Friday 10 April, 2020

Acts 9:32-43

32 As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the Lord’s people who lived in Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, who was paralyzed and had been bedridden for eight years. 34 “Aeneas,” Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and roll up your mat.” Immediately Aeneas got up. 35 All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord. 36 In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor. 37 About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. 38 Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!” 39 Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them. 40 Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. 41 He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive. 42 This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. 43 Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon.

There are 2 things in this passage that resonate with me through the ages. Firstly, God ALWAYS puts the right people in the right place at the right time. For both Aeneas and Dorcas, God positioned Peter to do His work. It was after all God not Peter who performed these miracles. Secondly, there is POWER in the NAME OF JESUS. In this passage a man was restored to his mobility, in the second a woman raised from the dead. In both cases where there was death, Jesus bought life and from that God was glorified. So am I open to being positioned by God, to be used by Him? Am I prepared to bring Jesus into all parts of my life, all circumstances so that God can bring life from death and be Glorified? In the times we are currently facing there will be moments when you and I will be that person, called by God. 

Lord help me to be your faithful witness. Position and use me Lord so that others may be blessed by you. In the mighty Name of Jesus Amen. 

Written by Christine Knight

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Thursday 9 April, 2020

Acts 9-23-31

23 After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him, 24 but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. 25 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall. 26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews,[a] but they tried to kill him. 30 When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. 31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.

This is an interesting passage of what it was like for the early church and its struggles to get started. I haven’t ever lived with the likelihood of losing my life for serving Jesus like Paul did. And it is pretty creative thinking to use a basket to escape with. But this was their reality, people were seriously out to kill them for their faith. But the last verse in this passage makes an interesting statement – the church grew stronger as the believers lived in the fear of the Lord.

The church could have been consumed with the fear of man. They could have removed the threat of death by choosing to do what the Jews wanted them to do, but the result of that would have been a weak or non-existent church.

Instead, the church grew stronger as it lived in the fear of the Lord. There is a direct connection between the strength of the church and the church living in the fear of the Lord.

This is not about being afraid of the Lord, instead it is following God 100 percent. Trusting him fully, obeying him completely.

And the same is true in my life. I become stronger when I live in the fear of the Lord and not in fear of people. When I am more concerned about pleasing people or not offending people, then I am usually all over the place, unstable, and weary with worry. But when I settle the issue that Jesus is Lord of my life and I follow him wholeheartedly, then he makes me strong.

Father, forgive me for when I have thought more about what people want me to do, than what you want me to do. You are Lord of my life and today, I choose to serve you.

Written by Andrew Martin

3 replies
  1. Justin says:

    Thanks so much for your thoughts this morning Andrew. Its so hard to imagine what it would have been like in those days, but it is such an affirmation for me of the truth that we believe in that the believers were willing to risk everything, including their lives, for the calling they were given to spread the Gospel message.

    Lord, may I live a life that genuinely demonstrates the faith that you have given me through your sacrifice on the cross.

  2. Sue says:

    I love it that the church grew, when the believers lived in the fear of the Lord and were encouraged by the Holy Spirit.
    Thank you for encouraging us today.
    May I walk each day like this.

  3. Deb Sanasi says:

    Thank you so much Andrew. You write so beautifully. He IS our strength and our shield..

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Wednesday 8 April, 2020

Acts 9:10-22

10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord,” he answered. 11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.” 13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” 15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” 17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. 20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” 22 Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.

As Ananias left the place he was in and walked towards Straight Street, he would no doubt have looked liked anybody else going about their business. But I’m sure that in spite of God’s encouragement, Ananias’ heart was beating fast, his mouth dry, and his palms sweaty as he arrived at Judas’ house and asked for a man from Tarsus named Saul. Quite probably every fibre of his being was telling him to run! 

How amazing then that the first thing Ananias does is to place his hands on Saul, and the first two words he says to this man who has been murdering followers of Jesus are, ‘Brother Saul.’ Ananias calls Saul by name, and he calls him brother. Ananias chooses to draw near, in obedience to God, when every natural instinct would be to run away. 

I love that in his obedience, Ananias represents God, reaching out and drawing near even as we are at our worst. God, help me to be courageously obedient, and I trust that as I do so you will be gloriously on display. Amen. 

Written by Ps. Bethany Waugh 

3 replies
  1. Justin Ware says:

    I love that the Bible records so honestly and faithfully what Ananias’s response was when praying and hearing from God! If that were me in the situation, I think I’d say “sorry, WHAT!!, You want me to restore HIS sight?? Surely if he is blind he, of all people probably deserves it for all that he has been doing to your believers Lord?!?”

    Lord, thank you that Your ways are higher than my ways. Thank you that this verse is such a timely reminder of that

  2. Mini Cherian says:

    Yes very true. From Sunday I had the same feeling, to pray like David, In most of the Psalms we read that David asked god to punish, destroy, kill the wicked, evil people who are harassing him. Today at 3.26am God woke me up and asked me to continue to forgive them. I obeyed but I was upset with God (as usual). On my way to office the Holy Spirit was promoting me to pray for them. Thank you Ps Beth and Justine for the timely reminder.

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Tuesday 7 April, 2020

Acts 9:1-9

9 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” 5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” 7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

It’s funny how you can notice something new in a passage of scripture that you have read many times before.

After Saul’s famous dramatic encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, he was struck blind and instructed to go into the city where he would be told what to do next.

What I noticed was this: for 3 DAYS he was blind and did not eat or drink a thing.

Imagine what it would be like for Saul to sit there blind for 3 days and wonder when (if ever) he was going to find out what was going on, and wondering if he would ever see again.

Isn’t it interesting (and sometimes quite trying) that God makes us wait for His timing.  In His instructions to Saul there was no mention of the three days of waiting, and yet God must have deemed it important to have this period of waiting.

This is a good reminder that God’s timing is generally not my timing. But God’s timing is much better than mine, so I need to embrace the wait.

So whether I’ve been waiting 3 days, 3 years or 30 years, I can trust God that He knows what He’s doing and I can rest in His plans.

Thank you Lord that you are much, much wiser than me and I can trust you as I wait for your timing.

Written by Shelley Witt

5 replies
  1. Justin says:

    Its so true that to us, God’s timing can seem puzzling, anxiety inducing or downright frustrating! I think for me, God uses His timing to test and tame my attitude of impatience.

    Lord, help me to grow in peace and patience!

  2. Betty-Joy says:

    Thank you Shelley. It was good to wake up and read this today. God’s timing is perfect and we can trust him. He knows what he’s doing!

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Monday 6 April, 2020

Acts 8:26-40

26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” 30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. 31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading: “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.” 34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. 36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” [37] 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. 40 Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea. Footnotes:

The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and walk along beside the carriage.”

For the people who were followers of Christ, they were living in unprecedented times. Acts chapter 8 starts with there being so much persecution against Christians that they had to scatter to preserve their lives. 

With the world in the state that it’s in now, the church is again unable to gather together in the way we are used to, but we will be flexible and dynamic! More than ever, there is such a need for me to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit to know who I need to be “walking along beside” as Philip did in this passage. 

The person I am to walk beside may be a person of great wealth who needs help interpreting what they see and read, like the Ethiopian in this story. Or they may be someone who just needs some practical help in life, or someone to pray with. 

Lord, thank you that You have put some people on my heart this morning that I need to find new ways to walk beside in these unprecedented times. 

Written by Ps Justin Ware

3 replies
  1. Kerrie says:

    Praying that I’m ready to ‘walk alongside’ the ones God shows me to speak to and to be able to clearly explain the hope of my faith. Just like Phillip.

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Day 42 (5 Apr 2020) – The people pleaser trap

Proverbs 29:25 (GNT); 2) Galatians 1:10 (NLT)

1) It is dangerous to be concerned with what others think of you, but if you trust the Lord, you are safe. 2) Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.

I am completely qualified to comment on this subject. If there is a Master’s Degree in people pleasing I would be the lecturer! 

Living for other people’s approval of us is insidious, and cunning. It makes us lie to save face. It permeates our thoughts and affects our moods. It steals our happiness and stunts our potential. Lord, please help me – how do I stop?!

Deciding to stop being a people pleaser isn’t going to work. The writer of Proverbs had it right – “if you trust the Lord…” 

  1. I must direct my need of approval toward Him – find it in Him and only Him. Practically, I can do this by asking him for help – “Lord, please help me find my approval in You!”  
  2. I need to constantly remember my testimony – how God saved me and what a miracle that was. To think about the staggering effort and man-power He expended to save me. 
  3. I need to remember Jesus died on the cross for me. This proves I have Gods approval – look at what it cost Him! 
  4. I need to throw myself into the purpose that God saved me for. 

And suddenly, I’m not concerned with the approval of others – I’m delighting in the approval God has already given me. And now, unexpectedly, I’m excited about the purpose he has planned for my life. 

Lord, I’m standing on the precipice of a life unimaginable. I know what on earth I’m here for – I see it before me! I’m going to jump. And as I do I see you standing next to me, smiling. I know I’ll be ok because you’re jumping with me. I’m so thankful Jesus – you are all I want, you are all I need. Let’s go!

Amen

Written by Boudy Van Noppen

4 replies
  1. Justin says:

    Wow, I can believe that its been 42 days of this! Its been AMAZING and so transformative.

    Its so true that along the way, one of the prime distractions from God’s plan and purpose is trying to please people.

    Thank you Lord that your word enables us to have an anchor to your intentions.

  2. Claire Moore says:

    Serving Christ is usually incompatible with people’s expectations – from not being available for sunday sport or giving him back the only he has blessed me with , none of it fits the approval of others. Thank you B for the reminder to trust in Him, in everything. He has given everything to show me his approval, his very own Son.

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Day 41 (4 Apr 2020) – The envy trap

1) Proverbs 14:30 (NIV) 2) Ecclesiastes 4:4 (MSG)

1) A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. 2) Then I observed all the work and ambition motivated by envy. What a waste! Smoke. And spitting into the wind.

We have a lovely garden however it requires work, we prune, fertilise, remove weeds, etc.  The Bible is all about “bearing fruit”.  Godly men and women are growing a tree that bears life-giving fruit, and all who win souls are wise. Prov 11:30 (TLB)

God is not happy with fruitless trees or diseased trees.  We need to examine the fruit of our lives:  if we are critical, negative, complaining, envious, selfish, or bad tempered.  This is not the fruit of the Spirit at work.

God’s fruit is divine love, overflowing joy, enduring peace, virtuous patience, kindness in action, faith that prevails, gentleness of heart, strength of spirit and self-control.

Galatians 5 v 13 – “Freedom means that we become so completely free of self-indulgence that we become servants of one another, expressing love in all we do”.

For us to bear fruit we need more water (His Presence) and we need to change the fertiliser (God word)

I grew up always comparing myself to others.  How did I change this?

·         I asked God to change my heart – help me see people as Jesus sees them.

·         Get an attitude of gratitude – so many things to be thankful for.  I begin my day and prayer time thanking God.

·         I got a new set of glasses – see people the way Jesus does.  Asking God to bless others, even my “enemies”.

·         I stopped comparing myself to others.  I became happy with who I was.

Dear Lord, help me to bring your love and grace to others.  Help my where I am bitter or envious to see people as you see them.  I have not journeyed their road.  Help me to become the person you want me to be, not comparing myself to others but running the race you have set before me

Written by Ps. Sue Botta

1 (reply)
  1. Mandy says:

    Thanks Sue. A good reminder to run a check on my own heart and decide to step into who god wants mr to be.

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Day 40 (3 Apr 2020) – Living with purpose

1) Proverbs 19:21 (NIV); 2) Acts 13:36a (NIV)

1) Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. 2) Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep.

These two texts are used as the basis of the proposition that God has a purpose for each individual believer and living out that purpose creates a meaningful and fulfilled life.

When you think about it every generation has its own set of problems unique to that time, and God calls on each generation to meet His unfolding plan in new ways.

However, what really spoke to me was the first line of Proverbs 19:21

‘Many are the plans in a person’s heart’.

We live in a unique time, a time of freedom, of great abundance, and many options in life.

If I was to rewrite Proverbs 19:21 for myself, it would say –

‘So many are the things I can do and have, the Lord’s purpose is in danger of being forgotten’.

This idea fits well with C3 Carlingford’s 2020 Vision. – ‘Make Room’.

To ‘Make Room’ for something new, you must let go of something old. The idea of our life as a series of ‘furnished rooms’ is an elegant metaphor.  Making room implies you need to take inventory and toss out unnecessary things from your rooms.

With reference to – Day 40— A ‘Life Purpose Statement’ can not only define your purpose but help you take inventory of your ‘crowded rooms’ and clarify what to throw out.

For me personally, I will be considering how I spend my time.  Am I wasting my time on meaningless pursuits?  I will be starting with this test. ‘If I don’t have time for regular devotional prayer and reading of the ‘Word’ then I will know I have rooms that need clearing out’.

Lord, enable us through grace and wisdom to make the changes required to ‘live with purpose’.

Amen!

Written by David Newton

3 replies
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Day 39 (2 Apr 2020) – Balancing your life

1) Ephesians 5:15 (Phillips); 2) 2 Peter 3:17 (CEV)

1) Live life with a due sense of responsibility, not as those who do not know the meaning of life but as those who do.” 2) My dear friends, you have been warned ahead of time! So don’t let the errors of evil people lead you down the wrong path and make you lose your balance.

Each moment is a gift from God, and that makes every moment weighty, valuable beyond belief! Not only is it valuable, but I am accountable to God for how I live this gift. But Jesus calls me not to a life lived under a burden of this weight. Quite the opposite, Jesus says His burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30). I believe that I can live a life full of responsibility and meaning and live a life that is light and freeing. To live healthily in that tension I must have a sense of my smallness and God’s bigness. I must understand that ‘it is not all about me’. Yet I must understand that I am full of responsibility, because God has given me His Spirit in order that I might do good with everything that He has given me. The blessing is that I am not relying on my own ideas for what is good, but on God’s. I am not trying to leave a legacy with the life I live but rather pointing to the legacy Jesus has already left.

Dear Lord, thank you for the precious gift of life you have poured into me. Let each day be a decision to lay this gift before you, so that my life would count for what truly matters.

Written by Andrew Mellor

3 replies
  1. B says:

    Great encouragement today Andrew – thanks! Need to rely on God’s idea of what’s good – not my own.

  2. Mandy says:

    Thank you Andrew. I love your reflection about every moment being a gift from God. Whatever I do, and wherever I go, God is with me.

  3. Claire Moore says:

    Mmm not relying on my own ideas for what is good but on God’s. Now that’s something to think about…can only know his standard from his Word. Thanks

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Day 38 (1 Apr 2020) – Becoming a world-class Christian

Mark 16:15 (NCV)

Jesus said to his followers, “Go everywhere in the world, and tell the Good News to everyone.

Rick Warren personalises the command that Jesus gave in stating that the Great Commission is MY commission, and as I reflect on the command that Jesus gave from the NCV version, is begins with the words: Jesus said to his followers.

So, what identifies me as a follower of Jesus? Simply that I receive this instruction as spoken to me. If I claim to be a follower of Jesus, but don’t do what he tells us to do, am I really followers of Jesus?

I like the use of this translation simply for rephrasing the command from “Go into all the world” to “Go everywhere in the world”. It’s sometimes easy to think that to go into all the world is to go somewhere else, somewhere overseas to tell people about Jesus, which I have had the opportunity to do in the past.

But what about the present? To “go everywhere” is such an inclusive word. It literally means wherever I am, tell people the good news of Jesus. That includes where I work, the street where I live, and yes, all places near and far.

So, where I am right now, how am I being a follower of Jesus? Who can I tell about the Good News?

Lord Jesus, thank you for saving me, thank you loving me so much that you died for me, thank you for setting me free. Help me to see the people around me as you do. Holy Spirit lead me in telling everyone this Good News.

Written by Andrew Martin

4 replies
  1. Pete says:

    Great thoughts Andrew , what opportunities are around me today to share my faith with others(at a 1.5 meter distance) . To lift my eyes and see what Jesus wants me to see .
    Thankyou Jesus

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