Daily Readings – October 2016

We continue our Bible readings in Luke’s Gospel this month and will complete these next month.

Saturday 1st October
Luke 18:9-14
In this parable there are two characters. The first character is a Pharisee, who is very pleased with himself. He is doing everything the law demanded of him (in an outward sense) and he looks down on everyone else. As Professor William Barclay said, ‘The Pharisee did not really go to pray; he went to inform God how good he was.’ The second character is a tax collector. He pleaded with God for mercy, recognising himself to be a sinner. In verse 9 we learn the context in which this parable was given. Jesus told it to ‘some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else’. The message for us is clear: we must recognise our true spiritual condition before God and humbly seek his mercy.

Prayer Point
Pray for Fraser & Dawn Jackson serving with Mission Africa in Jos, Nigeria. Remember their children James and Ruth. They are all having health problems and need our prayers.

Sunday 2nd October
Luke 18:15-17
Here Jesus rebukes his disciples for turning away some parents who had brought their children to Jesus. This passage is really about entering the Kingdom of God. The expressions ‘Kingdom of God’ and ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ mean the same thing. Mark and Luke used ‘Kingdom of God’ and Matthew used ‘Kingdom of Heaven.’ It means the rule of God as King of Kings. It refers to what God is doing here and now, and it also refers to the future when Christ will return and the Kingdom will be fully inaugurated. The kingdom of God is wherever God is acknowledged and where hearts and minds submit to him. The Kingdom is to be entered but, as we see in this passage, not everyone will enter the kingdom. We must come with a childlike faith, trusting completely in God

Prayer Point
Pray for the Girls’ Brigade dedication service this morning. Pray that the girls will come to faith in Jesus and give thanks for the faithful and dedicated work of Susan Mackenzie and the other officers.

Monday 3rd October
Luke 18:18-30
Like many of the people who met with Jesus, this man had a question, he wanted to know what he had to do to get eternal life. The man recognised that, despite his many possessions, he didn’t have eternal life and he wanted it. Now what reply would we have expected from Jesus? Perhaps something about faith or the new birth? Instead, Jesus pointed the man to the Ten Commandments. Why did Jesus do this? It was because this man believed that salvation was by works. He said, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life’. Jesus tells the man quite rightly that perfect obedience to the law brings salvation. The problem, of course, is that no human being can perfectly obey the law because of sin. Jesus wanted the man to see that his works and his righteousness were inadequate.

Prayer Point
Pray for Jack Macdonald working as Pastoral Assistant at Palmerston Place Church in Edinburgh.

Tuesday 4th October
Luke 18:18-30
The man in our story insisted that he had kept the commandments from his youth, so then Jesus moves on to the real problem. He says, ‘Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ Now it is important to understand that Jesus was not being brutal here, in order to dismiss the man or send him away. In Mark’s version of the story, we are told that Jesus looked upon the man and loved him. Jesus genuinely wanted the man to understand the way of salvation but it was necessary to focus on the real problem – and there was a problem! This young man was very rich and his money was more important to him than God. He was told to do two things: First, to get rid of his wealth; and second, to follow Jesus. The order is important. The man had to get rid of everything which was standing between himself and God. Only then could he truly follow Jesus and become a disciple. Now it is important to remember that this young man was told to give away his money because it was more important to him than God was. Jesus was not saying that everyone who has money ought to give it all away. He was saying that we have to get rid of anything which is more important to us than God.

Prayer Point
Pray for the Minister as, for the next two days, he chairs a meeting of the Theological Commission of the World Reformed Fellowship.

Wednesday 5th October
Luke 18:18-30
We continue one more day with the story of the rich man who wanted to become a disciple of Jesus but was not prepared to give up his wealth. This exchange between the rich man and Jesus is followed by an exchange between Jesus and his disciples, as we read in verses 24-30. The disciples are shocked by Jesus’ demand that the man give all his money away but there is hope in these words of Jesus. We might put it like this: Left to ourselves none of us would ever be saved but with God it is possible. This is the miracle of grace, that sinners such as we are can be forgiven and gain entrance into the kingdom of God. Although salvation is by grace, there remains a place for obedience in the Christian life and Jesus tells his disciples that God rewards faithfulness and obedience, both now, and later in heaven.

Prayer Point
Pray for Hector Morrison and all the staff of Highland Theological College, as a new academic year is now well underway. Pray for the students, especially those just beginning their courses.

Thursday 6th October
Luke 18:31-34
Jesus and his disciples set off on the road to Jerusalem. This is the beginning of the last stage in Jesus’ life and ministry. The Gospel is nearing its climax. Jesus here gives a most specific prophetic description of what was going to happen in the immediate future. His words were very clear. Calling himself, as he often did, the Son of Man (the title comes from the Book of Daniel) Jesus explained that they were going up to Jerusalem, and when they arrived he would be betrayed into the hands of his enemies, condemned, brutalised and killed. Three days later he would rise again from the dead. The disciples were thus given good warning as to what awaited them in the capital city, yet still they were surprised when it happened! Luke says that ‘its meaning was hidden from them’. They were spiritually blind and did not understand the necessity of Jesus’ death nor its significance for their salvation. They still believed that Jesus was going to set up his kingdom on this earth.

Prayer Point
Pray for all those who provide various kinds of service to our church, whether flower arranging, cleaning, repairs and maintenance, serving on a duty team or any of the myriad tasks that need to be performed.

Friday 7th October
Luke 18:35-43
As they continued on their journey to Jerusalem, Jesus and his followers come to Jericho. Crowds of people came out to meet him, including a blind man. In Mark’s version of the story, we learn that the man’s name was Bartimaeus. Upon hearing that Jesus was near, the blind man began to shout out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ This proved to be an embarrassment to those around him who rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he paid no attention to them. The man was persistent, nothing would put him off, he was desperate to come to Jesus. When asked by Jesus what he wanted, he knew precisely what he needed from Jesus: ‘Lord, I want to see’. Jesus healed him. Notice, it was his faith in Jesus that led to his healing (verse 42). If we do not come in faith, we cannot expect to receive anything from Jesus.

Prayer Point
Pray for Open Doors today, asking that a good number of people would come in and that the conversations would be helpful and lead people to think about Christ.

Saturday 8th October
Luke 19:1-10
The story of Zacchaeus is the final incident in the long account of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem, where he was to be crucified. It is only contained in the Gospel of Luke and it seems likely that Luke saw the story as being a summary of the Gospel. As Professor Howard Marshall says, ‘It is a supreme example of the universality of the gospel offer to tax collectors and sinners.’ The lessons we learn from this encounter are of the utmost importance for our understanding of salvation. Jesus comes along, sees Zacchaeus and tells him that he was coming to stay at his house. We’re told that the people were astonished and perhaps annoyed that Jesus had gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner’. They did not understand the mission of Jesus, summed up in Luke 5:32: ‘I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’ Paul summed it up very well in 1 Timothy 1:15: ‘Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.’ Jesus didn’t come to help righteous people along the way with a few words of useful advice, he came to save sinners.

Prayer Point
Pray for our organist Jim Fraser, for the Music Group and for the Multimedia Team who do so much to enrich and enhance our worship.

Sunday 9th October
Luke 19:1-10
Jesus went in to be with Zacchaeus and a remarkable change took place in the man’s life. From being a man who sought after money and had made himself very rich, he became a man to whom money was of minimal importance. He came to realise that knowing Jesus was more important than money and possessions. Zacchaeus had been one of those who desired riches but his encounter with Jesus changed all of that. When Jesus met with Zacchaeus his life was transformed and getting more and more money was no longer the driving force in his life. The Spirit of God came into Zacchaeus’ life and changed him. He turned away from his former way of life and he turned to God. He showed his repentance by giving much of his money away. He returned four times as much as he had taken and, on top of this, gave half of his money to the poor. At the end of the story we have these words of Jesus, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.’ This should be a huge encouragement to us. Jesus came for people like us.

Prayer Point
Pray for Dougie Wolf as he takes the services today and for the Minister as he baptises his niece’s son Noah in Glasgow, in his home church.

Monday 10th October
Luke 19:11-27
This parable continues the teaching of Jesus about the kingdom of God. Jesus is the king in the parable. He is soon to go away and leave them and will not return until the kingdom is ready to be revealed in its final glory. He will leave his disciples behind and give them various tasks. The way in which they carry out these tasks will determine the level of ‘reward and loss’ that they receive when he returns. This theme of reward and loss is found in many places in the Scriptures but is most clearly stated in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15. Finally, the king will return and will pass judgement on those who refused to accept him as king. This refers to the second coming of Christ in power and glory and the final judgement which will immediately follow that return.

Prayer Point
Pray for Dougie Wolf as he enjoys a week’s holiday back home in Lewis with Joan and Jack. Pray for safe travel and ask that God would give him rest, so that he returns re-charged and ready for the work of the Gospel.

Tuesday 11th October
Luke 19:28-44
The story of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem is one of the few stories contained in all four Gospels. Taking the Gospels together, the story goes like this: Having spent Saturday night in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, it was now Sunday morning and Jesus was ready to enter Jerusalem. He sent two of his disciples from Bethany to the nearby village of Bethphage where, he told them, they would find the young colt of a donkey which had never yet been ridden. The disciples were to collect the donkey and take it to Jesus and, if anyone questioned what they were doing, they were to say, ‘The Lord needs it.’ Everything worked out exactly as Jesus had predicted and they brought the colt to him. We are told that they put their coats on the donkey. The first few coats were purely functional, to act as a rough saddle for Jesus but everyone became so excited that soon everyone seemed to be throwing their coats either on to the donkey or on to the road ahead of Jesus. Other people began to wave branches and shout. In no time at all, it appeared as if the whole of the surrounding countryside was crowding round this man on a donkey and all were headed for the city of Jerusalem. Jesus’ entry into the city began well but, from a human perspective, it would end badly.

Prayer Point
Pray for the housebound in the congregation and those in care homes. Ask that God would give them all that they need and especially that he would strengthen their faith and encourage them in Christ.

Wednesday 12th October
Luke 19:28-44
Having described the triumphal entry into Jerusalem yesterday, we should notice that these events took place in fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy. Let’s begin by looking at the fact that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. This comes from Zechariah 9:9: ‘Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ This is what is called a ‘messianic prophecy,’ which Jesus fulfilled. Notice the words ‘righteous and having salvation’ (his purpose in coming). Notice too, the word ‘gentle’ (his manner of coming – not as a warrior king). The words and sentences which the crowd shouted as Jesus entered Jerusalem, were also significant in terms of the fulfilment of prophecy. The word ‘hosanna’ means ‘save now’ and this clearly implies that they regarded Jesus as the Messiah. More significantly, the words, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’ are quoted from Psalm 118:26. The Jews understood that the Psalmist in these words was speaking of the messiah who would come. By shouting these words, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,’ there can be no doubt that the crowd was proclaiming Jesus to be the Messiah.

Prayer Point
Pray for the Midweek Meeting, asking that God might hear our prayers for the church at home and overseas and that more people will come to pray with us.

Thursday 13th October
Luke 19:45-46
The Court of the Gentiles in the Temple area was to be a ‘house of prayer for all nations’ because anyone could come there. Yet what was happening there was sinful. There were two things. First, the selling of birds and animals for sacrifice. Second the money-changers exchanging currency for the coinage in which the temple tax was to be paid. In both cases, robbery was taking place. The animals the poor people brought themselves to sacrifice were rejected and they were forced to buy what was on sale. The money they brought for the temple tax was also rejected, as not being in the right currency and the exchange rate was crippling. Jesus clears the temple and throws out the robbers. This was a real challenge to the Jewish authorities and would climax in Jesus being crucified. Above all else, what we see here is Jesus exercising his authority. After all, as the Jewish leaders would argue, who was he to clear the temple? What right did he have? What authority did he have? The answer is that he had all the authority of the Son of God.

Prayer Point
Pray for the Senior Citizens’ lunch in Raigmore Community Centre today and pray that the message will be heard, understood and accepted. Pray for those who make the lunch and organise the event.

Friday 14th October
Luke 19:47-48
As we see from these verses, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the other leaders of the Jews already wanted to kill Jesus! The challenge he posed to them was unacceptable and they were determined that he should die. This, however, was not straightforward because the people loved to listen to Jesus. We’re told that they ‘hung on his words’. This is a marvellous description and helps us to see the impact that Jesus had on the ordinary people who did not feel threatened by him, as the leaders of the Jews did. Instead, they wanted to hear more and more about the Kingdom of God. There is an attitude here from which we can learn. Do we ‘hang on’ Jesus’ words? Are we people of the Word? Is the reading of Scripture a significant part of everyday life for us and one we could not do without? That is the challenge posed here.

Prayer Point
Pray for the young people of our congregation who have left home to study or to work. Ask that God would watch over them and would sustain their faith.

Saturday 15th October
Luke 20:1-8
The chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders come to challenge Jesus. They demand to know by what authority he was teaching and doing miracles. This question of the authority of Jesus comes up again and again in the Gospels. Jesus gives them a good answer (although without answering their question). He asks them by what authority John the Baptist taught. This placed them in a quandary. The people regarded John as a prophet from God but the Jewish leaders had despised him and rejected his teaching about repentance. They couldn’t give an answer, so Jesus refused to answer the question about his own authority. The truth is that Jesus has authority because of his identity. He is the Son of the living God and so speaks with authority. We must recognise that authority and submit to his teaching if we are truly to be his disciples.

Prayer Point
Pray for the MacDonalds in Zambia, asking that God would protect them and their extended family from all harm and danger and that God would bless their work.

Sunday 16th October
Luke 20:9-19
This parable is about Jesus. A man plants a vineyard, goes away leaving servants in charge and then at harvest sends for some of the fruit of the grape harvest. Various messengers are sent and they are beaten and sent away empty-handed. Then the owner of the vineyard sends his son. The son is killed and thrown out of the vineyard. Jesus is speaking of what was soon happen to him. He is the Son of God, sent to the people of Israel, after many prophets have been sent, as a last opportunity for repentance. In the parable, Jesus identifies himself as the ‘capstone.’ This is familiar Old Testament language, which also appears in 1 Peter 2:4. This helps us to understand what Jesus is saying about himself in this parable. He is the one who was rejected by Israel but is actually the foundation stone, the one needed for everything else to hold together. The Jewish leaders knew what Jesus was saying but, once again, they were afraid to act against him because of his popularity.

Prayer Point
Pray for the Minister taking both services today and also the service at Raigmore.

Monday 17th October
Luke 20:20-26
The Jewish leaders sent spies to trap Jesus. These men pretended to be honest men seeking answers to serious questions. In truth, they wanted to get Jesus to say something worthy of arrest and even death. So they ask if it is right to pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus is faced with a problem. If he says it is right to pay taxes to Caesar, many of the people will reject him because they saw the Romans as an occupying power. If he says they shouldn’t pay, the Pharisees would turn him over to the Romans. So he asks to see a coin and turns the question back upon the spies. ‘Whose portrait and inscription are on it?’ They answer that it is Caesar’s portrait. Then he gives his famous answer to their question: ‘Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s’. As Christians, we must render obedience to God. We must also obey earthly rulers (Romans 13). Only where there is a conflict between what God requires and what the state requires should we disobey the state.

Prayer Point
Pray for the leaders of the Sunday School, the Ark Sunday Club and the Youth Fellowship. Give thanks for their commitment and faithfulness. Pray that the children and young people under their care would flourish for Christ.

Tuesday 18th October
Luke 20:27-40
The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. You may remember the time when Paul was on trial for his faith and he used this issue of the resurrection to divide the Pharisees and Sadducees (Acts 23:6-8). This explains their question to Jesus about the seven brothers. The Sadducees were trying to show how foolish it was to believe in the resurrection of the dead. Jesus’ response to the Sadducees was as sharp as his response to the Pharisees. In Mark’s version of the story he says, ‘Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?’ They did not know the Scriptures and so did not know those passages, even in the Old Testament, which spoke of resurrection. More seriously, they did not know the power of God. God is able to raise the dead and they did not know or believe this. It is important to point out that these things, the Scriptures and the power of God, go together. The key expression here in Luke’s version is ‘He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive’.

Prayer Point
Pray for the Minister as he leads a Church of Scotland Assembly Council ‘Roadshow’ in Stornoway tonight. These meetings will help to determine the future direction of the Church.

Wednesday 19th October
Luke 20:41-44
As we have seen, Jesus is being challenged by the Jewish leaders. Now he turns the tables on them and asks them a question. The Jews were waiting for a messiah descended from David, so Jesus quotes one of David’s own psalms, Psalm 110, where he speaks of the coming messiah as his ‘Lord’, one who would be greater than he. The teachers of the law could not understand this because they refused to believe that Jesus was the messiah, and they refused to believe that he was divine. The teachers of the law could not properly interpret the Scriptures because all of the Scriptures point forward to Jesus. By rejecting Jesus, they could not make sense of the Scriptures that prophesied his coming. If we want to understand the Bible, we must always remember that believing in Jesus opens up its meaning and interpretation.

Prayer Point
Pray for the elders of the church as they meet tomorrow evening in Kirk Session. Ask that God would give them wisdom in all their work and decision-making. Pray especially for their pastoral care of the congregation.

Thursday 20th October
Luke 20:45-47
In these verses, Jesus warns the people against trusting the teachers of the law. He accuses them of all manner of sin and hypocrisy and tells the people to beware of them. They wanted to be important, they wanted to be highly regarded by the people and they wanted all that they could get for themselves. Perhaps the most serious criticism is that they ‘devour widows’ houses’. The commentators suggest that these teachers of the law abused their position of trust by taking a huge ‘cut’ when they were involved in selling the houses of the poor widows, or otherwise involved in their financial affairs. Their love for money showed that personal gain was more important to them than love for God. What is most important to us? What motivates us day by day? Is love for God the most important driving force in our lives? Does it take first place, above all of the other things we love?

Prayer Point
Pray for ‘The Gathering’ today in the church hall and pray that everyone who comes will enjoy the fellowship and the time of sharing together.

Friday 21st October
Luke 21:1-4
Jesus watched as people threw their money into the collecting box at the temple. Some gave a great deal but one poor widow gave a tiny amount. Nevertheless, her gift was the greatest of all. The principle which is being established in the story of the poor widow is proportionate giving. We are expected to give to God a portion or percentage of what he gives us. In the Old Testament God commanded his people to give him 10% of their income. This was regarded as belonging to God. We see this in Leviticus 27:30. We also have the strong words in Malachi 3:8-10, where the prophet says that those who didn’t tithe (give 10%) were robbing God. This is not just Old Testament teaching. In 1 Corinthians 16:1-4, Paul tells the Christians that money was to be put aside on the first day of the week and the sum given had to be in keeping with income, that is, a percentage of income. Paul also says that the spirit in which the money is given is important. For example, in 2 Corinthians 9:6-15, where he says that Christian giving should be willing and generous. The widow gave sacrificially, do we?

Prayer Point
Pray for the Deacons of the church. As they deal with property and financial matters, ask for wisdom and discernment.

Saturday 22nd October
Luke 21:5-6
The passage begins with a discussion between Jesus and his disciples about the temple in Jerusalem. The disciples were admiring the magnificent building. Jesus uses this as an opportunity to teach them not to place too much confidence in outward appearances and he tells them that, before very long, the temple will be completely destroyed. In fact, this was fulfilled in AD 70 with the fall of Jerusalem to her enemies. The disciples had to learn that astonishing things were going to happen, in line with God’s plan for the world. They also had to learn to trust in God and not in a temple or any other earthly achievement, however magnificent it might be. As we read on through this chapter we shall see that there were many signs to look out for.

Prayer Point
Pray for those in the congregation who are sick, at home or in hospital. Pray that God would bring healing.

Sunday 23rd October
Luke 21:7-11
In these verses, the disciples ask Jesus when the temple would be destroyed, as Jesus had prophesied. In the verses which follow, it is significant that Jesus does not attempt to give times and dates, or to provide them with a table of forthcoming events. Those who constantly speculate about the last things ought to bear this in mind. Instead, Jesus tells them to watch out that they are not deceived by false messiahs and people claiming to be him. They are to be prepared, to watch out and to trust God. Jesus also warns his disciples of the dangers of being distracted by turmoil in the world into thinking that the end of the world was about to come. In other words, the proper question to ask is not, ‘When will the end come?’ but rather ‘Am I ready for the Day of Judgement, whenever it comes?’

Prayer Point
Pray for the services today: for the Minister taking the morning service, Dougie taking the evening service and Donald MacVicar taking the Raigmore service.

Monday 24th October
Luke 21:12-19
Jesus tells his disciples that terrible times of persecution lay ahead and that they must bear witness to him, even before governors and kings. This will not be an easy task because they will be arrested and put on trial. They will also find themselves being opposed by family and friends. Nevertheless, they are to stand firm to the end. If they do, they will ‘gain life’ (verse 19). We might say that true Christians will be recognised by their perseverance whereas others, only nominal in their Christianity, will fall away. The warning that Jesus gives them about this impending persecution also comes with a promise of help and support. When they are put on trial, they do not have to worry about what they will say. When we face difficulties and opposition, this should give us confidence. We can trust in the Lord to help us through.

Prayer Point
Pray for the Minister attending a Council of Assembly meeting in Edinburgh today. Pray for safe travel and for wisdom in the meeting.

Tuesday 25th October
Luke 21:20-38
These are difficult verses to understand. Whatever else this passage might mean, however, it does seem to indicate that, immediately before the return of Christ, there will be terrible days for the Christian church. This does not mean that everything is going to get worse and worse until Christ returns. Indeed, there is evidence from the New Testament that there might be days of great revival (perhaps including the conversion of Israel) before the end. We looked at some of the evidence for that last year at the Midweek Meeting, in our studies in Revelation. That having been said, these verses do suggest that immediately before Christ returns there will be days of unprecedented suffering. At the same time (verse 28) these terrible events are the precursor to redemption drawing near. In the meantime, the disciples were to look for the signs of the times (verses 29-31) and they were to ‘watch and pray’ (verse 36). For us today, the message is that we must keep our eyes focussed on Christ whose we are and whom we serve. He will see us through whatever might lie ahead of us.

Prayer Point
Pray for the Word at One service today, asking that the Word would be clearly preached and that everyone would enjoy the fellowship of sharing lunch together.

Wednesday 26th October
Luke 22:1-6
This is a striking passage because it tells the story of Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus. We are told that ‘Satan entered Judas’ which tells us the ultimate source of the evil which led to the betrayal. In order to understand the context, however, we need to read Mark 14:1-11. There we read of Jesus being anointed at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper. Mary, sister of Lazarus and Martha, demonstrated her love for Jesus by using a very expensive ointment. Judas Iscariot objected strongly to what he called a waste of perfume. He argued that it could have been sold and given to the poor. In John 12:5-6, we learn that Judas was a thief. John tells us why Judas Iscariot objected to the ‘waste’ of perfume: ‘He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.’ Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. He was not concerned about the poor, rather he was concerned that the money was not going into his bag where he could get his hands on it.

Prayer Point
Pray for Dolina Coventry in the church office, giving thanks for her faithful and invaluable service. Pray that God would give her pleasure in her work as she serves him.

Thursday 27th October
Luke 22:7-23
This passage describes what has come to be known as the Last Supper, when Jesus ate the Passover meal with his disciples, shortly before his crucifixion. We are told of the arrangements which were made for a room in which to share the meal and how they all gathered. Jesus took bread and wine with his disciples and said that they should use these symbols in the future to remind themselves of what he was about to do for them. Then the mood changes and Jesus tells them that one of them was going to betray him, one of those who were sharing the meal with him. As we know now, Jesus was speaking about Judas Iscariot, who was soon to betray him. What a tragedy, that a disciple, someone who had been with Jesus for three years and who had heard Jesus teach and seen his miracles, could be guilty of such betrayal. Have we ever been in danger of betraying our Lord, either by what we have said (or failed to say) or by our actions?

Prayer Point
Pray for the Council of Assembly ‘Roadshow’ in Inshes Church today and pray for the Minister as he leads it. Pray that many will come and express their views on the Church of Scotland.

Friday 28th October
Luke 22:24-30
In the midst of this last supper a dispute breaks out. The disciples began to argue among themselves as to who was the greatest. Looking back, this seems incredible but, of course, they did not know what was about to happen in the next few hours. Jesus stopped them and explained a striking new principle of servant leadership. Jesus had already tried to teach them this (see Mark 9:33-35) but the message had not penetrated. Jesus helps to drive the point home by explaining that he himself was not the kind or messiah they were expecting. He says, ‘I am among you as one who serves’ (verse 27). Jesus is God, and yet he became the ‘Servant King’ that we might be saved. Our attitude is to be the same as his (Philippians 2:5-8). Do we have that servant heart? Are we prepared to be the servant of others and accept a lower place?

Prayer Point
Pray for the Communion week-end starting this evening. Pray that it might be a blessing to all of us as we focus our hearts and minds on the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Saturday 29th October
Luke 22:31-38
Just as Jesus had predicted Judas Iscariot’s betrayal, so here he predicts Peter’s denial. Jesus describes how they would all give way. Peter asserts his loyalty and says that he was ready to die with Jesus. He was full of pride in his own strength and courage. He had still to learn humility and the need to rely on the strength of Christ rather than on his own strength. Jesus tells him plainly that he would deny him three times ‘before the cock crows today’ (verse 34). There is all the difference in the world between ‘being confident’ and ‘being confident in the Lord’. Peter would soon learn the difference and be broken in the process. Nevertheless, Jesus was praying for him and, as we know, he would be restored later and would then provide leadership in the church.

Prayer Point
Pray for Covenant Fellowship Scotland and for its work in seeking the reformation and renewal of the Church of Scotland according to Scripture.

Sunday 30th October
Luke 22:39-46
Jesus took his disciples to the Mount of Olives to pray. He warned them against falling into temptation and then withdrew to pray alone. He then went through an agony of soul as he prayed to his Father, asking that, if it were possible, he might be delivered from what was about to happen. He said, ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done’ (verse 42). In other words, Jesus was asking God his Father to permit him a way of escape from the suffering and the crucifixion which lay ahead of him. Nevertheless, he was prepared to go the way of the cross if that was what his father wanted. The place on the Mount of Olives where this took place is described in the other Gospels as Gethsemane, a word which surely strikes a chord in the heart of every Christian as we think of all that Christ went through for us. Are we always ready to do the will of our heavenly Father as he was?

Prayer Point
Pray for the Communion service this morning, the Raigmore service in the afternoon and the Thanksgiving service this evening.

Monday 31st October
Luke 22:47-53
Judas had slipped away early from the Last Supper (John 13:30). He now returns and he brings with him a well-armed company of priests and temple guards. They come armed, there is a brief resistance, then Jesus is taken away. We must not think, however, even at this stage, that things were out of control. As we read this account, we see a man who was completely in control of the situation, who was calm, who was apparently unafraid and who was quite prepared to accept what he knew was going to happen. Gethsemane is past. Jesus had asked for the cup to be taken from him yet indicated that he was prepared to do God’s will. Jesus had won through to the place where he was willing to die. He was entirely ready to lay down his life for others.

Prayer Point
Pray for God’s blessing on the worship and witness of our congregation. Ask that he would help us to look to the future with confidence, trusting that he is the same, yesterday, today and forever.