Sunday 17 June, 2012

Lk 3:21-22

21 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

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

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Saturday 16 June, 2012

Luke 3:15-20

15 The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with[a] water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with[b] the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” 18 And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them. 19 But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of his marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done, 20 Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison.

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

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Friday 15 June, 2012

Luke 3:7-14

7 John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” 10 “What should we do then?” the crowd asked. 11 John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” 12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?” 13 “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them. 14 Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely —be content with your pay.”

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

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Thursday 14 June, 2012

Luke 3:1-6

3 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— 2 during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. 5 Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. 6 And all people will see God’s salvation.’”

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

3 replies
  1. Richard Botta says:

    I love that it is God who leads us into, speaks to and sustains us in the wilderness.

  2. Linda Quinn says:

    I love that the word of God that John brought was proclaiming that all humanity would see the salvation of God. They were “about” to see what we can “now” see – our salvation – our Saviour. Holy Spirit – open my eyes, I want to see Jesus.

  3. Sam Liu says:

    First time I’m checking out the daily digest. I think I’ll make it a regular thing from from now on!

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Wednesday 13 June, 2012

Luke 2:41-52

41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” 49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”[a] 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them. 51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

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

2 replies
  1. Megan Cornell says:

    You’re right Linda! It’s us who ‘get lost’ and don’t follow God’s direction for us.
    “Lord, help me to go where you’re going, not expect you to follow me”

  2. Sue Botta says:

    I love this part where it says that Mary ‘treasured’ these things in her heart… She was so aware of all the ‘truth’ around Jesus…
    she must have wondered WHEN would be His time…HOW would it happen…..She waited patiently treasuring things in her heart….Lord give us patience to see all that you want to come to pass….will happen in your way, your time…

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Tuesday 12 June, 2012

Luke 2:36-40

36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four.[a] She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. 39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.

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

2 replies
  1. Mandy Miller says:

    It’s always great to see men & women stepping into our God-given gifts – and with passion… Thanks Linda!

  2. Richard Botta says:

    Never keep a person down based on gender – God doesn’t nor should we – go for it Linda!

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Monday 11 June, 2012

Luke 2:25-35

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss[a] your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” 33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

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.

  1. Holy Spirit was upon him.
  2. He had knowledge, through the Holy Spirit,
  3. He came by the Spirit into the temple:

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

2 replies
  1. Mandy Miller says:

    I love being reminded about “what is the heart-beat of my life…” What are my priorities & am I really walking that path…

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Sunday 10 June, 2012

Lk 2:21-24

21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived. 22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”[a]), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”[b]

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

1 (reply)
  1. Linda Stengl says:

    True, thankfulness with obedience and faithfulness, from Mary and Joseph, blows me away! What amazing role models for us.

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Luke 2:8-20

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

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

1 (reply)
  1. Linda Quinn says:

    l love that the Shepherds moved from fear to wonder and that the telling of their story moved people. I think we sometimes underestimate the power of our whole story – including all the bits where we don’t know what’s going on and we feel out of control or afraid. But when I share these “moments of my story” with friends I sense they see the bigger picture of God at work in my life better.

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Friday 8 June, 2012

Luke 2:1-7

2 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

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

3 replies
  1. Linda Quinn says:

    Humble and wise – such an amazing and uncommon combination of traits today. Thanks for the reminder that partnership with God operates best in these conditions.

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