Thursday 30 November, 2017

Mark 11:27-33

27 Jesus and his disciples arrived again in Jerusalem. He was walking in the temple courtyard. Then the chief priests came to him. The teachers of the law and the elders came too. 28 “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “Who gave you authority to do this?” 29 Jesus replied, “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 30 Was John’s baptism from heaven? Or did it come from human authority? Tell me!” 31 They talked to each other about it. They said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 32 But what if we say, ‘From human authority’?” They were afraid of the people. Everyone believed that John really was a prophet. 33 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Jesus said, “Then I won’t tell you by what authority I am doing these things either.”

They ask a question about Jesus’ authority, but it’s not because they want to know the answer. Jesus has already said and done more than enough to make it clear. But clearly they don’t accept that authority.

So what’s the purpose of this question (and the one about taxes in 12:14-15)?

They have already decided to kill Jesus. But they need the crowd to want it too. (It seems they have no authority.) So they are looking for Jesus to say something that they can work up into outrage. Jesus sees their hearts. He knows that dying (for us) is his purpose, but this is not the right time yet.

His response is interesting. It exposes their intent, but avoids the confrontation they are looking for.

We all come across people like these: looking for an argument rather than the truth. I’ve fallen into that trap before: The pointless argument that diverts focus away from their heart and God’s heart for them. Winning it only satisfies my pride.

Jesus gives me a better response: “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16) “Just say what God tells you at that time, for it is not you who will be speaking, but the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 13:11)

Jesus, as always, your way is better than mine. I choose to walk your way today. Holy Spirit, speak to my heart. Fill what I say today with your grace, and wisdom and truth.

Written by David Cornell

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Wednesday 29 November, 2017

Mark 11:12-26

12 The next day as Jesus and his disciples were leaving Bethany, they were hungry. 13 Not too far away, he saw a fig tree. It was covered with leaves. He went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves. It was not the season for figs. 14 Then Jesus said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And his disciples heard him say it. 15 When Jesus reached Jerusalem, he entered the temple courtyard. He began to drive out those who were buying and selling there. He turned over the tables of the people who were exchanging money. He also turned over the benches of those who were selling doves. 16 He would not allow anyone to carry items for sale through the temple courtyard. 17 Then he taught them. He told them, “It is written that the Lord said, ‘My house will be called a house where people from all nations can pray.’ (Isaiah 56:7) But you have made it a ‘den for robbers.’ ” (Jeremiah 7:11) 18 The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard about this. They began looking for a way to kill Jesus. They were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching. 19 When evening came, Jesus and his disciples left the city. 20 In the morning as Jesus and his disciples walked along, they saw the fig tree. It was dried up all the way down to the roots. 21 Peter remembered. He said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you put a curse on has dried up!” 22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus said. 23 “What I’m about to tell you is true. Suppose someone says to this mountain, ‘Go and throw yourself into the sea.’ They must not doubt in their heart. They must believe that what they say will happen. Then it will be done for them. 24 So I tell you, when you pray for something, believe that you have already received it. Then it will be yours. 25-26 And when you stand praying, forgive anyone you have anything against. Then your Father in heaven will forgive your sins.”

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

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Tuesday 28 November, 2017

Mark 11:1-11

11 As they all approached Jerusalem, they came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent out two of his disciples. 2 He said to them, “Go to the village ahead of you. Just as you enter it, you will find a donkey’s colt tied there. No one has ever ridden it. Untie it and bring it here. 3 Someone may ask you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ If so, say, ‘The Lord needs it. But he will send it back here soon.’ ” 4 So they left. They found a colt out in the street. It was tied at a doorway. They untied it. 5 Some people standing there asked, “What are you doing? Why are you untying that colt?” 6 They answered as Jesus had told them to. So the people let them go. 7 They brought the colt to Jesus. They threw their coats over it. Then he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their coats on the road. Others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Those in front and those in back shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Psalm 118:25,26) 10 “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” 11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courtyard. He looked around at everything. But it was already late. So he went out to Bethany with the 12 disciples.

How glorious it is to read of Jesus being rightly worshipped. Yes, He was about to be rejected, but for a moment here we see everyday life halt for the King of Kings. For a moment the most important thing was to honour Jesus. What a beautiful taste of what is to come when Jesus shall return and every knee will bow!

The other thing that strikes me is how prepared God is. Jesus sends the disciples to fetch the donkey and He tells them where and how to secure it. There is already a good plan because God has organised it. I also love that even though the task was simple, Jesus sent two people. Jesus was not solely focused on getting the task done, He cared that His followers had company and encouragement. I find I can do so much more and face the unknown confidently when I have a partner, and I imagine it was the same for these two men.

Thank you God that because of you we have reason to be joyful. We can look forward to the time when all will be put to right, and in this present moment we can be assured that you have a plan and it is good! Bless you God.

Written by Bethany Waugh

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Monday 27 November, 2017

Mark 10:46-52

46 Jesus and his disciples came to Jericho. They were leaving the city. A large crowd was with them. A blind man was sitting by the side of the road begging. His name was Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus means Son of Timaeus. 47 He heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. So he began to shout, “Jesus! Son of David! Have mercy on me!” 48 Many people commanded him to stop. They told him to be quiet. But he shouted even louder, “Son of David! Have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call for him.” So they called out to the blind man, “Cheer up! Get up on your feet! Jesus is calling for you.” 50 He threw his coat to one side. Then 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 be able to see.” 52 “Go,” said Jesus. “Your faith has healed you.” Right away he could see. And he followed Jesus along the road.

I admire the persistence of Bartimaeus in this passage. Here was a desperate man. We do not know the source, or for how long he had suffered blindness, but what a horrible disability in these times, thus the destitution and need to beg. News of Jesus had travelled to many corners, and Bartimaeus had heard of Jesus. But he also had a belief, maybe a desperate belief, but enough of a belief to call out for Jesus to have mercy.

In other accounts of healing by Jesus, friends brought the sick to him, but in this passage, we see people only irritated by Bartimaeus calling out for Jesus. No one was prepared to lead him to Jesus.

He did not care what the others thought. He continued to shout out for Jesus’ attention. He knew Jesus could heal him. He may have been blind physically, but maybe he had more spiritual sight than those around him. And of course, in His mercy, Jesus did heal him.

There are times when I too am spiritually blind, and I need to call out to Jesus, to have mercy, to give me spiritual insight, and to have greater understanding of His perspective.

Father, as I journey today, I pray for your mercy, and that the eyes of my heart will be opened more, so that I may see what you desire me to see, that I can be your hands and voice for your glory. Amen

Written by Steve Fell

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Sunday 26 November, 2017

Mark 10:35-45

35 James and John came to Jesus. They were the sons of Zebedee. “Teacher,” they said, “we would like to ask you for a favor.” 36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. 37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right hand in your glorious kingdom. Let the other one sit at your left hand.” 38 “You don’t know what you’re asking for,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup of suffering I drink? Or can you go through the baptism of suffering I must go through?” 39 “We can,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink. And you will go through the baptism I go through. 40 But it is not for me to say who will sit at my right or left hand. These places belong to those they are prepared for.” 41 The other ten disciples heard about it. They became angry at James and John. 42 Jesus called them together. He said, “You know about those who are rulers of the Gentiles. They hold power over their people. Their high officials order them around. 43 Don’t be like that. Instead, anyone who wants to be important among you must be your servant. 44 And anyone who wants to be first must be the slave of everyone. 45 Even the Son of Man did not come to be served. Instead, he came to serve others. He came to give his life as the price for setting many people free.”

How striking is it, the absolute self-assurance and boldness of James and John; ‘Jesus, do whatever we ask, yeah?’ I don’t think I’ve ever been so brash with Jesus. But even more surprising is Jesus’ immediate response; ‘what do you ask of me?’ It doesn’t feel like, to me, Jesus is humouring these two. He genuinely is interested, curious, as to what they want. Even if they’re being brash about the asking. Ultimately, Jesus turns this whole episode into an opportunity to teach humility, and true leadership.

I feel, more often than not, that I have to sanitise myself and my requests before bringing them to Jesus. James and John don’t even bother. Jesus not only copes with their arrogance, but draws out their desires, and then moves into teaching them what true, godly, and Christ-like ambition really looks like in action – humble service, preferring others above oneself, self-sacrifice.

Jesus, help me come to you as I am, but be prepared to hear you as you teach and train me into becoming all you want me to become. Amen.

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh

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Saturday 25 November, 2017

Mark 10:32-34

32 They were on their way up to Jerusalem. Jesus was leading the way. The disciples were amazed. Those who followed were afraid. Again Jesus took the 12 disciples to one side. He told them what was going to happen to him. 33 “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said. “The Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will sentence him to death. Then they will hand him over to the Gentiles. 34 They will make fun of him and spit on him. They will whip him and kill him. Three days later he will rise from the dead!”

The drama of Mark’s Gospel builds as Jesus sternly reminds his inner circle of disciples about how he believes their trip to Jerusalem is going to turn out. We (the audience reading Mark) know exactly what Jesus is talking about, the Twelve can only imagine. Like being a batsman in a cricket match where you are warned that the next ball will be spinner and that it will definitely get you out. Like having the mechanic warn you that your car’s engine is most definitely going to ‘blow up’ sometime very soon. Like being told that your favourite person on that TV show is most definitely going to be kicked off because your friend knows all the spoilers from looking them up the internet.

These examples are somewhat trivial by comparison, but in all cases you know the feeling like there is nothing you can do to change the outcome. You don’t know the specifics, but you do know the end result. Your future experience is set, but the details are unclear. Perhaps there are (or have been) serious circumstances in your life that leave you powerless. You feel trapped with a future outcome and nothing to be done but nervously await it’s unfolding.

I feel that today’s encouragement is found in knowing that Jesus will be with you every step of the way. Whether big or small, no ‘Jerusalem’ we might face will overcome us when we know Jesus is with us. The tornado that the disciples walked into beginning when Jesus entered Jerusalem, the tornado that Jesus is warning his disciples about in this passage, defined their lives. Because it resulted in the Cross and the resurrection, that tornado defines our lives as well.

Lord, thank you for the courage to face any circumstance. Thank you for your holy and peaceful presence that rests in my heart and on my life. Thank you for the ultimate victory of Jesus and the daily hopefulness that this victory catalyses in the face of any challenge.

Written by Sam Stewart

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Friday 24 November, 2017

Mark 10:17-31

17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him. He fell on his knees before Jesus. “Good teacher,” he said, “what must I do to receive eternal life?” 18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good except God. 19 You know what the commandments say. ‘Do not murder. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not be a false witness. Do not cheat. Honor your father and mother.’ ” (Exodus 20:12–16; Deuteronomy 5:16–20) 20 “Teacher,” he said, “I have obeyed all those commandments since I was a boy.” 21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “You are missing one thing,” he said. “Go and sell everything you have. Give the money to those who are poor. You will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me.” 22 The man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he was very rich. 23 Jesus looked around. He said to his disciples, “How hard it is for rich people to enter God’s kingdom!” 24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter God’s kingdom! 25 Is it hard for a camel to go through the eye of a needle? It is even harder for someone who is rich to enter God’s kingdom!” 26 The disciples were even more amazed. They said to each other, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With people, 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 “What I’m about to tell you is true,” Jesus replied. “Has anyone left home or family or fields for me and the good news? 30 They will receive 100 times as much in this world. They will have homes and families and fields. But they will also be treated badly by others. In the world to come they will live forever. 31 But many who are first will be last. And the last will be first.”

In this intriguing story, I notice that there is a man who has passion to serve and submit to Christ. He runs up to Jesus and kneels (a submissive act) before him. He recognises that Jesus is wise and he recognises that Jesus has the answers for what he thinks he wants.

As the story continues, it seems like this guy would make a model Christian – he demonstrates self-control and has managed to follow a challenging list of moral standards since his youth.

But then Jesus puts his finger on something that sits below the surface. A less obvious behaviour. Something that this man, when really pressed, puts in a place of importance in his life above God. The bible sometimes uses the word idol for this stuff.

The longer I think about it, the more I can see myself in the rich young man. I hope that I would never truly turn away from Jesus because I wasn’t able to leave something behind that he has put his finger on, but all the same, I find myself bowing before him, worshipping him with my words and actions, and then still feeling like I struggle to let go of my own idols of productivity, and the appearance of being able to manage a million things and stay on top of them.

While this passage looks like it is about money, it is really about the things that we can put between us and Jesus.

Lord, keep showing me where I fall short in my submission to and honour of you. Help me to lay it all down at the foot of the cross, that I might serve you fully and unencumbered.

Written by Ps. Justin Ware

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Thursday 23 November, 2017

Mark 10:13-16

13 People were bringing little children to Jesus. They wanted him to place his hands on them to bless them. But the disciples told them to stop. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was angry. He said to his disciples, “Let the little children come to me. Don’t keep them away. God’s kingdom belongs to people like them. 15 What I’m about to tell you is true. Anyone who will not receive God’s kingdom like a little child will never enter it.” 16 Then he took the children in his arms. He placed his hands on them to bless them.

You don’t often hear of Jesus getting angry.

This is the middle of three passages describing barriers between people and God. First we see some Pharisees who try to turn God’s law into a trap for Jesus, but he patiently answers their question. In the third we see a young man who loves God, but loves his possessions more, and it says that Jesus loved him.

In this one, his own disciples are the barrier preventing these children coming to him, and he is angry: A pretty strong response.

I’m sure the disciples thought they were helping, but Jesus was looking for the people who were looking for him.

“The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

But this isn’t just about them. It’s about me too.

Its’s about who I bring to Jesus: Not necessarily the most important, or the one who knows the most about the Bible; Maybe the one I least expect is the one who most wants to come to him. It’s about me not being a barrier to anyone. It’s about me not assuming that Jesus would be uninterested in anyone.

And it’s about me. Forget about anything I’ve learnt or accumulated; I just want to be with you, Jesus. It’s about me throwing dignity away and throwing my arms around Jesus. It’s about running to him with excited delight. And if I really work at it, I might be as good at it as I was when I was five.

I love the way kids dance at the front of Church during worship. I don’t think I’m quite brave enough to join them, but in my heart I do. And Jesus loves it.

Written by David Cornell

3 replies
  1. B says:

    Great thoughts here David. Esp the kids dancing out the front in church – love it and want to join them too. Thanks

    • Justin Ware says:

      Great thinking David and B. We should arrange an adult blokes worship flash mob of liturgical dance!! 🙂

  2. Andrew says:

    I agree with B. In my heart I do too.
    Strongly disagree with Justin as the C3 Male AFL Ballet would never match the beauty of the Ware and Stuart children.
    One of the things that I love most about our beautiful young dancers out front is that the musos, MC and Pastors running the services are not disturbed or at risk with this intrusion of young creativity.
    If we have room for these little unpredictable dancers, then we probably have room for whatever else the Holy Spirit has in mind to do next.
    Our church is blessed by some wonderful kids and Pastors who let them be kids.

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Wednesday 22 November, 2017

Mark 10:1-12

10 Jesus left that place and went into the area of Judea and across the Jordan River. Again crowds of people came to him. As usual, he taught them. 2 Some Pharisees came to test Jesus. They asked, “Does the Law allow a man to divorce his wife?” 3 “What did Moses command you?” he replied. 4 They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a letter of divorce and send her away.” 5 “You were stubborn. That’s why Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. 6 “But at the beginning of creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ (Genesis 1:27) 7 ‘That’s why a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. 8 The two of them will become one.’ (Genesis 2:24) They are no longer two, but one. 9 So no one should separate what God has joined together.” 10 When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. 11 He answered, “What if a man divorces his wife and gets married to another woman? He commits adultery against her. 12 And what if she divorces her husband and gets married to another man? She commits adultery.”

In today’s church, particularly in the West, anyone who speaks on verses 10–12 is likely to be called cruel, unfeeling, unforgiving, exclusive…  So many people are bruised by the whole experience of marriage breakdown that to raise the topic, let alone to take a strong line on it, seems almost ‘unchristian’.  Yet Jesus is clear that He sees divorce in a very dim light.  Why so?  Because marriage is not a thing of convenience, it is not a mere social construct.  Marriage reflects God’s love for His people and as such should never be entered into lightly, nor fulfilled with anything less than 100% commitment.

Some object stating they grew ‘out of love’ – which reflects the nature of the commitment the couple did not establish.  Others try their level best and the relationship breaks down.  It is in this light that we read and sense the heart of Jesus – that He is for people and wants the absolute best for them, which means if they are married they should remain so – but they must together work on their marriage – it is NEVER simply one person’s fault the breakdown of a marriage.

Marriage as the Bible describes it is a holy relationship that reflects God’s great sacrificial love for His people.

Father, help us to uphold marriage in the light that you would have us to and so reflect your love and glory.

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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Tuesday 21 November, 2017

Mark 9:42-50

42 “What if someone leads one of these little ones who believe in me to sin? If they do, it would be better if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea. 43-44 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It would be better for you to enter God’s kingdom with only one hand than to go into hell with two hands. In hell the fire never goes out. 45-46 If your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It would be better to enter God’s kingdom with only one foot than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. 47 If your eye causes you to sin, poke it out. It would be better for you to enter God’s kingdom with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell. 48 In hell, “ ‘The worms that eat them do not die. The fire is not put out.’ (Isaiah 66:24) 49 Everyone will be salted with fire. 50 “Salt is good. But suppose it loses its saltiness. How can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves. And be at peace with each other.”

Jesus is giving some pretty heavy warnings to his disciples about the eternal cost of sin.

As a new Christian this passage used to scare me as I’d heard story’s where people had actually mutilated themselves so that they would no longer sin. Now I see that loosing an eye, or a hand or a foot is actually not going to change my heart, where sin is birthed. Only God’s grace, my humility and repentant heart before him is the only way that my heart & therefore my desire to sin is changed.

My life is to reflect Jesus – that is what discipleship is about – so that in time others too will reflect Jesus. I need to make sure how I live, my attitudes, actions, decision, lifestyle, will not lead another Christian into sin, that they will not follow a wrong example.

Lord help me to always be aware of who it is that I represent as a follower of Jesus, You – that others will rightly see You through my life.

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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