Saturday 30 November, 2019

Luke 15:11-32

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. 25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ 28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ 31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

My desire for justice can be strong, but usually hypocritical. I want justice to be done when:

  • It vindicates me and shows me to be the one who was in the right all along
  • Someone I love has been wronged.
  • I am on the sidelines watching on some situation involving others, like watching about some terrible situation in the news.

However, when I realise I have done wrong, I have hurt someone else, in those moments I look for grace and forgiveness.

But my God is a God who constantly looks to show grace, not just when it suits him.

My God is a God who strives to find grace!!

He goes to the greatest of lengths, coming from heaven to earth, from majesty to dust, from honour to crucifixion.

And his grace brings me from death to life.

“Oh Lord, may I strive for grace as you have”.

Written by Andrew Mellor

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Friday 29 November, 2019

Luke 15:1-10

15 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. 8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins[a] and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

The importance of people coming into the kingdom of God is crucial and the delight of heaven is palpable!  Whether a lost sheep or a lost coin there is clarity about our need to make a careful, diligent search for what is lost.  The religious people were upset that Jesus was talking and paying attention to the outcasts of His time.  Jesus response was to show the need to search out those who are lost.  Those who we may not think should fit in the kingdom – do!  Our sensibilities are not Jesus’ sensibilities – He accepts all!

So how do I seek out the lost?  Do I do so with a sense of urgency, diligence and care?  Do I give up easily when reaching out to the lost – blaming them for whatever I find difficult.

Father break my heart for what breaks Yours – cause me to be soft hearted to people who are outside Your kingdom and place a fire and passion to reach them!

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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Thursday 28 November, 2019

Luke 14:25-35

25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ 31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples. 34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

Jesus said, “Those of you who do not give up everything you have, cannot be my disciples.”

He really said that. Right there in Luke 14:33

Maybe he will progressively help me reach a level of spiritual maturity where I am more able to gradually give up everything I have? Maybe?

But here in the text, he makes it plain that his expectation is not only that I give up everything. He wants me to first count this cost, plan it ahead and decide. And this is even before I commit to following him!

Back in Luke 9:57-62, there are 3 examples of how Jesus deals with people who struggle to fully commit to the cost of following Him. He shows one man that he will need to give up his home and his bed, another he calls to give up on his freedom to take time in mourning, and another he calls to give up on his desire to look after his family.

Lord, I do want to be your disciple, and I lay myself down before you now. Everything I have is yours, for your kingdom’s purpose.

Written by Ps. Justin Ware

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Wednesday 27 November, 2019

Luke 14:15-24

15 When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” 16 Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ 18 “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ 19 “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ 20 “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ 21 “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ 22 “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ 23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”

Have you ever been invited to a party, declined the invitation, heard about it – and then wished you’d gone?! You start hearing stories about all the fun that they had and who turned up. And they keep talking about it. You realise that you made the wrong decision and you’re like: Dang! Why did I say no?

Or maybe you’ve had an opportunity to do something, but like these people in the story, you keep giving excuses why you can’t do it. That other things are more important. Or for whatever reason, you just don’t want to. Maybe you’re afraid to take the chance? But then you hear or read about other people who take up the opportunity and do the very thing you want to do. You then realise it could’ve been you. Perhaps you ask yourself: Why did I back out? Why didn’t I try?

It’s these kind of moments that are filled with regret. As I read this passage, that’s what I imagine these invited guests may have felt once they heard what they missed out on. The master of the banquet was so generous that he wanted a full house.  He wanted to share it with his guests.

So the next time God presents me with an invitation or an opportunity, I don’t want to come up with excuses. The pain of regret is too much. Instead, I want to take a chance – a step of faith – and respond to the Master’s invitation. Holy Spirit fill me with your courage!

Written by Gab Martin

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Tuesday 26 November, 2019

Luke 14:7-14

7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. 11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” 12 Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

How courageous is Jesus here? He is invited into a prominent Pharisee’s home, in the company of the “important” people of His community, and he has the audacity to address their proud and self-centred behaviour using two very pointed parables.

What could be his motivation here? Certainly not to make himself popular and well-liked (a motivation that, I must confess, is one that I have operated under many times).

It seems that Jesus felt passionate about humility and about showing kindness to those who cannot repay it.  So passionate in fact, that He was willing to risk upsetting people that others would be trying to impress.

God, help me to regularly check my motivations to make sure that truth & love are trumping my natural desire to impress others. This is an ongoing battle, but I am inspired by Jesus’ passion for the truth.

Written by Shelley Witt

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Monday 25 November, 2019

Luke 14:1-6

14 One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. 2 There in front of him was a man suffering from abnormal swelling of his body. 3 Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” 4 But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him on his way. 5 Then he asked them, “If one of you has a child or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?” 6 And they had nothing to say.

Life is tricky. We get given the idea that keeping the rules is important. But keeping the rules can mean we don’t prioritise loving those around us like we should – like these Pharisees were doing – they were focused on catching Jesus out regardless of the impact on this poor man. However, Jesus challenges us to be more thoughtful than that and to remember how much He loves each one of us. The Lord recognises that we need help to live life well. That is why Jesus came – to bring us back into relationship with Him and to teach us how to live well. In the situation in this passage He reminds us that caring for each other is important. People and relationships are critical – that is where we should focus – growing in our ability to care for each other and to build strong relationships. He left the Pharisees unable to say anything.

Lord thank you so much that you created us to be in relationship with you and each other. Thank you that Jesus came to show us how to live life in community and thank you for sending us the Holy Spirit to be with us every day to help us know what to say and do. Amen

Written by Therese Manning

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Sunday 24 November, 2019

Luke 13:31-35

31 At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.” 32 He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ 33 In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem! 34 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 35 Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

I see in this interaction between Jesus and some Pharisee’s a temptation to act to protect and preserve self from danger. It’s natural to want to protect ourselves from danger. It’s just not always helpful. Why? As Jesus experienced here, because sometimes God’s purposes roll out in the midst of such threats and danger. The threat for Jesus – “Herod wants to kill you.”

I don’t usually experience (in fact I’ve never experienced) someone threatening my life like Jesus does here. But daily I can face a threat to my reputation, my prospects, my self-image, especially if I want to live for Jesus. And I can become tempted to self-protect and self-preserve rather than obey and proclaim Jesus. How did Jesus deal with the temptation?

I see in verse 33, that Jesus knew God’s purposes and plans. He had a “must” that was strong within – much stronger than His need to self-protect. That must was – God calls me into this danger. God calls me to keep driving out demons, to keep healing the sick, and to reach my goal of dying to save sin-broken humanity. God calls me to something far bigger than myself.

I see here that knowing my ‘musts’ – God’s purpose and plan for my life and for His world – gives me a strength, a power, and a courage to overcome my natural self-preservation strategies and live boldly for Him. No matter what the threats (perceived or real).

Lord, help me to walk into each new day with the “musts” of your purpose and plan for the world clear in my heart and constantly on my heart. For when the “musts” are clear and constant, the courage to do your will rises strong in my heart and overcomes even my greatest fears. Amen.

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh

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Saturday 23 November, 2019

Luke 13:22-30

22 Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” He said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ 26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’ 28 “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. 29 People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 30 Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”

The idea of the ‘narrow door’ as mentioned by Jesus in this passage is interesting, particularly in relation to a question about how many people can and will receive salvation. Anything that is wider will be easier to get into than something that is more narrow. I think of being in a parking lot – if there was a smaller car spot available right next to a bigger, more open car spot, I would – without hesitation – drive my car into the bigger spot, because it would require less work and concentration to get into, even though both spots were freely available to me.

I think this is the point that Jesus is trying to make here, when asked about how many people will be saved. The door may be narrow, but it’s available to everyone, because Jesus came to save one and all. However, Jesus knows that living as He asks us to is not easy, it requires more effort & discipline to do as He asks than it does to do whatever we want whenever we want.

This makes me ask the question of myself – where am I at with my own spiritual discipline? It can be so easy to use my time doing whatever I want, instead of spending time with God. Yet, when my spiritual life is lacking, it can become much easier to ignore what He asks of me and to succumb to temptation & live outside of what God calls me to; to choose the wide and easy gate.

God thank you that you sent Jesus to make salvation available to all. It’s your desire that everyone would know you. Help me to make the choice daily to put you first, even when it is hard, so that I may live as you call me to, in ways that are honouring to you. Amen.

Written by Ps. Madelaine Tarasenko

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Friday 22 November, 2019

Luke 13:18-21

18 Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? 19 It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.” 20 Again he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? 21 It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

This passage paints a great picture of what God’s kingdom is truly like. It reminds me that God is not always quick to answer, but sometimes takes his time to answer prayers (his timing is ALWAYS better) and he always knows what he is doing. He is more concerned about how often I am engaged with his presence, rather than the size and impact of my prayers.

As I reflect on both of these illustrations, I am reminded that even the small things are just as important as the large. Simple acts of kindness and generosity to those I interact with every day is what God’s kingdom looks like. And as I do these simple acts each day, not only is God’s kingdom growing, but also my heart for him and his people. I may not always see the fruit instantly, but I know that I am helping to water and nurture seeds that may have been planted by someone else.

Lord, thank you that you are always moving and working even when I don’t see it. Thank you that you have a plan and a purpose for everyone, and you are always at work for good.

Written by Rachel Tomc

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Thursday 21 November, 2019

Luke 13:10-17

10 On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11 and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. 14 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.” 15 The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” 17 When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.

This is a powerful story of transformation. Tackling centuries of rule-making and legalism, Jesus used a dramatic example of transformation to confront people’s faith. The example was a woman’s body and spirit, a body bent over, weighed down, her bones fused, muscles tight and shrunken, useless.

In a similar way the people’s faith was shrunken to rule keeping, successfully complying with a myriad of dos and don’ts set by the religious leaders. God’s transforming power was no longer the focus of their faith.

Jesus brought freedom. Physically and spiritually for the woman, and a beautiful freedom in faith for the Jews standing by. All were coming back to God as what was robbing them of life was swept away by Jesus’ powerful act and words. Jesus brought restoration and transformation. I love v 17, where we see the people are delighted in what Jesus was doing, in complete contrast to the indignation of the religious leaders – v14.

Jesus brings freedom. To each of us he brings freedom from condemnation and guilt. He brings us restoration to spiritual wholeness, as we grow in our relationship with God. He restores our faith. Sometimes I feel like my faith is shrunken, useless, like the lady’s crippled body. But Jesus brings fresh, real faith.

Thank you Jesus that you bring a fresh shout of faith from my mouth today! I delight in you. Thank you for your transforming grace. Amen

Written by Claire Moore

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