Saturday 11 July, 2020

1 Samuel 1:1-20

1 There was a certain man from Ramathaim, a Zuphite[a] from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. 2 He had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none. 3 Year after year this man went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the Lord Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the Lord. 4 Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. 5 But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb. 6 Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. 7 This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. 8 Her husband Elkanah would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?” 9 Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on his chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s house. 10 In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. 11 And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.” 12 As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk 14 and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.” 15 “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. 16 Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.” 17 Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.” 18 She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast. 19 Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the Lord and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. 20 So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.”

What a classic case of being misunderstood or even mistreated by everyone. Hannah has a husband-sharing arrangement with Peninnah which was accepted cultural practice in her day, but just a headache of a practice. And open to getting a little warped – which in Hannah’s case meant a husband who favoured her and a fellow wife who mistreated her. 

Elkanah didn’t understand Hannah – how could a man with many children already understand the longings of a woman who’s probably dreamt of being a mother since childhood, but sees this dream wasting away before her. 

And then there’s the Priest, Eli, who calls Hannah out as a drunk! 

Reasons for giving up abound here. But I ask myself – who’s the hero in this narrative recount? Who comes in to save the day? You could say Hannah, but she comes to the temple weeping and unwilling to eat. 

No. Is it not the Lord, who neither misunderstands nor mistreats Hannah, but loves her, hears her prayer, and brings blessing to her and her family? 

For me, it’s clear – when everyone else doesn’t get me, there’s always one who never fails to. Even if I have to wait years for Him, He has seen me, heard me, and understood me the whole time. 

Lord, help me keep this awareness of you – especially when my world seems to misunderstand or mistreat me. You always hear me and help me.   AMEN. 

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh


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Friday 10 July, 2020

Galatians 6:11-18

11 See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand! 12 Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 Not even those who are circumcised keep the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your circumcision in the flesh. 14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which[a] the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. 16 Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—to[b] the Israel of God. 17 From now on, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.

I saw the cutest photo of a new baby recently. It brought to mind the vulnerability and newness of a new little one – new skin, new nails, new experiences, a new start!

Paul’s focus in this final section of his letter is on grace which makes all things new. A new creation in Christ. “What counts is the new creation” – v15. I believe this is because becoming a new creation in Christ brings us into a whole new relationship with God and the world. Grace saves, the law condemns. Grace brings life, the law brings death.

The grace of God makes all things new.

I am reminded of 2 Corinthians 5 verse 17. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here.”

After lockdown and changes, and for many people loss of some kind, this is an amazing message. God is about restoration, new beginnings. When I walk with him, new beginnings are possible in all areas of my life – in relationships, attitudes, priorities, provision, dreams. When I trust God, he opens my eyes and heart to new possibilities. Where I only saw defeat, or rejection, he brings new hope, new opportunities.

It doesn’t matter where we have come from, what we have done, what baggage we are dragging behind us, God is about making things new, about bringing restoration of his creation – that means you and me.

Dear Lord Jesus, you are the great restorer, bringing broken people back to you, back to life. Even though I have been walking with you for many years, I need your restorative work every day in my life. Dear Lord, show me what needs to be made new. Amen

Written by Claire Moore

2 replies
  1. Florence Farjandi says:

    Thank you dear lord jesus. This is true, our heart must be circumcision. For me this means we should be following Him. Jesus.Amen

    Reply

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Thursday 9 July, 2020

Genesis 1:1

Strong words from Apostle Paul – strong words we need to hear.  What are the influences on our lives and are they good and for God or are they designed to distract, divert and disrupt??

There are some who subscribe to the wisdom of man more than the wisdom of God.  I have always taken the view that I must read God’s Word, the Bible, at least as much as any other book, nowadays as much as I listen to podcasts etc. Why, because a knowledge of the Truth will guard me from imbibing false doctrine including the philosophies of man.  How dreadful to be under God’s curse that comes from leading people away from God and His truth – and there is this possibility – which of itself should shake us to our core.  We need to stay true to Christ in all we are and in all we do and believe.  Confusion about God, His plan of salvation, that Jesus is the one and only redeemer and that all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory must not be the fruit of our ministry.  We should maintain our beliefs, while keeping an attitude of grace, of love, acceptance and forgiveness – there is no other Name under heaven by which we can be saved.

For the Galatians they had people telling them the grace and faith needed ‘added extras’ to truly save you.  Any ‘added extras’ represent false teaching – may we be careful we add nothing to God’s plan of salvation!

Father help me to stay true to Your Word in all I say, do and think.  May I lead people truly in Your kingdom.

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

2 replies
  1. Claire Moore says:

    Thanks for the clear reminder of how the grace of God should be visible in me- attitudes of grace, love, acceptance

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Wednesday 8 July, 2020

Galatians 5:22-26

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

One of my favourite passages – the description of the fruit of the Spirit. This is a reminder that God wants us to be amazing people who are full of love and kindness. It’s great to get a new way to think about these ideas God wants us to use to guide our lives. So take a look at the way The Message version lays out these verses and see if that gives you a richer picture of what God means here.

Affection for others = love; exuberance about life = joy; serenity = peace; willingness to stick to things = patience; sense of compassion = kindness; conviction of basic holiness of people = goodness; being loyal in our relationships = faithfulness; not needing to force our way = gentleness and about to marshal and direct our energies wisely = self-control.

These are the fruit of the Holy Spirit. There was probably one of these that really appealed to you today – one that you would like to be better at/have more of/grow in. Grab hold of that one today and chat to the Holy Spirit about how to do that.

God promises that our lives can be filled with these gifts – we can always be more kind, more gentle, more patient, more joyful, more loving, more faithful, more controlling of ourselves and our reactions, more peaceful. God always wants us to have more of these gifts so we can be blessed and we can bless others. We just have to ask and to follow His guidance to get there.

Dear Lord thank you so much for the gifts you promise to give us. Help us to remember to ask for your help to grow in these gifts. Also help us to keep our eyes on who you want us to be not to compare ourselves to others so that we get distracted. Thank you that you have made each of us an original – you need the part each of us can play in your plans. Amen

Written by Therese Manning


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Tuesday 7 July, 2020

Galatians 5:13-21

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. 16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

I read this scripture and felt immediately rebuked.  So many of these “cravings/attitudes” I can see in my life.

In this season of Covid19 in isolation and lockdown; I feel like there has been so much in my world trying to “salvage”, to plan, to prepare, to focus, to refocus, that I feel as though I have lost some of my “God’s eyes” in the middle of it.  My natural self wants to “bunker down”, to keep to the routine, prepare and rescue – but my Spirit wants to be free of the burden and to just step out and reach into peoples’ worlds bringing love and hope.

Galatians says: for me to “be completely free of self-indulgence”, “expressing love in all we do”, “abandon the cravings of your self-life”.

As we begin to head out of Covid isolation, I feel a fresh wind to chase after the things of God anew.  To not worry so much about what I can’t do, but what I can do.  They key I see in verse 16:  as I yield freely and fully to the dynamic life of the Holy Spirit – I can follow after Him completely.  He will lead and guide me.

Lord, thank you for your presence.  We are never alone because you are with us.  Thank you for your grace and mercy.  Lord we thank you for your love and protection during this season and pray that we all with have experienced a deeper walk with you as a result.  Amen.

Written by Ps. Sue Botta


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Monday 6 July, 2020

Galatians 5:7-12

7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9 “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” 10 I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty. 11 Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12 As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!

Do you ever get distracted or find yourself getting absorbed by something other than what you’re supposed to be doing?! I know I do. Sometimes we need a reminder to get back on track and to refocus.

Today, I find this passage is just that: a reminder or wake-up call to spiritual living. The Galatians had been following after Jesus and living by faith. But somewhere along the way, they got off course. They slipped into their old way of doing spiritual life by relying on their own efforts, rather than relying on Jesus and believing that what He had done was enough.

Be encouraged! Just like God reminded that Galatians, may we also be reminded to stay on track and run our race.

Holy Spirit, help us to fully rely on Jesus and to be alert to what makes us take our eyes off Him and what He has already done for us. 

Written by Gab Martin


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Sunday 5 June, 2020

Galatians 5:2-6

2 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

A girl aged 5 runs out of the school gates to be greeted by her mother. The first trembling words from her lips “he called me ugly” indicating a boy aged 5 from her class. Girl’s mother speaks to boy’s mother regarding comment made. A few days pass. The girl receives a handwritten note from the boy. “Sorry for hurting your feelings.” Girl’s mother reads note to girl. Girl replies with happiness “he still loves me!” Her young heart learns to forgive the boy for the hurtful words spoken to her. 

It is a simple story, but it shows wrongdoing, sadness, hurt, pain, consultation, consolation, consideration, forgiveness, love and joy. 

In the law prior to Jesus coming, being circumcised, among other rituals, was an act to show that a person was consecrated before God, clean and acceptable. It was thought that with these rituals the soul would be suitably fit to serve God. Paul writes in verse 6 that “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision or uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love”. 

For me, true faith is a working grace; which works by loving others and loving God. Everyday, most of us encounter others through direct contact or via a video or telephone call. There are numerous opportunities that we are given each day to love others. In each situation we may feel a variety of emotions; hurt, pain, happiness, frustration or ambivalence. If we chose to love others, as Paul has instructed, we will serve a greater purpose. 

In the story above, the girl’s mother could have disregarded the comment, but instead she saw an opportunity. The outcome was that two small children were guided by their respective parents to understand what it is to apologise and to forgive and to love again. 

Dear Jesus, help us all to remember the power of love that you bestow to each of us to serve the world. Help us to see “opportunities” in our midst when we are challenged by others wrongdoing. Thank you for the power of forgiveness and for first forgiving us. Amen

Written by Susannah Ware


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Saturday 4 July, 2020

Galatians 4:21-5:1

21 Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. 23 His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise. 24 These things are being taken figuratively: The women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written: “Be glad, barren woman, you who never bore a child; shout for joy and cry aloud, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband.” 28 Now you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 At that time the son born according to the flesh persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. 30 But what does Scripture say? “Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son.” 31 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman. 5 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Every time I think of the last verse in this passage “it’s for freedom that Christ has set us free”, I think of a particular worship song that is very catchy and often gets caught in my head after hearing or singing it. But if I truly think about these words, that Christ has set us free so that we can live in freedom, I am reminded of how easily I can slip back into a lifestyle that is dictated by self-imposed rules. I know most followers of Christ have experienced this paradoxical struggle, the desire to be a ‘good’ Christian – read the bible enough, pray enough, say think and act in the right ways all the time. Yet even just thinking like this is an indication that I am not good enough as I am without Jesus – none of us are! We cannot ever be good enough for our perfect God, only Jesus can make us right with Him. I am grateful that because of Christ, we live under a new covenant. What a good thing to be reminded of today – that we are free because of Jesus, and that freedom is for us to enjoy each and every day.

Thank you God that you desire us to live in freedom! Help us to stand firm whenever we feel pressure to be ‘good enough’ by obeying rules and standards. Remind us that we are only made right with you because of what Jesus has done for us. Amen.

Written by Ps. Madelaine Tarasenko

2 replies
  1. robwise says:

    Hi, just curious, but what bible version is used for the daily digest readings? Thanks. Rob

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Friday 3 July, 2020

Galatians 4:12-20

12 I plead with you, brothers and sisters, become like me, for I became like you. You did me no wrong. 13 As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you, 14 and even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. 15 Where, then, is your blessing of me now? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. 16 Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? 17 Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may have zeal for them. 18 It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always, not just when I am with you. 19 My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, 20 how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!

There is such passion in Paul’s tone, he is so emotive in his language and you can hear the urgency in his voice. He desperately wants the Galatians to stay on track in following Jesus. 

It’s a reminder that when we care deeply for others and want to see them flourish we will suffer, and as we journey together there will be pain and discomfort. It’s good to know that we’re not alone in the suffering. If we’re going to experience pain and discomfort though, it’s worthwhile if it’s about seeing Christ formed in those around us – a shaping that will last for eternity. 

God, please help me to see that as I walk alongside my brothers and sisters in Christ it’s about seeing Jesus formed in us. When it’s uncomfortable or painful, when we grow weary, help us to lean in knowing that this really matters… now and for eternity. Amen. 

Written by Ps. Bethany Waugh 

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Thursday 2 July, 2020

Galatians 4:8-11

8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? 10 You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11 I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.

God is not a formula. I remember when I was a young Christian I would freak out that if I hadn’t read my Bible for the day then my whole day would unravel. In truth I was turning God into a formula and had yet to understand the depth of relationship God wanted with me. I reasoned that being a ‘good Christian’ was ticking boxes like church attendance and Bible reading.

I cannot relate to the Galatian Church entirely, as I have never had an upbringing steeped in tradition and religion like many of these Jewish Christians would have had. But I still have found a tendency in myself to behave in a similar manner and try to break God down into a formula of observations or practices.

In truth, God is God. He is a person, the supreme and ultimate person. He is interested in me as a person, not in my ability to tick off boxes. When I seek him, listen to him, strive after his will and obey him he is joyful, as his will is to bless me and others. When I ignore him, disobey him, block my ears and heart to his voice he is grieved. No amount of Bible reading or church attendance will satisfy him. He wants me.

Lord, soften my heart so that I have a sense of our relationship. Lord, how can I draw nearer to you in relationship, where are my ears deaf to you, where is my heart hard to you?

Written by Andrew Mellor

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