Monday 13 November, 2017

Mark 8:27-30

27 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” 28 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist. Others say Elijah. Still others say one of the prophets.” 29 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.” 30 Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.

In this passage, Jesus asks his disciples (including us) two important questions.

  1. Who do people say that Jesus is?
  2. Who do you say that Jesus is?

The first question refers to the voices, the people who surround us and influence us. But, the most important question is who do you say that Jesus is?

Peter had a revelation that the man standing before him was the Christ, the Messiah, and he spoke it out loud. More than believe it, he spoke it.

So, who do I say that Jesus is? Not just what I have been taught, but who has Jesus revealed himself to me as? Jesus usually reveals himself at our point of need. Our greatest need is salvation, so Jesus is our saviour. But that is not our only need.

Maybe the need is for healing, or of provision. It is important for us to say who Jesus is to us.

Jesus, thank you for revealing yourself to us, in ways that are meaningful and relevant to our need. Jesus, you are my restorer.

Written by Andrew Martin

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Sunday 12 November, 2017

Mark 8:22-26

22 Jesus and his disciples came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to him. They begged Jesus to touch him. 23 He took the blind man by the hand. Then he led him outside the village. He spit on the man’s eyes and placed his hands on him. “Do you see anything?” Jesus asked. 24 The man looked up. He said, “I see people. They look like trees walking around.” 25 Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened so that he could see again. He saw everything clearly. 26 Jesus sent him home. He told him, “Don’t even go into the village.”

I love how physical this healing is. There is nothing neat about this process.

Jesus, the Son of God, spits on this man’s eyes… Really? Almighty God doesn’t pick a cleaner or more clinical option? Perhaps a more spiritual alternative? Why?

It says Jesus lays hands on the man’s eyes more than once, and even asks him part way through, “do you see anything?” It’s so everyday, so grounded… Yet the results are miraculous. No sight. Sight. Dependent. Independent. Isolated. Connected. Wow!

Am I trusting God, that He can move in the everyday and the ordinary, to do the miraculous? Am I looking for God to turn up in the mess and mundane of life? Do I dare to believe that God is more than comfortable in humble circumstances?

God, help me to expect more of you and to trust that you are the one who brings the super to my natural. Help me to step out in the everyday and trust that you will bring the extraordinary. Amen!

Written by Beth Waugh

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Saturday 11 November, 2017

Mark 8:11-21

11 The Pharisees came and began to ask Jesus questions. They wanted to test him. So they asked him for a sign from heaven. 12 He sighed deeply. He said, “Why do you people ask for a sign? What I’m about to tell you is true. No sign will be given to you.” 13 Then he left them. He got back into the boat and crossed to the other side of the lake. 14 The disciples had forgotten to bring bread. They had only one loaf with them in the boat. 15 “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees. And watch out for the yeast of Herod.” 16 They talked about this with each other. They said, “He must be saying this because we don’t have any bread.” 17 Jesus knew what they were saying. So he asked them, “Why are you talking about having no bread? Why can’t you see or understand? Are you stubborn? 18 Do you have eyes and still don’t see? Do you have ears and still don’t hear? And don’t you remember? 19 Earlier I broke five loaves for the 5,000. How many baskets of pieces did you pick up?” “Twelve,” they replied. 20 “Later I broke seven loaves for the 4,000. How many baskets of pieces did you pick up?” “Seven,” they answered. 21 He said to them, “Can’t you understand yet?”

Yesterday’s Daily Digest covered Jesus performing a miracle of the provision of food to feed 4000 people.

From that event word of the miracle spread fast and the Pharisees came to confronted Jesus demanding another miracle to prove to them he had authority from Heaven.

Jesus seems to have been deeply affected by their demands but instead of proving to them his authority to perform miracles he declined saying ‘they would not be given a sign’.

Later he said to his disciples “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees.”   If you are wondering what Jesus meant by this, it is clearly defined in Luke 12:1 as “hypocrisy”.

The word ‘hypocrisy’ in Jesus’s time meant to wear a mask and referred to a ‘stage actor’.  Simply put hypocrisy is when your words and actions don’t match.

This has left me thinking, what things am I saying that don’t match my actions. – For me the big one is making promises I don’t keep.

So, take the opportunity today to listen to what you are saying and judge for yourself, are you being true to your words.  Are you being deceptive in a way that hurts other people.

Lord, reveal to me today at least one way in which I am being hypocritical and given me the grace to change my life in this area.

Amen.

Written by David Newton

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Friday 10 November, 2017

Mark 8:1-10

8 During those days another large crowd gathered. They had nothing to eat. So Jesus called for his disciples to come to him. He said, 2 “I feel deep concern for these people. They have already been with me three days. They don’t have anything to eat. 3 If I send them away hungry, they will become too weak on their way home. Some of them have come from far away.” 4 His disciples answered him. “There is nothing here,” they said. “Where can anyone get enough bread to feed them?” 5 “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked. “Seven,” they replied. 6 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. He took the seven loaves and gave thanks to God. Then he broke them and gave them to his disciples. They passed the pieces of bread around to the people. 7 The disciples also had a few small fish. Jesus gave thanks for them too. He told the disciples to pass them around. 8 The people ate and were satisfied. After that, the disciples picked up seven baskets of leftover pieces. 9 About 4,000 people were there. After Jesus sent them away, 10 he got into a boat with his disciples. He went to the area of Dalmanutha.

I was talking with someone recently about the Old Testament name for God ‘Jehovah Jireh’. This name translates to mean ‘God will provide’ or ‘God will see to it.’ Not even just that God can provide, but that He will.

We see this characteristic of God in this passage through the actions of Jesus. When Jesus was surrounded by the disciples and the people who were following Him, He was already aware of their hunger & their need for food to eat. He knew before they even got to that point that they would be in this situation, stomachs grumbling.  He knew that the need was great – that there would be lots of mouths to feed – but that His ability to see to it & provide was greater. In this instance, Jesus met the hunger of these people in a very real, tangible, and miraculous way, and showed both His incredible power & deep compassion for them at the same time. I wonder what it would have been like to taste and eat the food that Jesus had multiplied? To know that the bread you were eating, in the natural sense, should not have been able to exist?

This is what is so great about the fact that God will provide. It’s not just that He did provide for people in the Bible, like in this passage. He will, and does, continue to see to it for each of us. He knows the situations we will face before we even get there. We too can ‘taste that bread’ when we see what God is able to provide – what God will provide – even when we feel that the situation is too big, too hard, or even impossible.

God, I am so grateful that you are in control, that you are already aware of all the situations I will ever face in life. I thank you that your desire is to see to it, and that you use your incredible power and compassion to provide for me every day. Help me to continue to place my faith in your goodness & provision for my life. Amen.

Written by Madelaine Tarasenko

1 (reply)
  1. Dimity milne says:

    Yes! I also love how there were 7 loaves to start with and at the end there were 7 baskets of leftovers. God provides for us and His supplies are never diminished. We can ask and know that no one else misses out because of us.

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Thursday 9 November, 2017

Mark 7:31-37

31 Then Jesus left the area of Tyre and went through Sidon. He went down to the Sea of Galilee and into the area known as the Ten Cities. 32 There some people brought a man to Jesus. The man was deaf and could hardly speak. They begged Jesus to place his hand on the man. 33 Jesus took the man to one side, away from the crowd. He put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. 34 Jesus looked up to heaven. With a deep sigh, he said to the man, “Ephphatha!” That means “Be opened!” 35 The man’s ears were opened. His tongue was freed up, and he began to speak clearly. 36 Jesus ordered the people not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. 37 People were really amazed. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes deaf people able to hear. And he makes those who can’t speak able to talk.”

Jesus took the man who was deaf and could hardly speak aside, and simply healed him. Then he (Jesus) told the man and his friends, not to tell anyone. What?  I think people might notice that there has been a change…

And asked them not to tell others… really he can now hear and speak… healed to hear and to speak …what else would he want to do with his new found voice then talk about this miracle that has completely transformed him…and to hear what others are saying about the man who has done so for him…what else has he done? Who is he? What will he do next? Jesus, is by far the most amazing thing happening to talk about… He has done all things well… He has even made the deaf hear and mute speak.

The irony of this story makes me reflect on the miracle of what Jesus has done for me, he has done all things well, I too should not be able to suppress my enthusiasm for him.

Jesus, you are the best thing that has ever happened to me! You have done all things well. Please help me to know this afresh today. May I not be able to stop thinking and talking about you.  Amen

Written by Zoe Stewart 

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Wednesday 8 November, 2017

Mark 7:24-30

24 Jesus went from there to a place near Tyre. He entered a house. He did not want anyone to know where he was. But he could not keep it a secret. 25 Soon a woman heard about him. An evil spirit controlled her little daughter. The woman came to Jesus and fell at his feet. 26 She was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter. 27 “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her. “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 28 “Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 Then he told her, “That was a good reply. You may go. The demon has left your daughter.” 30 So she went home and found her child lying on the bed. And the demon was gone.

It is evident from this passage that Jesus was clear on where and to whom he was called to minister. We also see some tenacious faith from the woman from Syrian Phoenicia which results in her daughter being set free from demonic power.

I find myself re-reading verse 27 – Did Jesus just refer to this woman as a dog? Yes he did. No meek and mild Jesus here! No doubt driven by desperation and sheer love for her daughter this woman ignores the insult and respectfully persists. She believes Jesus has the power to set her daughter free from demonic influence once and for all. She is not going to give up hope easily. This woman has had to track Jesus down, he was trying to keep a low profile and then she has to summon the courage to ask him to heal her little girl. Then Jesus knocks her back so she asks again and it’s this faith that ultimately gets her a miracle. Faith made a way!

Two things emerge here: opportunity and not giving up. Jesus was not in Tyre to minister to this woman or her family but she saw the chance of an encounter with Jesus and she took it. Nor was she going to back down easily. Her story is a reminder to us to look for opportunities that are outside the square and to believe. God came through for this woman and her daughter and he can come through for us too.

Dear God, help us to see opportunities and to step out in faith and trust you, Amen.

Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods

1 (reply)
  1. Andrew says:

    Ainslie
    You have highlighted the rawness and truth in this passage.
    Wow, she argues and persists in pushing her case to Jesus. She stays focused on the goal (her daughter) and is not distracted by the apparent insult (analogy to dog ).
    Faith in this case comes with tenacity, assertiveness, self control and a clear knowledge of the goal.
    Ainslie thanks for laying this truth bare.

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Tuesday 7 November, 2017

Mark 7:17-23

17 Then he left the crowd and entered the house. His disciples asked him about this teaching. 18 “Don’t you understand?” Jesus asked. “Don’t you see? Nothing that enters a person from the outside can make them ‘unclean.’ 19 It doesn’t go into their heart. It goes into their stomach. Then it goes out of the body.” In saying this, Jesus was calling all foods “clean.” 20 He went on to say, “What comes out of a person is what makes them ‘unclean.’ 21 Evil thoughts come from the inside, from a person’s heart. So do sexual sins, stealing and murder. 22 Adultery, greed, hate and cheating come from a person’s heart too. So do desires that are not pure, and wanting what belongs to others. And so do telling lies about others and being proud and being foolish. 23 All these evil things come from inside a person and make them ‘unclean.’ ”

I love how these verses speak about the state of our hearts and how that relates to living a life of holiness. Jesus says that it’s not what goes in to us that defiles us, but what comes out. What comes out is determined by the state of our hearts, and so the state of our heart should be a priority for each of us.

In seeking to live a life of holiness, I need to realise that it’s not just external actions that need to be addressed – it is just as much the internal condition of my heart. Changing behaviours without changing what’s within will result in dried up religion. I need to pay attention to my inner life – I need to guard my heart as Proverbs 4:23 encourages – and ultimately I need to submit to Jesus each day so that I am kept in a place of humility and surrender to Him. From this place, goodness can flow from my heart, and I can live a life that honours God.

Lord, thank You that You know me better than I know myself. I pray the prayer of David in Psalm 139 – search me and know my anxious thoughts; reveal in me anything that offends You, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Written by Matt Samperi

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Monday 6 November, 2017

Mark 7:1-15

7 The Pharisees gathered around Jesus. So did some of the teachers of the law. All of them had come from Jerusalem. 2 They saw some of his disciples eating food with “unclean” hands. That means they were not washed. 3 The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands to make them “clean.” That’s what the elders teach. 4 When they come from the market, they do not eat unless they wash. And they follow many other teachings. For example, they wash cups, pitchers, and kettles in a special way. 5 So the Pharisees and the teachers of the law questioned Jesus. “Why don’t your disciples live by what the elders teach?” they asked. “Why do they eat their food with ‘unclean’ hands?” 6 He replied, “Isaiah was right. He prophesied about you people who pretend to be good. He said, “ ‘These people honor me by what they say. But their hearts are far away from me. 7 Their worship doesn’t mean anything to me. They teach nothing but human rules.’ (Isaiah 29:13) 8 You have let go of God’s commands. And you are holding on to teachings that people have made up.” 9 Jesus continued speaking, “You have a fine way of setting aside God’s commands! You do this so you can follow your own teachings. 10 Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother.’ (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16) He also said, ‘Anyone who asks for bad things to happen to their father or mother must be put to death.’ (Exodus 21:17; Leviticus 20:9) 11 But you allow people to say that what might have been used to help their parents is Corban. Corban means A Gift Set Apart for God. 12 So you no longer let them do anything for their parents. 13 You make the word of God useless by putting your own teachings in its place. And you do many things like this.” 14 Again Jesus called the crowd to him. He said, “Listen to me, everyone. Understand this. 15-16 Nothing outside of a person can make them ‘unclean’ by going into them. It is what comes out of them that makes them ‘unclean.’ ”

Jesus does an amazing job in this passage reminding us that our attitudes and the way we think matter just as much as what we actually do. It’s not just what we say but what we think about saying that God hears. The disciples were focused on Jesus and what He was saying and doing so they didn’t do the traditional things that were expected of them. The Pharisees were watching just waiting to catch every little thing they did that wasn’t in line with what was expected of them as the disciples of a teacher. Who would you like to be more like – amazed, fascinated by Jesus or taking a critical eye to everyone and everything around you? I know what means I am a nicer person to be around.

Becoming more like Jesus each day includes Jesus changing the way we think, a little each day, so that our first response in a situation is the loving response. Engaging with God in that process helps us to see the changes, to be more receptive to change, to notice when our first reaction is not what we would like it to be so that we can keep working on our values, beliefs and attitudes. Ask God today to show you one thing where your attitudes need to adjust to become more like His.

Lord thank You that You care about us so much that You want us to understand love – how much You love us and how we should love others and ourselves. Thank You that You want to help us make use of that understanding of love to treat others and ourselves well and that to understand what is important to You. Help us to keep learning throughout our lives to respond how You would like us to in every situation.

Written by Therese Manning

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Sunday 5 November, 2017

Mark 6:53-56

53 They went across the lake and landed at Gennesaret. There they tied up the boat. 54 As soon as Jesus and his disciples got out, people recognized him. 55 They ran through that whole area to bring to him those who were sick. They carried them on mats to where they heard he was. 56 He went into the villages, the towns and the countryside. Everywhere he went, the people brought the sick to the market areas. Those who were sick begged him to let them touch just the edge of his clothes. And all who touched his clothes were healed.

This passage provokes the awe and wonder I have for Jesus. As I read these verses, I can only imagine the scenes of people being immediately drawn to Jesus, seeking healing and a touch from Him. The presence of our Saviour brings an attraction like no other, to those that know of His power and grace.

It wasn’t only this that brought people to Him, but the faithfulness of the people. They knew Who Jesus was, and knew His ability to bring healing. Verse 54 says, “they ran throughout the whole area, carrying sick people on mats to wherever they heard He was”, and this highlights the anticipation and desperation they had to encountering Christ. They knew His abilities, and ran towards Him.

I am encouraged by this, to run to God in all that I face, knowing that He is with me and for me. Jesus brought people in and directed them to Himself. This challenges me to ‘be’ Jesus to those around me and lead them to our King.

God, thank You for the miracles You do in my world every day. Please help me to run towards You in all that I do. May I have complete faith in Your power, and may the way I live proclaim Your faithfulness.

Written by Laura Samperi

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Saturday 4 November, 2017

Mark 6:45-52

45 Right away Jesus made his disciples get into the boat. He had them go on ahead of him to Bethsaida. Then he sent the crowd away. 46 After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. 47 Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus was alone on land. 48 He saw the disciples pulling hard on the oars. The wind was blowing against them. Shortly before dawn, he went out to them. He walked on the lake. When he was about to pass by them, 49 they saw him walking on the lake. They thought he was a ghost, so they cried out. 50 They all saw him and were terrified. Right away Jesus said to them, “Be brave! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 51 Then he climbed into the boat with them. The wind died down. And they were completely amazed. 52 They had not understood about the loaves. They were stubborn.

Oh the difficulty with our hearts! The disciples could not understand what Jesus was doing, and who He was, because of their hard hearts. Faith could not rise in them, because of their hard hearts. How often do I pray – God make your ways, your will, your plan more obvious to me – without even beginning to think, ‘Lord, first, soften my heart towards you, where it may be hard.’

These disciples had Jesus with them, every day; here He was, walking on the water, calming a raging sea. And still they did not understand him. Perhaps my inability to see God’s ways, will, and plan is more to do with the state of my heart than it is to do with the state of His activity on my behalf!

Lord, soften my heart towards you, where it may be hard. Show me where hardness of heart is preventing me from hearing from you, seeing you at work, understanding what you’re doing, and knowing what I must do in response. Amen.

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh

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