Wednesday 20 November, 2019

Luke 13:6-9

6 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. 7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ 8 “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”

A man plants a fig tree, and for three straight years expects fruit but finds none. He tells the gardener to chop it down and plant something else. The gardener asks for one more chance, another season for the tree to bear fruit. If there is no fruit next season, then cut it down.

This is an odd parable as Jesus doesn’t explain it. Who is the tree, who is the gardener, where is it planted? These are the kinds of details that I like to read so as to understand exactly what Jesus is trying to say. But I think this one is open to the Holy Spirit to speak to us as to how he wants to apply it.

As I read it, I have a sense of two things.

Firstly expectation. The man who planted the tree comes back again and again looking for three years, looking for and expecting to find fruit. God has an expectation of us, that where we are planted we would bear fruit. He has gardeners that care for us, feed and water us, ensuring that the conditions are right for us to bear fruit.

The second, is one that doesn’t rest comfortably with me. It’s not the grace that the gardener asked for – one more year, one more chance to bear fruit. The second one for me is urgency. The man who owned the tree expected fruit now and was prepared to chop it down and replace it with another. Yes, there is grace – one more year, but there is also urgency.

Time is running out. What am I doing to bear fruit?

Father, thank you for planting me exactly where you need me. Thank you for providing everything I need to bear fruit. Help me to be faithful to you and bear the fruit that pleases you.

Written by Andrew Martin

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Tuesday 19 November, 2019

Luke 13:1-5

13 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

I think of the question that may have been asked is, “why them”.  Jesus talks about these different people, none of whom Jesus points out are any worse or better than anyone else but all die untimely deaths by various means. They are all physically dead, but he seems to be drawing a different parallel here.

None of us can know when or how we will die, but all of us need to repent (turn from sin) for we all fall short … (Rom 3:23), all of us will die from this life but are we ready for the next? Are we prepared? Jesus is pointing out that individual repentance needs to be the top priority for all now. Don’t wait until later. .. later may not come.

Lord Jesus I pray for those in my world, precious people I love, that have yet to repent & surrender their hearts to you. Holy Spirit continue to draw them and use me in their lives until they too see the reality of your Kingdom. Amen

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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Monday 18 November, 2019

Luke‬ ‭12:49-59‬ ‭‬‬‬‬

49 “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 But I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed! 51 Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. 52 From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” 54 He said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. 55 And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is. 56 Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time? 57 “Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? 58 As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled on the way, or your adversary may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. 59 I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.”

This is really two separate conversations Jesus had. The first with his disciples, the second with the large crowds that followed him. First to his disciples he prepares them for the reality they will soon encounter. Soon Jesus will undergo his ‘terrible baptism’, a baptism into death via the cross. Soon people will be divided about who Jesus is, particularly the Jews. Some will call him Lord, others will call him a liar and a lunatic. If his disciples were going to follow him, they needed to be aware of where he was headed. I don’t think they understood – I know I wouldn’t have.

Then, talking to the crowds, Jesus encourages them to wake up and look at the signs. I think he is referring to all the teaching and miracles he had performed, they were a sign to repent and turn back to God, before punishment comes.

Jesus is the Prince of Peace, he doesn’t like division – nevertheless people are divided over him. Just as was the case then, Jesus is calling people through his church to find peace with God today, to find acceptance, forgiveness and love through faith in Jesus.

Lord, I thank you that you have made peace with me and I have found that peace in you, all because you sent Jesus to undergo a terrible baptism on my behalf. Thank you Lord, make me a sign to others that today is the day to make peace with you through Jesus.

Written by Andrew Mellor

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Sunday 17 November, 2019

Luke 12:41-48

41 Peter asked, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?” 42 The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? 43 It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. 44 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 45 But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the other servants, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk. 46 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers. 47 “The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

This is quite a sobering passage detailing the value God places on faithful servant hood.  There are consequences for being faithful or unfaithful, reward and punishment respectively.  It also talks about the importance of knowing what the master or God wants from us.

As believers we know that there will come a time where we are called to account but we don’t know when.  These verses therefore, advise us to always be ready and not to slacken off or make assumptions about timing.  To always be ready is quite something but is in fact what we are called to do.  We don’t serve in vain though, we are told plainly that there is reward.  It is a great encouragement to use the gifts God has given us and to seek his purposes above our own.

Dear Lord,  help us to understand what you are calling us to do and to remain faithful along the way. Help us to use the gifts and resources you have given us wisely.  Help us not to shy away from responsibility but rather serve faithfully continuously.  Amen

Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods

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Saturday 16 November, 2019

Luke 12:35-40

35 “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. 39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

Be ready! That’s the message of this passage. Even though the time and day are uncertain, the one certainty is that the Master will return. Jesus will return.

The challenge is of course are we ready, am I ready, are you ready for the return of Jesus? Are there things in your life or heart that shouldn’t be? Something or someone, a situation we’re hanging onto & shouldn’t. I remember as a very young Christian the day when I said to Jesus, “Ok you can come back now”. I had finally surrendered all my heart to Him & turned away from a situation that I knew wasn’t acceptable to Him but I’d  been hanging onto.

Today I wonder, am I still ready? Have I gotten caught up in things of this world and taken my gaze away from the certainty of the next? Am I like the Psalmist who says, “… I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, …”? (Psalm 63:1) … I think perhaps I need to re-focus.

Lord Jesus, thank you for your promise to return & your grace in not yet. Thank you that your Word doesn’t leave us wondering. I need to re-focus my eyes to you and be ready, whether in my life-time or not, you will return. Amen

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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Friday 15 November, 2019

Luke 12:22-34

22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life[a]? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? 27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. 32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

What is my life’s ultimate pursuit? Is it food…clothing…or the Kingdom of God.

According to Jesus, my life is for more than simply eating food, and my body is for more than clothes.

If I know that a computer is able to do more than play my music…then to use the computer simply for playing music is to undervalue and underutilise the potential of my computer.

To live only for the food we can gather and eat, and the clothes we can purchase and wear, is to undervalue our lives and our potential according to God.

My greatest value and potential is unlocked in pursuing the things of his Kingdom. I am at my fullest potential when I know my life is shaped around the priority of living for his Kingdom, and bringing others into His Kingdom.

The wonderful promise in pursuing His Kingdom is that the other priorities of food and clothing are taken care of “as well.” But not just taken care of. The promise in these passages is that God will care for us much more than He does the ravens he feeds, and much more than the flowers of the field he dresses in greater splendour than that of King Solomon.

Lord, help me live in the fullness of my purpose – for your Kingdom to come, and your will to be done on earth, as it is in Heaven. Amen

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh

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Thursday 14 November, 2019

Luke 12:13-21

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” 16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ 18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ 20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ 21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

Reading this passage, I feel both close to Jesus and puzzled at the same time. I feel close, as I imagine Jesus in a typical interchange with the people that followed him. Crowds listening in. Jesus teaching and chatting at the very middle of a huddle. I have a front row seat, I see the interrupting man interjecting with “Help me sort out my problem: arbitrate between me and my brother”. In the dust and in the outdoors. The afternoon sun casting orange light on people’s faces.

And then I read Jesus’s response. Is Jesus even listening? He hijacks the question and directs everyone’s attention off sideways into a parable against hoarding and a commentary on being generous towards God. Whatever the dispute (it may have been a genuinely unfair situation for the interrupting man) Jesus gets triggered to attack the subject of greed lurking in the background and stomps on it! ‘Watch out!’, ‘Be on your guard…!’, ‘Life is not about possessions!’, ‘Life is not about hoarding it all up’ – instead, ‘be rich (generous) towards God’.

I think it might be better to interpret the application of this in an irregular way. As opposed to simply responding ‘I need to give more to God’ or adopting a “be more generous” mantra (I’m confident you are already generous to God, why else would you be reading these digests?). Instead, commit your heart against the attitude that wants to store up, contain and tuck away the abundance of God’s blessing when it comes. When the bumper harvest arrives, and for many of us it will at times, Jesus wants to see the surplus overflowing not being locked away.

Lord, I want your share your generous overflow without reserve! Amen

Written by Sam Stewart

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Wednesday 13 November, 2019

Luke 12:4-12

4 “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. 8 “I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. 9 But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. 11 “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

This scripture speaks to me about being someone who defends the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We have seen recently many people who successfully defend the Gospel and others where the outcome maybe not have been what they intended.  Most of the disciples of Jesus were physically killed for their faith in Jesus Christ.  They defended it to their last breath.

Today we see believers defending our faith and our belief on television, Instagram, Facebook and other means of communication.

I love the fact that Jesus says to us “when they drag you into their meeting places, or into police courts and before judges, don’t worry about defending yourselves – what you’ll say or how you’ll say it.  The right words will be there.  The Holy Spirit will give you the right words when the time comes.”

But we do need to be people to STAND.  If we are being persecuted or vilified, we need to know WHO we believe in and why.  That is why having a real and active faith in Christ is so important.  Reading the word, listening to the Holy Spirit and receiving a word to our own hearts and minds each day is what helps us strengthen our faith in Christ.

Lord each day please speak to me afresh – like new water for my soul.  You know what I need to hear.  You know what I need to be challenged in.  Help me to live for you in all that I say and do.

Written by Ps. Sue Botta

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Tuesday 12 November, 2019

Luke 12:1-3

12 Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 3 What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.

Here we find Jesus warning His disciples about the “yeast of the Pharisees”, referring to their hypocrisy. This follows a long list of ‘woes’ which he dishes out to the Pharisees and experts in the Law in Chapter 11.

Hypocrisy means a lack of integrity – professing one thing but doing the opposite. But Jesus isn’t just talking about actions here – He’s addressing the state of their hearts. While they seem morally righteous on the outside, on the inside they are empty and hard-hearted. The word ‘yeast’ is telling here; just a small amount of this kind of attitude can have a widespread influence.

It’s all too easy to be a hypocrite and I think it comes about when we disregard grace. Just like yeast, it takes one small moment of forgetting about God’s grace, one small instance of ignoring His grace, a split second of scorning His grace – and suddenly we become desperate to find a way to measure up. The problem is, we can never measure up – at least not on our own.

Thank You Jesus for measuring up on behalf of all of us. Thank You for living the perfect life that we could never hope to live, so that we have hope to live in perfect union with You forever. Amen.

Written by Ps. Matt Samperi

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Monday 11 November, 2019

Luke 11:37-54

37 When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. 38 But the Pharisee was surprised when he noticed that Jesus did not first wash before the meal. 39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you. 42 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone. 43 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and respectful greetings in the marketplaces. 44 “Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which people walk over without knowing it.” 45 One of the experts in the law answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.” 46 Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them. 47 “Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your ancestors who killed them. 48 So you testify that you approve of what your ancestors did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs. 49 Because of this, God in his wisdom said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.’ 50 Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all. 52 “Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.” 53 When Jesus went outside, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions, 54 waiting to catch him in something he might say.

Who truly sees the inside of us, but Jesus? As I read this passage, I see two types of expertise Jesus was exposing: the Pharisee’s had become experts in diverting theirs and everyone else’s attention away from the inner life. The murky waters of personal desires and inner motives. And the teachers of the law had become experts in preventing everyone else from experiencing what they themselves had not experienced. A true knowledge of God.

All of it was a show to avoid the real problem – poverty of inner peace and righteousness, poverty of true relationship with God. The warning to me is simply this – I must work first on a healthy inner life. I must cultivate a heart that is being healed by God to love as God loves and experiences a true knowledge of God born of real encounters with Him.

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh

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