Food for the Soul
Food for the Soul
Jesus goes against cultural stigmas and invites Levi a tax collector to follow him. Although Levi was rich, he was viewed as a traitor; he had made his wealth by betraying his Jewish people, heritage, and religion. Levi was probably following Jesus, because when the crowds came to listen, he could set up his booth, collect taxes and get richer. While taxing the people, Levi would have seen the miracles, and heard Jesus teach. Jesus would have noticed him & instead of telling him to leave, He said, ‘Follow Me’ He invites Levi to become one of his followers. Jesus doesn’t care that society hates Levi or that he’s a sinner, He just wants Levi to follow Him. Jesus chose the outcast, despised, and rejected – Levi certainly fit that description.
Levi leaves his tax gathering booth, all the money, rose up, and followed Jesus. He invites Jesus to a great feast in his own house, the only people he knew were outcasts like him, so they were invited. Am I prepared to befriend the socially outcast, go to their home for a meal? Will I worry what people will think about me if I mix with the outcasts of society?
In these days of political correctness, will the outcast listen to me & come to a place of knowing they are sick and in need of a doctor. I don’t need to convince them, the Holy Spirit will do that, I just need to be a place where they can see Gods love, grace, mercy and forgiveness.
Written by Cathy Croft
Jesus is teaching, inside a large group of religious people were gathered. In fact it seems that there was a larger than normal group there.
Luke records that the power of God was present to heal in a stronger than normal manner. Is this a reference to the gift of healing?
Some men had a friend on a stretcher and they wanted to see him healed. Unable to get in via the door, they go to the roof and make a hole and lower him down to Jesus. Now this is an act of desperation! It shows the great love the men had for the paralysed guy, and how strong their expectation and faith in Jesus was.
Jesus sees their faith. What did He see? He saw them carry this guy onto the roof, make a hole, and lower Him down. He sees their faith and perseverance.
Jesus, clearly realizing one assumes, that the man needs healing, and that the friends had brought him to be healed doesn’t go there. He says, “Your sins are forgiven”.
Now the expectations of the man and his friends are dashed, and Jesus has managed to insight the displeasure of the religious men. A classic lose, lose!
The religious guys claim He is blaspheming, knowing that God alone can forgive sins.
Jesus however had not created a lose lose. He knew what their response would be and used it as an object lesson to show who He was, the Son of Man. It was a question of authority, and to show that He had the authority He healed the man.
The man now gets what he came for his healing and leaves rejoicing. The crowd saw a miracle, and more, great authority, and they too praised God.
So it is clear that God’s power to heal can be ‘more present’ at some times to heal then others.
It’s clear that faith can be seen and Jesus responded to that faith.
It is clear that authority to forgive was seen as the domain of God and Jesus equated Himself with God.
I need to be more aware of when Jesus is present to heal and to ensure my faith can be seen!
It doesn’t matter how many times I read this passage, I always stumble over Jesus’ reply to the man with leprosy. The man asks, “Lord if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus has the power to heal, to provide, to comfort… But how often do we fail to ask, under the impression somehow that He is unwilling to involve Himself in our daily lives? I need to meditate on Jesus’ words, let them ring in my ears, “I am willing.”
Written by Beth Waugh
These 11 verses tell us about when Jesus met His first group of disciples – a group of fisherman.
The verses that have struck me are 4 – 6. Jesus asks Peter to go deeper and then he will definitely catch fish – even though he had been fishing all night without catching anything… Peter isn’t keen at first as he is obviously tired, but follows Jesus request. The outcome = nets full of fish!!
For me, there have been times when I get caught up in disappointment, distractions, sickness, the world, … things that take my eyes off Jesus. What if at these times, I chose to “go deeper” with Jesus, to trust His voice – what if a mighty breakthrough was waiting on the other side of the disappointment? My”net full of fish” outcome.
There are times where I need to take myself out of my comfort zone and push further into the deep with Jesus, where I can’t stand, but I can rely on HIM! He knows the next part of my plan A & that’s the road I want to travel on – even when I can’t see what’s coming up. Scary but exciting, giving Jesus the control!
Written by Ps. Mandy Miller
Jesus attended the synagogue and it was after this that he performed many miracles ie. healing the sick and casting out demons. Theory first and then the practical outworking of God’s purposes.
People begged Jesus to heal Simon’s mother in-law. They knew Jesus could make her well. There was faith in that room and ultimately that village because they were all healed. Once Simon’s mother in-law was healed she immediately went on to do what God called her to – serve!
Jesus pleased his heavenly Father above pleasing men and women. This is evident in his deciding to move onto the next town to preach. It would have been easy to stay in a place where you are so wanted and needed. He chose to be obedient and move on not knowing how he would be received in the next town.
A desire for the supernatural is stirred by the reading of this passage. To see people set free and God’s awesome power displayed. Get clued up first though ie get understanding on the topic first. This understanding will help build faith. We see Jesus attended the Synagogue where knowledge was obtained from Scripture. Jesus also shows us the importance of getting away from it all and seeking God’s will as opposed to what is popular or reasonable. Jesus intentionally went somewhere isolated where he could hear God clearly, free from distraction. We need to do the same.
Written by Ainslie Woods
The passage in Luke 31-37 describes an intriguing account of a man who is possessed by a demon. When encountering demon possession in the bible, it is useful to bear in mind CS Lewis’s accurate analysis of our tendency to take the wrong approach when we reflect on the role that demons play in life:
‘There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They (demons) themselves are equally pleased by both errors.’
I myself have made both errors in the past, so it is helpful for me to be mindful of my beliefs regarding demons, who are very real and active in the world, without getting carried away.
The intrigue in the biblical passage for me initially is that this demon, although speaking against Jesus, is openly and publicly acknowledging him as the “Holy One of God”
On deeper reflection, it is noteworthy that this man is “in Church” despite being possessed. If you met someone whom you suspected was under demonic influence, how would you respond? Would you invite them to Church?
Do you hold a view of demons that is compatible with the bible, or do you base your beliefs on film and television?
Written by Justin Ware
Today’s bible story is about Jesus’ work in Nazareth.
In Nazareth people were amazed at the gracious words that came out from Jesus and said: “Is this not Joseph’s son?”
Jesus challenged their attitude because He knew what was in their minds?
No matter what Jesus had done in Capernaum, Nazareth’s people were unwilling to accept His words because of His low identity – “the son of Joseph” (similarly Nathanael said: Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? John1:46)
But, Jesus still preached the gospel first to His own town; even though He knew “no prophet is accepted in his own country”
Also, Jesus warned them that if Nazareth/Jewish people did not accept Him, God’s salvation would go to the Gentiles who are originally unrelated to God – like Elijah was sent only to a widow in Zarephath in Sidon and Elisha cleansed only the Naaman the Syrian.
Today, how do I see/identify other people in Church? By their outside or inside?
How do I see/treat God’s warning in my life? How do I respond to the voice of the Holy Spirit that has spoken to me?
Written by Allen Leu
What an extraordinary story.
Luke has described Jesus origins: the Son of God, announced by angels, conceived of the Holy Spirit, promised to Abraham, foretold by the prophets; and Jesus called the Son of Joseph, descended from David (and heir of his promises), but also the son of Adam, the second Adam who would put right what Adam made wrong. It’s essential that he is both. But the people of his home town can’t see how can he be the fulfilment of prophesy and the son of Joseph they think they know.
They’ve heard of his teachings and the miracles he has done in Capernaum. Jesus reads from Isaiah and tells them that the law (“year of Jubilee” from Leviticus when slaves are set free and debts cancelled) and the prophets are fulfilled in their presence. This is one of those times when the threads of God’s plans coming together in a way that sends a tingle down my spine. And yet these people think they know Jesus. They can’t see past their preconceptions that he’s just Joseph’s son.
Jesus sees into their hearts (as he often does) and sees their disbelief: they want to see proof, they want to see a miracle. They are wrong on so many levels. God is not subject to our judgement, we are subject to His. God gives blessing where He chooses, not where we demand.
They are so outraged at his suggestion that they would reject him that they not only reject him, they try to kill him: an extraordinary reaction.
So do I rush off with what I think I know and fail to hear what God is saying? Do I expect God to support my expectations, or do I change my thinking (repent) to align with his?
Written by David Cornell
Jesus interaction with the devil is one that is instructive in spiritual warfare.
The conditions Jesus finds Himself are these. He is full of the Spirit, He is led by the Spirit, He is tempted by the devil for 40 days, He eats nothing for 40 days, and He is very hungry.
Then come the 3 known temptations, although the Scripture tells us there were more.
The Devil delivers the temptations each one with a clear quotation from Scripture, each with a clear challenge to prove Himself. Identity is the challenge for two temptations; “if you are the Son of God” something that would not have been proved by Jesus doing what He was being tempted with. The other is a direct temptation to serve Himself, to live for Himself.
Jesus meets the temptations with a clear quotation from Scripture for each. This suggests that Scripture is a necessary ingredient to withstand the temptations of the enemy, but a closer look reveals there’s more.
However the devil decides to tempt us, we clearly need the Scripture, but it’s not our only weapon. Of the other ‘conditions’ that Jesus has here the ones surrounding the place and his physical condition are probably least important.
Rather it’s that He is full of the Spirit and being lead of the Spirit that are most critical, plus His understanding of Himself (He didn’t try to prove who He was) and He understood how God had created things in order.
For us to withstand the temptations of the devil we need to ensure that we are full of the Holy Spirit and are being obedient to Him in that we are being lead by Him, in addition to knowing God’s Word, which is how we become obedient to God.
It also matters that we understand God’s created order and His calling and identity in us.
Written by Richard Botta
What strikes me most about this passage is not the list of names, impressive or famous as some of them are. Instead, I am struck by the last four words of this passage, “the son of God”. All these people show a family lineage back to Adam and therefore to God, but I too am a child of God! John 1:12-13 says, “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
Because of my salvation through Jesus Christ, I am now considered “part of the family” – a child of God. How truly awesome is that! What an inheritance!
“Thank you, Lord, that through your Son, Jesus Christ, I am your child. Thank you, that as a father, you love me, you care for me, you encourage me, you strengthen me, you discipline me, you walk beside me and you are forever “for me”. Praise you!”
Written By Jen Irving
The ministry of Jesus begins in these verses. Luke has already told us that John was baptising ‘for the forgiveness of sins’. Jesus – who was sinless – chose to be baptised identifying Himself with us. While praying, after His baptism, the Holy Spirit comes upon Him and not only that but heaven opens & the voice of the Father confirms His love, favour and presence completely upon Him for His ministry ahead.
There are a lot of theological points in these verses … but the simplicity of Jesus identifying so completely in who I am, is actually overwhelming as I think about. No one person has ever so completely identified with me ever. Many have identified with me in certain aspects of my life, but not so completely. This one act, identifying with me through baptism – displays a love for me that brings security, comfort, acceptance, safety, courage …. I pray that I will never loose sight of the fact that Jesus is the only one who can truly & so completely walk through life with me. He ‘gets’ me.
Written by Suzie Hodgson
John answered peoples’ questions about the coming Messiah. John had a clear understanding of his role and the far, far superior role of Jesus. He also warns people that their lives will come under scrutiny when Jesus comes. John doesn’t hold back with his warnings about the way people live their lives and will ultimately be judged. It’s important to note that people came to John with their questions about Jesus. He did not shy away from telling the truth but boldly declared what was to happen to the point where he was jailed.
John answered peoples’ questions about Jesus. It made me wonder if I was answering peoples’ questions about Jesus in my own life. One step further, were people asking me questions in the first place? John clearly had a relationship with Jesus (they were cousins) and it is out of this relationship that he gave answers to people in such a bold and direct manner. It encourages me to know Jesus better so I can answer questions and even start conversations about Jesus. It also suggests that some answers aren’t what people want to hear but shouldn’t be left out of the conversation because I feel uncomfortable.
God make me bold so I can warn our generation like John the Baptist warned his!
Written by Ainslie Woods
John uses some strong language speaking to the crowd; it’s never complimentary when you’re referred to as a poisonous snake! John shocks the people out of their comfort zone; he confronts them in regards to their reliance on ritual, and their identity as sons of Abraham. The main issue here is the state of these people’s hearts. John challenges them that if they are sincere in repenting from sin and turning to God there should be clear evidence in their lives. Selfless generosity, integrity and compassion, these should be the fruit in our lives.
John’s voice challenges me, how deep does my repentance go? Is there evidence in my life day by day that I have turned from a life of sin and am pursuing Christ? I desire that the fruit of my life draw people closer to God.
Written by Beth Waugh
John is in the wilderness at about 26-29AD at a time of political chaos & religious barrenness. In the midst of this chaos, “the word of God came to John”. It did not come to the politically powerful, or to the religious leaders, but to John, alone in the wilderness.
The wilderness is a place of uncharted territory, and there are no maps or guides. It is a place of barrenness and beauty; it can be in drought or have flash floods, unpredictable and irregular rain. However, in this wild and uncharted place, God spoke to John. Some think the way of the world is a way of life that will satisfy, and remember, the world will not hesitate to impose its belief on us. Some believe to only following God’s law will make us right with God. However, our hearts will always be restless until we find rest in God. We need to make a choice to prepare the way of the Lord in our heart. When in the wilderness, we must live by faith and be aware of our total dependence on God. We cannot be self sufficient; we must rely on God alone. We must shift from self-reliance to total reliance on God. Do not despise the wilderness, it is a call to surrender everything and in the surrender is the joy of knowing we can hear His word and be assured we can depend upon God.
Written by Cathy Croft
Jesus had parents – imagine being Jesus’ mum or dad. Initially it might seem easy – the perfect kid. But Mary and Joseph didn’t “get” Jesus – they knew He was different but they didn’t “get” how. Imagine looking for Jesus for 3 days!!! Then finding Him calmly talking and listening in the temple. Didn’t He know He was lost? Why did you do this to us Jesus? Why are you doing this to me Jesus? I hear my anxiety echoed in their words. I thought You were coming this way with me – but I turn around and You’re not here!
Jesus answer to them is the same answer to me – Didn’t you know I would be here?
Do I know where to find Jesus when “He”, I mean “I” get lost? How incredible to know that He is with me – always and everywhere. I can be with Him – I just need to keep Him in view, not get too far ahead, watch where He is leading me. Challenging but comforting. Lord help me keep close today.
Written by Linda Quinn
This passage is about the prophetess, Anna. After 7yrs of marriage, she lost her husband. A widow of 84 years, living in the temple, praying and fasting to God. I can only imagine she had been in the temple about 60yrs!
After Simeon, had prophesied over Jesus, Anna came up to him too. It is not clear if Anna heard what Simeon said, but regardless, she too gave thanks to God. And Anna spoke “about this child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem”. The holy city of God’s chosen people. Thereby confirming Simeon’s prophecy. This, I believe, took a lot of boldness!
The bible calls Anna a prophetess. She must have had may prophesies for many faithful Jews. Inspired by the Holy Spirit.
What this passage speaks to me, is how God uses women, like men to speak prophetically and serve the Lord. Certainly Anna may not have had anyone to provide for her, but her faithfulness in the Temple, loving and seeking God, was foremost to her.
Father God, please fill me with your Holy Spirit that I too, will seek you passionately, and know you have a purpose with my life, as you did with Anna.
Written by Linda Stengl
Simenon was one of the witnesses in Jerusalem who saw Jesus as the comfort of Israel.
His story is not very long, but the bible said “he was righteous and devout, and waiting for the comfort of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.” What a great man!!
Not only that, the action of the Holy Spirit upon his life is mentioned 3 times in 10 verses.
Before Jesus went to the Father and sent the Holy Spirit to His believers, there are not many cases for people to have Holy Spirit upon them.
Also, there was one special element of Simeon life: “waiting for the comfort of Israel” before he died.
Today, I have Holy Spirit with me at all times. But, what I am waiting/longing for? new car, new house, new Job, new……?
I am not saying a new car, house, job…are not good. They all come with the blessings of Jesus.
But, what is the heart-beat of my life?
What would I like to be described as from Jesus’ eye?
Written by Allen Leu
How cool Mary and Joseph were obedient and used the name God had provided to them for Jesus. I am not a parent but I can imagine being able to choose the child’s name is something very special for parents. But names are important – they knew that too – so they did what God asked them.
And then the concept of saying thank you to God – He knew we weren’t great at remembering to say thank you so He made it a requirement for the Jewish nation to say an official thank you at the temple for a new child. Being grateful for your child is probably more obvious than some other things God does in our lives but we still needed to be reminded.
Saying thank you – how important it is. Do we remember? I know I don’t often enough. A great reminder from a fairly simple passage.
Written by Therese Manning
The angels visit the shepherds, the shepherds visit Jesus, the shepherds tell all, the mother treasures all the events in her heart, it’s a fascinating stream of events.
I find it invigorating that the shepherds response to the ‘terrifying’ announcement, was to seek out the cause of the story and then the shepherds after meeting Jesus tell everyone they can. What a great response to meeting Jesus. Vs. 17 has it.
It wasn’t just that they told everyone about what they had seen and heard but they told it in such an engaging way that all who heard it from them were amazed.
Telling about our meeting with Jesus should leave others with an appetite to meet Him as well – that’s clear to me!
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
These first seven verses of Luke 2 tell us about the birth of Jesus – they also properly introduce us to the man who would be his earthly Father, Jospeh. As I’ve read these few verses, I keep hearing the words “humble & wise”. Joseph could have walked away from Mary, but instead he chose to remain with her and raise her unborn child as his own. He chose to put aside what others would have been thinking and saying to him about Mary and the baby. He chose to take Mary as his family, and register her as his family as part of the census. To literally stand up and be counted for what he believed in…
Would I do the same if put into a situation similar to this? To truly put my life on the line for my faith. To partner God, even if I couldn’t see what the outcome would be?
Written by Mandy Miller
God answers their question “What then is this child going to be?” (v66), and this time Zechariah doesn’t doubt. He speaks those words out in a beautiful testimony about John and the authority with which he would testify about Jesus.
The first third is about what God is doing through Jesus. He says God has come, has redeemed, has raised up salvation (all past tense), although Jesus has not been born yet and it is still many years until Jesus will complete the redemption on the cross. God has set his plan in motion so the outcome is certain.
The second part is about God’s demonstrated faithfulness in rescuing his people so that they could serve Him in holiness and righteousness.
The last part is about John’s part in all this: speaking for God, preparing the way, and making His salvation known. And this because Jesus “the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us”.
The challenge for me is to make my purpose and significance, my blessing, like John’s: mostly about Jesus and about God’s faithfulness and a bit about the part I will play in what God is doing.
After this fabulous blessing, John had more than a quarter of a century of growing and becoming strong in the spirit before the time was right for him to appear publicly. God’s timing was all important for John’s role to testify about Jesus. God’s timing is vital for me too.
Written by David Cornell
As I read this passage I am arrested by the fact that as soon as Zechariah could speak again, he was praising God. I wonder how I would have behaved in a similar situation? If I had been struck dumb a year previously, what would have been the first words out of my mouth? Would I have wanted to take the first opportunity to explain to everyone around me what had happened to me? Would I have wanted to complain about the fact that I hadn’t been able to speak for a year or so? Would I have wanted to tell everyone the destiny of my son that had been foretold by an angelic visitation? I wonder what my first words would have been?
Zechariah’s first words are praises towards God. I imagine some of that is relief at being able to speak again. However, I do believe that Zechariah has had some time to think about Gabriel’s visit and about how everything that had been foretold so far had come true. I think Zechariah would have been experiencing a profound sense of awe and excitement over seeing the rest of the prophecy fulfilled in the life of his son.
“Lord, regardless of my situation, whether good or bad or indifferent, may my first words be ones of praise towards you.”
Written by Jen Irving
Mary has seen the evidence of the angel’s words to Elizabeth and has moved into a fuller belief of the truth of what God is doing in her life. She is not dismayed by the many possible negative implications – rejection by others for being pregnant out of wedlock – but is overcome by praise for God. She starts with praise for what He’s done in her own life, and moves into praise for His hand over the nations and His promises.
Do I look for the positive in life’s challenges? I am encouraged by this passage to remember God’s promises and recognise his hand in my life more, and to ‘let my hair down’ in praise for Him.
Written by Megan Cornell
Mary goes to Elizabeth her cousin’s house.
Both women are pregnant, Elizabeth with John the Baptist, Mary with
Elizabeth, with seemingly no prior knowledge speaks to Mary telling her
of the blessing her child will be.
Her final statement “You are blessed because you believed that the Lord
would do what He said” is a statement of transforming power. Think of
it, blessing comes as a result of obedience. Straight forward, powerful,
principled and essential for us.
Father, help me to live a life of obedience to your Word, for then I am
in the place of blessing.
Written by Richard Botta
“For no word from God will ever fail.” Lk 1:37
I remember that I am favoured too because God has shown me grace – His unmerited favour.
Where am I resisting God’s call and holding onto the ideas and plans I have for my life, instead of surrendering to what He wants for me?
What words has he spoken over me? They will not fail. They will prosper.
I am Your servant. May it be to me according to Your word. Lk 1:38
Written by Lyndall Gourlay
The story of faithful Zechariah and Elizabeth is a beautiful account of what happened in the lead up to the birth of Jesus. The account of John the Baptist’s parents gives amazing insight into the way that God can relate to children: Verse 15 says that “he will be filled with the Holy Spirit” even before he is born! What a revelation of God’s presence in the life of a child. It is my prayer that more children would know God the Holy Spirit from even before their birth.
The challenge to me in verse 20, is that Zechariah did not believe the words of the angel Gabriel, even though it is recorded that he is righteous man, and one who has lived in service as a priest. If a man of this calibre doubts such an encouraging promise, will I have the faith to believe God when he calls me?
Written by Justin Ware
Luke begins the account of his gospel, not discounting the work of others but rather wanting to add to it. A decision he made to investigate, find eyewitnesses & verify everything so that Theophilus – (whether a friend, employer or Roman official is unsure) – would know the truth about Jesus. Who Jesus was, what He did & why He did it. What an amazing undertaking … the time & lengths Luke went to get this done we’ll never know but Jesus & the Gospel were so important to him that he wanted to make sure he left an accurate record for Theophilus and ultimately for us.
What a challenge to me … Would I be prepared to do the same for those in my life who know only in part or do not know at all about Jesus?
Written by Suzie Hodgson
Phone: +61 2 9875 0300
PO Box 2744,
Carlingford NSW 2118
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Carlingford High School Hall,
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Carlingford High School Hall,
547 North Rocks Rd, Carlingford 2120
Best access for the 5.30pm service is via Roselea Way
We gather worship and work, on the lands of the Darug and Guringai people and wish to acknowledge them as the traditional custodians. We pay our respects to first nations elders past and present.