciples, who on the one hand marvel at the splendour of the temple and on the other hand puzzle over the ominous ‘signs of the times’.

The cosmic legends that Jesus foresees are peppered with practical advice:
‘watch out’ (v8), ‘do not be frightened’ (v9), ‘[don’t] worry beforehand’ (v14), ‘be careful’ (v34), ‘be aways on the watch’ (v36),
and promises:
‘you will bear testimony to me’ (v13), ‘not a hair of your head will perish’ (v18), ‘stand firm, and you will win life’ (v19), ‘the kingdom of God is near’ (v31), ‘my words will never pass away’ (v33)

Holy Spirit, may my ears be continually open to your encouragement amidst the realities of living. Peace in the tension of day to day and persistent joy across all portions of my life, amen.

Written by Sam Stewart

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Sunday 15 May, 2016

Luke 21:1-4

21 He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; 2 he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. 3 He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; 4 for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.”

This is a short passage, but one of the most profound verses and teaching on giving. In summary, Jesus is teaching that giving is not about how much is given, but how much sacrifice in the giving.

The rich were easily seen by Jesus, in what they were putting into the temple treasury. Were they doing it to be seen? Did they do this to attract the praise and admiration of the fellow men? I think yes!

And yet the woman would have been almost unnoticed, and disregarded. You can almost hear the people saying “what could she possibly contribute?”

Being a widow, she would not have a husband who would earn an income for her and the family, and so is described as very poor. She would be living a very tightly budgeted lifestyle, where only two small copper coins is described as all she had to live on. She gave them away. Nothing left to live on! Yet she put in “more than all the others”.

Does God look at the amount? No.

Does God need the amount? No.

In her poverty, her sacrifice made her more “wealthy” than all those that were rich. Her wealth was her faith, for this woman knew her Father would provide.

I am humbled, and challenged by this faithful woman.

Father, I pray that I may have even an ounce of the heart of this poor widow, to give generously, sacrificially, and faithfully, as she did.

Written by Steve Fell

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Saturday 14 May, 2016

Luke 20:45-47

45 In the hearing of all the people he said to the disciples, 46 “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets. 47 They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

I remember when I first really came to grips with the pattern in the gospels where Jesus shows so much kindness and mercy to the sinners around him, but he’s so scathing of the religious leaders of his day.

I do see myself as something of a religious leader and if I am honest, there are times where I might slide into being more like a Pharisee than a true follower of Christ.

For me, I think it is because sometimes it is so much easier to make principles, rules and systems that people can follow than to love someone through a difficult situation.

It is so much easier to teach someone than to disciple them.

It is so much easier to point out errors than to help people find solutions.

It is so much easier to be honoured and celebrated than to humble myself.

It is easier for me to pray long prayers than to listen and wait on God.

Lord, keep me from becoming religious in the way the Pharisees were, but make me a humble and effective servant of Christ.

Written by Ps. Justin Ware

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Friday 13 May, 2106

Luke 20:41-44

41 Jesus said to them, “Why do people say that the Messiah is the son of David? 42 David himself says in the Book of Psalms, “ ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand 43 until I put your enemies under your control.” ’ (Psalm 110:1) 44 David calls him ‘Lord.’ So how can he be David’s son?”

One day I’ll see Jesus. I mean really see Him – face to face. I know where He’ll be; God the Father will be on His Glorious throne – I’ll look to the left and I’ll see Him in the flesh. His hands, His feet brutally scarred but His welcoming smile unmistakeable. I know the Holy Spirit will be there – siding up next to me like He always has – my advocate. What a reunion that will be! All pain will be gone. All the confusion and doubt and fear and insecurity will just evaporate. I’ll be with Him!

David kept this picture in the front of his mind and recorded it in Psalm 110:1. He knew there was more to this life. There was a higher purpose and greater thought than just living for myself. I wonder if I’d do life differently if I constantly lived in the light of one day seeing Jesus at God’s right hand?

Written by Boudy Van Noppen

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Thursday 12 May, 2016

Luke‬ ‭20:27-40‬

27 The Sadducees do not believe that people rise from the dead. Some of them came to Jesus with a question. 28 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us about a man’s brother who dies. Suppose the brother leaves a wife but has no children. Then the man must marry the widow. He must provide children to carry on his dead brother’s name. 29 There were seven brothers. The first one married a woman. He died without leaving any children. 30 The second one married her. 31 And then the third one married her. One after another, the seven brothers married her. They all died. None left any children. 32 Finally, the woman died too. 33 Now then, when the dead rise, whose wife will she be? All seven brothers were married to her.” 34 Jesus replied, “People in this world get married. And their parents give them to be married. 35 But it will not be like that when the dead rise. Those who are considered worthy to take part in the world to come won’t get married. And their parents won’t give them to be married. 36 They can’t die anymore. They are like the angels. They are God’s children. They will be given a new form of life when the dead rise. 37 Remember the story of Moses and the burning bush. Even Moses showed that the dead rise. The Lord said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham. I am the God of Isaac. And I am the God of Jacob.’ (Exodus 3:6) 38 He is not the God of the dead. He is the God of the living. In his eyes, everyone is alive.” 39 Some of the teachers of the law replied, “You have spoken well, teacher!” 40 And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Luke is recording a string of events where those opposed to Jesus are trying to catch him out.  In this case it is the Sadducees, a Jewish sect that was generally well off financially and of high social status, and did not believe in the resurrection from the dead. So they ask Jesus a question to try to show how stupid the idea of resurrection is. “If a woman is married seven times, who will she be married to in the resurrection?”
Jesus answer… NONE!!!

The Kingdom is about one family, under one Father, God. And even more important, Jesus is unequivocal about the reality of the resurrection and the age to come.

Lord, what a joy, to be part of your community, your family – forever! Thank you that you will resurrect our bodies and bring us into unending blessing of the new age, the age that will be started by the marriage of Christ and his Church. In those unending days we will enjoy an ever deepening love with you and our brothers and sisters. Let us move towards this joy today Lord.

Written by Andrew Mellor

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