Tuesday 30 April, 2019

Genesis 1:1-13

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day. 6 And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” 7 So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day. 9 And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.

The existence of the earth and all creation was always a deliberate choice- nothing that is here as part of this amazing and complex planet is a matter of random chance. I love the intentional way that God creates, structured and ordered. The rhythm of creation is there right from the start- light and dark, earth and sky, day and night. There are times when I am caught up in the hectic pace of my life and it brings me perspective to remember I am part of something much bigger that has been that way since the beginning of time.

Lastly I am struck by the sense of fruitfulness that springs from creation. God could have stopped at the creation of beautiful scenery, but He didn’t because he knew there was even better to come. A reminder to me that my life, like all of creation, is intended to be fruitful. Fruitfulness will come in different seasons and that’s the way God intended. It’s ok if I have a bit of a ‘dry patch’ so long as I keep moving forward towards the next season.

Heavenly Father never let me forget your power and might. Help me Father to rest in the rhythm of life that is your design. Help to be fruitful in all aspects of my life. In Jesus Name Amen.

Written by Christine Knight

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Monday 29 April, 2019

John 21:20-25

20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) 21 When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” 22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” 23 Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?” 24 This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. 25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

I can remember about 12 years ago when I was having a particularly difficult time, I would keep going over and over the hurts, difficulties and struggles that seemingly were ‘tied’ to me.  I found that I just couldn’t let them go and find freedom.  I remember my Pastor calling me one day and giving me this scripture.

She said to me “Sue, you cannot look at others.  You cannot compare yourself or wonder why their life is like one thing and yours another.  “You must still keep on following me!”  Another version says “YOU – Follow Me”.

I learnt from that moment that if we live a life of comparison we will forever be looking around rather than straight ahead at Jesus.  We will be looking at others and driven by comparison and not find rest in Him.

When we Follow Him – our eyes are focussed on Him; His purpose – therefore My purpose; His calling – therefore MY calling; His future – therefore MY future.

If you struggle with comparison like Peter did and like I did, I encourage you to hear Jesus afresh to you today – and Follow Him.  Focus your eyes on HIM and He will come into focus and light your way.

Lord, I pray that for each of us we would not look to others, to the right or to the left – but to YOU.  Help each one of us today to break free from the bondage of performance and enter the freedom of calling.

Written by Ps. Sue Botta

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Sunday 28 April, 2019

John 21:15-19

15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

Most people familiar with the Bible know this passage is a companion scripture for John 18:15-27. These two scriptures tell the story of how Peter completely abandoned Jesus at a critical moment in history and yet was restored to relationship after Jesus’s resurrection. This was an amazing act of forgiveness and reconciliation that would see Peter become a major influence in the New Testament church.

I understand Peter had a special calling, but this has left me wondering if this passage reveals the right motives for service in the kingdom of God. For each time Peter denied knowing Jesus, Jesus required from Peter a declaration of love and a practical way for Peter to demonstrate it.

From a deep sense of gratitude for Jesus’s forgiveness and a knowledge his own weaknesses and failures Peter was able to commit himself to a lifetime of service to God. Out of weakness came not only the ability to stay the course in his own life but the ability to strengthen others in their faith (read Luke 22:32).

This has left me wondering about my own motives for service. Am I serving from a deep sense of appreciation and are my weaknesses being turned to strengths that can serve others?

Lord, I ask you help us establish the right motives in our efforts to serve your people.

Amen!

Written by David Newton

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Saturday 27 April, 2019

John 21:1-14

21 Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3 “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. 4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. 5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. 6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. 7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8 The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. 9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

This is a familiar post resurrection story. Peter and a few disciples decided to go fishing but they don’t catch anything. Nothing. We are also told that this is the third time that Jesus had appeared to his disciples.

Not the first time, but the third time. And this time, Jesus finds them fishing for fish.

It would be easy to think that Jesus could have told them off, for being in the boat fishing for fish and not doing what he had trained them to be and that was to be fishers of men. But that is not how Jesus talks to us. He doesn’t say to us, “how many times do I have to tell you…?”

Instead, Jesus sees them, sees their struggle – they haven’t caught anything at all. He reveals himself to them AGAIN as their provider and fills their nets. He also prepares breakfast for them on the beach.

Jesus doesn’t talk to us as we think we deserve, instead in his great love for us, he talks to us as we need to hear. When we make mistakes, he isn’t yelling at us, he is loving us. He doesn’t turn away from us, he stays with us and provides for us, whatever that could be, even breakfast on the beach.

Jesus, thank you for loving us, for being patient with us, and always speaking to us as we need even when we think we don’t deserve it.

Written by Andrew Martin

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Friday 26 April, 2019

John 20:19-31

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” Jesus Appears to Thomas 24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” 26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” 28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

In response to the disciples telling Thomas about their experience with Jesus, Thomas says “Unless I see… I will not believe” (vs 25). It can be easy to read this and think, “why would he doubt the disciples, why wouldn’t he believe, does he not know the power of God?” But as I think about this passage, I could have easily had the same response if it were me.

How often do we wait till we’ve seen the miracle before we have complete trust and confidence in God? I know I can sometimes find myself seeking God and asking Him for things, but find much greater confidence when He answers my prayers. Jesus profoundly says, “…blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed (vs 29). Whilst I believe in Jesus by faith and not sight, I am challenged to think about how I approach Him day to day, and how often I think “unless I see I will not believe” this can happen.

Dear God, thank You for Your grace and love. I pray that You would help me today to have complete trust and confidence in You, in all that I bring before You. In Jesus’ Name.

Written by Ps. Laura Samperi

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Thursday 25 April, 2019

John 20:11-18

11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. 13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. 15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). 17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

Mary is deeply distressed and confused because she does not know where Jesus’ body has been taken. In the midst of this Jesus appears to her, replacing her distress with joy and her confusion with peace. I can hear the joy and hope in her voice as she declares to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!”

Jesus longs to do the same for me, that I would seek Him and invite Him into my distress and confusion, and trust Him to bring me joy and peace.

Jesus, please forgive me for all the times I have sought to bury my distress and confusion, or manufacture peace myself. Help me to quickly bring my distress and confusion before you, and trust that you will bring me joy and peace. Amen.

Written by Ps. Beth Waugh

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Wednesday 24 April, 2019

John 20:1-10

20 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” 3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.

Here we are right in the middle of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. Mary Magdalene has gone to the tomb where Jesus has been buried but He is not there. She thinks someone has taken Him. Finding Simon Peter and John, Mary tells them what has happened. Both men run to the tomb to see for themselves what Mary has been talking about. And it is just as she said: He is not there.

They are caught in the middle of a situation that doesn’t make sense to them. They each have very different responses.

Mary goes outside and cries. For her, all hope is gone.

Peter goes home. He’s probably feeling deflated and wondering what he can do to fix it.

John believes. He remembers what Jesus has said about being raised again. More accurately, the Holy Spirit reminds him of what Jesus has said.

When I read this, I cannot help but think about my own response when I’m in the middle of something I do not fully understand. Do I cry? Most often. Do I go home and try to think about what I can do? Again, most often. I need to be more like John and be reminded. To pause and think back to what Jesus has told me.

Holy Spirit, when I am caught in situations where I don’t know what to do or fully understand all that is going on, help me to focus on Jesus and remind me of what He has said to me.

Written by Gab Martin

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Tuesday 23 April, 2019

John 19:31-42

31 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35 The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. 36 These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” 37 and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.” 38 Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. 39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

I have been interested in the delivery of justice for as long as I can remember. As an 8 year old, I can remember being given a detention for getting into a fight in the school yard and the person I was fighting with being let off. “That’s not fair!” I cried. I genuinely believe that the person I was fighting with deserved the punishment, and that I was completely in the right.

Even my name, Justin, is derived from the word justice.

This passage in John’s gospel, shows God’s genius as he turns justice on its head using a double injustice to ultimately achieve a just way for all sinners to achieve right relationship with Himself.

Romans 5:8 tells me that “while we were still sinners, Christ Died for us” and Romans 3:23 confirms what I know to be true “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”.

The narrative in John 19:31-42 shows me that the passage in 2 Corinthians 5:21 (God made Him that knew no sin to become sin for us so that we can become the righteousness of God) could just as accurately be written “God made Him that knew no injustice to receive injustice for us, so that we might receive His perfect justice”.

Thank you Lord that you have made a way that is completely fair, yet completely unfair at the same time. Your justice rules in my favour and I am eternally grateful.

Written by Ps. Justin Ware

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Monday 22 April, 2019

John 19:16b-30

So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle. 19 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: jesus of nazareth, the king of the jews. 20 Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21 The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.” 23 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. 24 “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said, “They divided my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.” So this is what the soldiers did. 25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. The Death of Jesus 28 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

“I am thirsty”

I’ve often wondered why this small detail was mentioned in the Bible. What does it mean? Especially since, in another account of Jesus’ crucifixion in Matthew 27:34, He tastes the vinegar/myrrh mixture (basically a sedative) and rejects it. I wonder if this was a different thirst that Jesus was experiencing.

The Holy Spirit is described as a flowing river of water for those who are thirsty (See John 7;37-39). Was that the thirst Jesus was missing?

The same verse in the passage above gives us a clue here – “later, knowing that EVERYTHING had now been finished”…v28.

Everything.

All of my sin. All of my rebellion and rejection of God’s authority in my life. All the desperate dryness of my sin and my separation from God – that permeates my whole being – was heaped on Jesus. No wonder He was thirsty?

Are you thirsty? Are you dry inside? A dryness that comes when God is not in your life? You don’t need to be! Jesus has come to take that dryness for you. Just come to Him today and drink.

Jesus, my sin and rejection of you has made me dry and I don’t want to live like that anymore. Thanks for dying in my place and taking my everything onto yourself. Please pour the water of your presence into my life now. I need it.

Amen

Written by Boudy Van Noppen

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Sunday 21 April, 2019

John 19:1-16a

19 Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2 The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe 3 and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face. 4 Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” 5 When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” 6 As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!” But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.” 7 The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” 8 When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, 9 and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” 12 From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.” 13 When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). 14 It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon. “Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews. 15 But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!” “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered. 16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

At the time of writing today, I am in the middle of preparing for our church Good Friday and Easter Services. Each year at this time, we especially focus on what happened to Jesus leading up to His death on the cross.

In this passage, I see how fearless and powerful Jesus is in the face of His imminent trial and crucifixion.  Pilate is challenging Jesus – “aren’t you afraid of me? I have the power to either free you or crucify you”

No, Jesus corrects Pilate, you do not have power over me, only what God has allowed – “you would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.”

Do I experience this same fearlessness in my own life? Do I say in the face of the enemy that nothing can come against me unless it’s part of God’s plan?

Today I face my fears with renewed confidence in my position before God. I am His, He is my defender and I have nothing to fear.

Written by Shelley Witt

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