Monday 11 March, 2019

John 7:37-44

37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. 40 On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others asked, “How can the Messiah come from Galilee? 42 Does not Scripture say that the Messiah will come from David’s descendants and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?” 43 Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. 44 Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him.

Over January we have been learning and hearing from God about the Holy Spirit.  How incredible to think that Jesus says in this passage “anyone who is thirsty can come”; however those who believe “can come and drink”.   Every person is invited to COME to Jesus; but only those who believe can COME and DRINK.  “the scriptures declare that ‘rivers of living water will flow from His heart.”

In this hot weather over summer it has reminded me afresh that people become dry and thirsty in tough conditions.  People in our community are dry and thirsty for truth, for honesty, for integrity, for freedom, for purity, for grace, for a message that brings life, hope and a future.

I have thought about this – what can I do to help people see the “river of Christ’s hope in me”?  I can remove blockages, I can focus my heart and my mind on Christ, I can pray for release and freedom.  I can think less about myself and my circumstances and focus more about how God can use me.

Lord help me to see others better and clearer.  Give me the skill and ability to connect with others and help them to see you.  Help me to be a river of living water this year.

Written by Ps. Sue Botta

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Sunday 10 March, 2019

John 7:25-36

25 At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? 26 Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Messiah? 27 But we know where this man is from; when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.” 28 Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own authority, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, 29 but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.” 30 At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come. 31 Still, many in the crowd believed in him. They said, “When the Messiah comes, will he perform more signs than this man?” 32 The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him. 33 Jesus said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the one who sent me. 34 You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.” 35 The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? 36 What did he mean when he said, ‘You will look for me, but you will not find me,’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?”

This passage is placed so uniquely in the timeline of Jesus ministry.  The authorities are in the midst of planning his arrest but can not execute it yet because it isn’t time.
In Verse 28 Jesus explains that while the Pharisees have a knowledge of who He is in reference to his background, culture and upbringing they have missed the revelation of who he is in God.  A solely informational awareness of who Jesus is will never catch the significance of who he is as our Lord and Saviour, the Messiah.

I am fascinated by the verse that explains the attempts to seize him, which resulted in no one laying a hand on him because his hour had not yet come. The visual element of this really grabbed my attention, they could not physically grab him nor detain him at this point. I love that God’s sovereignty is on full display in this moment.

Looking back on scripture is a privilege that allows us to see it within the context of the full story. The Pharisees knew the scriptures and knew that a Messiah was coming, however they missed it when Jesus was right there; they knew the information but missed the revelation. This scripture encourages me to continually remind myself to search for God in the situation, not to rely solely on history, understanding or experience but to actively choose to see God and to seek out the revelation.

Lord, thank you for your word. Thank you that it is the light for our feet and our guide to life. Help us to find you in our daily life. Give us eyes to see you in each circumstance, each situation we find ourselves in and lead us back to you with a fresh revelation of your love for us.  Amen.

Written by Ps. Annique Botta

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Saturday 9 March, 2019

John 7:14-24

14 Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. 15 The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?” 16 Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. 17 Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. 18 Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?” 20 “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?” 21 Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all amazed. 22 Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath. 23 Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? 24 Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”

I really like how Jesus regularly challenges the judgements people made about him. So much of it was around the Law and their understanding of it. When the crowd was against what he did, he responded by saying: “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgement” (v24).

The actions that we see don’t always reflect the motives for what was done.

For Jesus, the “why” was more important than “what”. The heart is more important than the action. For the crowd, they saw the “what”, the action but didn’t know why Jesus did the things he did. They were so bound up in observing the Law that they lost sight of God, who is more interested in our heart than our actions.

We will make mistakes, some small, some really big, but what matters to God is our heart.

It’s the same with regrets. I have been challenged recently about a few things that I regret, things that happened quite a while ago. All I can remember is the result, and I remember what went wrong, and wish I could somehow fix those mistakes, but I can’t. What I can do, is remember why I did what I did. Did I set out to hurt someone? No, absolutely not. But reflecting, I can say that I did the best I could for everyone.

To “judge correctly” as Jesus says, don’t forget to look beneath the surface, also look at the motives, whether it is for someone else or even for yourself.

Father, help us not to be quick to judge, but to look beneath the surface to make a right judgement, whether that is for someone else, or even ourselves. Better than a judge, you are a good father to us. I am thankful that our hearts are more important to you than anything else.

Written by Andrew Martin

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Friday 8 March, 2019

John 7:1-13

7 After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. 2 But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, 3 Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. 4 No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him. 6 Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. 8 You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.” 9 After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee. 10 However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. 11 Now at the festival the Jewish leaders were watching for Jesus and asking, “Where is he?” 12 Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.” Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.” 13 But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the leaders.

In this passage I am struck by the peace and confidence of Jesus. He knows himself. He knows his father. He knows the right timing for his actions.

The brothers motivation here was that Jesus should come and show off his power and become famous. Maybe they were also seeking more signs themselves, so that they could be convinced of who he was.

But Jesus did not need convincing of who he was and he did not feel the need to prove himself. He did not seek fame. He knew who he was, Jesus the son of God! Saviour of the world! And he knew Gods peace and perfect timing. Jesus does not live out of self interest or independence. He lives in and out of his intimate relationship with his Father. He is compelled by love and a desire to bring glory of his father.

Jesus may I be convinced again today that I am who you say I am. That my greatest purpose will be fulfilled as I trust in you. Help me to walk with you, in your perfect timing. May your peace be my guide. And may I desire most to love you and my neighbour. That you may be glorified.

Written by Ps. Zoe Stewart

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Thursday 7 March, 2019

John 6:52-71

52 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. 60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” 61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.” 66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. 67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” 70 Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” 71 (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)

Jesus is encouraging the people around him to eat his flesh and drink his blood in order to have eternal life. Those in the synagogue were confused and alarmed by this teaching. Many could not stomach what Jesus was saying and turned away but Peter remained steadfast in his faith in Christ.

When you think about it being encouraged to eat someone else’s flesh and drink their blood is very strange not to mention confronting.   Jesus even goes so far as to ask if some have taken offence to what he is teaching. He knew they had! It is interesting to note that this particular teaching turned people away from Jesus. Much of Jesus teaching and ministry drew people but this particular line of teaching repelled some. People felt strongly, they argued and were confused. What’s in it then and what is this true bread from heaven that leads to eternal life? To receive eternal life we truly have to partake of Jesus regularly ie. “Remains in me and I in him.” It speaks of wholehearted commitment and devotion and not a part time interest. Jesus has to have every part of us. Jesus is not an entree, side dish or even a desert – he’s the bread of life, the essential and the only! His message is the same to us today.

Thank you Lord that you have the words that give eternal life. Like Peter, help us believe and know you are the Son of God. Amen

Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods

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Wednesday 6 March, 2019

John 6:41-51

41 At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?” 43 “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. 44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’[a] Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. 46 No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. 47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

Divergent and convergent realities?

I recently had a very brain bending conversation with an atheist that talked about the concept of divergent and convergent realities.

For him, a divergent reality was a person’s perspective that didn’t seem to align with another person’s view of the world, like if two witnesses saw very different versions of events in the scene of a crime, or a person who hallucinated bugs on the wall vs a person who saw no bugs. For this person, everything an individual experiences is their individual reality.

While this level of relativism is quite challenging to my perspective, I am intrigued in this passage of John chapter 6 to read of Jesus talking about physical realities and spiritual realities in a very interchangeable way. Almost as though there are two convergent realities at work.

The people who were the audience of Jesus’s speech were clearly perplexed, and even after 2000 years of thinking and analysis on this passage, I feel like there is more that we as Christians can learn from it, especially me!

Thank you Lord that your ways are rich and deep, and to know you is like experiencing fine wine!

Written by Ps Justin Ware 

1 (reply)
  1. Andrew says:

    I agree. Sometimes it is good to reflect that there are various dimensions going on around us: spiritual, intellectual, physical, emotional. When these are reflected back to us in the bible it is truly- rich and deep.

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Tuesday 5 March, 2019

John 6:25-40

25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” 26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” 28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” 29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” 30 So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.” 35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

The part that stands out to me in this passage is verse 27, the NLT puts it this way. “But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”

How am I spending my energy? Am I expending it on things that will last, or am I using it all for temporary things? How often am I spending my time, energy and attention on seeking God in His Word, in talking and listening to Him, in worship, in being with Him, in thanksgiving or in enjoying the world and people He has made?

My God desires to give me eternal life – life that doesn’t run out or grow weary or cynical or cold; a fountain of new and fresh life, full of energy, faith, passion, creativity and joy.

God, please help me to see that I have a choice when it comes to how I invest my time. Please help me to see the possibilities of moments I can spend seeking the never running out life you offer. Amen.

Written by Ps. Bethany Waugh

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Monday 4 March, 2019

John 6:22-24

22 The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone. 23 Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.

These few verses follow on from two significant & very different miracles – Jesus feeding 5,000 & Jesus walking on water. One miracle very public before crowds & the other intimate before his disciples. These verses relate to the crowds response & their search for Jesus.

Jesus goes on to speak to their heart motive for their search but they did search for Jesus, this has caught me & challenged me. How much am I hungrily searching for Jesus? When I was a new believer I certainly was hungry in my search to learn, grow & change but now that my relationship, life experiences are established, do I still go searching & how far am I prepared to go, am I still spiritually hungry? Do I come to church in search of Jesus to continue to learn, grow & change or is it now just a comfortable place to go, a social gathering with no hunger for the things of God?

Lord Jesus, I pray that you’ll continue to challenge me to seek & search after you & that my heart would be open to grow & to go wherever you lead, that I would always remain spiritually hungry for you. Amen

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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Sunday 3 March, 2019

John 6:16-21

16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17 where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. 18 A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” 21 Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.

The disciples were facing a rough storm that led them to be fearful. But when Jesus came to them, He said, “It is I; don’t be afraid” (vs 20). What strikes me most in this passage, is the next verse which says, “…they were willing to take Him into the boat…” (vs21). It seems almost strange that they didn’t invite Jesus into their boat straight away, without question. It took them a moment to become willing to allow Jesus in. If I was in their situation, I would like to think that I would be desperate for Jesus to come and rescue me if He was before me in the flesh.

However, this makes me think about the times in my life where I need the help of Jesus, and are not quick to invite Him into my situation. When do I overlook my need for Jesus to ‘step into my boat’ and be my helper and strength? In the second part of verse 21, Jesus entered the boat and they immediately reached safety. When we are aware and willing to invite Jesus into our situations, He is immediately there for us.

Lord God, I thank You that You are for me and with me all my days. Please prompt me to call upon Your Name daily and invite You into all the areas of my life. Thank You that You rescue and redeem me. In Jesus’ Name.

Written by Ps. Laura Samperi

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Saturday 2 March, 2019

John 6:1-15

6 Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. 3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Festival was near. 5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. 7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” 8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” 10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. 12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. 14 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

I love this beautiful story. Jesus performs an incredible public miracle, caring for those who have come to hear him.

The effect was to totally shift people’s perception of him – v14. The people recognised Jesus was from God, that he was more than just a wise teacher. While their plans (v15) did not align with God’s, they did change their understanding on Jesus’ identity. Just as their eyes were opened to Jesus being from God, I want opened eyes to see and praise God for his work in my life, in the lives of others, through miracles, through restoration.

I also try to place myself in the shoes of the disciples who witnessed this incredible event, in particular Phillip and Andrew. “It’s impossible” is Phillip’s position, while for Andrew there is the “possible”, as he indicates the paltry food available. (I especially love the emphasis John puts on the smallness of the loaves and fish. Just enough for a boy’s lunch out of which flows amazing abundance.) Why else would Andrew tell Jesus about this little bit of food unless he expected Jesus could use this? Their 2 perspectives remind me that my mindset must be guided by the Holy Spirit. He tunes me into God’s perspective. For Phillip, it is just his practical mindset of cost and the size of the problem. For Andrew it is a start of belief, as he begins to catch a glimpse that Jesus is God.

Like Phillip, my heart gets overwhelmed by the size of the problem, and how I cant solve it. But if I look at the situation from God’s point of view, things become possible. He is the God of the Possible!

Dear Lord Jesus, as I read this event again the Holy Spirit reminds me that you are Lord of the Possible! I am believing you for that today.  Amen

Written by Claire Moore

1 (reply)
  1. Andrew W says:

    I have read this passage many times before, but this is the first time I had ‘seen’ that it was Andrew, brother of Simon, who looked through the can’t do facts into the perhaps Jesus could work with this possibility.
    I am Andrew with a brother Simon.
    Lord please help me to see what you can potentially do with the small, not what others may be thinking—this is is too small no way.

    Lord may I bring to you someone’s lunch box, so you can use it to change the world.
    Please change my thinking.
    Andrew W.

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