Tuesday 31 December, 2019

Luke 20:45-47

45 While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, 46 “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 47 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”

Jesus was never afraid.  He told it like it was.  He clearly sounded out His expectation of those who lead and those who follow Him.

“Within earshot of ALL the people, Jesus warns the disciples….”.

I don’t know about you, but I am a “backrow” girl, when I was at school and I still prefer to sit at the back.  However, I don’t really have that option now, so what do I do?  I have to make a choice about a few things.

1.      I am not in church to tick a box, or to been seen. 

2.      I attend church out of obedience, to worship my God with His family and to listen and learn from Him.  So whether I sit in the front or the back doesn’t matter.

3.      I have to make a choice not to be intimidated or feel self-conscious.  I choose to worship Him wholeheartedly, with my mouth, my song, my body and all that I am.

4.      I don’t want to become religious.  I want to be like a child, awaiting what God has for me each week.  Expectant in my heart.

5.      I am desperate and so in need of His presence and His peace.  Church = gathering together brings that to me.  I am strengthened each time I am with His body.

6.      I desire to be changed by Him – when I worship the songs speak to my heart and bring freedom as I declare His promises.

Jesus tells us not to neglect meeting together.  He knows what we need.

Lord, I love you and want to become more like you.  Help me Lord to be transformed by your Holy Spirit.  Keep my ears and eyes open to your word.  Change me to make me more like you.

Written by Ps. Sue Botta

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Monday 30 December, 2019

Luke 20:41-44

41 Then Jesus said to them, “Why is it said that the Messiah is the son of David? 42 David himself declares in the Book of Psalms: “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand 43 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’ 44 David calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?”

Is Jesus asking a riddle or a trick question here when he asks how is the Messiah David’s son?  A good question seeing they were born a thousand years apart.  On a literal level Jesus was a descendant of David.  Jesus lineage can be traced back to King David and as far back as it gets; Adam.  There is also the theological or spiritual interpretation of Jesus as the son of David.  There is prophetic significance in this title as Jesus is the fulfilment of the seed of David. What Jesus is declaring is the fact that he is the Messiah.

It’s always interesting when Jesus asks a question! He’s after a response.  Often his questions centre on who people think Jesus is, what his purpose is etc.   Here his question was directed to the Sadducees who we see in the verses just prior to this passage trying to trip Jesus up with matters of Jewish law. Jesus is revealing that they have the fulfilment of David’s seed, the Messiah himself in the flesh right before their eyes. Very confronting! It is an understanding every person needs – who is Jesus?  Jesus is the saviour of the world offering the only means of salvation from sin. How will you respond to him?

Dear Lord, thank you Jesus is the Messiah and is able to forgive sin.  Help me to grow in my understanding of who Jesus is and what he has done for me.  Amen

Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods

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Sunday 29 December, 2019

Luke 20:27-40

27 Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question. 28 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. 30 The second 31 and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. 32 Finally, the woman died too. 33 Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?” 34 Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, 36 and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. 37 But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 38 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” 39 Some of the teachers of the law responded, “Well said, teacher!” 40 And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

The Sadducees were a group of Jews who did not believe in a resurrection. They come to Jesus in order to make a point, that the resurrection does not make sense. I have come to God with these kinds of questions before and I think it is reasonable to ask these questions… but I need to be ready for the answer. Jesus provides us not only with an answer but with truths that can revolutionise the way I view my identity.

  1. God sees all of humanity, past and present, as alive. Physical death does not change the fact that humans are made in God’s image and have life beyond the physical. There is a life after my death.
  2. There is a physical resurrection. God does not intend for ‘dead’ humanity to remain physically dead. There will be a resurrection that brings my physical life back from the dead.
  3. There is an age to come (an after life) that is ‘invite only’. Jesus says it is for those considered worthy. I see later in the gospels that the only way I will be deemed worthy is if I follow Jesus ‘into the party’. Jesus makes me worthy of this ‘age to come’ by dying for the sins of the world. Jesus carries my burden of guilt and sin into his own death, and rises from the dead free from that burden. My guilt died with Jesus, now my life is defined by Jesus’ own resurrection from the dead.
  4. This future age will not be threatened by death anymore, nor will marriage and family be the dominant identity that I have, instead, my primary identity is that of ‘child of God’!

These facts call me to align my thinking even now to this greater identity. As important as family identity is, it is superseded by our identity in God’s family.

Lord, my identity is shaped by being your son. Teach me the values of your family and empower me to live out these values and to entrust them to others; for now and into eternity.

Written by Andrew Mellor

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Saturday 28 December, 2019

Luke 20:20-26

20 Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be sincere. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said, so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor. 21 So the spies questioned him: “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. 22 Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” 23 He saw through their duplicity and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. 25 He said to them, “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” 26 They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent.

This passage reminds me that I constantly need the wisdom and discernment of God to meet the challenges in my life. Jesus knew the motives behind the guys who were trying to trick him. I want to be like Jesus- ready with a sassy answer whenever I need one. The men with Jesus were trying to trap him, but a life of integrity is above reproach. Our lives need to reflect the same integrity whether it’s in regard to our faith, our work, our family or our personal practices. Everything we say or do matters because it reflects our heart. Jesus had the heart of God, and I want that too.

Heavenly Father give me wisdom to speak the right words at the right time. Help me to be more like Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. Help me to live with integrity in order to bring glory to you. In Jesus name, Amen.

Written by Christine Knight

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Friday 27 December, 2019

Luke 20:9-19

9 He went on to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. 10 At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. 12 He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out. 13 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’ 14 “But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. “What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When the people heard this, they said, “God forbid!” 17 Jesus looked directly at them and asked, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’? 18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.” 19 The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest him immediately, because they knew he had spoken this parable against them. But they were afraid of the people.

I’ve read this story of the evil farmers many times, and it never ceases to amaze me the lack of respect shown – the lack of respect for people & for others property. In this passage, I know that Jesus is referring to the religious leaders & priests, and their disrespect for Jesus God’s only son. It makes me mad to think that they could disrespect Jesus this way. That they would let God down this way – the one they called Lord …

BUT, am I (or we) any different? I know there have been times in my own life where I have not treated others in a respectful way. Whether as a teenager and thought I knew better than my parents – after all they were never young and couldn’t understand that the fun didn’t start until after curfew time!! Or choosing not to follow a leader/boss because “my way” was always better. Through my disrespect at these times, I was letting God down.  I may have never murdered anyone to get what I wanted (and that’s a good thing…) but I still disrespected God’s plan and way, thus letting Him down.  His heart & plan is all about loving God and loving others – when I choose to do different to this, I step outside of His plan.

Respect comes in many ways – with our spouses & families, boss, pastor, leader, friend, the list goes on… it’s really all about our heart and attitude towards God and others. Know that God loves each of us, more than we could ever comprehend.

Written by Mandy Miller

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Thursday 26 December, 2019

Luke 20:1-8

20 One day as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple courts and proclaiming the good news, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to him. 2 “Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this authority?” 3 He replied, “I will also ask you a question. Tell me: 4 John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin?” 5 They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ 6 But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ all the people will stone us, because they are persuaded that John was a prophet.” 7 So they answered, “We don’t know where it was from.” 8 Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

They demanded by what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right?

Who gave Jesus the authority was obvious by his actions. John’s disciples basically asked the same question, “are you the one?” Jesus reply to them was to look at what he did. His actions made it perfectly obvious who sent him, and the authority he had.

As I was reading this passage, I was challenged with the same question? By whose authority do I do the things I do? Is it obvious to the people I am around at work or with the parents cheering their kids on the field on Saturday mornings?

The religious leaders didn’t want to answer Jesus, because it was obvious to them but they didn’t want to acknowledge it, and so they wanted to get him to say something that they could accuse him with.

The people we are in contact with may not like our words, but they can’t deny the authority by which we act even if they want to. Acts of kindness, actions with purpose, motivated by the love of God shown toward us. A natural response to show to others what God has shown to us. That is what God has given us authority to do.

Why would anyone ask that question? Because it is so different to what the world is doing. 1 Jn 4.7 says let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and KNOWS God. That is our authority – we come from God and know God.

Father, thank you for your love to us, so rich and free. Help us to faithfully represent you, in the authority you have given to us.

Written by Andrew Martin

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Wednesday 25 December, 2019

Isaiah 9:6-7

6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

The description of the Messiah is unambiguous – powerful and inspiring.

The names given suggest a number of things. Divine wisdom and power, ongoing and unceasing fatherly care, the bringing of peace with all of its blessings.

When I think of a Saviour these descriptions cover all my needs. I need a Saviour – one who doesn’t just deal with part of who I am but all that I am and hope to be.

Jesus – the child born is this Saviour.

But even more than this I take confidence from the fact that the kingdom God establishes through the Saviour, Jesus, is one of ever increasing peace and ever increasing dimension. Jesus rule and reign – His kingdom – is not geographical but in our hearts and God’s promise is that it will always increase.

That means His transforming work in me and through me is always at work by His Word and Spirit – wow what a life of joy, of peace, of fruitfulness!!

Father, this Christmas I come to you afresh, committing my life to your Lordship. May I follow you more dearly and nearly day-by-day!

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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Tuesday 24 December, 2019

Matthew 2:1-12

2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: 6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” 7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” 9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bow

It is commonly believed that the Magi visited the baby Jesus at the same time as the shepherds. When we lived in France, steeped in catholic tradition, we learnt that the “kings” or Magi arrived 12 days after Jesus’ birth, celebrated as the Epiphany in the traditional church.

Who were the Magi? It is a word that designates wise men. They were not Jews, and came from the east looking for the “king of the Jews.” It is clear to me that God had spoken to them and they responded by looking for this new king. Their purpose – to worship him. And when they find him they are …overjoyed!

This part of the Christmas account reminds me that Jesus came to save all who believe in his name. And that at his name every knee will one day bow. Jesus’ death on the cross was for all who believe, the only way to be saved. My response is to believe and give Jesus the honour he deserves. My honour is not expressed in expensive treasures like the Magi, but in making Jesus king in my life – by trusting him, by setting my priorities to a kingdom focus, by sharing the generosity of God’s love with my unsaved friends.

Heavenly father, thank you for sending Jesus to die for all who believe in him, Jew or not. Help me to reflect your generosity this Christmas.

Amen.

Written by Claire Moore

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Monday 23 December, 2019

Luke 2:8-20

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

This passage is part of the traditional Christmas nativity story however, it is v19 that caught my attention on this reading.

‘Mary kept all these things like secret treasure in her heart. She thought about them over and over’.

As Christians it’s important to ask the questions of ourselves ‘what do I value’ and ‘what are my priorities in life’. However, these questions are not easily answered, in fact it is often easier to answer these questions about others than ourselves.

Here is the beauty of v19, what we value either publicly or secretly and what we give priority to is revealed by what we think about most often.

All the best personal insights come from ‘thinking about what you are thinking about’. If you always think about eating cream buns, then you will eventual eat cream buns. In the same way if you regularly think about Christ as the saviour and risen king then your values and priorities will fall into line behind those thoughts.

So, take the opportunity today to consider how often you think about Christ each day, because that is what Mary did.

Lord, help us focus on You and give us the power to overcome any thoughts we shouldn’t be thinking.

Amen

Written by David Newton

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Sunday 22 December, 2019

Luke 2:1-7

2 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

7 verses, simple everyday details- a girl, a boy and a baby. And yet these 7 verses describe the beginnings of events that have changed the world. To an onlooker, the events in these verses would have seemed unremarkable, but it makes me wonder how many times over the course of history has God taken ordinary events and turned them into the extraordinary. Mary and Joseph were just living their best life, and I want to do the same. Mary and Joseph did not work hard so they would be used by God. They just humbly lived their lives, loving God. He came after them and used them mightily.

So I am thinking if I want to be part of great things for God, then maybe I just need to live my best life, humbly and in obedience. Maybe I need to be open to God and allow him to use my ordinary everyday as part of his plans and let Him make my life significant for His Kingdom.

Jesus, I give my life to you. Use me Lord to bring glory to your kingdom. Help me to be faithful to your call on my life. In Jesus name I pray. Amen

Written by Christine Knight

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