Wednesday 31 December, 2014

John 5:19-29

19 Jesus answered, “What I’m about to tell you is true. The Son can do nothing by himself. He can do only what he sees his Father doing. What the Father does, the Son also does. 20 This is because the Father loves the Son. He shows him everything he does. Yes, you will be amazed! The Father will show him even greater things than these. 21 “The Father raises the dead and gives them life. In the same way, the Son gives life to anyone he wants to. 22 “Also, the Father does not judge anyone. He has given the Son the task of judging. 23 Then all people will honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Those who do not honor the Son do not honor the Father, who sent him. 24 “What I’m about to tell you is true. Anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He will not be found guilty. He has crossed over from death to life. 25 “What I’m about to tell you is true. A time is coming for me to give life. In fact, it has already begun. The dead will hear the voice of the Son of God. Those who hear it will live. 26 “The Father has life in himself. He has also allowed the Son to have life in himself. 27 And the Father has given him the authority to judge. This is because he is the Son of Man. 28 “Do not be amazed at this. A time is coming when all who are in the grave will hear his voice. 29 They will all come out of their graves. Those who have done good will rise and live again. Those who have done evil will rise and be found guilty.

This is a picture of perfect unity between Jesus and the Father. He only does what He sees the Father doing.  As a man, apart from God, He knows that can do nothing of eternal significance. But with God He has power and authority.

This is such an important model for us – to live in daily communion with God’s Spirit and to ask Him to show us how we can be a part of what He is doing.

I can so easily rush off for the day and forget to ask the Holy Spirit to lead me in what He has for me to do that day. And that leads to striving in my own strength and getting stressed and worn out.

This is a timely reminder, especially at this busy time of year, for me to stop and look for what the Father is doing. May I find His strength and His peace as I move through each day with Him.

Written by Shelley Witt

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Tuesday 30 December, 2014

John 5:1-18

5 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a Jewish feast. 2 In Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate is a pool. In the Aramaic language it is called Bethesda. It is surrounded by five rows of columns with a roof over them. 3/4 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie down. Among them were those who were blind, those who could not walk, and those who could hardly move. 5 One person who was there had been disabled for 38 years. 6 Jesus saw him lying there. He knew that the man had been in that condition for a long time. So he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” 7 “Sir,” the disabled man replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when an angel stirs the water up. I try to get in, but someone else always goes down ahead of me.” 8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was healed. He picked up his mat and walked. The day this happened was a Sabbath. 10 So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath. The law does not allow you to carry your mat.” 11 But he replied, “The one who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’” 12 They asked him, “Who is this fellow? Who told you to pick it up and walk?” 13 The one who was healed had no idea who it was. Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. 14 Later Jesus found him at the temple. Jesus said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning, or something worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away. He told the Jews it was Jesus who had made him well. 16 Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath day. So the Jews began to oppose him. 17 Jesus said to them, “My Father is always doing his work. He is working right up to this very day. I am working too.” 18 For this reason the Jews tried even harder to kill him. Jesus was not only breaking the Sabbath. He was even calling God his own Father. He was making himself equal with God.

Jesus heals a man who had been an invalid for 38 years. At the time he was healed he had no idea who Jesus was. Jesus simply told the man to get up, walk and take your mat with you. The miracle was performed on the Sabbath which angered the Jewish leaders. Jesus referred to God as his Father thereby equating himself with God and this further infuriated the Jewish leaders.

Jesus was happy to see the man made whole but he also warned him to stop leading a sinful life because something far worse may happen. The guy was probably thinking what could be worse than lying here paralysed for 38 years and had no concept of an eternity in hell.

Jesus authority is clearly on display here. The paralysed man had no idea who Jesus was yet at his command he got up and walked. He did this without hesitation. There was no questioning who Jesus was and why should obey. He just did it and his obedience paid off. There must have been something so compelling about Jesus that this man took him at his word. It encourages me to take God at his word especially where I feel unable to move in the right direction or make any kind of move at all.

It is interesting that Jesus asked the man what he wanted – wasn’t it obvious! God so wants to relate to us – to chat. He wanted to hear this poor man explain why life wasn’t working for him. The hopelessness of never making it to that pool in his own strength. When Jesus tells the man to get up and walk it’s like he’s saying, “Enough of this life, no more, be healed!” It’s said in direct response to the man’s explanation.

Thank Lord thank you for the authority that Jesus has in my life to make me whole. Amen

Written by Ainslie Woods

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Monday 29 December, 2014

John 4:43-54

43 After the two days, Jesus left for Galilee. 44 He himself had pointed out that a prophet is not respected in his own country. 45 When he arrived in Galilee, the people living there welcomed him. They had seen everything he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast. That was because they had also been there. 46 Once more, Jesus visited Cana in Galilee. Cana is where he had turned the water into wine. A royal official was there. His son was sick in bed at Capernaum. 47 The official heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea. So he went to Jesus and begged him to come and heal his son. The boy was close to death. 48 Jesus told him, “You people will never believe unless you see miraculous signs and wonders.” 49 The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” 50 Jesus replied, “You may go. Your son will live.” The man believed what Jesus said, and so he left. 51 While he was still on his way home, his servants met him. They gave him the news that his boy was living. 52 He asked what time his son got better. They said to him, “The fever left him yesterday afternoon at one o’clock.” 53 Then the father realized what had happened. That was the exact time Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and all his family became believers. 54 This was the second miraculous sign that Jesus did after coming from Judea to Galilee.

Jesus complaining – now that should get our attention!  He is not usually a complainer.  But here something has obviously disturbed Him, upset Him.  The ‘issue’ is that people wanted miracles.  Well what’s the problem with that?  Isn’t Jesus a miracle worker?  Isn’t He meant to do miracles?  The answer to both of these questions are a resounding YES!  But we need to ask deeper questions, see further.  Miracles are only sign posts.  It would be like taking pictures of signposts for your holiday rather than the destination you are meant to be going to!  Miracles are not the big deal – Jesus is and this is why He was complaining – people were seeking miracles not the Messiah!

So where do we seek miracles, provision, healing, whatever is our deal rather than the Lord Himself?  Are we so focused on the sign posts that we miss the Saviour, so focused on the miracles that we miss the Messiah?

Father help us to see Jesus and be satisfied by Him, which we know is complete!

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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Sunday 28 December, 2014

John 4:27-42

27 Just then Jesus’ disciples returned. They were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want from her?” No one asked, “Why are you talking with her?” 28 The woman left her water jar and went back to the town. She said to the people, 29 “Come. See a man who told me everything I’ve ever done. Could this be the Christ?” 30 The people came out of the town and made their way toward Jesus. 31 His disciples were saying to him, “Rabbi, eat something!” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” 33 Then his disciples asked each other, “Did someone bring him food?” 34 Jesus said, “My food is to do what my Father sent me to do. My food is to finish his work. 35 “You say, ‘Four months more, and then it will be harvest time.’ But I tell you, open your eyes! Look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest right now. 36 Those who gather the crop are already getting paid. They are already harvesting the crop for eternal life. So those who plant and those who gather can now be glad together. 37 “Here is a true saying. ‘One plants and another gathers.’ 38 I sent you to gather what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work. You have gathered the benefits of their work.” 39 Many of the Samaritans from the town of Sychar believed in Jesus. They believed because of the woman’s witness. She said, “He told me everything I’ve ever done.” 40 Then the Samaritans came to him and tried to get him to stay with them. So he stayed two days. 41 Because of his words, many more people became believers. 42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said. We have now heard for ourselves. We know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

I love this story of the Samaritan woman’s interaction with Jesus and His interactions with the disciples. It helps me – because they all take a while to get what Jesus is on about. Just like me – I can take a while to catch on to the obvious truth Jesus wants me to live in. The woman after a long chat to Jesus finally “gets” it when Jesus reveals He knows all about her – and He is still talking to her. The disciples are focussed on physical sustenance (food) when Jesus hijacks the conversation to get them thinking about what is really important – seeing lost people saved – something that has just happened with Jesus and the woman at the well. We don’t get any indication of the disciples “catching on” but when the people of the town come crowding in around Jesus because of what the woman has told them – and then after hearing Jesus speak to them – they also believe – I imagine the disciples may have had an “oh I get it” moment.

Lord as I lift up my eyes – help me to see the harvest – the people all around me who are ready to receive you. Help me, like the woman, hold on to the incredible truth that you know all about me and yet you still love me. As Christmas approaches – help me tell my story and Yours’ so my friends can discover the wonder of You for themselves.

Written by Ps. Linda Quinn

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Saturday 27 December, 2014

John 4:16-26

16 He told her, “Go. Get your husband and come back.” 17 “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands. And the man you have now is not your husband. What you have just said is very true.” 19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our people have worshiped on this mountain for a long time. But you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 Jesus said, “Believe me, woman. A time is coming when you will not worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know. We worship what we do know. Salvation comes from the Jews. 23 “But a new time is coming. In fact, it is already here. True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. They are the kind of worshipers the Father is looking for. 24 “God is spirit. His worshipers must worship him in spirit and in truth.” 25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah is coming.” (He is called Christ.) “When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” 26 Then Jesus said, “I, the one speaking to you, am he.”

God loves to break boxes.

At one moment she is so clueless that while he is talking about profound spiritual blessing she can’t see past his lack of a bucket (v11). She’s fitting right into the stereotype: a Samaritan … a woman … an unfaithful woman at that. What would you expect? She’s well and truly in her box.

But God is clearly speaking to her heart. Jesus points to a core issue in her life and she is obviously feeling uncomfortable. She tries to divert the conversation away from her life to an academic diversion (her equivalent of “what about evolution”).

And then she suddenly grasps hold of the most significant issue here: the Messiah. This must be an insight from God. And she’s willing to believe that Jesus really might be him. And as a result of her testimony, the whole town comes to Jesus.

The cleverest theological minds of their day so completely miss who Jesus is that they have him put to death, but this outcast Samaritan woman hears and sees who he really is. The people of Nazareth and Jerusalem don’t believe Jesus, but this Samaritan town does.

“God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise.” (1 Corinthians 1:18-30)

I’m challenged never to put anyone in a box. God reveals himself to whomever he chooses. And I’m especially challenged never to put God in a box – unless I want to look foolish. He’s always surprising me, and delighting me.

Written By David Cornell

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Friday 26 December, 2014

John 4:1-15

4 The Pharisees heard that Jesus was winning and baptizing more disciples than John. 2 But in fact Jesus was not baptizing. His disciples were. 3 When the Lord found out about all this, he left Judea. He went back to Galilee again. 4 Jesus had to go through Samaria. 5 He came to a town in Samaria called Sychar. It was near the piece of land Jacob had given his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there. Jesus was tired from the journey. So he sat down by the well. It was about noon. 7 A woman from Samaria came to get some water. Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew. I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” She said this because Jews don’t have anything to do with Samaritans. 10 Jesus answered her, “You do not know what God’s gift is. And you do not know who is asking you for a drink. If you did, you would have asked him. He would have given you living water.” 11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you don’t have anything to get water with. The well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 “Our father Jacob gave us the well. He drank from it himself. So did his sons and his flocks and herds. Are you more important than he is?” 13 Jesus answered, “All who drink this water will be thirsty again. 14 But anyone who drinks the water I give him will never be thirsty. In fact, the water I give him will become a spring of water in him. It will flow up into eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water. Then I will never be thirsty. And I won’t have to keep coming here to get water.”

What an incredible illustration of our reality. How often are we tied up with the cares of the world, busy getting water, or whatever is pressing at that moment, consumed in going about our daily chores. We might find ourselves talking to God about the difficulties of daily living, and here He is, with us in the midst of our ordinary, offering us so much more, calling us to so much more. We might react like the woman at the well – what is this living water? You don’t even have a bucket. What do you mean? Responding with doubt and frustration, as if at any minute we’re going to have to go back to the real world, of hard work and looking after ourselves. And here God is, King of the Universe, gentle and kind even as we respond in our small mindedness. God longing to satisfy our deep desires with Himself, longing for us to let Him take care of us and longing for us to fix our gaze on Him. God desiring to show us a bigger way to live, with vision and faith, living beyond the day to day chores.

God, please help me to get unstuck from my focus on water, chores, responsibilities and cares. Help me lift up my eyes, take you at your word and receive what you are offering the help that you are offering. I want your living water, please help me to receive it. Amen.

Written by Beth Waugh

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Thursday 25 December, 2014

Isaiah 9:6-7

6 A child will be born to us. A son will be given to us. He will rule over us. And he will be called Wonderful Adviser and Mighty God. He will also be called Father Who Lives Forever and Prince Who Brings Peace. 7 The authority of his rule will continue to grow. The peace he brings will never end. He will rule on David’s throne and over his kingdom. He will make the kingdom strong and secure. His rule will be based on what is fair and right. It will last forever. The Lord’s great love will make sure that happens. He rules over all.

The description of the Messiah is unambiguous – powerful and inspiring.

The names given suggest a number of things. Divine wisdom and power, ongoing and unceasing fatherly care, the bringing of peace with all of its blessings.

When I think of a Saviour these descriptions cover all my needs. I need a Saviour – one who doesn’t just deal with part of who I am but all that I am and hope to be.

Jesus – the child born is this Saviour.

But even more than this I take confidence from the fact that the kingdom God establishes through the Saviour, Jesus, is one of ever increasing peace and ever increasing dimension. Jesus rule and reign – His kingdom – is not geographical but in our hearts and God’s promise is that it will always increase.

That means His transforming work in me and through me is always at work by His Word and Spirit – wow what a life of joy, of peace, of fruitfulness!!

Father, this Christmas I come to you afresh, committing my life to your Lordship. May I follow you more dearly and nearly day-by-day!

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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Wednesday 24 December, 2014

Matthew 7-12

7 Then Herod called for the Wise Men secretly. He found out from them exactly when the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem. He said, “Go! Make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, bring me a report. Then I can go and worship him too.” 9 After the Wise Men had listened to the king, they went on their way. The star they had seen when they were in the east went ahead of them. It finally stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy. 11 The Wise Men went to the house. There they saw the child with his mother Mary. They bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures. They gave him gold, incense and myrrh.

The “Magi” often called “wise men” were scholars whose knowledge of both astrological science and prophecy helped them to figure out that the unusually bright star they saw shining over Bethlehem pointed the way to the Messiah.

King Herod, who ruled Judea, would have been jealous of any competing king who would have drawn attention away from him — especially one who people thought was worthy of being worshipped.

After meeting the Magi secretly, King Herod told them of Micah’s prophecy and told them he intended to worship Jesus too. I think these men weighed up Micah’s words carefully and realised that it was God who was guiding them by means of the star. Being wise men they were convinced of the authenticity of the pilgrimage.

They were so excited when they saw Jesus that they bowed before him and worshipped him. Mission accomplished! Being devout men they believed the dream God gave them; As we see God’s hand in our lives we are convinced He will reveal His purposes in and through our experiences.

Lord, we thank You for Your guiding light pointing us to a personal relationship with You. We gladly lift our hearts in worship to honour and adore Jesus.

Written by Keith Bennett

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Tuesday 23 December, 2014

Matthew 2:1-6

2 Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea. This happened while Herod was king of Judea. After Jesus’ birth, Wise Men from the east came to Jerusalem. 2 They asked, “Where is the child who has been born to be king of the Jews? When we were in the east, we saw his star. Now we have come to worship him.” 3 When King Herod heard about it, he was very upset. Everyone in Jerusalem was troubled too. 4 So Herod called together all the chief priests of the people. He also called the teachers of the law. He asked them where the Christ was going to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied. “This is what the prophet has written. He said, 6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are certainly not the least important among the towns of Judah. A ruler will come out of you. He will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’” (Micah 5:2)

As I read this story it struck me for the first time just how extraordinary it is that this band of scholars, wise men from the East, knew that the Messiah had been born just by observing the star that signalled His birth.

How did they know this?  I don’t really know the answer to that question, but they were obviously watching and waiting for this sign and managed to see what so many others failed to see.

How often do I miss the signals from the Holy Spirit because I am not attentive or I ignore His promptings?

Maybe there’s something that you know the Holy Spirit has been trying to point out to you but you have been ignoring Him or putting it off.

I am making a commitment today to attend to a particular area in my life that I know that God has been prompting me to change. Can I encourage you to do the same?

Like those wise men, I know we will find great rewards in following the leading of God’s Spirit.

Written by Shelley Witt

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Monday 22 December, 2014

Luke 2:8-21

8 There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby. It was night, and they were looking after their sheep. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them. And the glory of the Lord shone around them. They were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy. It is for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord. 12 Here is how you will know I am telling you the truth. You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a large group of angels from heaven also appeared. They were praising God. They said, 14 “May glory be given to God in the highest heaven! And may peace be given to those he is pleased with on earth!” 15 The angels left and went into heaven. Then the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem. Let’s 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. The baby was lying in the manger. 17 After the shepherds had seen him, they told everyone. They reported what the angel had said about this child. 18 All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary kept all these things like a secret treasure in her heart. She thought about them over and over. 20 The shepherds returned. They gave glory and praise to God. Everything they had seen and heard was just as they had been told. 21 When the child was eight days old, he was circumcised. At the same time he was named Jesus. This was the name the angel had given him before his mother became pregnant.

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

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