Friday 31 January, 2020

Acts 2:5-13

5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,[a] 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” 13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”

This is a significant passage in the bible, as it describes some of the events that took place on the Day of Pentecost. I can’t imagine what it would have been like for the Jews from various language groups, to experience the apostles exclaiming the goodness of God in languages they understood. The Jews questioned, “How can this be?”, which reinforces their amazement to what was taking place. This event shows the miraculous power of God, and is a reminder that He is not limited by human means to reveal Himself.

From this, I am encouraged by the faithfulness and willingness of the believers to allow God’s Holy Spirit to fill them in such a way. In that moment the Word of God was spread completely by the power of the Spirit, and was all about Him not the vessels. This prompts me to look at the way I am sharing the gospel with those around me. Am I doing it in my own strength, or do I invite the Holy Spirit to fill me so that God can be 100% glorified? I think we can have confidence that we are walking filled with the Holy Spirit, when the people around us ask, “How can this be?” when God is revealed to them.

God, Thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit. I pray that You would help me to have a willing heart to allow You to fill me and use me to declare Your goodness. I ask that You would fill me afresh with Your Spirit as I enter all that You have for me today. In Jesus’ name.

Written by Ps. Laura Samperi

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Thursday 30 January, 2020

Acts 2:1-4

2 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.

This was a clear physical manifestation of God in their midst on the day of Pentecost. The sound of a violent wind filling the whole house. The sight of tongues of fire coming and resting on each of them. The speaking of each one of them in other tongues as the Holy Spirit came and filled them. God is not uncomfortable with coming very clearly to us. But He comes not to show off, but to empower His people. What is perhaps most inspiring to me is that, in verse 4, we read the disciples doing something they’d not done before – speaking in other tongues, enabled by the Holy Spirit who filled them.

God fills me with His Spirit for purpose. That I do things that I haven’t been able to do before. And the way God does this work in me is clear. Just like it was clear for the disciples. God doesn’t want nor need me second guessing Him and what He’s done in my life. And His purpose in filling me is not for show – it’s for my empowerment. That I can do things that I’ve not been able to do before – to help others come to know Him more and to show others the way to Him.

Fill me Holy Spirit, so that I can do what I’ve not been able to do before, helping others come to know you and showing others the way to you! Amen.

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh

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Wednesday 29 January, 2020

Acts 1:15-26

15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) 16 and said, “Brothers and sisters, the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus. 17 He was one of our number and shared in our ministry.” 18 (With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19 Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For,” said Peter, “it is written in the Book of Psalms: “‘May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,’ and, “‘May another take his place of leadership.’ 21 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, 22 beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” 23 So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” 26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.

I think this passage speaks to us about the importance of teams and of commitment and training. The apostles knew that they needed to have a complete team to do what God asked. They were a bit traumatised as they had just watched Jesus, their leader, leave and their friend and teammate, Judas, had turned out to be not who they thought. Even so they got together to work out who should come into the team.

They first went through everyone they knew, to work out who had been there with Jesus from the very beginning. The person to come into the team needed to have shown staying power and commitment. They also needed to have received training from Jesus. They needed to have the right stuff to slot right into the team. They also sought God’s advice about how to make the final choice.

We are part of God’s team and He has chosen us to play a role just as He chose Matthias. We need to show stamina and commitment. We need to receive His training in the role He has for us (preparation and on the job). Sometimes that training is just about being around Him and those in leadership in our team. That is what qualified Matthias – he stuck around Jesus and the apostles for the life of Jesus’ ministry. We need to listen and observe and learn and wait so we are ready when God asks.

Lord God, thank You that You have a plan for this world and for each one of us. Help us to be open to Your training and Your leading so we are ready and in the right place. Help us to be teachable, to be keen to learn and to be willing to be part of a team.

Written by Therese Manning

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Tuesday 28 January, 2020

Acts 1:12-14

12 Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk[a] from the city. 13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

This short passage has a lot to say about relationship.

The disciples have just returned from speaking with the risen Jesus (intensely relational). He has just promised an even deeper relationship as his Spirit comes to live, not just with them, but in them. And he has promised to return as he completes the restoration of all creation into that right relationship with God for which it was created.

It’s hardly surprising that they are so focussed on expressing that relationship in prayer – constantly. But its significant how they were united together in prayer, especially when you think what a diverse group they were: a tax collector (Matthew) and zealot (who wanted to be rid of the Romans and their taxes); men and women (at a time when women were not always respected); including Jesus’ family (who had not supported his ministry at the beginning – they thought he was “out of his mind” in Mark 3:21).

Individual prayer with God is powerful and profoundly enriching, but prayer together is even more so. We are constantly told to pray together (Matthew 18:18-19) and to pray for each other (1 Timothy 2:1). Prayer is intensely relational: it expresses that wonderful relationship both with God and between his people. I sometimes find prayer hard work, but it’s really a truly wonderful gift.

Thank you, Lord, that you allow me to come into your presence in prayer knowing that you’re waiting in eager anticipation. Thank you for the wonderful brothers and sisters who pray with me and for me. Give me your heart to bring my brothers and sisters into your presence.

Written by David Cornell

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Monday 27 January, 2020

Acts 1:6-11

6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. 10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Wow imagine being there for that event.  I am not surprised the disciples worked tirelessly to fulfil Jesus’ final face to face instructions. However, I doubt anybody could have predicted a 2000 year plus delay in Jesus’s return. Even the disciples thought at least one of them would still be alive to see His return.

This has led me to think about the role delayed or failed expectations play in our Christian life and how this affects our faith. These are the delays in answered prayers or the trials of life that we expect to be protected from but have had to endure instead.  We have all experienced this but for some these are seemingly soul-destroying lifechanging situations that challenge the notion of a loving God. Paul speaks of this in 2 Corinthians 4:7-10 as being ‘perplexed but not to despair’ and credits the ‘power of God’ as stopping him from being crushed.

This is my challenge to you for today, without minimising your own personal difficulties spend some time praying about how you might support another person through their painfully delayed or unanswered prayers.  It can be as simple as texting somebody and saying, ‘I am praying for you’.

Lord, sustain us through difficult times of unanswered prayers and show us how to support others in their time of need.

Amen!

Written by David Newton

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Sunday 26 January, 2020

Acts 1:1-5

1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with[a] water, but in a few days you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit.”

What a great start! Luke, the author of Acts launches in, boots and all, saying “My first book was all about Jesus. Now I’m going to tell you about the Holy Spirit and how the story continues.”  I’m hooked.  But there’s a phrase that I can’t get passed in verse 4.  Jesus says “don’t leave Jerusalem…” It’s left me pondering.

What was significant about Jerusalem? Was it the temple? Was it because it was where Jesus ascended into heaven? I don’t know.  What I do know is that all the disciples stayed together and worshipped! (see the last verse in Luke’s first book!).  Jerusalem meant they were together.

Something very special and awe-inspiring happens when followers of Jesus meet together to pray and worship. The unity, humility and single-minded hunger for God seems to move His heart.  He comes. He sits in on our praises (Psalm 22:3) and comes close. This is a blessing and a joy and a mystery that defies words.  When the church draws near to God, He comes.

It’s so cool that the Holy Spirit was first given to the church as they “stayed in Jerusalem and worshipped.”  This puts the importance of church in a whole new light.

Lord I see the significance of being in Church.  I want your presence more than anything. So I will stay in “Jerusalem” with my Church Family and worship with all my heart.  And I will meet you there!  Amen

Written by Boudy Van Noppen

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  1. Justin says:

    Thanks Boudy for these awesome insights.

    What strikes me in the passage as I read it this morning, is the summary that Luke gives of the previous section of his book. He focuses strongly on Christ’s resurrection,

    I hadn’t really ever noticed this emphasis before and I wonder if today, God is telling me to focus on the redemption of all the things that are around me that need to be brought back to life, and indeed redeemed for all eternity?

    Thanks Lord for the fresh view on your Word today.

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Saturday 25 January, 2020

Luke 24:50-53

50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. 52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.

What a contrast! At the beginning of chapter 24 we had women going to the tomb mourning a dead Jesus because they think he is gone. Now the disciples have just seen him really go, and they are worshipping him, and they are absolutely filled with joy that lasts. What a difference the resurrection makes!

The disciples have had their minds opened to see that all the scriptures point towards Jesus. The whole of Israel’s story has been working up to this decisive point. God’s restoration of his people, of the whole of creation, has started. It’s happening now.

Jesus didn’t finish blessing them and then go. It was while he was blessing them. And that blessing continues. As Jesus goes, the Holy Spirit comes. Not just God with us. God living in us. The story of God’s people continues as God’s restoration unfolds to include us.

Indeed, reason for worship and joy!

Written by David Cornell

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Friday 24 January, 2020

Luke 24:44-49

44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” 45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Jesus has risen and is now with his disciples sharing food once again. He supernaturally opens their minds to understand scripture which they are to now share with all nations but they are to wait to receive the power of the Holy Spirit.

How grateful am I that they did this. They waited and then they went. Repentance and the forgiveness of sin is the main message to be preached to all nations v47.  Down the centuries believers have done this. Now as believers we are to do this – let people (friends, family, colleagues, neighbours, strangers) know there is forgiveness for sin, their lives can be made right and future changed, freedom and restoration can come. What fabulous news!  Jesus did not leave the disciples an impossible task and he didn’t leave them alone to do it, the Holy Spirit was going with them and empowering them. I have received the same power from on high as the disciples, Jesus command to them is the same for me, the challenge for me is to do it. Let others know, as someone did for me, of this good news and not forget where I have come from and what Jesus has done for me.

Holy Spirit come and fill me again with your passion and boldness to speak of your life, repentance and forgiveness through Jesus.  Amen

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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Thursday 23 January, 2020

Luke 24:36-43

36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” 40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.

Ever seen a ghost – not I – thankfully!  But the gathered disciples in this story thought they had when they saw Jesus suddenly among them!  His immediate response to them being startled – “Peace, be with you”.  He could have said other things, like, ‘I told you I was coming back – why so startled’ or a myriad of other responses, but He goes straight to the heart, to deal with fear, concern.  Then as if to prove things He goes to the physical realities of His crucifixion to show this is real.  The emotion salve, then the physical proof.

Experts in the field of emotional intelligence tell us that our brains process information, first emotionally, then rationally.  That every rational thought comes with an emotion attached.  Assuming the truth of this research, we do well to approach situations, especially unfamiliar situations or concerning, even fear-filled situations with an approach that deals with the felt need and the emotions attached prior to the perceived rational element of a situation.  Jesus’ appeal to peace is one we each need to hear, perhaps more often than we realise.  What do you expect to hear from Jesus when faced with a new, scary situation?

Father may we experience the powerful peace that guards our hearts and our minds in Jesus!

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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Wednesday 22 January, 2020

Luke 24:28-35

28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” 33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

Wouldn’t we all love to be on the road when Jesus revealed the significance of the Old Testament scriptures, fulfilled in himself! A session of unlocking the promises and plans of God. Wow!

This account continues the events as Jesus gradually revealed himself to his closest followers. I’m fascinated how he chose to come along side these travellers rather than head straight for the Eleven who were gathered together in town.

Even more to notice that it was not until he had performed an everyday task of breaking bread (that is blessing and sharing their meal) that these two friends recognised Jesus. It was an act they would have seen him do countless times over the years together, so familiar it all suddenly became clear to them – this was really Jesus.

This demonstrates two things to me.  Jesus is about relationship with us, just like he was with these friends. Sharing a meal in someone’s home is all about relationship. Secondly, God reveals himself in the everyday, all the time. Many people seek a special moment of revelation of God’s presence, but God reveals himself in the normal everyday, when I am seeking him, day after day. It could be through his Word, or the word of a Christian friend just at the perfect moment. It could be as I pray and know he is with me, or as I serve and bring blessing to others.

Dear Lord Jesus. You spent time with two of your shattered friends who thought they had lost you. You brought incredible hope. Thank you that day by day, not just on Sundays, in your love you reveal yourself to me by your Holy Spirit and bring hope. Speak to me today. Amen

Written by Claire Moore

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