Food for the Soul
Food for the Soul
41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 The days will come on you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”
Jesus gives a very forthright summation of Jerusalem. He makes plain that the people of the city have missed their opportunity of salvation. What a dreadful thought that there can be a time where we place ourselves beyond salvation.
I pray that I would remain soft before you Lord at all times experiencing Your salvation.
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
28 After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, 30 “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’” 32 Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 They replied, “The Lord needs it.” 35 They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. 37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: 38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”[a] “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” 40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
Verse 30 begins with “Go…” So many times in Jesus interactions with His disciples He tells them to do something with clear directions about how to handle the situation. In this case He tells them what to do, what to say and how to answer when questions are asked. All the disciples have to do is be obedient. They are. It doesn’t say they thought about whether they would do it or not; or whether they should do it; or whether they had in fact heard Jesus or made it up themselves…. they listened, they heard they obeyed and it happened to them just as Jesus described. This obedience provided a donkey that carried Jesus on His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The crowds cheered and shouted praise – declarative prophetic praise!
Oh God, how often do I question you when you speak to me… to go… to do… to respond…?
How often do I miss out on partnering with you obediently in situations that would lead to your triumphant entry into people’s lives? Help me be obedient – opening the way for you to enter into those situations in all your glory!
Written by Ps. Linda Quinn
11 While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. 12 He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. 13 So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’ 14 “But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’ 15 “He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it. 16 “The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’ 17 “‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’ 18 “The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’ 19 “His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’ 20 “Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. 21 I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’ 22 “His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’ 24 “Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’ 25 “‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’ 26 “He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 27 But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.’”
What is incredible to me in this passage is how quick the king is to reward faithfulness in what he has given responsibility over. Interestingly as well, the reward was the blessing grander responsibility. Two of the three servants were to “take charge” of 10 and 5 cities respectively, because of how they used the money he gave them before he left.
It would appear that Luke is saying that Jesus taught this parable because people thought that the “Kingdom of God was going to appear at once.” As history tells us, however, Jesus has ascended to heaven to return some day soon, and has given us gifts and “mina” to “put to work” in the meantime.
Interestingly, the third servant in the passage “laid away” their mina. They treated what the king had given them as though they had never been given it.
Just as all the servants in this parable had at least some resource and responsibility from the king, so too has Jesus given me resources and responsibility. This parable does not allow me to have such an attitude whereby I think I have nothing to give. It rather calls me to know and uncover the resources that God has given me to use, and to use them responsibly – put them to work for his glory.
Lord, help me to discern, and put to work, every bit of resource you have given me – my time, my talents, and my treasure – so that you may be supremely glorified in my life. And keep me from ever considering myself as a “have not” – for there are no “have not’s” in your Kingdom.
Written by Ps. Rob Waugh
19 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. 7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” 8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
There is something comical about a disliked, short, rich man, probably wearing a robe climbing a tree out of excitement to see Jesus. Comedy aside though, I find myself wondering: What did Zacchaeus see in Jesus that made him so excited? What was it that had him so quick to climb down and take Jesus to his house “in great excitement and joy”?
Previously I have envisaged a bumbling man with no friends, eager to receive some love and attention from a great leader who had the approval of crowds of people. Perhaps there is an element of this, but I wonder if there is more going on within him than this, and possibly, this is what Jesus sees.
Whether due to an act of the Holy Spirit, an act of emotional excitement or his own wisdom, Zacchaeus saw who Jesus really was, and responded to him in repentance. Members of the crowd clearly did not respond in the same way.
I am encouraged by the way that Christ can cause such a response and I am reminded that this is a response to Him that we should expect and pray for in others far more often!
Written by Justin Ware
35 As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. 36 When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. 37 They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” 38 He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39 Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 40 Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord, I want to see,” he replied. 42 Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” 43 Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.
The blind man heard a commotion around him and knew something big was happening but he didn't understand it. So he asked, “What's happening?”
Sometimes in the confusion of life we too can wonder “What's happening to me?… What's going on here?”
I really like the blind man's response to the situation – he basically yells out “God, help me!!”
As we see here in Jesus's response, this is a cry that God likes to hear. Jesus asks him, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Sometimes, I find that I am actually afraid to tell God exactly what I want Him to do
for me. Maybe it's because it feels too selfish or bold to ask Him for something. Or maybe it's because I'm afraid that He won't answer the way I want Him to and then I'll be disappointed.
As we see here, Jesus liked the man's boldness and his faith, and was pleased to answer his request. Sometimes, we don't have something because we don't ask.
Help me Lord, to openly, honestly and boldly bring my requests to You. Thank you that You are always willing to hear and respond to our faith filled cry.
Written by Shelley Witt
31 Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. 32 He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; 33 they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.” 34 The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.
What comes across loud and clear is Jesus announcing his death and his resurrection. There were no hints or guessing, this announcement was to the point and brusque. Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem, to where He knew He would die. He took his disciples aside and predicted the awful events to come. The disciples didn’t understand; they believed Jesus was the Messiah, how could he be put to death? In the middle of an ordinary day He took them aside to prepare them for what was to come. For Jesus, He was not a victim, He knew where His journey would lead, and this was a victory. Even though the disciples didn’t understand, they still walked with Jesus onto Jerusalem.
Sometimes in the middle of my
normal day, I receive news that I might at first not understand. It could be that I will be embarking on a journey of grief and suffering, and I do not grasp what is happening. However, when I feel shaken and bewildered, I need to keep walking with Jesus and allow Him to walk with me through the trials. In this I will come to trust in the knowledge and the wisdom of God, not in my own understanding and abilities. He has promised me peace, joy and strength. I pray I will not try to reason God’s purpose for me, and then miss the great things He is doing. I pray I will have courage when trials come my way, and to always be obedient to the will of God.
Written by Cathy Croft
18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’” 21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?” 27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with human beings is possible with God.” 28 Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!” 29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30 will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”
The religious leader asks the ultimate question ie. “What should I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus refers the man back to the commandments which he already knows and has adhered to since he was young. So the religious leader is a decent human being.
Jesus identifies his weak spot – his wealth and possessions. These things are preventing him from following Jesus and it saddens the religious leader as he wasn't prepared to give them up. This man's security seems to lie in his wealth and possessions.
Those that overheard this conversation were disheartened as this was a “good” man. ie. who can be saved? Jesus went on to reassure the people that all things are possible with God. In Jesus conversation with Peter he states that those that give up their homes, families etc. to follow Jesus w
ill not only be repaid in this life but also in the life to come.
The religious leader knew he had to do something more than he was currently doing. His walk with God wasn't quite right. This is a challenging piece of Scripture. Can we be brave and ask the same question about our lives, knowing the Lord will be able to pin point an answer pertinent to us. ie. Lord what do I need to do to inherit eternal life or what do I need to do to follow you more fully? Seems to open up a series of questions really, such as:
Lord, please highlight those things in my life that prevent me from following you and give me the wisdom and strength to obey. Amen
Written by Ainslie Woods
15 People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
Jesus was the master of the moment, using every opportunity and situation to teach another lesson, another principle.
When children are sent away by the disciples he calls them back and uses them for an object lesson, teaching that to receive the Kingdom one must be like a child.
What is Jesus getting at? Children lack knowledge are naive, impuls
ive. Is this what He wants me to be like? I don't think so. I think it is a call to trust, innocence, wonderment.
I have become cynical as I have grown older. I need to regain these qualities of childlikeness to fully experience God's Kingdom.
Father help me to do just this.
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
Luke 18: 9-14
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Jesus’ parable is about self-righteousness (Pharisee) and a humble-sinner (Tax collector).
Both Pharisee and Tax collector went to the temple to pray:
Attitude: proud (v11: stood up and prayed about himself)
1. I thank you..
2. I am not like other men and this tax collector …
3. I fast twice a week.
4. I give a tenth of all I get.
Attitude: humbled (v13: stood at a dista
nce and would not even look up to heaven, but beat this breast.)
Contains: Repentance (God, have mercy on me, a sinner)
Jesus applauded the tax collector. He did not mean “fast or tenth“ were not important for His disciples, but because “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit.” (Psalm 51:17). Without the humble heart/spirit, we cannot please God.
Dear Lord, help me always to be humble before you, no matter what circumstance I am in.
Written by Allen Leu
18 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ 4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’” 6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
I used to read through this passage and think, ‘but I don’t have any adversaries? I don’t need justice.’ In researching the passage further I realised that I have discounted the spiritual adversaries, the devil, and even sin itself. God has promised believers victory over the devil and over sin. When I am oppressed by these adversaries I am challenged to be like the widow, to cry out to God continually and He will deliver me from my enemies. I am weak and defenceless on my own, like the widow, but that’s where the simila
rities end. I do not seek justice and deliverance from an unjust judge, but from a righteous judge. I appeal to my heavenly father, who loves me and is moved by compassion towards me. If the widow persevered and won in poor circumstances, how much more should I be full of hope and expectancy that God will deliver me.
Lord, please help me to apply this to my life, that I would identify enemy activity and cry out to you, that you would intervene on my behalf, and deliver me. Amen.
Written by Beth Waugh
20 Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.” 22 Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. 23 People will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. 24 For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. 26 “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 “It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. 29 But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 “It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day no one who is on the housetop, with possessions inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. 32 Remember Lot’s wife! 33 Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it. 34 I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 35 Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.” 37 “Where, Lord?” they asked. He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.”
Dodgy questions. I love the language Jesus uses when responding to dodgy questions. So direct and yet still makes you think. And getting the question wrong doesn’t seem to matter to Him. He gives the answer we need despite getting the question wrong.
In Luke 17:37 Jesus was talking to the disciples about when He would come back and that some would go to be with Him and some that didn’t choose to believe would be left behind. Heartbreaking. The disciples stammer out the dodgy question “where is this going to happen?”
The dodgy question/awesome answer that gets to me though is the one at the start of this passage…
Pharisees – “when will the Kingdom of God come?”
Jesus – “It is so close – it is inside of you”
I sometimes think that my family and friends are so far from God – so far from believing in Jesu
s but in reality they are so close – the potential is inside them. Their salvation is on a hair trigger. It’s a grace and love deluge from God that is ready to pour into their lives and is held back by the tiniest twig.
I wonder if I could help break the twig.
What would happen if I ask them a ‘dodgy’ question i.e. the unusual, slightly awkward question?
“what’s your take on Jesus?”
“where are you at with God?”
“has anyone taken the time to explain how to become a Christian?”
“what’s stopping you from believing in Him right now?”
Oh God, my heart breaks for those I love that will be left behind. Grant me the wisdom to know what to say to them and the courage to say it. Please break the twig and may your love and salvation flood their lives.
Written by B van Noppen
11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy[a] met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” 14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. 15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
The part of this passage that really speaks to me are verses 17-18. Jesus notices gratitude! In fact, it is the gratitude of the Samaritan that reveals the depth of his faith!
I have much to be grateful for – my recent recovery from brain surgery, my beautiful husband and 2 kids, my life in general. And yet, how often do I remember or take the time to thank God specifically
for everything He has done and continues to do for me?
“Lord, I pray that I will not be like the other nine lepers who were so consumed with what had occurred that they didn’t take the time to stop and thank you. Create in me, Lord, an attitude of gratitude and may that be a demonstration to others of my faith in you.”
Written by Ps. Jen Irving
17 Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. 2 It would be better for you to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around your neck than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. 3 So watch yourselves. “If a brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 4 Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” 5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you. 7 “Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? 8 Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? 9 Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10 So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”
Forgiveness is a powerful thing.
The context of another believer sinning is brought into focus by Jesus here. There are some clear instructions given:
1. Rebuke the sinner – that is to bring to the attention of the person that they have sinned. We should not expect the person to know they have sinned and in the case of our brothers or sisters we should love them enough to say something.
2. The sinner should re
pent as a result of them being made aware of their sin.
3. On the basis of this repentance we are to forgive, even if they sin again, we are to forgive on the basis of them repenting. If there is not repentance there seems, at least here, to be no obligation of forgiveness. However, the Scripture is plain; if there is repentance then there MUST be forgiveness.
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ 25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ 27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ 30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
There are many interesting things about this passage, especially since there are not very many stories in the Bible that give us a glimpse into both heaven and hell. It actually makes me feel quite uncomfortable because I don't like the thought of people being tormented in hell. But it's a really good reminder of eternity and also of what is most important in this life (and it's not making lots of money!).
I think my response to this passage must be to renew
my heart and my prayers for those who are on the road to an eternity without God.
I will have an eternity of comfort. I don't need to seek comfort in this life as my main goal. I need to seek to play my part in bringing others to know Jesus.
Father God, stir my heart to pray and to obey Your Spirit in all that I do. Help me to push aside the goal of seeking a comfortable life and to align my goals with eternity.
Written by Shelley Witt
14 The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15 He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight. 16 “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and people are forcing their way into it. 17 It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law. 18 “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
These stories are rather perplexing.
Is Jesus condoning theft, for isn't that what the steward is doing, cutting the value of the bills simply for his own gain?
Do worldly resources truly benefit us for eternity?
What are true riches of h
The clear lesson of the stories is that how we deal with our money has an impact on our futures. It is a window into our character, a clear indicator on our ability to deal with people.
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
16 Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. 2 So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’ 3 “The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg— 4 I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’ 5 “So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 “‘Nine hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied. “The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty.’ 7 “Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’ “‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied. “He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’ 8 “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. 9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. 10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? 13 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
Jesus tells a story of a manager being sacked because he was dishonest. Then a twist, the dishonest manager is praised for being smart in finding a way to look after himself once he is out of work. His dishonesty stands but it's his quick thinking for his survival that is praised.
The Message Bible puts verse 9 like this ” … I want you to be smart in the same way – but for what is right – using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, …”
This man was neither honest or faithful in the responsibilities he was given.
Whether at work, school, church, family, friends, I see this as being a stor
y about how we handle the things we have been given responsibility for. Whether that's money, people, ministry gifts or just doing what I've been asked to do.
Honest or dishonest I will be seen – by man and by God. Better to make sure it's honesty I am seen for and even more so when I have responsibility for what belongs to another.
Father, I want to be smart about doing the right thing in the first place. Help me to be diligent in even the smallest things asked of me, help me to be a person of integrity, honesty in all situations – small or big.
Written by Suzie Hodgson
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.’”
The picture of the loving father in the parable of the Prodigal Son is unimaginable really when we look at how we love others. I find this parable a great blessing. This part of the parable about the older son is interesting and challenging. Its easy to be confused by the picture – to think why didn’t God reward him, he did the right thing. This is a great reminder about how generous God is if only we would reach out. The older son did “the right thing” but didn’t understand why nor did he understand how the father thought of him. We need to engage with God, to reach out, to work with Him, alongside Him. When we work with God we see the world through His eyes and we have access to everything He has made – all the ri
ches of the universe.
The older son was as far away from really understanding what was going on as the prodigal son. They both needed to learn how much the father loved them and how life working together with him would provide everything. The prodigal son appeared to learn but the older son was just starting to hear when we leave the story. It would be nice to know what happened next.
I need to learn more about how to be the person who understands how You organize things, how You want us to engage with You. I want to learn the lessons of both sons and to live my life working with You not for You. Help me to see the picture you are painting here – really see.
Written by Therese Manning
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.
A familiar passage in which we usually focus on the generosity, love and forgiveness of the father in accepting his son back. What an amazing blessing to be accepted by God after all we have done.
But what touches me freshly at the moment is the celebration. I can just fathom that God loves and accepts me. It is harder to understand that he threw a party in my honour when I accepted
Jesus – that he actually celebrates me being part of his kingdom. Stop and think about that. You are so loved that God didn’t just say “Yep, he/she believes, let him in”. He says “Wow! Let’s throw an expensive, exorbitant party because he’s here!”
Lord, help me to understand that you want to celebrate me.
Written by Megan Cornell
8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins 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.”
When the woman loses one silver coin, she will do whatever she can to find it. Because without the lost coin, “ten silver coins” are not complete (according to Jewish custom).
So, the true value of the “lost one” is not just “one” but “ten”. That’s why when the woman finds the one that
was lost, she calls her friends and neighbors together to rejoice with her.
In the same way, when one sinner repents, the rejoicing in heaven is huge.
Dear Jesus, please open my eyes to see what you see and open my mind to have the heart of Jesus. Amen.
Written by Allen Leu
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.
The parable of the lost sheep is a beautiful story that describes the faithfulness of the Father to seek out those who have gone astray.
Too often, I am like the Pharisees in some way, even if it is only expressed internally. Father God give us your heart for the lost
and those who wander. Break our heart for what breaks yours. Make us a people who care for the “Tax collectors and other notorious sinners” in our world and help us to find a way to help them share a meal with Christ too.
Written by Justin Ware
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 life itself—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.”
Costly, challenging, requiring great sacrifice and measured intent. Jesus cautions the crowds that following Him is not be something to be taken lightly. His words must have seemed shocking to them. He has their attention! He has my attention!
Jesus is setting priorities before the people – following Him means putting Him first above everyone and everything else. There is to be no confusion – there is no half-hearted following
– it's all or nothing.
All… or nothing…
All… or nothing…
God I'm sorry for giving you less than you ask. My “some” is not enough. You ask for and deserve my all.
Jesus help me keep choosing to give you my all…
Help me sacrifice my own plans and priorities this day…
Help me keep my eyes on You and respond to Your lead as I follow.
Written by Ps. Linda Quinn
15 When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed are those 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.’”
Jesus tells this story in response to a comment about how wonderful it would be to attend a feast in God's kingdom. This story details who will eat at such a feast and it's not necessarily who you'd think!
The original guests do not show up for the feast. These were the people the host wanted at the feast – his first choice. Yet none of them show up! On the surface they seem to provide reasonable excuses as to why they can't attend. The host is not just disappointed he is furious and moves onto his “B” guest list – the misfits! There is still room around the table so the host instructs the servant to go further afield and basically invite anyone. It doesn't matter that these people are unknown to the host. The original guests can be likened to the Jews while the guests from t
he highways and byways are like the gentiles.
It is worth noting that the host wanted the meal to be enjoyed and his house full. Ultimately the feast was open to anyone who said “yes” and showed up.
Today this passage of Scripture spoke to me about priorities. The excuses the original guests gave were legitimate but caused them to miss out on what God had prepared. I don't always see or realise what God has on offer. Heck God himself is at the table, my name is on a place setting and I'm not there for one reason or another! It's not just the food or God's provision that I miss out on but time in His presence. Time just hanging out together.
Dear God, help me to value time with you and not let the stuff of life preoccupy me, amen.
Written by Ainslie Woods
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.”
Jesus noticed that the guests picked the places of honour at the table. This would not have come as a surprise to Him. This, unfortunately, is basic human (flawed) nature- to want the best for yourself without considering others. You see it very early on in young children fighting over a toy or something else they want. And so we have to work hard (with God's help) to train ourselves out of this tendency to grab for the best for ourselves.
This parable of Jesus and also his follow-up statement challenges my self-centredness which, it seems, is something that needs to be regularly challenged. It's a reminder for me to check my motivation in what I do, because even a
'good' work can have a selfish motivation.
Firstly, the parable challenges my motivation in wanting to feel important and get recognition. Am I happy to serve even if no one (besides God) ever notices or thanks me for it?
Secondly, the statement following the parable challenges my motivation in relating to people. Am I only relating to the people that I enjoy hanging out with, or am I reaching out to people in need who may not be able to give me anything in return?
Lord, may you continually help me to serve in a way that brings honour to You. Help me to show Your love to those You have called me to with a pure motivation.
Written by Shelley Witt
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.
What I find striking in this passage is that we can have an agenda that completely closes us off to the need and suffering that is around us.
These Pharisees were watching Jesus closely. They were completely set on trying to trick him, or find a fault of flaw in his teaching, or find a reason to accuse him. They completely ignored the present need and suffering of the distressed man in their midst.
Jesus’ response to their agenda was to completely ignore it, and move with compassion and power to meet the need that was right under their noses; the man with abnormal swelling in his body.
Whenever I make the goal about being right, or correct, or religi
ously perfect, I am warned by this passage that I will find myself under the spell of all kinds of agendas that rob me of true compassion and the true power of God to help this broken world.
I need Jesus to keep me from agendas other than His that steal my heart away from truly seeing and meeting the human need that is around me with the compassion and love of Jesus.
Lord, keep my eyes on what truly needs to take place…the healing and restoration of a broken world. That is what is right. That is right theology. That is right exercising of grace. That is what you demonstrate here. Help me live it too!
Written by Ps. Rob Waugh
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.’”
Jesus knew what Herod was capable of; he built two cities, Tiberius and Sepphoras. He collected taxes to satisfy his own whims and that of Rome. He was morally bankrupt, he wanted to divorce his wife and marry his brother’s sister. He also had Jesus’ cousin John thrown into prison and because he could…. he beheaded him. It was also Herod’s father—also called Herod—who had all the male babies of Bethlehem massacred when Jesus was born. Jesus knew Herod and what he was capable of, but more importantly Jesus knew himself, His ministry and why He came. Jesus was not going to be manipulated and controlled by political pressure or opposition. He determined His walk based on the will of God and by doing so He would fulfill His entire ministry.
Is it possible that the Pharisees really cared about Jesus, or wa
s it that they didn’t want Jesus upsetting the status quo and spoiling favours they had wrangled from Herod?
Have we sold out to the political correctness of our world, or do we miss the voice of Jesus on behalf of the lost, broken and the hungry?
When Jerusalem rejected Jesus, they set themselves up for destruction. Jesus longs to bring us under the wings of His protection and bless us beyond what we can imagine. When people reject Jesus’ grace, they bring sorrow and destruction into their lives.
When we are faced with opposition, my prayer is that I never waver from what God has called me to do. That I would follow Christ with courage and integrity and that I would serve Him with a confidence that my today and my tomorrows are in the hands of my God.
Written by Cathy Croft
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.”
“Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom” that assails my view of grace. Isn’t salvation a work of God’s grace, not my effort?
Jesus response to the question about how many will be saved is quite arresting.
Jesus is clearly speaking to people who think they will be in heaven; they even had meals with the Lord and were taught by Him.
This is arresting, do I kno
w of Jesus or do I know Jesus? Am I truly engaged in a relationship with Him or merely associated with Him.
My work is the work of relationship, expressed through loving and love filled actions of faith which demonstrate the reality of my relationship with Jesus.
Father may my ‘work’ in relating to you be from a true heart.
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
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[a] of flour until it worked all through the dough.”
Jesus had just set free a woman who had a disease for eighteen years on the Sabbath day, He was then challenged by the ruler of the Synagogue, so He made two comparisons of what kingdom of God like.
One is a mustard seed and the other is yeast. People may have different explanations about those two comparisons, but what I believe is that both mean such a “small” element can become or affect a “big” body.
The tiny mustard seed can become a huge tree (kingdom of God) and a tiny
amount of yeast can leaven the whole dough.
Jesus warns us to be careful about what we “think” and how we “see”. (the Sabbath regulations were more important to the leader of the synagogue than Jesus setting the woman free)
Proverbs say “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
Today, there are many things happening around us (family, church, work place..), can I see it through Jesus’ eye?
Written by Allen Leu
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.
In this passage, Jesus heals a crippled woman on the Sabbath. An argument then developed between a Pharisee and Jesus about the Sabbath law. It is not really about a healing, but the Pharisee used this as a platform to dispute the works of Jesus.
The Sabbath and the crippled woman’s healing is the will of God, Jesus also points to the Pharisee’s hypocrisy, and inconsistency in his interpretation of the law; i.e. they would treat their animals with greater respect than the people they were to care for. Rabbinic interpretation allows them to untie their animals for a drink, but at the same time the Pharisees interpretation of the law stops them from untying this woman from her infirmity.
The Sabbath was meant to be a celebration
of God’s work of creation, and rest for the labourer. It was for good, not harm; it was to be a blessing for people. When Jesus healed the woman on the Sabbath, He recreated, restored, returned her to health and glory and praise was given to God.
Food for thought: we rescue beached whales, we have laws to protect our animals from cruelty, but our laws uphold the murder of our unborn babies. We also spend millions on gourmet dog and cat food, but do we give the same thought to the hungry poor in the world. Do we get angry at petty things that only affect our lives, or do we get angry at the way the devil has killed, stolen, destroyed and caused immeasurable suffering in the world?
Written by Cathy Croft
Phone: +61 2 9875 0300
PO Box 2744,
Carlingford NSW 2118
PHYSICAL LOCATION SUSPENDED
Carlingford High School Hall,
547 North Rocks Rd, Carlingford
NSW, Australia 2118
PHYSICAL LOCATION SUSPENDED
Carlingford High School Hall,
547 North Rocks Rd, Carlingford
NSW, Australia 2118