restorying faith and values

Reviewing and renewing Biblical faith through story and study

Friday, April 29, 2016

SSS429 - Matthew - The Kingdom of God

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Matthew - The Kingdom of God


As we explore books of the Bible it is important to remember that these are texts written for a purpose. They are from a time and place and, while they may be powerfully meaningful in our time, their original purpose was to speak to the world in which and to whom they were written.

Matthew is a narrative structured to lead to a point by presenting the life, teachings, miracles and death of Jesus. Recognising the fact that Matthew is told as story leads us to ask: Why is he telling this part of the Jesus story? What is he teaching at this point? Where is he heading? While the book of Matthew is an accurate record of the life of Jesus, it is also a reconstructed telling of that life – told for a purpose structured and in a purposeful way.

There are six basic sections in the book of Matthew and in defining those sections we will see the author’s intent and purpose for writing his narrative of the life of Jesus.

Part 1: Matthew 1:1-4:16 – The Character. We are introduced to Jesus as the leading character of the book and, indeed, of the entire plotline of the Bible.

Part 2: Matthew 4:17-11:1 – The Plot. Jesus introduces us the “Kingdom of Heaven” as a workable and in fact necessary replacement worldview for the people previously caught up in the Kingdom of this Earth.

Part 3: Matthew 11:2-16:20 – Personal Conflict. Responses to Jesus. Doubters scoff. Haters hate. Believers question. The “Kingdom of Heaven” as described and demonstrated by Jesus doesn’t meet the expectations of anyone – whether they were for or against Him.

Part 4: Matthew 16:21-20:34 – The Goal. Jesus introduces “The Cross” as the difference between the Kingdom of this Earth and the Kingdom of Heaven.

Part 5: Matthew 21-27 – Kingdom Conflict. Jesus’s Kingdom of Heaven is put to the test as a worldview and is pushed to the wall. Seemingly it fails. Jesus is crucified. The Kingdom is defunct.

Part 6: Matthew 28 – Death Concurred. The Cross is applied in a new way due to the Resurrection. No cross has ever been followed by life. An empty tomb demands a new look at the entire narrative. What does this Jesus and His Kingdom mean to you and me? How does it have Authority in our lives?

So, what is the point of the book of Matthew? To prove the Kingdom of Heaven – in which the cross and empty tomb feature – is the new reality of the people of God. The new Israel. To help his readers take this leap, Matthew writes specific things. He chooses carefully which statements of Jesus he will include, which miracles of Jesus he will include and which stories about Jesus he will include.

Matthew 11:1-15 is a prime example. John the Baptist, who declared Jesus the Lamb of God and baptised Him, now languishes in prison and doubts his gift of prophecy. He sends his followers to ask Jesus if He really is the promised Messiah. Jesus response is: tell John what you see, tell him what you hear. Matthew the storyteller reminds the reader: Tell doubters what you saw in chapters 8 and 9! Tell them what you heard on the mountain in chapters 5 to 7. And tell them (chapter 10) the pep-talk Jesus gave His disciples before sending them out to apply all He said and all He showed them! It’s happening! Tell John, the Kingdom of Heaven is here! He was right!

Then Jesus goes into a little sermon about John. In effect, He says God’s people have been listening to prophets for eons and John is the ultimate prophet in that kingdom. But there is a new kingdom being inaugurated right now – the Kingdom of Heaven – and anyone who believes and joins up to this kingdom is more significant than any prophet in the previous kingdom. John the Baptist was the final preacher before the coming of the Kingdom of God. Not only was he right, he was on to something so big it was going to change the world. And change is hard – for everyone!

Jesus’ Kingdom seems like a great idea to many of us, today. But back then, they wanted freedom from Roman oppression. They looked back to their forefathers being liberated from Egypt and expected that kind of freedom again – only better, longer – the eternal Kingdom of God on Earth. But instead, they got beatitudes and healed beggars. The poor were blessed and the Roman oppressors were seemingly ignored. Jesus suggested that welcoming persecution made you a Kingdom citizen rather than destroying your enemies. His Kingdom was about hearts, not pocketbooks.

Jesus took the purpose of the Temple – reconciliation – and put it into the heart of each believer. Our bodies became the Temple of God and we – each and every one of us – became the priests overseeing that temple. A Kingdom of priests. The reconciled became reconcilers.  

No wonder it was hard to understand. No wonder John questioned Jesus. It wasn’t just a new idea – it was a return to an old idea. God was building His final Kingdom by reclaiming His first temple – the people created in His image. In Genesis, God put us at the heart of the Garden – Humanity: a garden temple crowning His work of Creation. Now, He reclaims us through the death and resurrection of His Son and places us at the nexus of Creation today – the highways and byways of this world – Humanity: a temple on every corner.

Even today, the pious balk at the core idea of the Kingdom of Heaven for which Jesus lived, died and lives again. This Kingdom – the new Kingdom of God that Jesus started and which grows like a rock flying in from outer space preparing to crush every Kingdom set up by mankind – is one based on the many rather than the few. A Kingdom of priests – living temples, each of us, revealing God’s image to the world.

The success of this Kingdom comes from the healing power of Jesus’ death and resurrection being applied by millions of believers on the ground all around the world. As we believe, we are changed. As we are reconciled with God, we begin reconciling with others. Such a Kingdom cannot be stopped. And it never will be!

Today’s leaders, religious and political alike, need the Kingdom of God to be about buildings, infrastructure, money and power. But, instead, the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. Go and tell John. And tell him: ‘God blesses those who are not offended by me.’

That is what the Kingdom of God really, truly, honestly looks like.

And that’s what Matthew’s story is about.



Thursday, April 28, 2016

DJD428 - The Mark

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Scripture: 

2 Corinthians 5:19-20

Starting Question:

Have you ever done something that you believed was unforgivable? How did you feel about yourself?

The Mark

*** Continued from The Chase yesterday ***

Cain fell back on his haunches. The deed was done. The plan had worked perfectly. The gullible whelp fell for it! He actually gave chase, as if they were still children! Ha!

Cain looked down at the stone in his hands, which he had placed at this exact location in the field. It was, indeed, the right tool for the job. Abel was dead. He dropped the stone with a thud next to Abel’s crushed head.

Cain quickly buried the stone and his brother. He stood and ran to the river to wash himself. No one would go looking in the field. He was sure of it. The cool water felt good against his hot skin. The blood washed off easily.

“Cain, where is your brother?”

Cain spun around quickly—guiltily. He knew that voice. God stood on the edge of the river. Cain’s heart skipped a beat. He stammered.

“Where is Abel?” God asked again.

His composure regained, Cain taunted, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

“What have you done, Cain?” God knelt and took a handful of soil, offering it to Cain. “Listen! Abel’s blood cries out to me from the earth! Now you are cursed and banished from the ground, which has swallowed your brother’s blood. No longer will the earth yield good crops for you, no matter how hard you work! From now on you will be a homeless wanderer.”

Cain had thought his secret was safe in the ground. Now his deed hit him with full force. He was caught. And he was cursed! “It’s too much!” He cried to the Lord, “Surely I’ll be killed by anyone who finds me!”

Then God did something that Cain did not deserve. God put a mark across the forehead of the young murderer—a mark that labeled him, not as criminal but as claimed. It was God’s mark of protection.  “I will give a sevenfold punishment to anyone who kills you,” God promised.

Cain brushed his fingers across the new mark on his forehead. Then he turned and ran from the Lord’s presence—as far away as he could get.


Reflection Question:

How would you respond, if after planning an evil end for your hated enemy and carrying it out, God protected you? What impact would that have on your treatment of people who wronged you in the future? 

Prayer time:

Before you pray together, ask: What would you like to say to Jesus today?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

DJD427 - The Chase

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Scripture: 

1 John 4:7-8

Starting Question:

Have you ever been so mad at someone that you wished them harm?

The Chase

The young man enjoyed the wind rushing past his cheeks as he ran through the densely packed scrub surrounding the clearing where his family lived. He laughed at the occasional whip-sting of branches that slapped his arms and chest as he dodged through the brush. He made sure his laugh carried well enough to be heard by his brother whom he was chasing, and who was releasing the well timed branches. It was one of their games from childhood.

It felt great to play again. It had been so long since his brother had treated him like a friend. As they matured into men they had become rivals and, at times, enemies. But, today was different. His brother had visited the sheep pens and thrown out the old challenge, “Bet you can’t catch me!”

And the chase was on.

They broke out of scrub-brush and entered one of his brother’s fields. Tall heads of grain waved over their heads as they sprinted through the crop. As they neared the middle of the vast field, everything went horribly wrong.

His brother crouched, spun on his heel and, instead of heading in a new direction, put the full momentum of his spin behind his clenched fist and drove it forward and upward into the face of his younger brother who plummeted toward him.

It was a well-timed attack. Abel had no way of stopping. Cain had the upper hand. Cain’s fist met Abel’s nose with such force that it lifted him high off the ground. Abel’s vision went crazy—stars, rings, pulsing lights. Every blood vessel in his nose burst and a river of blood sprayed in a crescent of red, up and back, following the trajectory of his head and body.

Abel hit the ground hard. The wind rushed from his lungs as his back slammed into the rocky soil. He gasped for air. He tried to see but the blood from his nose filled his eye sockets and flowed down his cheeks. Moments later he heard, more than felt, a resounding crack which seemed to come from inside his own head. Then he heard no more.

*** Continued in The Mark tomorrow ***

Reflection Question:

How do you think Cain felt as he watched his brother die? Do you think he was happy? Scared?  

Prayer time:

Before you pray together, ask: What would you like to say to Jesus today?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

DJD426 - Pillars of the Law

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Scripture: 

John 17:17

Starting Question:

Take some time to think of a time when you found something you had lost long ago. Or perhaps you found something that was from before your time - something from your family history.
How did the discovery affect you? What did you do with the discovered item? Did it have any long lasting impact on your life?

The Pillars of the Law

The pillar stood, as it had for more than 300 years, supporting the marbled splendor of Solomon’s Temple. The people, from the least to the greatest, crowded as close as they could. They leaned in to hear the words that would be spoken by the regal man standing next to the pillar—their King. Only the most serious proclamations included both an open invitation to the Temple and a public declaration of the King.

Josiah, King of God’s people for the past 18 years, reverently unrolled the scroll that had radically changed his heart in the last few days—the scroll that would provide the defining direction of his reign as God’s King. Considering his words carefully, he peered over the top of the parchment and spoke to his gathered subjects: “Today, I bring to you, in this ancient and holy place, ancient and holy words; words found in this very temple just days ago, words lost in this temple many ages ago; words, we as a people, have failed to heed for generation upon generation. I hold in my hands, the Book of the Law.”

A collective gasp was followed by murmuring from person to person as the identity of the scroll was made clear. Josiah’s steady voice regained control of the pillared colonnade, “Our High Priest Hilkiah, while cleaning out the Temple of God, found this Word of the Lord, and thus has provided to us an ancient transcript of God’s Character. It is a most precious, most beautiful and most challenging Word. I have torn my robes. I have wept long and hard over this scroll. I have consulted Huldah, God’s Prophetess. I have been convicted by her words: this scroll must be heeded. God’s Word must be obeyed. It is now my intention to read it—every word of it—to you, so that you too might be challenged as I have been challenged.”

The King’s eyes, weary from much weeping, lowered to the top of the unfurled scroll. The courtyard of Solomon’s Temple was quieter than seemed possible for the number of people filling it’s bounds. Each man, woman and child leaned forward to hear the Book of the Law as spoken by their king.

An hour later the pinnacle of silent anticipation had tumbled chaotically into cries of sorrow and repentance. The eyes of Israel now mirrored those of their King. The Book of the Law had provided for God’s people a clear statement of who God wished for them to be. A picture had been painted of the people to whom God promised to fully reveal Himself and with whom He promised to make His eternal dwelling. And the picture was drastically different from who they were when they looked around themselves and within themselves. They were not God’s people. And yet they were. And how deeply they wished to be.

The ripples created when the Book of the Law first reached the eyes and ears of King Josiah now became a wave of action and reaction that took the cleaning of the Temple to the very borders of Israel. Idols were destroyed. False worship was eradicated. The Temple of the Lord was purified of anything relating to pagan deities. Priests of Pagan gods were put to death. Every high and holy place used in false worship was desecrated with human bones. Then, only when the land was free of all impurity of false worship, King Josiah ordered, “Celebrate the Passover to the Lord your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.” And they did.


Reflection Question:

Imagine you are one of the people in the crowd listening to King Josiah as he reads the rediscovered Law of God. What would you be feeling?

Prayer time:

Before you pray together, ask: What would you like to say to Jesus today?

Monday, April 25, 2016

DJD425 - Ressurection

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Scripture: 

Phillipians 2:1-4

Starting Question:

Seeing something from a completely new perspective is very difficult. Jesus was willing to go through numerous changes to accomplish His mission—our Salvation. How can we apply the changes Jesus accepted, endured, embraced and received?

Ressurection

** Continued from Death yesterday **

The two men looked at each other, shocked at this new teaching.

The man continued, “The prophets are full of proof that Jesus was the Messiah: Isaiah predicted His simple birth in a manger and that His mother would be a virgin. Micah said the birth place would be in Bethlehem. And concerning his death: Isaiah said He would be whipped. The psalms say His hands and feet would be pierced. Zechariah said His side would be pierced. Even the act of the soldiers who cast lots for His clothing was foretold!”

There was silence for a few steps, and then Cleopas said, “That’s amazing! It really is. Why have none of us seen this?”

The man smiled, “That’s not all! His burial in a wealthy man’s tomb was foretold by Isaiah. You say the women who saw the Christ this morning were mistaken? Didn’t the prophet Malachi say the Son of Righteousness would rise with healing in His wings? From His birth, to His death—nearly all of his life fulfills prophecy. Jesus Christ is the Messiah. A little knowledge of the prophets will convict the strongest skeptic of this!”

The two men stopped in front of a small house, “Thank you for your words. You have given us much to consider. Please stay and eat with us.”

A few minutes later the three men sat at a table with Cleopas’ family. The table was loaded with bread, water and hot food.

“Sir, would you do us the honor and bless the meal,” Cleopas asked.

“Certainly,” the man answered, taking one of the round loaves of flatbread in his hands. He lifted the bread high in front of him and prayed.

Everyone sat staring at him as he prayed. Their eyes darted from person to person and back to the praying man. As he said, “Amen” he broke the bread in half and handed the halves to Cleopas and Nathaniel on his right and left.

“I knew it!” both men shouted as one. They looked at the joy in the faces around the table. Tears streamed down every face. Then they turned to Jesus, but He was gone!

Reflection Question:

If you had been sitting at that table and recognised Jesus, what would you have done next? Who would you have told? What would you have said?

Prayer time:

Before you pray together, ask: What would you like to say to Jesus today?

Sunday, April 24, 2016

DJD424 - Death

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Scripture: 

Jeremiah 35:15

Starting Question:

What's the worst trip you ever been on? Why?

Death

The hours crept by as Nathaniel and Cleopas headed home. As they walked, they quietly discussed all that had happened over the past few days. In the late afternoon, a man resting on the side of the path and asked to walk with them. It was a common courtesy to provide safety in numbers to a stranger.

The new man fell in step with them and asked, “I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation. If you don’t mind my asking, what was it about?”

Cleopas answered, “Oh. We were just talking about the horrible weekend we had in Jerusalem.”

“Horrible? What happened?” the new man asked.

Nathaniel was irritated. “What do you mean, ‘what happened?’ You are headed the same way on the road as us. You, too, just left Jerusalem. Surely you saw all the things that took place during Passover week.”

“What things?” The man asked.

Nathaniel grunted, “What things? Where have you been, hiding under a rock?”

Cleopas interrupted, trying to quiet his friend, “The sun went dark for three hours. The temple veil ripped from top to bottom. Jesus of Nazareth was crucified. He was a prophet and very impressive in all he said and did. The chief priests handed him over to be killed. We had hoped he was the Messiah and would set Israel free from Roman oppression. We followed this man for the last three years and now we have no purpose. It is the third day since he died and we are still without direction. So, we are heading home.”

Nathaniel had regained his composure, “And this morning, some of the women shocked us by fabricating a ridiculous story about Him coming back from death! One of the ladies claims an angel met her at the empty tomb and told Her Jesus is alive. Somebody has obviously stolen his body. Poor women—they loved Him so much and now that he is dead they’ve gone mad.”

The new man spoke, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Didn’t the Christ have to suffer these things so that he could be glorified? Don’t you remember the story told of Moses when he lifted the serpent for all the bitten people to look upon. The Christ had to be lifted up on the cross so that all who wanted to be saved from that old Serpent the Devil could look at the perfect Son of God on the cross and be saved.”

The two men looked at each other, shocked at this new teaching.

** Continued in Ressurection tomorrow **

Reflection Question:

Have you ever listened carefully to someone who believes differently to you and been convinced? What kind of humility does this take?

Prayer time:

Before you pray together, ask: What would you like to say to Jesus today?

Saturday, April 23, 2016

DJD423 - Table Talk

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Scripture: 

1 Corinthians 11:26

Starting Question:

Have you ever watched something happen and only understood it later when you reflected on it?

Table Talk

Jesus slowly scanned the faces of those in the room. He’d been speaking for quite awhile and His words had silenced the disciples. He finished, “I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father.” Jesus stood up from the table, walked to the door and, with an air of finality, spoke over his shoulder, “Come, let’s get going.”

The disciples looked at each other in frustration. They could hear the footsteps of Jesus heading down the stairs but they struggled to follow.

“What just happened?” James asked.

“You were here, James,” Peter blurted. “First He washed our feet and then it was all downhill from there.”

“What do you mean, ‘downhill’?” John questioned. “He was talking about Love—His love for us. And His love for His Father.”

“And His Father’s love for us,” Peter finished. “Why did He wash our feet? And what did He mean, ‘Wash each others feet?’ Isn’t that why we have servants?”

“What just happened?” James asked again. “Where did Jesus go?”

“Maybe he’s going to find Judas,” Peter answered.

“But, where did Judas go?” James asked. “And why did he leave in the middle of the meal?”

Peter had an answer for that one, “I told John to ask about that, remember? He left because Jesus said Judas was going to betray him.”

“Yeah, but he said the same thing about you,” John retorted.

“Did not!” Peter snapped, “He said I would deny him.”

“Three times,” John said. “Isn’t that betrayal?”

Peter’s crossed his arms and let his face fall slowly to the table. He was fighting tears. “I said I would die for him,” Peter mumbled.

“That’s what I mean,” James repeated. “What just happened? This was supposed to be a Passover meal. Then he washed our feet.”

“And everything went downhill from there,” Peter repeated into the table. “I should have just let him wash my feet and not argued.” His shoulders shook involuntarily as he tried to mask his gentle sobs.

“And then,” James continued, “He said the bread was His flesh!”

“And the wine was His blood,” John added, shaking his head.

“What just happened?” James asked yet again.

“Jesus is going away,” Philip spoke for the first time. “And He said we can’t go with Him.”

“But He just said, ‘come’ as He went out the door,” James stated.

“He’s talking about something bigger.” John said, “Much bigger. He talked about His Father. I think he’s going to see his Father—I mean ‘God’.”

“That’s why I asked him to show us the Father,” Philip answered. “He said He had shown us the Father. I can’t remember meeting Him. Can you?”

“If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father,” John almost whispered. 

“That’s what he said. He and the Father are one and the same.”

“Is He really that close to God?” Peter lifted his head off the table and finished his thought, “Is he really so close to the Father in Heaven that their thoughts are one?”

“He said He would give us a gift,” John cut in, “peace of mind and heart.”

“I feel anything but peace!” Peter argued. “He said, if we really loved Him we would be happy he was going to the Father. Do you think he’s going to die?”

Everyone turned to look at Peter. He was staring out the open door.

They left the table as one and rushed into the night to find Jesus.


Reflection Question:

Why do you think Jesus used a meal as the memory event to remind people of the Cross?

Prayer time:

Before you pray together, ask: What would you like to say to Jesus today?

Friday, April 22, 2016

DJD422 - Sabbath Saviour (SS BONUS)

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Scripture: 

Exodus 20:11-12

Starting Question:

Just as the Sabbath is a day reminding us of God’s presence and promise in our lives, it is also a day that speaks to the world around us through the way we honour it as special and unique. What special treatment are God’s people to give the Sabbath?

Sabbath Saviour

** Continued from Sabbath Walk yesterday **

Peter spun Jesus around by the shoulder, blowing a mouthful of dry grain onto Jesus’ tunic, “Tell them the dying wheat story!”

Jesus laughed, wiping the wheat chaff off his clothes. He turned, showed his empty palms to the Pharisees and asked, “Haven’t you read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He went into the house of God, and he and his companions broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests are allowed to eat.”

The men looked shocked. Their spokesman opened his mouth to speak but Jesus continued, “And haven’t you read in the Law of Moses that the priests on duty in the Temple may work on the Sabbath? I tell you, there is one here who is even greater than the Temple! But you would not have condemned my innocent disciples if you knew the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!”

The Pharisees shook their heads and rushed off huffing and puffing through the wheat field, heading to the Synagogue. Jesus walked through the wake of waving wheat, then through the city gates and to the steps of the synagogue.

As Jesus and his Disciples entered the synagogue, some Pharisees approached. One of them pointed to a man with a shriveled hand, The Pharisees asked Jesus, “Does the law permit a person to work by healing on the Sabbath?”

Matthew spoke over Jesus’ shoulder, “It’s a trap, Jesus! There’s some trick.”

“Of course there is,” Jesus whispered. “They would never allow a deformed person in their precious temple. I’m tired of them using people!”

Jesus turned to the Pharisees and answered, “If you had a sheep that fell into a well on the Sabbath, wouldn’t you work to pull it out? Of course you would. And how much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Yes, the law permits a person to do good on the Sabbath.”

Jesus spoke to the crippled man, “Stretch your hand toward me.” The man reached out to Jesus and watched in amazement as his fingers unfurled for the first time in his life. He was whole! He was healed! Oh, glorious Sabbath!

Reflection Question:

Imagine you were one of Jesus’ disciples who walked and talked with him on the day in this story. What would have been your favorite part of the day? Why?

Prayer time:
Before you pray together, ask: What would you like to say to Jesus today?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

DJD421 - Sabbath Walk

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Scripture: 

Ezekiel 20:12

Starting Question:

What is the best Sabbath you can remember in your life? Who was with you? Where was it? What made it a special Sabbath?

Sabbath Walk

The group of men, led by Jesus, sang as they walked along a narrow path through a grain field ready for harvest.

Jesus was enjoying the song and the fresh morning air so much that it took some time for him to notice the disciples were falling behind. Suddenly, he realized he was singing a solo. Reaching a clearing, he spun around and watched the twelve gradually approach. He saw immediately what was slowing their progress. They were breaking the heads off the wheat and eating the grain.

“Come on guys,” Jesus shouted to them, “we’ll be late for worship at the synagogue if we keep going this slowly.”

Andrew got to Jesus first. He had a handful of harvested grain. Jesus held out his hand and Andrew gave him some. Jesus studied the grain until the rest of the group gathered around. He held up the wheat, “Unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels.” He swung his hand across the wheat fields in the distance, reinforcing his point: “a plentiful harvest of new lives.”

The disciples nodded, waiting for the punch line. Jesus loved these teaching moments. He continued, “Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it—for eternity.”

“That’s exactly what we’ve done!” Peter said proudly. “We’ve left our normal everyday lives to follow you.”

Jesus patted Peter on the shoulder and finished, “Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.”

The disciples all nodded and smiled. They liked these stories that gave them hope for the future. They started to walk again, following Jesus. The harvesting of grain continued.

At the next clearing their progress was blocked by a group of religious leaders. They were whispering to themselves. Then one of them stepped forward and pointed at Peter as he stuffed a big handful of grain into his mouth. “Look, your disciples are breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath.”

** Continued in Saviours Sabbath tomorrow **

Reflection Question:

How were these religious leaders missing the point of the Sabbath?
How do we do the same thing today?

Prayer time:

Before you pray together, ask: What would you like to say to Jesus today?

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

DJD420 - Loving God

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Scripture: 

John 4:24

Starting Question:

How do you think Moses felt when he got so angry he broke the first tablets? Do you think that situation helped him understand God better? How?

Loving God

** Continued from Knowing God yesterday **

“You have a good memory,” God said.

“Lot’s of good memories,” Moses answered. “Great memories, because you were there with me. When they feel unsure or alone, why can’t the people look back and remember all you have done?” Moses worked in silence for a while and then turned, another tablet in his hands.

As he placed it on the rock next to the first one, God spoke, “The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations.”

Moses threw himself to the ground and worshiped. At hearing God declare his name and purpose, worship was the only response imaginable. As he worshiped, Moses prayed, “Oh Lord, if I have found favor with you, please travel with us. Yes, this is a stubborn and rebellious people, but please forgive our iniquity and our sins. Claim us as your own special possession.”

 God replied, “Listen, I am making a covenant with you. I will perform miracles never performed anywhere on earth. And all the people around you will see the power of the Lord—the awesome power I will display. But listen carefully to everything I command you today. Then I will go ahead of you and drive out every person who fails to believe in Me—the one true God.”

Then God wrote the terms of the covenant between Him and his people—the Ten Commandments—on the stone tablets Moses had prepared.


Reflection Question:

When we get to Heaven, God is going to let us explore the record books. We will be able to ask any question, explore any topic or person’s life we wish. Can you think of any time in your life that you would like to understand better? Is there a time when you wondered what God was doing?

Prayer time:

Before you pray together, ask: What would you like to say to Jesus today?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

DJD419 - Knowing God

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Scripture: 

Hebrews 6:10

Starting Question:

Have you ever been angry enough to break something? Why?

Knowing God

** Continued from Hearing God yesterday **

Moses thought aloud, “Were you really going to destroy them?”

“What do you think?” God responded.

“You promised to take us to a beautiful land,” Moses was thinking out loud, “and if you destroyed us, you would have broken your promise—or at least been unable to fulfill it.”

“It would seem you have answered your own question,” God replied, “and quieted your own doubting heart. Now, You need to chisel a couple of new tablets out of the rock wall next to you.”

“But,” Moses said, “Last time you-”

“Yes, but you broke those tablets,” God reminded. “We often value that which we create with our own hands and by the sweat of our own brow. So, this time, you will make them!”

Moses nodded his head in agreement. He turned to the wall and began working. As he chiseled away, he continued talking to God. “How can they be so forgetful?”

“Hmmm?”

“How can the Israelites forget so easily?” Moses clarified. “You parted the waters of the Red Sea as Egypt’s armies were bearing down on us. We ran headlong into that impossible corridor of wet-walled dry-grounded sea-that-was-no-more and out the other side!” A chip of stone flew over Moses’ head as he took his anger out on the cliff side. “How can they forget and go back to the useless God’s of their captors?”

“The Egyptian gods were all they knew,” God said. “Well, all they had been told of, anyway. I was with them through every brick, every whip and every generation.”

“What about the Manna? They even complained about food falling from the sky—in the desert, free food! Delicious food.” Moses gently took one stone slab and set it on a large rock. “That’s one done,” he said and returned to the wall to claim another tablet from its stony flesh.

“Meat! They wanted meat.” Moses laughed. “That was hilarious. They asked for meat and when you gave it to them — or failed to stop giving it to them, to be more precise — They didn’t know what to do. They were knee high in quail until even the thought of meat made them sick!”

** Continues in Loving God tomorrow **


Reflection Question:

Why do you think it was so easy for the Israelites to forget the miracles that God had done for them?

Prayer time:

Before you pray together, ask: What would you like to say to Jesus today?

Monday, April 18, 2016

DJD418 - Hearing God

Read More Daily Jesus
Scripture: 

1 John 5:14

Starting Question:

Have you ever wondered if God really hears your prayers?

Hearing God

As Moses made his way back up the mountain, he rehearsed what he would say to God, “The people make me so angry! I didn’t mean to break the stone tablets you gave me. I am so sorry. Please forgive me!”

When he finally arrived at the place where they had met last time, he waited, hoping he was still acceptable to God.

Finally, a quiet voice came from all around Moses, “Welcome back.” It really sounded like the rock, the air, the sky and the ground were each responsible for the voice. It came from everywhere. It seemed as if even his own body was generating the sound. “You broke my law, Moses.”

“Yes, Lord. I am so-”

“I’ve heard it already,” God interrupted. “You’ve been apologising over and over the entire time you’ve been climbing the mountain!”

“You were listening?”

A deep rumble caused a few pebbles to vibrate off of a ledge above Moses. “Yes,” God was laughing. “Yes, of course I was listening! It is impossible for me not to hear the cries of my people—whether they come from the heart or the tongue. I hear everything! I am the Creator, after all.”

There was a long pause before Moses spoke. “They just make me so angry! Why did they make that calf? They knew I would come back from visiting you! Why would they worship a golden image from Egypt? What did Egypt ever do for them? Don’t they remember being slaves?”

“You have many questions, my child,” God said. “Know this, you are not alone in your anger. Their actions anger me, often. Even I, at times, need reminding of my own grace!”

Moses knew exactly what God was talking about, “Well, you did threaten to destroy every last one of them! I had to say something! I couldn’t believe that you would rescue us all from slavery and then, in a moment of explosive anger, obliterate us!”

“So you said,” God responded. “And I listened.”

** Continues in Knowing God tomorrow **


Reflection Question:

If you were Moses on that mountaintop, and you could tell God anything or ask Him any question, what would you have said?

Prayer time:

Before you pray together, ask: What would you like to say to Jesus today?

Sunday, April 17, 2016

DJD417 - Eden's Wedding

Read More Daily Jesus
Scripture: 

Ephesians 5:31-33

Starting Question:

Have you ever had someone who made a fuss over you because they loved you? How did it feel? What do you remember most about that occasion?

Eden's Wedding

Adam tried a number of times to speak, but couldn’t get words to form on his dry lips. His tongue seemed to be stuck to the roof of his mouth. He swallowed a couple of times and then startled everyone as he began to sing:

Bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh.
Without you beside me, I would be less.
I named the beasts of the land and the birds of the air,
but the name you deserve must suit beauty most fair.
I’ll call you ‘woman.’ For from ‘man’ you were made.
I’ll name you ‘Eve.’ You emerged from God’s shade.
From shadow and breath, we both have been born.
Of all Creation, we’re God’s most adored.

As he sang, Adam faced the same direction as Eve, looking into the Garden of Eden. His voice was rich, deep and beautiful. When he got to the part where he named his wife, Adam stood to his feet, faced Eve and held his hands out to her. She grasped them and stood. The couple faced each other, holding hands, until the end of Adam’s song. As Adam sang the last word, they embraced and turned their faces toward their Creator.

Jesus wiped a tear from his eye. He stood silently in front of His two children. Adam and Eve faced their God, waiting for Him to speak.

“Adam,” Jesus said, “Will you take this woman, Eve, to complete you?”

Adam smiled the widest smile his face could handle. “Yes! She is everything I was hoping for, and more!”

“And you, Eve,” the Creator continued, facing His newest creation, “Is Adam acceptable to you?”

Eve blinked her eyes a few times—startled—she had never fathomed such a question could even exist. She spoke, “My heart is so full of love for this man, there is barely room for a thought of anything else!”

“From this moment forward,” Jesus said with an air of eternal authority, “You are one. One in heart. One in mind. One in body.” The Creator took a huge breath—just as he had when breathing life into each of them—and breathed humanity’s first marriage into being. “What I have joined, let nothing separate!”

Jesus stepped forward and embraced the happy couple. Then turning toward the Garden, He said, “Follow me, I have so much to show you!”


Reflection Question:

What would it have been like to be there that day? Imagine that you were part of a select group of people taken back in time to be the wedding party for Adam and Eve. Use your imagination and describe the experience in detail. What would have stood out as unique? What would have seemed familiar? What would you talk about at the reception?

Prayer time:

Before you pray together, ask: What would you like to say to Jesus today?

Saturday, April 16, 2016

DJD416 - Dawn of Eve

Read More Daily Jesus
Scripture: 

Genesis 2:18

Starting Question:

Have you ever made something special for someone? What was it? How did you give it to them? How did they respond?

Dawn of Eve

“Will you and I always be together in this beautiful garden?” Adam asked.

“The garden is your home, Adam.” Jesus answered, “But, I will come and visit.”

“I will be lonely,” Adam looked at the ground, thinking aloud. “I need someone like me. I cannot laugh, plan, love or fully enjoy nature’s beauty by myself.”

“It is not good for man to be alone,” Jesus said.

Adam’s head snapped up and he looked into Jesus’ eyes, “You were already aware of this?”

“Yes,” Jesus smiled. “I was just waiting for you to ask! Follow me.” The Creator led Adam back to the patch of clay where the day had begun. He gestured at the remaining clay, “My shadow is only half finished. Lay down.”

Adam returned to the clay he had risen from at daybreak. Lying down, he closed his eyes and was soon asleep. Jesus knelt between Adam and the remainder of the lanky clay man. He quickly gathered the clay into a pile.

Jesus reached over and pulled away a chunk of Adam’s side. He pushed the chunk of Adam into the pile of clay. It turned into clay and become one with the pile. He spoke to the sleeping Adam, “The woman is both my shadow and your desire. You are part of each other, forever.”

The Creator closed the wound on Adam’s side with a rubbing motion and then turned to forming a new body—a woman—smaller than Adam. After some time, Jesus sat back on his heals. He had finished. He reached over and shook Adam. Adam’s eyes fluttered open and he sat up. He looked over at the clay form next to him. He turned his head sideways, not understanding.

“She’s not alive,” Adam said. “Can you give her life?”

Jesus nodded and leaned over the clay woman’s face. He took a deep breath and spoke life into her. The woman’s eyes fluttered open and looked into God’s. She smiled. Jesus put a hand under her back and lifted her into a sitting position.

Adam was speechless. He had never seen anything so beautiful! 

** Continued in Eden's Wedding tomorrow **

Reflection Question:

What is the most beautiful thing you've ever seen? Why?

Prayer time:

Before you pray together, ask: What would you like to say to Jesus today?