Sunday 31 December, 2017

Mark 15:33-41

33 At noon, darkness covered the whole land. It lasted three hours. 34 At three o’clock in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” This means “My God, my God, why have you deserted me?” (Psalm 22:1) 35 Some of those standing nearby heard Jesus cry out. They said, “Listen! He’s calling for Elijah.” 36 Someone ran and filled a sponge with wine vinegar. He put it on a stick. He offered it to Jesus to drink. “Leave him alone,” he said. “Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down.” 37 With a loud cry, Jesus took his last breath. 38 The temple curtain was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 A Roman commander was standing there in front of Jesus. He saw how Jesus died. Then he said, “This man was surely the Son of God!” 40 Not very far away, some women were watching. Mary Magdalene was among them. Mary, the mother of the younger James and of Joseph, was also there. So was Salome. 41 In Galilee these women had followed Jesus. They had taken care of his needs. Many other women were also there. They had come up with him to Jerusalem.

Being abandoned – is such a powerful image here. Jesus Christ – the beloved Son of the Father – as He nears death – cries out… “God, God…why have you abandoned me?” It resonates within me – I know this feeling – of being alone…of facing circumstances that overwhelm and overpower me, of feeling l have been abandoned. In this moment when Jesus identified himself with the sin of the world – The Father was absent. Jesus did this, experienced this, suffered this – for me, for us.

As I ponder this passage today I am moved by the fresh reminder that Jesus has faced everything and anything I have or will ever face … I am overwhelmed by the reality of God’s love for me.

The words of Chris Tomlin’s Song At the Cross are a prayer declaring truth for me today…

Thank you so much Jesus for loving me this much…


There’s a place where mercy reigns and never dies,

There’s a place where streams of grace flow deep and wide.

Where all the love I’ve ever found, Comes like a flood, Comes flowing down.



At the cross At the cross

I surrender my life. I’m in awe of You

I’m in awe of You Where Your love ran red and my sin washed white.

I owe all to You, I owe all to You Jesus.


There’s a place where sin and shame are powerless.

Where my heart has peace with God and forgiveness.

Where all the love I’ve ever found. Comes like a flood, Comes flowing down.


Here my hope is found Here on holy ground

Here I bow down Here arms open wide

Here You save my life Here I bow down Here I bow down

Written by Ps. Linda Quinn

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Saturday 30 December, 2017

Mark 15:21-32

21 A man named Simon was passing by. He was from Cyrene. He was the father of Alexander and Rufus. Simon was on his way in from the country. The soldiers forced him to carry the cross. 22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha. The word Golgotha means the Place of the Skull. 23 Then they gave him wine mixed with spices. But he did not take it. 24 They nailed him to the cross. Then they divided up his clothes. They cast lots to see what each of them would get. 25 It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. 26 They wrote out the charge against him. It read, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 27-28 They crucified with him two rebels against Rome. One was on his right and one was on his left. 29 Those who passed by shouted at Jesus and made fun of him. They shook their heads and said, “So you are going to destroy the temple and build it again in three days? 30 Then come down from the cross! Save yourself!” 31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law made fun of him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said. “But he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross! When we see that, we will believe.” Those who were being crucified with Jesus also made fun of him.

What humiliation Jesus faced. Every action happening around Him was shouting that Jesus was absolutely nothing, a complete and utter joke. A waste. The soldiers were gambling for His clothes beneath Him, and the onlookers were busy mocking Him… Here Jesus was making the greatest sacrifice the world will ever see, demonstrating God’s unconditional love, and we treated it like garbage. In our eyes it was humorous entertainment.

In that moment (if not many times before) I would have given up on humanity and said stuff it, you’re not worth it, I’m walking away and you can live in the hell of your own making. You’re on your own. I cannot conceive of God’s incredible love, His patience (long-suffering) and His willingness to give up His beloved Son (blameless, worthy) for a people (sin-stained, unworthy) who did not value Him and to this day make fun of Him. How could God be so generous to a people so undeserving? How foreign a love so selfless and freely given… no resentment from God… just open arms…

God, my mind cannot make sense of your extravagant love. That you consider us worthy is mind-boggling. Thank you for loving me and for not giving up on humanity. Help me to receive your extravagant love for myself and to give it away. Amen.

Written by Bethany Waugh

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Friday 29 December, 2017

Mark 15:16-20

16 The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace. It was called the Praetorium. They called together the whole company of soldiers. 17 The soldiers put a purple robe on Jesus. Then they twisted thorns together to make a crown. They placed it on his head. 18 They began to call out to him, “We honor you, king of the Jews!” 19 Again and again they hit him on the head with a stick. They spit on him. They fell on their knees and pretended to honor him. 20 After they had made fun of him, they took off the purple robe. They put his own clothes back on him. Then they led him out to nail him to a cross.

There are two main points to this passage for today that are highlighted to me.
The first is that Pilate is often regarded as a villain in the judgement of Jesus. But he was facing a torrid mob mentality, a crowd who wanted to see a brutal punishment of a man of whom I think, most did not care whether he was innocent or guilty. Pilate was under a lot of pressure to please the crowd, and it is easy for me to judge Pilate for being weak. But I ask the question, would any of us have responded differently?

I like to think I would have, but I am also challenged that maybe I would have reacted in exactly the same way, “wanting to satisfy the crowd”. This is a good wake up call in reminding me that I must always look only to the approval of God, and not man.

The second half of today’s passage is distressing. Jesus is flogged severely, and while in a state of intense pain and complete exhaustion, he is then ridiculed and mocked, even spat upon, an act of horrid disrespect. What is Jesus’ response to this? He says nothing. He offers no defence. He knew what the final outcome would be.  He knew his purpose.

What a contrast we see. Pilate felt he had to respond to the crowd to defend his role and acceptance of the crowd. Jesus did not need to respond to defend himself for he knew his purpose. How humbling to think that Jesus lived and died for each of those mockers. We are no different really, we all fall short as sinners, and so desperately needed Jesus at that time to remain true to his purpose.

Thank you Father for your faithfulness to me, and may I continue to grow, not to be a crowd pleaser, but to be steadfast in the purpose that you have for me, regardless of the opposition. Amen.

Written by Steve Fell

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Thursday 28 December, 2017

Mark 15:1-15

15 It was very early in the morning. The chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law, and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they tied Jesus up and led him away. Then they handed him over to Pilate. 2 “Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate. “You have said so,” Jesus replied. 3 The chief priests brought many charges against him. 4 So Pilate asked him again, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they charge you with.” 5 But Jesus still did not reply. Pilate was amazed. 6 It was the usual practice at the Passover Feast to let one prisoner go free. The people could choose the one they wanted. 7 A man named Barabbas was in prison. He was there with some other people who had fought against the country’s rulers. They had committed murder while they were fighting against the rulers. 8 The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did. 9 “Do you want me to let the king of the Jews go free?” asked Pilate. 10 He knew that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him because they wanted to get their own way. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd. So the crowd asked Pilate to let Barabbas go free instead. 12 “Then what should I do with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them. 13 “Crucify him!” the crowd shouted. 14 “Why? What wrong has he done?” asked Pilate. But they shouted even louder, “Crucify him!” 15 Pilate wanted to satisfy the crowd. So he let Barabbas go free. He ordered that Jesus be whipped. Then he handed him over to be nailed to a cross.

This passage is about betrayal. Ultimate betrayal!

Jesus was betrayed by the people who should have been His biggest supporters, the religious leaders of the day. He was also betrayed by the very people He was trying the help, the Jewish people of the region. It was the ultimate betrayal because it leads directly to His death.

As the Son of God, the depths of this betrayal cannot be measured in human terms, it can only be understood in the eternal divine realm as the ultimate gift of forgiveness.

For us in the ‘here and now’ we are left with a remarkable example of humility. Throughout the ordeal Jesus never lashed out, He never condemned or even defended His innocence but His only response and to His dying breath was to ‘forgive’. Regarding Jesus’ response to this injustice it says Pilate was ‘amazed’.

As I write this Daily Digest entry on this very day a person very dear to me has been wrongly treated by their place of work. However, I am happy to report that even though this will lead to the end of this person’s position they have chosen to work willingly with the organisation to ensure a smooth transition. You can only do these types of things willingly when there is forgiveness in your heart.

How do you respond when people mistreat you?

Lord, allow us to appreciate the sacrifice you made for each of us individually and help us to forgive others as you have forgiven us. Amen.

Written by David Newton

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Wednesday 27 December, 2017

Mark 14:66-72

66 Peter was below in the courtyard. One of the high priest’s female servants came by. 67 When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him. “You also were with Jesus, that Nazarene,” she said. 68 But Peter said he had not been with him. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said. He went out to the entrance to the courtyard. 69 The servant saw him there. She said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” 70 Again he said he was not. After a little while, those standing nearby said to Peter, “You must be one of them. You are from Galilee.” 71 Then Peter began to curse. He said to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about!” 72 Right away the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had spoken to him. “The rooster will crow twice,” he had said. “Before it does, you will say three times that you don’t know me.” Peter broke down and cried.

In this very familiar passage we have the account of when Peter denies Jesus 3 times, just as Jesus said he would.

When Peter realises that he has done exactly what he said he wouldn’t do he breaks down and weeps.

As I reflect on this I wonder what brought Peter to tears?

Was it the disappointment in doing the very thing he said he would not do?

Possibly or even probably.

But as I reflect on this, I can’t escape the thought that Peter wept, recognising that even though Jesus knew what Peter would do, Jesus still called Peter to be his disciple anyway.

The tears were a response to the true love that Jesus had for Peter.

It may not bring us to tears, but the same love Jesus showed Peter is the same love Jesus shows us.

Jesus knows all the mistakes we will make, how many times we will fail, but he still chooses us anyway.

So, the next time you make a mistake, remember that Jesus knew and he still called you anyway, so he will not reject you because of it.

Father, thank you for choosing us, even though you know the times we will fail you. Your love for us does not change because we make mistakes, but is proven true when we do, over and over again.

Written by Andrew Martin

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Tuesday 26 December, 2017

Mark 14:53-65

53 The crowd took Jesus to the high priest. All the chief priests, the elders, and the teachers of the law came together. 54 Not too far away, Peter followed Jesus. He went right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards. He warmed himself at the fire. 55 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for something to use against Jesus. They wanted to put him to death. But they did not find any proof. 56 Many witnesses lied about him. But their stories did not agree. 57 Then some of them stood up. Here is what those false witnesses said about him. 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made by human hands. In three days I will build another temple, not made by human hands.’ ” 59 But what they said did not agree. 60 Then the high priest stood up in front of them. He asked Jesus, “Aren’t you going to answer? What are these charges these men are bringing against you?” 61 But Jesus remained silent. He gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah? Are you the Son of the Blessed One?” 62 “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One. You will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven.” 63 The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. 64 “You have heard him say a very evil thing against God. What do you think?” They all found him guilty and said he must die. 65 Then some began to spit at him. They blindfolded him. They hit him with their fists. They said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.

The darkest and cruellest event in history since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden. Here we have a man, who has come to bring restoration to the world, who lived a perfect life, demonstrating for all how to live life. This passage recounts the way he was put on trial and condemned to death.

On my reading of this passage this morning, I am struck by verse 62. Jesus may have generally been silent like a lamb led to the slaughter, but here he plainly and undeniably spells out who he claims to be, and it is this claim that they grab on to – for someone to claim to be equal to God was completely unacceptable to the people presiding over this trial.

We might see Jesus’ death as a tragic death of a good man, but here he spells out why he was so good – because he was and is the messiah – the one who brought the kingdom of God to Earth and enable access to heaven for all people. This was more than a tragedy, but a complete abomination of all justice.

But the good news is that it was always God’s plan to allow him to die, because after this dark night, on the 3rd day he rose again, conquering sin and death, proving that he was who he claimed, appearing to hundreds of eyewitnesses, many of whom laid down their own life while holding to their testimony of his resurrection!!

Lord Jesus, you are the one we worship, your death was horrid, but we will praise you eternally, because it was not in vain.

Written by Ps Justin Ware

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Monday 25 December, 2017

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 There will be no limit to how great his authority is. 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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Sunday 24 December, 2017

Luke 2:15-20

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.

I don’t know much about these shepherds aside from the fact that they were up at night looking after their sheep. To a great extent for me, this helps me relate to them. Even though I am not that familiar with looking after animals, I can imagine myself in their position – up late with some work mates, sharing stories, probably with a campfire burning.

I imagine that these shepherds are Hebrews with some background understanding of God, but their shock and awe when the angel appears gives me the impression that they would not have expected God to show up in this way, at least not for them.

What I love about this story and I am really challenged by, is the way that they respond- the scale of their visit by the angels leads them to drop everything they were doing to travel into the “nearby” town of Bethlehem (probably still a long way by foot) to see the baby.

Once they saw Jesus, the shepherds continue their response: they tell everyone about what they had seen and heard and they praise God.

Thanks Lord that you show up in unexpected places. Help me to be better at expecting your unexpected intervention.

Thank you that I have met Jesus as the shepherds did. May I have a lasting response that mirrors theirs – telling others and worshipping you. Amen.

Written by Ps. Justin Ware

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Saturday 23 December, 2017

Luke 2:8-14

8 There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby. It was night, and they were taking care of 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. It will bring 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 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!”

This is the first account of the celebration of the birth of Christ. And I love how God orchestrates it by first having the angel appear to some shepherds. When the sun went down that day, and they started to settle in for the evening watching their masters sheep, they had no idea what was about to unfold, and how their lives would be changed forever.

It was dark, a clear sky, probably a little cool and the grass, damp from the dew. And then enters the glory of God. No wonder they were frightened at first. I would have been too. Such a magnificent and blazing spectacle of the praise of angels then graces the sky. This I would have loved to witness.

What do I take from this personally? God is teaching me humility in how He brings his Son into the earth. We see this by the fact the Jesus was born in a smelly stable and laid in a cow’s food trough, and from this passage, that the angel announced to shepherds, not dignitaries or officials, or church leaders, but lowly shepherds, who were on the night shift, a low graded profession.

I wonder if this were to happen today, who would God send his angels to proclaim this message to?

If this is God’s way, which it is because there are so many similar accounts in the Word, then my attitude needs to be the same.

Father, forgive me when for when I am proud. Change me, create in me a clean heart, and may my view of others be one of humility and mercy, for this is the attitude that you desire of me. Amen

Written by Stephen Fell 

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Friday 22 December, 2017

Matthew 2:1-12

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? We saw his star when it rose. 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 Messiah 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 rule my people Israel like a shepherd.’ ” (Micah 5:2) 7 Then Herod secretly called for the Wise Men. He found out from them exactly when the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem. He said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report it to me. 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 it rose 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, frankincense and myrrh. 12 But God warned them in a dream not to go back to Herod. So they returned to their country on a different road.

It is commonly believed that the Magi visited the baby Jesus at the same time as the shepherds. When we lived in France, steeped in catholic tradition, we learnt that the “kings” or Magi arrived 12 days after Jesus’ birth, celebrated as the Epiphany in the traditional church.

Who were the Magi? It is a word that designates wise men. They were not Jews, and came from the east looking for the “king of the Jews.” It is clear to me that God had spoken to them and they responded by looking for this new king. Their purpose – to worship him. And when they find him they are …overjoyed!

This part of the Christmas account reminds me that Jesus came to save all who believe in his name. And that at his name every knee will one day bow. Jesus’ death on the cross was for all who believe, the only way to be saved. My response is to believe and give Jesus the honour he deserves. My honour is not expressed in expensive treasures like the Magi, but in making Jesus king in my life – by trusting him, by setting my priorities to a kingdom focus, by sharing the generosity of God’s love with my unsaved friends.

Heavenly father, thank you for sending Jesus to die for all who believe in him, Jew or not. Help me to reflect your generosity this Christmas.


Written by Claire Moore

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