Monday, February 29, 2016

DJD229 - Two Positives

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Deuteronomy 11:18

Starting Question:

What is your favourite memory with your family?
What is your favourite memory with your church family?

Two Positives

Through Moses, God gave His people 10 laws by which to rule their community. Eight of them were new, and negative— do not, do not, do not. But two were positive reminders of the community rules set that first week of life on earth. “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy... . Honour your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:8, 12). These are the two commandments that stand at the very heart of human community— family and resting in God.

Today, even more so, people are enamoured with sin, and God's wholesome ways have lost their appeal. Fragile and fragmented we continue living as marred mirrors, broken vessels, trying to live without God's laws and leading. We want to do life our way.

So, we life selfishly and never take time to rest. Or, if we have allowed the divine image to shape us enough to be participate in family and worship, we do it conditionally—still our way. We divorce at will and rest in whatever way and whatever day we see fit.

Sin has changed humanity. But, as Jesus said, God's law never changes: “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Matthew 5:18).

We live in a world crowded with God — God's ever-expanding presence and promise is all around us and yet humanity chooses to avoid Him. These tired, frustrated people think they have all there is of life. Life seems hollow and broken and lonely—and they think that’s just the way it is.

God created us to experience the joy of living in true community. He gave Adam and Eve to each other and promised them the earth. Then He created a day, one holy day for one holy purpose, on which He promised He would stop His creative activity and commune with us.

I wonder if the couple in the garden recognised how precious what they had was before they lost it. I wonder how many times they looked back longingly at the garden and wished they were still sinless and naive. I wonder where the garden has gone, the peace, the worship, the community.

For thousands of years God has called His people back to community—back to unity—back into His image. And He continues to call today. But He won't make us obey. God never forces the human will.

He gives us complete freedom. And with freedom comes the daunting responsibility of choice. “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve... . But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).

The image of God is found in community— a community that honours unity, divine and human—both in marriage and in worship. Purity and permanence is how we honour the “one flesh” nature of marriage. Resting on the seventh day, in the presence of the resting Creator on His Sabbath, is how God wishes to be honoured. He asked us to remember. He asked us to honour. He wants us to enjoy community in perfect unity. That's His image, revealed.

Reflection Question:
How will you find rest and community this week with your family and church family?

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

Further Reading:
To Be Like Jesus, Page 66

Sunday, February 28, 2016

DJD228 - Sabbath Proof

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Romans 16:19

Starting Question:

How does your faith shape the way you spend your day?

Sabbath Proof

Once while riding the boat to Tasmania, I felt someone staring at me and looked up. In front of me stood a father and his eight-year-old son. Robert and Isaiah were their names, I would later discover. Robert was almost glowing as he said, “Is that the Word, brother?” I smiled and looked down at the Bible open on the table in front of me.

“Yes. Yes it is!” I wondered what could come next, after such an introduction.

Robert quickly ascertained that I was a Christian and pumped me for my profile: Seventh-day Adventist, doing my morning reading. He was impressed. I was amused by his interest in my spiritual biography. “Come, Isaiah,” he concluded. “Let's allow Dave to return to God's Book.” And with that, they walked into the cafeteria.

Moments later Isaiah bolted back into my presence, “Would you please sit with us for breakfast? I'll save you a seat!” I said that would be nice, closed my Bible and followed him into the dining area.

As breakfast ended, Robert said, Dave, would I be able to talk to you in private? I have a question.” I told him I would go to the lounge on the next deck and wait for him there.

I had barely sat down and Robert was across the table from me. “Can you prove to me, without using the Bible, that the Sabbath is still valid?” I was intrigued that someone so enamoured with seeing me reading the Bible would now make such a request.

But why no Bible? I wondered.

He continued, “I'll be honest with you. I've been to a number of seminars at your Adventist churches. So, I've heard all the Bible proofs you use for the Sabbath. I want to know if it's still valid. So, can you prove the Sabbath is still important to keep, on Saturday, in our time?” 

This was a unique request: Prove the Sabbath, without using any of the Sabbath passages in the Bible. An answer came, “Robert, are you familiar with the call to tithing in Malachi?” 

“You mean where it says, ‘Bring your tithes and offerings into God's storehouse?'” he asked.

“Yes,” I replied. “That's it. It demonstrates that tithing is more about God's promise than our obedience. The text states that if God's people give 10 per cent of their income—a tithe—He will bless them. It actually says He will pour so many blessings on their lives they won't have storehouses big enough to store all the bounty! The Sabbath is like tithing. God promises, over and over in Scripture, that if we honour His Sabbath, He will bless us. Robert, I would like to offer you a challenge.” His eyes widened, “OK. What is it?” “Keep the Sabbath for six months. Set it aside as a special day for God and see if He blesses you. I bet He will richly bless your life.” 

Robert smiled. “My wife and I have been keeping the Sabbath for the past year, and God has been blessing us like never before!” The Holy Spirit, working in their lives, had provided the answer before Robert even thought to ask!

Reflection Question:
Do you have any questions in your life that God is answering through your own experience? 

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

Further Reading:
To Be Like Jesus, Page 67

Saturday, February 27, 2016

DJD227 - Baptism By Fire (SS Bonus)

Acts 10:11-16

Starting Question:

Have you ever realised that one of your preconceived ideas was wrong? Did it happen quickly or over time?

Baptism By Fire

** Continued from Three Visions yesterday **

After sharing their vision stories, Peter explained the good news of Jesus, “The Son of God walked upon the earth doing good, healing the sick, casting out demons and was then killed on a tree by the very people He came to help. But God raised Him up! We saw Him! Lots of people did. He told us to tell His story and preach this message: Jesus is the one appointed by God to be the Judge of the living and the dead!”

Before he had finished his testimony, Peter was interrupted by the voices of Cornelius and his family. They were proclaiming, in other languages, the greatness of God. The Jewish Christians with Peter were astounded because the Holy Spirit had filled these people before they were even baptised. 

It’s almost as if Jesus couldn’t wait for Peter to finish the story. “I want to fill these people with my Spirit! I want them to know the fullness of my presence!” Jesus sends His Holy Spirit - often - to people, places and unexpected spaces because He knows the heart of each. 

If you are part of the unholy rabble discounted by the people who claim to be ‘sent’ to save you, don’t worry about them. God’s Spirit will bring them around. You just follow where He’s leading!

If you are part of the ‘sent’ who never dabble with the unclean, it’s time for you to head to Cornelius’ house. And remember the vision… it’s going to get interesting once that door opens! 

Peter can’t help himself, when he hears and sees the presence of God’s Holy Spirit in Cornelius and his family, he shouts, “Get me some water! You’ve seen what the Holy Spirit just did! We’re getting behind!” 

Peter joyfully baptised Cornelius and everyone in his household that very day. Faith is a family event - relational in purpose and practice. Clearly, Cornelius had not been keeping his faith to himself but was bringing up his children in the ways of God. They were ready to be made disciples of Jesus that day because of the faithful leadership at home of their father.

This story has been used by Christians over the centuries for all manner of things: To prove all food is clean. To justify infant baptism. To decry slavery. To support house-church movements.  

And yet, its original and intentional message is often overlooked: Humble yourself. There are those whom God is ready to use and He needs you to tell His story without showing judgment of people’s past, prestige or pedigree. 

Get up! (out of your pious pew) 
Kill (your righteous pride) 
Eat (with whomever will listen)

What God has made clean, you must not call unworthy. 

Hurry, they are awaiting your arrival.
Beware, the Holy Spirit is excited.
Prepare, your story is His story!

Reflection Question:
Is God putting someone on your heart right now? How will you reach them?

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

Friday, February 26, 2016

DJD226 - Three Visions (SS Bonus)

Acts 11:15-18

Starting Question:

If you had to write one sentence defining yourself, what would it say?

Three Visions

The story of Cornelius’ conversion begins with three verses (Acts 10:1-3) that are one power-packed sentence in the original Greek. It is a detailed introduction to a story of epic change in the way God’s people are to see their mission and method of ministry. In this single sentence we learn Cornelius is an Italian soldier in charge of 100 men - a centurion. We learn he is spiritually devoted to three things: Israel’s God, generosity, and prayer. His pious practices demonstrated a readiness of heart for the Gospel and the “new story” of God, through His Son Jesus Christ. 

Acts 10 tells a riveting story of two visions that lead to a new vision of the Kingdom of God. The first vision came to Cornelius, a gentile who loved God. The next vision came a day later to Peter as he was about to receive an invitation. And the third vision (Acts 11:1-19) is the one the Early Church received when they heard the story of Gentile and Jew joining together for food, faith and family. After hearing the story, and a shocked silence, the Jewish Christians rejoiced that repentance resulting in life was now available even to the Gentiles! 

Peter stayed in their home, ate at their table, and listened to Cornelius’ vision story: “God sees you, Cornelius; call for Simon Peter.”

Inside Cornelius’ home, Peter responds by telling of his own vision, received a day later, just moments before Cornelius’ men arrived with the invitation. 

“A sheet descended from Heaven,” Peter said. “Three times the command came to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat!’ and three times I said, ‘No, Lord! It is unclean!’ After the third time the voice replied to me, “What God has made clean, you must not call unworthy.” Peter pauses, his eyes clouding over, “I am sorry that I saw you as unclean, my brother! God has clearly spoken to you and through you into your beautiful family. I came here today, because you are as righteous - through Christ Jesus - as I am.”

Life changing moments come in threes for Peter. He denied Christ three times - and thought it was the end of his ministry. He was asked three times by Jesus, “Do you love me?” - and was reinstated as a pillar of the early Christian movement. And, now, God is teaching Peter the reality of what happened on the Cross - the floodgates of Heaven have been opened to all of humanity. None are to be rejected. 

Food brings people together when it is shared. And food separates people when it is withheld for any number of reasons. God knew the Jews finickiness in this area and used it to teach the Church a new way of thinking - His way. The Jews were careful, due to their social taboos, to avoid ever eating with a gentile. So, the voice from Heaven said, in effect, “I have set the table and invited everyone in. Do come. Sit next to anyone - you’re all equals in this Kingdom!”

** Continued in Baptism By Fire tomorrow  **

Reflection Question:
When was the last time you sat with someone, other than your family, for a meal?

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

Thursday, February 25, 2016

DJD225 - Heart’s Treasure

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Luke 2:51

Starting Question:

Parents, what would be like to raise Jesus as your child?
Kids, what would it be like if Jesus was your brother?

Heart’s Treasure

Imagine what it would have been like to the be Earthly parents of Jesus when he was just a boy, growing up in an everyday setting.

Many authors have tried. Some early writers, approximately a hundred years after the apostles wrote the gospels, wrote stories about Jesus making birds out of clay and then bringing them to life to entertain other children. Another story is told of Jesus learning the ropes of his power by hurting and then healing boys he played with. 

It is interesting how little the Gospel writers actually say about boy Jesus. What they do say is telling - Jesus grew in wisdom, stature, favour with men and with God. Four ways to mature - smarts, heights, friends and faith. Jesus was well on his way to becoming the prophesied Messiah.

But, back to the question, what would it have been like to be Jesus’ mum or dad? Our verse for today tells us something about the impact Jesus had on His mum. It is from the end of the story of Jesus wowing the scholars in the temple. Jesus is oddly surprised when his parents do not know where to look for Him. And, deep in theological reflection, He seems to have lost track of the time - Three days, no less! Mary loved this little story. So much that Luke says, “His mother kept all these things in her heart.” 

Luke 2 is a snapshot - an overview, of sorts - of Jesus’ life from birth until age 12. It starts and finishes with a comment about his mother, Mary. After the shepherds heard angels testify of the Saviour's birth, they rushed to find the babe in a manger. After cooing at the baby and telling His parents all they had heard, Luke records that, “Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them.” If you read this in the flowing context of Luke 2, you see that this is a reflective statement - an after the fact remembrance - almost as if Mary was sitting next to Luke as he wrote the words and, clutching her hands to her chest she said, “Oh Luke, the moments, hours and days I spent meditating on those early moments! The treasure of those shepherds words lasted far longer than the gold, frankincense or Myrrh.” 

What was it like to parent Jesus? Evidently, it was something to treasure, something to hold close to your heart, something to meditation upon. Much like parenting the children God gave you. Think of all the stories from their infancy - the first smile, first step, first Dad joke, first birthday. The special stories of struggles and achievements unique to the children in your family. Like Mary, hold them close to your heart. Meditate upon them. 

Every child is a priceless treasure!

Reflection Question:
What is a favourite childhood story that you hold close to your heart?

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

Further Reading:
Being Like Jesus, Feb 25

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

DJD224 - All the Time

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Deuteronomy 11:26-28

Starting Question:

Have you ever had something bad happen that turned out for good?

All the Time

An ancient Chinese tale is told of a farmer who had only one son and one horse to help him with the farm chores. One day the horse ran away. The neighbours, seeing the poor farmers tough luck said, “What a curse you have received!” 
The farmer replied, “Maybe yes, maybe no.”
A few days later, the horse returned with a herd of wild horses. He led them all into the farmers paddock. The neighbours flooded from all the houses around to congratulate him, “What amazing luck you’ve had!”
The farmer calmly replied, “Maybe yes, maybe no.”
While the farmer’s son was training the horses, one tough horse bucked him off and the young man's leg was broken. He was unable to help with the chores around the farm. The neighbours again visited with sad faces, “ It will be months before your son will be able to help you. What a horrible blow this is for you.”
The farmer shrugged his shoulders and said, “Maybe yes, maybe no.”
The next day a summons came from the emperor. All fit and able-bodied young men must join his army and fight a distant enemy. The village sadly said goodbye to all their sons. All except one. The neighbours came over to visit the farmer, “What a blessing that your son could not go to war!”
To which the farmer replied, of course, “Maybe yes, maybe no.”

While this story is a good example of keeping things in perspective in life, imagine if your relationship with God was like this father and son. How frustrating and debilitating it would be to receive replies to our prayers, “Maybe yes, maybe no.” Or when searching scripture for God's will we felt no assurance but instead found the words, "Maybe yes, maybe no."

God is a God of certainty. Today’s verse reveals the polar opposites of God’s commitment to us. Obey His Commandments and you will live a blessed life. Disobey them and devastation will follow. These are the natural results of living for or against the image in which you are created.

In Old Testament times the way they phrased this was different to the way I’ve written in above. They put it all on God’s shoulders - and the words in His mouth. “If you obey me then I’ll be nice to you. If you disobey me then I’ll thrash the living daylights out of you.”

Today, we understand more about the great war raging on this Earth. There are two sides in the battle - God and Satan. God is Good. Satan is Evil. The fruit reveals which tree it is from. We have amazing resources to help us understand the world around us and our God. We have the Holy Spirit and we have the complete written Word of God, including the life-story of the Living Word, Jesus. 

When Jesus talked about His Father, there was no “maybe yes, maybe no” but there also was no vengeful demanding God. Jesus said, “If you have known me, you’ve known the Father.” Look at the life, teachings, healings, death and resurrection of Jesus. His mission on Earth revealed the full nature of His Father in Heaven and when He described His Father, Jesus said, “God is Love.”

As our friends in New Zealand say, 
“God is good!”  —>  “All the time!”
“All the time!”  —>  “God is good!”

Reflection Question:
How does following God help you through each day?

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

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

DJD223 - Jesus vs Bible

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 Psalm 19:7, 8

Starting Question:

When was the last time you had a discussion about what you believe and why - with someone who believed differently than you?

Jesus vs Bible

Perhaps you have a friend who has challenged your view of Jesus and the Bible. I hope you do! What are you to say to someone who says, “The only reason you need the Bible - particularly the commandments - is because you have a hard heart. If you had love, you wouldn’t need the law. If you actually believed Jesus, you would live a life of love, compassion, self-sacrifice and everything else Jesus lived. You don’t need the Book. Just the Man!”

Many Christians have been sold this idea from their well meaning pastors and theologians. Jesus is the answer to the meaning of life and love. So, all you need is Jesus. The Bible - especially the Old Testament - is only useful to those who do not truly believe in Jesus. The New Testament is the Bible for true Christians. It tells the story of Jesus - and He is all we need!

When you actually study the life of Jesus in the context in which He lived, this argument falls apart. Putting Jesus up against the Old Testament is an impossibility. Jesus was a Jew and deeply embedded in the culture and context of the Old Testament. He loved the Bible of His day and quoted from it often. To reject His foundational documents and yet follow Him is clearly misguided. First century Israelites didn’t have the scriptures collated as one book but stored the many scrolls, written by many scribes and prophets, in various libraries. 

The parts of Jesus’ life which were not built on Jewish-Biblical culture were outstanding because they fulfilled prophecies from the Bible in ways the Jews were yet to understand. Indeed, Jesus is the central character of the entire Bible, both Old and New Testament. To remove Him from it - and worse, to put Him against it! - is ludicrous and removes credibility of both the Book and the Man.

The purpose of the Bible is to tell the story of God's people and their interaction with Him. It is not intended to be a to do list. The Old Testament is the recorded history of the Israelites and their God. The New Testament is the story of the Early Church and her growth in identity and purpose due to the new twist in the story presented by Jesus - God in the flesh. When we misrepresent God’s Word by making it into a rule book, we drive people away. When we tell it as the grand narrative of God and His people we draw all men, women and children to Him!

The purpose of the Commandments is to show people when they are living contrary to God's love and will for their lives. The Law is a transcript of the Character of God. As we see the perfect Law, we see our own imperfection - and we seek a Saviour. 

Jesus is the culmination - and redefining moment - of both the Bible and the Commandments. He revealed God through His Life and provided freedom from the Law through His Death.

Jesus is both the Producer and the product of the Bible. Human life can be neither understood or fulfilled without both the living and the written Word of God!

Reflection Question:
Which of the commandments helps you understand Jesus better?

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

Monday, February 22, 2016

DJD222 - God Rather Than Men

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Acts 5:29

Starting Question:

Have you ever been asked to stop doing something that was helping someone else?

God Rather Than Men

Killing a revolutionary is the best way to end his movement. Without the leader and the vision, planning and rhetoric coming out of his mouth - the people will disperse. This was the wisdom offered by Paul’s mentor when Peter’s troop were causing havoc in the city. “Wait,” Gamaliel said, “and if Jesus movement is man made, it will fall apart.” Then he paused. “But, if this thing is of God, you will never stop it.”

That was almost two-thousand years ago. And that little following has multiplied to one of the worlds greatest and most prevalent religions. Christianity is founded on the teachings and practices of those two men - Peter and Paul - Gamaliel’s student.

Peter and his band of Jesus followers had been teaching in the streets of Jerusalem. Because Jesus had promised, when Peter saw a sick person, he tried to heal him. It worked. Peter’s faith grew and so did the faith of the people. They were believing in the power of Jesus as revealed through Peter. 

The miracles the happened through Peter are the most impressive miracles in the New Testament. Jesus had said, you will do even greater things than I have done when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. It was true. People were lining up their sick and wounded in the morning sun so that when Peter walked to temple his shadow would pass over them. And believing, they were healed.

This caused great consternation among the religious leaders. They asked the disciples to stop preaching about Jesus. They demanded it. Then they locked them in prison. The next morning, while waiting for the prisoners to be brought to them, the soldiers reported empty handed: We went to the jail. The doors were locked. The cells were air-tight. But, the men were gone! 

Shaking in frustration, the religious leaders struggled for what to do. Then another report came to them. “You know those Jesus freaks? They are back preaching in the same place as yesterday!”

With careful words they convinced the disciples to come in for a chat. They were scared of the people because they knew there was great belief in these men and their Messiah. 

“You’ve got to stop!” They demanded. “You are blaming us for Jesus’ death. And you are causing the people to hate us. This is our city. Stop preaching about Jesus!”

“We must obey God,” Peter said, “rather than men!” 

“Why must you blame us!?!” The leaders shouted. 

“Because,” Peter said, matter-of-factly, “You killed God’s Son. And now He is sitting at God’s right hand - more powerful than ever!”

As the leaders were about to tear the disciples to shreds, a man respected by all the religious leaders stood and said, “Send them out.” Once the room was clear, Gamaliel continued, “Men of Israel, be careful about what you do to these men. Other men have started revolts. When you killed those men, the people went home. You know you killed Jesus. Now wait and see.”

Reflection Question:
Which is more impressive to you: Peter's boldness in Jesus or Paul's teaching about Jesus? Why?

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

Further Reading:
To Be Like Jesus, Page 61

Sunday, February 21, 2016

DJD221 - Clear and Simple

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Psalm 1:1, 2

Starting Question:

What is the purpose of life?

Clear and Simple

* Continued from yesterday *

But what are the three measures referencing?

Nothing really. Just making the kitchen feel real. It's a metaphor. The primary meaning is the important one. The rest of the details (like in a good story) are just to bring it to life - make it believable. Three loaves of bread, in the making. The yeast has the same impact on all three.

Perhaps just to show: yeast = growth. It always has impact. Repetition is the best teacher. Sin always corrupts. God's Kingdom always empowers. 

The more I think about it, the more I think Jesus was being tricksy... He loved mixing things up to get people thinking. On the normal person - one who made and ate bread - the impact of Jesus' statement would have been, "Ah, like yeast - makes sense. God's Kingdom makes us grow." On the scholar - one who knew the Bible well - the impact of Jesus statement would have been, "YEAST IS SIN! He can't do that! He is saying God's Kingdom is like SIN! That's blasphemy!"

Smart man, that Jesus. He got a message to everyone - God's Kingdom changes everything.

Thanks Dave, makes a lot of sense.  So you're saying as yeast spreads so will the Kingdom of God spread until it eventually wipes out all evil and takes over the whole earth???

God's people - filled with His Spirit - will continue to tell the Jesus story and live the message of reconciliation (making all things right between people and God) until the Earth has been fully made aware of our Creator Redeemer. Then Jesus will come and finish the job!
Every time a child of God rubs shoulders with a non-believer they are rubbing the Kingdom of Jesus up against that person. As Jesus becomes familiar to the person (through our actions and words) they come closer to the Kingdom until one day they decide to move into God's Kingdom.

and about the yeast. Yes, it's just a metaphor. Very few comparisons in the Bible are actually prophetic. Many are metaphors. We do ourselves a HUGE disservice when we over interpret metaphors turning them into signs and symbols. It can lead to cultish beliefs with little connection to God or the true meaning of His Word.

The primary purposes for us in the Bible are stated clear and simple. 
No guessing about what they mean! 

Believe in Jesus and live.
Do unto others as you wish done to you.
To be forgiven, you must forgive.
Obey from love, not fear.
Show people how to heal relationships.
Feed the poor.
Care for the sick.
Treat children kindly.
Show compassion.
Be attentive.
Empower others.

You speak well.... We miss you and your messages.


Reflection Question:
Which of the 'clear and simple' statements is your favourite? Why?

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

Saturday, February 20, 2016

DJD220 - Heaven Like Leaven

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Matthew 5:19

Starting Question:

Is there an idea in the Bible that you don't understand? What is it?

Heaven Like Leaven

A friend recently popped up on FaceBook with a question. We hadn’t chatted with for some time and it was good to catch up!

The question was an interesting one. Perhaps you’ve thought it yourself. I hadn’t! I researched the question and discovered that my friend was not the first person to be confronted by this idea in Scripture. I’ve edited our conversation down, but here it is in a nutshell:

Happy Sabbath, old friend.....  I need your help!  I cannot understand Matthew 13:33. All through the Bible, leaven is used to symbolise sin, and yet here, it seems to imply leaven is the spreading of the Gospel. But God doesn't use a symbol for something 9/10 times and then, 1/10 use it for the OPPOSITE, does He?

It must mean sin, like the false doctrines permeating throughout God's church.  But then if that's the case, how can that be what the Kingdom of Heaven is like? 

So, the Kingdom of Heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures until it was all leavened......SAY WHAT????? Please help Dave, its really doing my head in trying to work it out......please don’t tell me its the gospel cant be.  that would be like God saying the Dragon is Satan all the way through except in one verse where He likens the dragon to an angel of you know what i mean???


Lol. Don’t blow a gasket!

You've noticed something many Bible commentators have. Jesus uses leaven to talk about the Kingdom of God while other times in scripture it is used to talk about sin.

The leaven represents the impact - the power, the pervasiveness - of something. When the Bible says sin is like leaven - it means sin 'acts' like or 'works' like leaven 'acts or works' on dough. A little bit can change everything. When Jesus says the Kingdom of Heaven is like leaven - it means God's Kingdom 'acts' like or 'works' like leaven. When God’s Kingdom gets into you, everything changes.

Jesus was a master storyteller who created powerful parables. Imagine the impact this one would have had on his listeners... "This new Kingdom - the One God is beginning right now - is going to take over the world the same way sin has. One little pinch of perfect leaven -  born to a woman in Bethlehem - will be mixed into the dough of humanity, die and ... change everything!”

He used a common understanding - Sin permeates everything - reversed it (took it over for the Kingdom) and gave new meaning to the way God works in our lives.

* Continued tomorrow *

Reflection Question:
How have you seen a little bit of sin mess up a great life?

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

Friday, February 19, 2016

DJD219 - Everything (SS Bonus!)

Matthew 8:27  (read Matthew 8:18-27 to get the whole picture)

Starting Question:

We are all afraid of something. What are you afraid of?


If today’s verse were written in a modern novel, it would be the last sentence in a chapter. “What kind of man is this?—even the winds and the sea obey Him!” 

You can’t hear a statement like this on it’s own without wanting to know what is behind it - Where did this come from? What has just happened? 

And, you can’t help wondering what will happen next. 

Matthew tells this story, speaking into in a greater narrative - a developing story of hardship, excitement and new beliefs - that of the early Christian church. 

We know this because of the language used. When Matthew writes, “The men were amazed and asked” he doesn’t mean just the disciples asked this question, or he would have written “the disciples were amazed and asked.” The Greek work he uses “anthropos” means humankind or people. Matthew is saying, when this story is told, it is meant to amaze people and leave them with one question - Is Jesus really in charge of everything?

Matthew is retelling this story to “the people” wondering what will happen to them now that they are in this small raft calling itself “the Way” which mockers are starting to call “little Christs” and they are feeling tossed about by the sea of humanity from which they come and to which they are called. 

Matthew says, in effect, “this story is for you ‘little church.’ Yes we are being bashed about by the world on all sides, but remember the story!”

Imagine Matthew preaching it, time after time, as he visits the small communities of baby believers. 

“When Jesus first found us,” Matthew says, “He called us to go to the other side of the sea with Him. His call impacted each of us differently. Some, like the scribe, said, ‘I will follow you anywhere!’ Others, asked to be excused to care for dying family members. Jesus answers each of us, “Like me, you’ll have nowhere to lay your head. Like me, you’ll let the dead bury the dead!” 

Then, introduction finished, Matthew tells the story of the storm: The little boat, the giant waves, the desperate disciples, the sleeping Jesus. 

Matthew’s tempo builds. He stands and paces the room - making eye contact with one person after the next. “That’s us, fellow believers! Jesus is with us. He is being tossed by the storms that toss us. But He isn’t desperate! He isn’t terrified. He’s resting in our midst. Because,” Matthews fists clench, his voice raises to almost a shout, “He knows! He knows about the waves. He knows about the storm. And, He knows who’s in charge! He is! When we are at our wits end, when life is bashing us about, when the storms are too overwhelming to deal with - we forget we’ve got Jesus in our boat!”

Matthew returns to his chair and slumps into it. Quietly, he continues, “When we woke Him, Jesus stood up - He stood! - in that tiny wind swept, wave bashed boat. Jesus stood. And he talked to the wind. He talked to the storm! He looked at those waves and that wind and in a voice of eerie calm he said, “Peace. Be still.” 

Matthew pauses. . . silence . . . “And. It. Was. Still.

Matthew leans back in his chair and temples his hands against his chest, “You know, brothers and sisters, Jesus said something to us - the terrified in the boat - before he spoke to the wind and waves. He asked us a question. And He asks you the same question today in the midst of your storm, “Why are you fearful, you of little faith?”

Reflection Question:
In what part of your life do you need to wake up Jesus?

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

Further Reading:
To Be Like Jesus - Page 60

Thursday, February 18, 2016

DJD218 - The Lord's Mountain

Read More Daily Jesus

Exodus 19:5,6

Starting Question:

How much does God love us? How do you know?

The Lord's Mountain

** Continued from yesterday **

When God began speaking to Abraham, He was different than the gods of the other cultures. He was not selfish. He did not ignore His people. And there were two really huge differences.

First, God explained there were no other gods! He said He was the only one. He created all the things the other gods were given credit for. And He said He did it in a week! He alone made the stars, the sun, the fields, the rain, the clouds, the animals, the birds and much more. 

Second, God explained that He was going to bless the world through Abraham’s many children. The one true God was a God of blessing and promise. 

Then God said something that sounded just like the other gods. “Take your son and offer him as an offering to Me!” This surprised Abraham. But not from the shock it might have caused us - all the gods in the valley expected child sacrifices, to prove the seriousness of the worshiper. Abraham would not have been shocked that a god would ask such a thing. 

Abraham was surprised because God had promised him as many grandchildren as there are grains of sand in the desert. How would this happen if Isaac was dead? Abraham kept the request a secret, knowing how much it would hurt his wife Sarah to know she wouldn’t see Isaac again. And they headed to the mountain of God.

When the third day arrived, they reached the base of the mountain. Abraham carried a few coals in a hollowed stick and a sacrificial knife. Isaac carried the wood for the altar. As they walked up the hill, Isaac asked, “Father, we have the wood, the fire and the knife. Where is the sacrifice?”

Abraham, deeply committed to His God of blessing and promise, said, “God will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” Some scholars say Abraham believed God would bring Isaac back to life to keep His promise of many children. Others say that Abraham believed somehow a lamb would be miraculously provided.

When they finished building the altar and putting the wood on it, Abraham explained to Isaac that God wanted Isaac to be the sacrifice. Isaac would have been big enough and fast enough to fight or run, but he didn’t. It was only when Isaac was bound hand and foot and Abraham had the sacrificial knife lifted high that the weeping father and son heard another cry. The cry of God, “ABRAHAM!” 

“Yes, Lord,” Abraham sobbed.

“Don’t do this thing!” God said, “Do not lay a hand on the boy or do anything to him. Now I know how much you love me.”

Abraham lifted his eyes and saw a ram caught by it’s horns in a bush. God had provided a lamb. 

One ancient Rabbi, ends the story this way: As Isaac and his father walked down the Lord’s mountain, the boy asked, “Father, how long do you think that ram was waiting there?” Abraham replied, “Since the Creation of the World, my son. Since the Creation of the World.”

Reflection Question:
We know our God has a plan. As a Kingdom of Priests, how can we share this plan with the world?

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

Dave Edgren ~ Story: Teller, Author, Trainer ~

BOOK DAVE NOW! Dave Edgren is passionate about creating a values-based storytelling culture. In his engaging and often hilarious way,...