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.

    Reply

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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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Tuesday 21 January, 2020

Luke 24:13-27

13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him. 17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.” 25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

Angels have come to speak with Mary, Joanna and his mother Mary at the tomb of Jesus, early Sunday morning – to tell them “He is risen” “He is alive”.  Now later that day we find Jesus walking with two disciples Cleopas and his friend on the 7 mile journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus.  On this walk Jesus “carefully unveils to them the revelation of himself throughout the Scripture.  He starts from the beginning and explained the writings of Moses and all the prophets, showing about how they wrote about Him and revealed the truth about Himself.”

This 7 mile walk becomes a life changing journey for Cleopas and his friend.  They open their home to welcome Him to dinner and stay.  As He breaks bread and blesses it before their eyes, they are suddenly aware that Jesus Himself is here with them.  They are so overcome by joy at this meeting with Jesus, they walk back 7 miles to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples.

I wonder if we gather together and talk about Jesus – He might manifest Himself in our midst.   It reminds me how important it is to gather in a Connect Group with each other.  To share a meal together.  To share communion together.  To open our home and our dinner table to others.  Jesus is so often present in those moments. 

In our busy lives we can neglect what is important.  Demands scream at us; however I think the most important time is around a dinner table.  Make 2020 a time to gather with others and see if Jesus turns up!!

Lord help us to manage our time so we prioritise time with you and time with each other.  Help us to carve out time into our schedules to Make Room for others.  Come and be with us as we gather at the dinner table.

Written by Ps. Sue Botta


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Monday 20 January, 2020

Luke 24:1‭-‬12‬

24 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words. 9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

It is helpful for me to always remember that people have always found the resurrection of Jesus nonsense. The truth is that it does not make sense, history, for the most part, tells us over and over again that ‘once dead, always dead’. But here, in the very centre of human history, we have the resurrection from the dead, and promise for all of humanity that death has been defeated.

If not for the grace of God, Peter, James, John and the other disciples would not have believed in the resurrection of Jesus. If not for the grace of God, the Apostle Paul would have continued to persecute Christians and would never have believed in the resurrection of Jesus. If not for the grace of God, I would not believe in the resurrection of Jesus.

When people around me sneer or reject the good news of Jesus’ resurrection, I should not be surprised, nor should I be too down-hearted; it has always been this way. Nor should I be surprised to see the greatest cynics repent and believe the good news… it has always been this way.

Lord my God, by grace you have softened my heart and made me awake to the wonderful resurrection life to be found in Jesus. I ask for the same grace to be extended to my friends, my family and my neighbours.

Written by Andrew Mellor

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Sunday 19 January, 2020

Luke 23:50-56

50 Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God. 52 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. 53 Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. 54 It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. 55 The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. 56 Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.

I cannot imagine how Joseph or the women felt following the death of Jesus. They had followed him and believed in him and then they had watched him die a cruel death. It must have taken incredible bravery to ask for his body, care for it, given they would have been seen as siding with a criminal. It’s a reminder to me that even in my darkest moments, just like these friends of Jesus, God has a purpose and calling on my life that cannot be ignored. Joseph and these women did the right thing regardless of how difficult that was for them. In a world that says put yourself first, there are times when we are called to stand up for what we believe in first of all. 

Jesus I thank you for all that you did for me when you died on the cross. I thank you that you put aside your self for the sake of all the world. Help me to always act in a way that brings honour and glory to you. I pray this in Jesus name. Amen

Written by Christine Knight

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Saturday 18 January, 2020

Luke 23:44-49

44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. 47 The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” 48 When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. 49 But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

There are several groups of people here watching Jesus die on the cross.

The first group, are the ones who were caught up in the frenzy and zeal of the religious leaders who wanted to put Jesus to death. When they got what they wanted, they probably realised that the death of Jesus was not what they wanted. This group was overcome with deep sorrow and they grieved, believing that this was the end.

The second group are Jesus friends who had followed him from Galilee, hoping that this was not the end, but struggling because of what they could see. They didn’t want to get to close, possibly in case the Pharisees or the crowd turned on them next.

But Luke records a third group, an individual. It is the Roman centurion. His response is worth reflecting on. On this day, he is simply carrying out his duties, and organising the execution of 3 Jewish men. He has probably done this many times, but this time, seeing Jesus death caused him to pause and recognise that this Jew, Jesus, was innocent and not worthy of this horrible death. And significantly, this Roman centurion worshipped God.

In the face of a terrible situation, or “the end”, what is my response? To grieve and walk away? To stand of in the distance? Or to recognise Jesus, in the midst of the situation, and worship him.

My responses haven’t always been to worship God in what appears to be “the end”. It has sometimes been to distance myself from him, to focus on the end. We know how “this situation” turned out. So, without the benefit of hindsight, Jesus has proven himself worthy of worship over and over again, and I choose, in the middle of it all, to worship Him.

Written by Andrew Martin

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