‘The parable of the barren fig tree’ (Luke 13:6-9, Peter Phillips)

The parable of the barren fig tree in Luke 13:6-9 belongs to Jesus’ words at the end of Luke 12 and his response to the people who told him of the death of certain Galileans killed by Pilate’s soldiers, and continues theme of our urgent need to make our peace with God. The people of his time could interpret the signs of changing weather, but not ‘the present time’ in which showed He was their Messiah and King. Despite this, and using the news of the day, Jesus persisted in calling people everywhere and immediately to repentance.

‘Abram: Background steps’ (Genesis 11:27-32)

One of the most important characters in the Bible also played a major part in the unfolding of God’s plan of salvation. His name was Abraham, first introduced to us in Genesis 11:27-32 as Abram. His family background plays an important part in his story as does the fact that his wife Sarai, was barren…and who was it that Abram worshipped before God called him? All these matters underline the amazing grace of God that saves those who by rights, do not belong.

‘Saved to serve the King’ (Luke 19, Rev Peter Phillips)

Jesus tells a parable in Luke 19 and perhaps we didn’t notice the context. He tells the story to highlight his mission to “seek and save the lost”. It connects with Zacchaeus’ conversion, Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and how the people didn’t understand his mission or have him as king. We read of a present saviour and a coming judge. Will we serve him as king?

‘Resurrection’ (John 20, Rev Peter Phillips)

The resurrection is central to Christianity. Without it our faith in futile (1 Corinthians 15:17-18) and we have no hope (1 Peter 1:3). Reason says that dead people don’t rise but that was known in the first century AD as well as now. Scripture records the careful eyewitness of such a surprising event and even 50 days afterward (Pentecost, Acts 2) there was already a debate about the resurrection! It was testified so that you may “believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead” (Romans 10:9). “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

‘Loving Jesus more’ (Luke 7:36-50)

Simon was puzzled by Jesus; who was he? Was he from God, a prophet even? So he invited him to eat with him – and Jesus accepted. In Luke 7:36-50, we find that during the meal at his home, a woman Simon knew to be a ‘sinner’ (prostitute) wet Jesus’ feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair and anointed them with perfumed ointment. But Jesus knew who she was, and that she had done this to him because she was a forgiven sinner; faith in Jesus had saved her; she had believed in him, and he had forgiven her, and she had done this to him because, having been forgiven much, she loved him much.

If Jesus has forgiven our sins, we cannot help loving him, and long to show our love for him, for we know our forgiveness cost him death on a cross; we know that the Son of God loved us and gave himself for us. If we love Jesus, we will know our love for him is not yet what it ought to be, and we will long to love him more, and we will nourish our love for him by meditating on his love for us, by the inward working of his Spirit, and by prayer. The proof of our love for him is not feelings, or tears, or costly gifts, but obeying him. Love for him will enable us to obey him and so prove our love, and our obedience with increase our love for him who died for us to save us from our sins.

‘Walking in truth and love’ (Rev Peter Phillips, 2 John 1-13)

Balance is so necessary in all of life, even and especially our theology which leads to daily practice. If our witness for Christ is to be effective and fruitful, 2 John 1-13 reminds us that truth and love need to be balanced. If not, the world will never hear waht we have to say, nor will they notice the reality of Christ in our lives.