Sunday 8 February, 2015

John 16:1-15

16 “All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. 3 They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. 4 I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, 5 but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. 7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. 12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

Check out verse 2. That’s a dire warning from Jesus to his disciples. It has relevance for us too given what is happening in Iraq, Syria and Nigeria where Christians are being persecuted and killed; the perpetrators thinking they are “doing a service” to ‘God’.

But there is hope. Massive hope.

Jesus said in verse 7 that it’s best if He goes away. What could possible be better than being with Jesus? The answer is having the Holy Spirit! Jesus has given us an Advocate and no words can describe how awesome He is!

He convicts us of sin (oh how I under-value this blessing), He guides, He tells us what He has heard from Jesus, He speaks to us, He tells us about what’s coming up, He glorifies Jesus in my life.

Come what may, world. I have the Advocate!

More, more about Jesus. More of His words in my life Holy Spirit. May the ears of my heart be tuned and the priorities of my day adjusted to hear the words You’ve heard from Jesus for me.   Amen

Written by Boudy van Noppen

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Saturday 7 February, 2015

John 15:18-27

18 “My disciples, does the world hate you? Remember that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you like one of its own. But you do not belong to the world. I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you. I said, ‘A slave is not more important than his master.’ (John 13:16) If people hated me and tried to hurt me, they will do the same to you. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you like that because of my name. They do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 I did works among them that no one else did. If I hadn’t, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen those works. And still they have hated both me and my Father. 25 This has happened so that what is written in their Law would come true. It says, ‘They hated me without any reason.’ (Psalms 35:19; 69:4) 26 “I will send the Friend to you from the Father. He is the Spirit of truth, who comes out from the Father. When the Friend comes to help you, he will be a witness about me. 27 You must also be witnesses about me. That’s because you have been with me from the beginning.

In this passage Jesus warns His disciples that they will be persecuted and hated because of Him. Jesus was about to die on a cross to pay for the sins of mankind, thereby dramatically highlighting the fact that sin is a massive issue that must be addressed. Jesus confronts us with the issue of our sin, it’s gravity, our need to admit our wrong and repent. He confronts us with our need for a Saviour. It is offensive to us because it says we cannot be righteous on our own, we cannot earn our right to relationship with God and we are utterly stuck without God. Who would really want to hear this? Who of us ever wants to admit being in the wrong?  Unless we have come to the end of ourselves and accepted our helplessness we fight against this undermining of our independence.

Humanity has reacted in the same way then as now by outright rejecting Jesus; or if that fails by trying to ignore, make irrelevant, tame through the use of humour and ridicule, or discredit by highlighting the downfalls of some of His followers. It is an attempt to get rid of the confrontation and get rid of the sin issue. Put like that it makes sense to me why believers might be told to leave their private beliefs at home. If we censor our lives though we fail to show that on the other side of this sin issue, this confrontation with our lack, is the freedom of forgiveness and the prize of relationship with God.

God, please help me reveal by my life that Jesus did not come to doom us to a life of feeling guilty, but to free us once and for all from guilt, shame and punishment. Let me walk each day in the awareness of that freedom and in close friendship with you. By your power at work in and through me may others come to appreciate and walk in this truth as well. Amen.

Written by Beth Waugh

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Friday 6 February, 2015

John 15:12-17

12 Here is my command. Love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than the one who gives their life for their friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I do not call you slaves anymore. Slaves do not know their master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends. I have told you everything I learned from my Father. 16 You did not choose me. Instead, I chose you. I appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit that will last. I also appointed you so that the Father will give you what you ask for. He will give you whatever you ask for in my name. 17 Here is my command. Love one another.

This passage of the Bible comes as a comfort and an incredible challenge to me. Jesus gives us an example to how we need to interact with one another and reminds us of His complete selflessness on the cross. Jesus loved us before we loved him. He chose us before we chose Him, which gives us an example of WHO to love- which is everyone. Even those who don’t “choose” us as friends.

I love the illustration Jesus gives by calling us His friends. In verse 16, Jesus has ‘appointed us to bear fruit’. Fruit is the produce or the outcome of the tree or ‘of our lives’. When pondering on that, the fruits of the spirit come to mind. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control- the essence and characteristics of a true friend.

Lord help me to love everyone, friend or foe, the way you do. Help me to remember that you chose us and you loved us first, when we were arrogant and unaware of your life that you freely gave to us. Thank you Jesus for your selfless friendship you give to us and I pray you help me to bear your fruit daily so I can take up your commandment.

Written by Sophie Stewart

1 (reply)
  1. Kim Fleming says:

    Great thoughts Soph, it’s so good we have Jesus to help us love people, even those that are a bit difficult.

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Thursday 5 February, 2015

John 15:1-11

15 “I am the true vine. My Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch joined to me that does not bear fruit. He trims every branch that does bear fruit. Then it will bear even more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain joined to me, just as I also remain joined to you. No branch can bear fruit by itself. It must remain joined to the vine. In the same way, you can’t bear fruit unless you remain joined to me. 5 “I am the vine. You are the branches. If you remain joined to me, and I to you, you will bear a lot of fruit. You can’t do anything without me. 6 If you don’t remain joined to me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and dries up. Branches like those are picked up. They are thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain joined to me and my words remain in you, ask for anything you wish. And it will be done for you. 8 When you bear a lot of fruit, it brings glory to my Father. It shows that you are my disciples. 9 “Just as the Father has loved me, I have loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love. In the same way, I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that you will have the same joy that I have. I also want your joy to be complete.

“For apart from me you can do nothing”.

What does fruitfulness look like? Is it being successful at our job? Is it having a vast network of relationships? Is it leading and serving in a large ministry?

Practically speaking, fruitfulness will look different for each of us. What is common to all of us is that which enables our fruitfulness – remaining joined to Jesus. If we remain joined to Him and He remains joined to us, we will bear much fruit (v5), bringing glory to the Father and proving that we are His disciples (v8).

I find it all too easy to focus entirely on my potential fruitfulness, to such a degree that Jesus shifts out of focus. However, this passage suggests to me that I have to concentrate less on the fruit I am producing, and more on Jesus who enables my fruitfulness.

Jesus, I want to remain joined to You. Let every opportunity in front of me point me to You. Let us remain joined to one another for Your glory.

Written by Matt Samperi

2 replies
  1. Kim Fleming says:

    Great words, from a very wise newly married man! I too need to focus more on the Jesus bit not the fruity bits!
    Thanks Matt & Jesus

  2. David Newton says:

    I have always found the last part of v5 interesting. ‘apart from me you can do nothing’.
    It is not simply saying you can do nothing because I know that I can do many things. What it is saying is ‘you can do nothing that “pleases” God unless you are doing it under the influence of the of the Holy Spirit.

    Thanks Matt!

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Wednesday 4 February, 2015

John 14:15-31

15 “If you love me, obey my commands. 16 I will ask the Father. And he will give you another friend to help you and to be with you forever. 17 That friend is the Spirit of truth. The world can’t accept him. That’s because the world does not see him or know him. But you know him. He lives with you, and he will be in you. 18 I will not leave you like children who don’t have parents. I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore. But you will see me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father. You will know that you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Anyone who has my commands and obeys them loves me. My Father will love the one who loves me. I too will love them. And I will show myself to them.” 22 Then Judas spoke. “Lord,” he said, “why do you plan to show yourself only to us? Why not also to the world?” The Judas who spoke those words was not Judas Iscariot. 23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them. We will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. The words you hear me say are not my own. They belong to the Father who sent me. 25 “I have spoken all these things while I am still with you. 26 But the Father will send the Friend in my name to help you. The Friend is the Holy Spirit. He will teach you all things. He will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 I leave my peace with you. I give my peace to you. I do not give it to you as the world does. Do not let your hearts be troubled. And do not be afraid. 28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away. And I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad I am going to the Father. The Father is greater than I am. 29 I have told you now before it happens. Then when it does happen, you will believe. 30 I will not say much more to you. The prince of this world is coming. He has no power over me. 31 But he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father. They must also learn that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me to do. “Come now. Let us leave.

Jesus promised the disciples that he would not leave them alone. He will ask the father to send to them “the Spirit of Truth” to be with them forever. He will be a counsellor or strengthener and will dwell with them and in them.
Jesus had to die and go to the father, but the Holy Spirit will never leave us, He is God within us. He is given to all who love Jesus and obey His teachings.
I have experienced separation from spiritual fathers in my life and I can appreciate the distress the loss of Jesus would have caused the disciples. Abandonment, grief and losing direction and purpose. Jesus knew this too. The Holy Spirit is a great gift to us. One who will never leave us till we are reunited with Jesus. He teaches us all spiritual truth and reminds us of the words of Jesus.
Precious Holy Spirit please give me wisdom, understanding and direction so I can walk where you lead. Please don’t let me walk off ahead of you. Amen.

Written by Dimity Milne

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Tuesday 3 February, 2015

John 14:1-14

14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God. Believe in me also. 2 There are many rooms in my Father’s house. If this were not true, would I have told you that I am going there? Would I have told you that I would prepare a place for you there? 3 If I go and do that, I will come back. And I will take you to be with me. Then you will also be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. So how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know my Father also. From now on, you do know him. And you have seen him.” 8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father. That will be enough for us.” 9 Jesus answered, “Don’t you know me, Philip? I have been among you such a long time! Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. So how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father? Don’t you believe that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. The Father lives in me. He is the one who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say I am in the Father. Also believe that the Father is in me. Or at least believe what the works I have been doing say about me. 12 What I’m about to tell you is true. Anyone who believes in me will do the works I have been doing. In fact, they will do even greater things. That’s because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do anything you ask in my name. Then the Father will receive glory from the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name. I will do it.

This passage opens with Jesus’ instruction to His disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled”. They were struggling to accept that Jesus was going to be sent to death, and were experiencing grief and confusion. However Jesus said to simply believe in God and believe in Himself.

Through Thomas and Phillip’s questioning and doubt, Jesus reinforces that He is the way, the truth and the life, and that the only way for us to have a relationship with God and spend eternity in Heaven is through Him.

In reading this passage, I am reminded to take my eyes off my troubles and concerns, and instead focus on the work of Jesus. Even when it’s hard to comprehend the circumstances around me, I know that I can find my way, the truth and eternal life in Jesus.

God, I thank You that You are faithful to Your Word, and that I can find my confidence and direction in You. Please help me to fix my eyes on You each day, and not get distracted by my circumstances. May all that I do bring You glory. Amen.

Written by Laura Samperi

 

1 (reply)
  1. Linda Quinn says:

    So true – and good to be reminded. Verse 8 stuck me this morning when Philip says: “Lord show us the Father. That will be enough for us.” I wonder what I think will be enough… what more proof do I need to completely trust in Jesus. I see myself in the disciples and hear Jesus reply “Don’t you know me…I have been with you such a long time”
    Help me grow in my faith – based on who You are and what the Bible tells me – not on what I think you should do or how I want you to answer my prayers. How patient you are with me Lord – thank you for loving me with a never changing, never-giving-up, always and forever love.

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Monday 2 February, 2015

John 13:31-38

31 After Judas was gone, Jesus spoke. He said, “Now the Son of Man receives glory. And he brings glory to God. 32 If the Son brings glory to God, God himself will bring glory to the Son. God will do it at once. 33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me. Just as I told the Jews, so I am telling you now. You can’t come where I am going. 34 “I give you a new command. Love one another. You must love one another, just as I have loved you. 35 If you love one another, everyone will know you are my disciples.” 36 Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going you can’t follow now. But you will follow me later.” 37 “Lord,” Peter asked, “why can’t I follow you now? I will give my life for you.” 38 Then Jesus answered, “Will you really give your life for me? What I’m about to tell you is true. Before the rooster crows, you will say three times that you don’t know me!

Jesus gives the command to love one another as He has loved us in the context of His soon to occur death and resurrection (the meaning of Him being glorified and glorifying the Father). What Jesus is saying here would have been quite unsettling for the disciples – “where I am going, you cannot come…” Jesus knew the full meaning of what He was saying, but the disciples would have been all but completely confused. Yet this command to love one another sticks out.

For me, this command appears to have two purposes for Jesus – to bind them together in the immediate future and well beyond – in the coming days and weeks, when things get very confusing and beyond what they had imagined or thought of. But more than that, this command to love as Jesus loved speaks to me of the way that Jesus intended to be present ongoing, even though he was “going elsewhere.”

The Bible tells us that God is love – whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. But not just any love – the love of Jesus; sacrificial, patient, self-giving, other concerned love. I am moved by seeing that Jesus fully intended His love to have a potent and central power in what was to take place after His death and resurrection; bind His people together, and be one of the key evidences of His ongoing presence with His people. The question and call of this passage is this; how much are you choosing to pursue a life of the Jesus kind of love, Rob, and further, is this the central call of your life as His follower!

Lord, I heed your words here. I will continue to grow in loving the people around me as you have loved me, and I know that in so doing, you are wonderfully present and working the binding effect of your love upon us as we live it. There is no more powerful way to be bound together than by the love of God! Amen.

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh

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Sunday 1 February, 2015

John 13:21-30

21 After he had said this, Jesus’ spirit was troubled. He said, “What I’m about to tell you is true. One of you is going to hand me over to my enemies.” 22 His disciples stared at one another. They had no idea which one of them he meant. 23 The disciple Jesus loved was next to him at the table. 24 Simon Peter motioned to that disciple. He said, “Ask Jesus which one he means.” 25 The disciple was leaning back against Jesus. He asked him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It is the one I will give this piece of bread to. I will give it to him after I have dipped it in the dish.” He dipped the piece of bread. Then he gave it to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot. 27 As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. So Jesus told him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.” 28 But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. 29 Judas was in charge of the money. So some of the disciples thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the feast. Others thought Jesus was talking about giving something to poor people. 30 As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.

I so struggle with this scene.  Here is Jesus with His betrayer in the room.  I would never have allowed this situation to develop let alone have a meal with him.  I know the old adage keep your friends close and your enemies even closer but this one – I really find hard to understand.  If I had been Jesus I would never have done this.  But Jesus did and I find myself asking ‘Why’?

Here we have Jesus surrounded by love and betrayal.  Maybe Jesus’ openness to the one meant that he was bound to be open to the other as well. What if it is like that for us too.  Am I prepared to love greatly even if that may mean I may be betrayed greatly.  For surely the two do go together – not that we want that – but to love deeply means we may be hurt deeply – to love little means only little hurt.  For me I want to love deeply and I must trust that even if hurt deeply Jesus is enough to bring healing, hope forgiveness and reconciliation.  This makes some sense for me and I know its truth.

Father always give me the courage to love deeply even at risk of hurt for I want to truly follow my Saviour!

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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