Sunday, January 31, 2016

DJD131 - Now and Not Yet

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John 7:14-17

Starting Question:

Have you ever explained a new idea to someone else? 
How did you do it?

Now and Not Yet

Each of the four Gospels have a core message that is the same - to tell the story of Jesus and what He did for us on the cross. And each of them have something unique - a style or approach that makes them stand alone. Mark wants his hearers to see that Jesus was the one the prophets were talking about. Matthew shows that Jesus is the answer to Israel’s search for a Messiah. Luke has done detailed research and shows who Jesus is goes all the way back to Adam. But John stands alone. 

John doesn’t just suggest that Jesus is the answer to the prophets predictions, Israel's hopes or Adam’s fall - to John, Jesus is God in the flesh. John starts with a cosmic picture of Jesus as the Word. The Word that was at the beginning with God and was God - Jesus is the Creator Himself. And John finishes his Gospel by commenting about the innumerable deeds of Jesus, because He has been around forever.

But, Jesus didn’t go around patting himself on the back and telling everyone He was God. He walked a finely timed journey from the Jordon to Jerusalem. Because sometimes Jesus divine time line clashed with the wishes of mankind. And it is those times in His ministry that often make us uncomfortable. John is bold in bringing them out and showing them for what they were - odd and confusing - for Jesus’ family and friends.

When Jesus’ divine schedule clashed with human requests He would say things like: “My time has not yet fully come.” And then, He would do the exact thing He was requested to do. 

His mother asks him to turn water to wine. “Woman! My hour has not yet come.” That’s his mother! For any human son to address his mother as “woman” would be rude. And yet, in effect, Jesus says “Human! Not yet!” showing His divine distinction. Then he does what she asks - humbling divinity to serve humanity.

In the story before today’s passage, Jesus’ brothers tell Him to go to Jerusalem and show off. “Do some miracles so people know you’re real!” He tells them He’s not going to the festival… yet. So, they go without Him. A few days later, He pops up at the festival and starts teaching in the temple with such Biblical knowledge that the scholars are stumped: “We know this guy didn’t study with a Rabbi, where did He learn all this stuff?” 

Let the reader understand! Where do you think Jesus - the Word - learned the Word of God? These poor leaders didn’t have a clue. So Jesus explained to them that He got His understanding from the one who sent Him - God. 

You can imagine how that went over. The crowds thought Jesus had a demon.

John wants you to believe in Jesus - not as “good man Jesus” but as “God-Man Jesus” - because John saw people slipping into less-than views of Jesus. And so, he started at the beginning - Jesus is God. He made it all. He understands it all. He is all!

Reflection Questions:
How was Jesus a good man? How was Jesus a God-Man?
Which is more important? Why?

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

Saturday, January 30, 2016

DJD130 - Ultimate Translator

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Romans 8:26, 27

Starting Question:

Do you ever find it hard to understand people's words? 

Ultimate Translator

The verse for today is weird. Read it again. 

We don’t know what we should really be praying for. But God’s Holy Spirit does. And the Holy Spirit knows both God’s heart and our heart. So, the Holy Spirit translates our needs into a heart language God understands.

This makes more sense to me now that I have teenagers. If there is anything parents of teenagers learn - it’s the language of grunts and groans. How was school? UHAUH. Are you hungry? MMMHMM. Are you wearing clean socks? GRFFT!  What’s her name? IUHNO. Have you mowed the lawn? YAHUH. Am I supposed to be able to understand you? YAH!

Then there are the times when these sub-vocalisations are not enough. Like when I’m doing to shopping. I walk from room to room building a list. I’m going food shopping, do you need anything? Grunts will not answer this question. And yet they try. Their language leaves me truly confused and, if I’m being honest, a bit frustrated! I’m going shopping for these people and they can’t speak my language for a couple brief sentences. So, I demand a clear answer. And, translated for your edification, they say, “I don’t know what I want. Just get something I like.”

Um. What? If you like something, tell me what you like! UHNA. 

So, I find their mother. Like the Holy Spirit, she has this uncanny ability to know exactly what they like and want and is able to explain it in my overly verbose language of full words and complete sentences! Mikey loves fruit, get him some apples and bananas. Rachael loves smoothies. Get her some frozen berries, almond milk and more bananas. Cyrus will eat whatever we get. But he loves Mac-n-Cheese. How’s that?

Easy! Now that you've translated for me! Is there anything I can get for you, my love?

You know me. Just get something I like. 

And she’s right. Because we speak the same language. Often!

Now think back about today’s verse. The Holy Spirit knows us deeply and completely. And the Holy Spirit knows God from the inside out. Praying is powerful because we have the ultimate translator speaking our words, thoughts and even needs we do not know we have - directly to God, in a language that He fully understands.

That’s amazing! 

Reflection Question:
What has God done for you that you needed but didn't ask for?

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

Friday, January 29, 2016

DJD129 - Tearing Down Walls

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Ephesians 4:13

Starting Question:

Is there a person you really enjoy being with? Who? Why them?

Tearing Down Walls

At the moment Jesus died on the cross, the curtain in God’s Temple in Jerusalem tore from top to bottom. According to the Mishnah, this curtain was 60 feet long, 30 feet wide, and as thick as a man’s hand. It’s purpose - like all walls - was to keep what was on the one side from what was on the other side.

God has always wanted to be with His people. He designed Adam and Eve to walk and talk with Him. But sin created a chasm between us and God - His fearsome radiance would kill sinful people. So, God came up with ways to get close to us without killing us. He built walls around Himself.

When God was present in the Israelite camp, He appeared in a room He designed especially to confine His radiance. The people built the Tabernacle (and later the Temple) according to special plans God gave them - to protect them while letting God get as close as He could. God’s room in this structure was called the Most Holy Place and was the heart of the Temple. One day a year, the High Priest was allowed to enter this room. If the massive curtain had not been present the priests, who worked in the first room - called the Holy Place - every day, would have died. The curtain protected God’s people from God. 

When Jesus died, it was time for the afternoon sacrifice in the Temple - 3pm. Priests stood in the Holy Place. People watched from the courtyard. All would have been terrified as the curtain, being ripped in two from above, revealed the Most Holy Place. They all expected to die. But no one did. Because everything had changed.

At the birth of God’s Son, a tiny point of light poked through the heavens leading wisemen to a stable. At Jesus’ baptism, those present said the heavens were torn a little wider when God’s voice boomed His affirmation for His Son. But at the death of His Son, the ground shook as God Himself emerged on Earth. He grabbed the top of the wall between Himself and mankind and tore it to shreds. God was free! The final and perfect day of At-one-ment was here. God could finally be with His people. The ultimate sacrifice made, the divine death for sin complete, the wall between God and man fell under the shadow of the cross.

Jesus’ death brought God’s Kingdom back to life on Earth. Now, God’s people - each and every one of us - are God’s Temple and His priests! Our High Priest, unlike any before Him, has made it possible for us to freely and boldly walk into the Most Holy Place and speak directly to God.

Jesus’ death removed the walls between Heaven and Earth. 

Now, like Jesus, God calls us to change the world by living with the fearsome radiance of God shining through unveiled faces for all the world to see.

Reflection Question:
As one of God's priests, how does it make you feel to have some of His fearsome radiance shining on your face?

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

Thursday, January 28, 2016

DJD128 - Fearsome Radiance

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2 Corinthians 3:18

Starting Question:

Why do people build walls and fences?

Fearsome Radiance

From the time of Moses, God has been as close as He can get without killing people. In the Old Testament, it was made very clear that looking directly at God would destroy a person because God’s glory is so great and our sinfulness so horrible that the two things could not exist in the same place. But God wanted to be with His people. So, He protected them.

When Moses was up on the mountain with God, he asked to see God. He thought, after spending so many days listening to God’s voice, he was holy enough to see God’s face. God told Moses to stand in a small cave and He protected Moses by covering the cave with His hand as He walked past. When God was gone, He lifted His hand and Moses saw what was left - the residual glory of God - like the ripples in a pond after the stone is resting on the bottom. God said that was as much of His glory as Moses could handle.

After spending 40 days on the mountain of God, Moses made his way back to the valley of the people. In his hands, he had a new copy of the ten commandments. He was excited to tell the people about God and His laws but when he walked off the mountain the leaders of the people wouldn’t come near him. They stood back a long ways and Moses didn’t understand why. Then they told him, “You are glowing with a fearsome radiance!”

Moses hadn’t realised how much being with God had changed him. 40 days and 40 nights - wading in the waves of God’s glory - left him glowing like the sun. From that moment forward, the glowing returned every time Moses talked to God. So, he began wearing a veil over his face after talking to God so he could tell the people what God had said to them.

Changes in our appearance and our character happen slowly. And often we do no even know they have happened. But other people do. Moses had no idea he was glowing. He had been thinking so much about God, he hadn’t even wondered what impact the experience was having on him.

Likewise, as we spend time with Jesus in prayer, reading the Bible and sharing the stories of what God is doing in our life with our friends and family - we are being changed into His likeness - from our faded and shameful glory to His perfect shining glory.

Reflection Question:
What have you seen change in you because you love Jesus?

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

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

DJD127 - All Your Strength

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James 4:7,8

Starting Question:

When something is really hard, what do you do?

All Your Strength

Eight year old Benjamin loved spending time in his tree house. He and his Dad had built it together during the last school holiday. He had been using Mum’s footstool to get from the ground to the first rung of the ladder nailed to the tree but Mum wanted the footstool back inside the house. 

There was round piece of tree stump just a few meters away from the tree and Ben thought it would make a great first step. He tried to move the stump, but it was too heavy. He told Dad about the stump during lunch and Dad said, “Great idea! You should be able to move it, if you use all your strength!” 

Ben got the hint. His Dad didn’t want to help. Or maybe he just wanted Ben to do it on his own. Whatever the reason, he would need to find a way to move the stump. After lunch, he tried to lift the stump onto its edge to roll it to the tree. It wouldn’t budge. 

He headed into the shed and got Dad’s crowbar. Maybe he could lever it onto its edge. Back at the stump he wedged the crowbar underneath and lifted. The tip of the crowbar sunk into the ground. Ben looked up at the kitchen window and saw his Dad watching. Dad smiled, made a fist and flexed his arm muscle. Then he pointed at his head and tapped it a couple times.

“Yeah, I know use all my strength… Oh, use all of my smarts!” Ben looked at the stump and scratched his head.

He went back to the shed and got two blocks of wood. He stacked them on top of each other next to the stump and wedged the crowbar between them. Then he pulled down with all his might and the stump lifted off the ground! He stood on the end of the crowbar and with a long stick pushed the stump the rest of the way up onto its edge. 

“Yeah! I did it!” he said, looking over at the kitchen. His Dad, still standing at the window, gave him a big thumbs up.

Ben got behind the stump and pushed. It didn’t move. Ben leaned his back against the stump and pushed. Nothing. It was too heavy. 

He looked over at the kitchen again. Dad was standing in the doorway now, leaning against the open door.

“Dad, it’s too heavy,” Ben said. “I’ve used every bit of my strength and my smarts!”

“You haven’t used all of your strength,” Dad said.

Ben sat on the stump. “YES I HAVE! IT’S TOO HEAVY!” Ben threw his hands in the air, “WHY CAN’T YOU JUST HELP ME?”

“Ah,” Dad said as he walked out of the house and over to Ben, “Now you’re using all your strength!”

Dad and Ben stood together and pushed the stump all the way to the tree.

“Thanks Dad,” Ben said. 

“You are very welcome, young man!” Dad wiped the dirt off his hands. “You know, Ben,” Dad said, “we have never used all of our strength until we have asked our Heavenly Father to help! Just like I was standing watching you struggle, God is always watching us. And He promises that the moment we ask, He will be there help!”

Reflection Question:
What will you ask God help you with, today?

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

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

DJD126 - Calling God

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Genesis 5:22-24

Starting Question:

How many phones do you have in your house?

Calling God

When I was a boy, my Dad got a car phone. It  took up an entire briefcase and needed to be plugged into the car for power and the aerial. The dialer and all the workings of the phone were built into the briefcase. It had a handset that you lifted up and used much like a corded house phone, holding it to your head. They were very expensive and only worked in certain places because there weren’t many mobile service towers, yet.

Next came the mobile phones that looked like bricks. They were heavy and had the dialer built into the handset, which had the mouth piece and ear piece on the front and a huge battery on the back. To use it you held the entire thing up to your head. Phone calls lasted only a few short minutes because your arm could only hold the weight for so long - and the battery would run out not long after your arm got tired.

Then came phones that looked much like the handset from one of todays cordless home phones. They were much lighter and the batteries, although smaller, lasted longer. Technology was coming along! As the phones got better the number of towers grew and so reception was getting pretty good in most towns.

Then came the flip phone and other small handsets much like today’s Nokias. Great! You could talk without pain, running out of battery too soon or loosing connection if you moved sideways two steps. 

I can remember how silly people looked talking into their little mobile phones. From across the street you couldn’t see the phone. I thought it was funny watching adults walk along talking out loud with their hand pressed to their cheek. They looked just like kids playing with their imaginary friends!

Isn’t it amazing the effort we go through as humans to communicate with each other? Today, you feel incomplete if you don’t have a phone in your pocket - to search the web, check your emails, send messages and - occasionally - call people. We love being in contact with each other.

We have an even better connection to God. We don’t need a device, a power source or a signal. In fact, we can talk to Him without moving our lips and He hears us. He knows our thoughts! When you talk to God there is never a busy signal, the battery never runs out and you can talk as long as you want and he will pay close attention the entire time. 

And yet, many of us rarely call Him for more than one or two quick greetings a day. God longs to hear from you. He wants to talk to you so much that He has made it very easy to get through, giving you direct access by using His Son’s name to ensure a perfect connection and His Holy Spirit to translate your feelings - that you can’t put words too - into noises only God understands. All so you can come to God anytime and be fully understood when you do. 

That’s how much He wants to talk to you!

Reflection Question:
What will you do today to talk more to God?

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

Monday, January 25, 2016

DJD125 - Growing With Jesus

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Matthew 7:7,8

Starting Question:

What does it mean to follow Jesus?

Growing With Jesus

* continued from yesterday *

When Peter got back to the fire, he noticed the fish already cooking. He slumped to the ground and dropped his fish, still flopping, next to him. The man at the fire prodded the coals, quietly. Peter stared at the glowing embers. 

The fish sorted into piles, the six disciples approached the fire quietly, each hoping it was Jesus but unsure. The cook said, “Have some breakfast.” Then He picked up the bread and served it to them. And he took the fish off the fire and served it to them. They understood now the words of their friends who had first seen the resurrected Jesus on the road to Emmaus. As he served them, they recognised Jesus.

Eating quietly, the men pondered this new King and His otherworldly Kingdom. This was the third time Jesus had appeared to the disciples after being raised from the dead.

Jesus, sat across the fire from Peter. “Peter,” Jesus called.

Peter looked at Jesus through the wisp of smoke rising from the now dead fire.

Jesus pointed at the three still gasping fish next to Peter and to the piles of fish on the shore behind Peter, and the boat beyond. He asked, “Do you love me and my calling on your life more than your calling to be a fisherman?” 

Peter nodded somberly and said, “Lord, I love you more than anything.”

Jesus raised his eyebrows, “Then feed my little lambs!”

Peter thought about the number of times Jesus had called Himself a shepherd. Little lambs. There were certainly no grown-up followers in this new Kingdom of Jesus’. Not yet anyway, Peter mused.

“Peter,” Jesus called again. Peter came out of his imaginings and looked, again, at Jesus. “Do you really love me enough to follow me?”

Peter nodded with more confidence. “Yes Lord, you know I love you like a brother!”

Their eyes were locked now. “Shepherd my sheep.”

Peter couldn’t look away. He stared into the eyes of his Master, Teacher, Savior and King. Could Jesus really be asking me to be one of His leaders again? After I swore I didn’t even know Him? He knows I ran away from it all. What is He thinking?

Jesus could feel the hole being stared through Him as clearly as he could feel the holes in his hands, feet and side. “Peter!” Peter’s focus returned to the present Jesus. The Lord searched Peter’s eyes. “Do you really love me like a brother?”

It had only been a few short days since Peter denied knowing Jesus three times. This third questioning of his love for Jesus hit Peter in the depths of his soul. “Lord, you know everything,” Peter said, his eyes filled with tears, “You know I love you more than any brother could ever love another!”

Almost in a whisper, Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep, Peter.” Jesus knew that following Him and being a Kingdom builder would lead to Peter’s death. But, looking through Peter’s eyes into his heart, Jesus also knew how much Peter loved Him and Jesus said, “Follow me!”

Reflection Question:
How can we get to know Jesus well enough to lead other people to Him?

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

Sunday, January 24, 2016

DJD124 - Seeing With Jesus

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John 14:13,14

Starting Question:

If you could do anything you want, what would you do today?

Seeing With Jesus

One evening as seven of the disciples sat together, Peter said, “I’m going fishing!” He was raised fishing and now that Jesus was dead and yet not-dead, life was confusing. Peter knew how to fish and he wanted to feel the old rhythmic actions he knew so well. Actions that made sense.

Fishing with a net, the way Peter’s family fished, was a group sport. You couldn’t do it alone. As he confidently declared his decision to go fishing, he was also issuing an invitation. He needed them. If the other disciples did not join him, he would have spent the night alone and useless on his boat. 

“We’re coming with you,” the others said. And together, as the sun set over the lake, Peter and his friends set sail into the waters, hoping for a catch. 

The next morning, as the sun rose, a man shouted from the shore, “Do you have any fish?”

They could see a small cooking fire burning behind the man. Maybe he wanted to buy some fish for his breakfast. 

“No!” Peter shouted back. 

The man threw up his hands, as if he were disappointed, then throwing his hands sideways as if he were casting a net, he shouted, “Try the right side of the boat. You’ll find some there!”

A memory of another day stirred deep inside Peter. The seven friends gathered the net and cast it over the right side of the boat. As they pulled it tight, the weight of it pulled back. The old rush of fisherman’s adrenalin flooded through Peter - it seemed a lifetime ago that he’d felt a catch like this!  The muscles of his arms and back tightened and pulled, tightened and pulled, in the old familiar rhythm. This was living! Standing beside Peter, fighting the net, John said, “Peter, you know it’s the Lord!”

Peter dropped his section of the net, the earlier incomplete memory hit full force. Of Course! He grabbed his robe from the middle of the boat, tied it around himself, jumped into the water and struggled to shore. The other disciples tied the net to the side of the boat and sailed it in. 

Leaving the water, Peter approached the man who had called out to them. But he saw the fire - a charcoal fire, much like the one he stood at the night Jesus was condemned - the night he denied his Lord three times. The reality of it hit so hard Peter fell back into yesterday’s depression. He didn’t notice the fish cooking on the fire.

The man said, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.” 

Peter spun around and ran back to shore, glad for something to do. He ran past the other disciples who were now walking up the beach. He waded to the boat and grabbed the net suspended in the water. He loosed it from the boat and dragged the net ashore. The other disciples returned to the net to count and divide the fish. There were 153 fish. Peter held three of the wiggling fish by their tails and said, “That’s 25 each for you.” The other six looked at each other, confused. “I only need these three,” Peter said as he turned and headed back to the fire.

* continues tomorrow *

Reflection Question:
What do you think Jesus is going to do with the fish Peter brings back?

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

Saturday, January 23, 2016

DJD123 - Prayers of a Woman

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1 Samuel 1:27

Starting Question:

Have you every prayed for something really hard? What was it?

Prayers of a Woman

I don’t remember the prayers, but I remember the story. I was only three or four years old when my brother and I started praying for a sister. Mom and Dad talked often about ‘getting’ a sister.

They were looking into adopting a little girl to be our sister. At the time, it was very difficult to adopt at home in the United States so they started looking in Central and South America. 

Mom also prayed every night - a very different prayer than ours. She too prayed to find a little girl to adopt. It had been a long hard journey for her. Longer and harder than my brother and I would know until we were adults and heard the rest of the story.

Mom would pray, “Dear Lord, if you can forgive me, please give me a little girl.” She had also prayed this prayer while pregnant with both my brother and I. And had one boy after the other. Now, understand, I have never doubted my mother’s love! It wasn’t about ‘not’ wanting a boy. It was deeper.

Sworn to secrecy, when my mother was a teenager she had given birth to a baby and been forced to put it up for adoption. She hadn’t held the baby upon birth or seen it for more than a brief glimpse as it was taken away. And it wasn’t until a year after the birth that she was sure, she had given birth to a little girl. She had to sign the adoption papers. And she saw her name: Wendy. Wiping the tears away from her eyes, she looked at the name again. Wendy had been the nickname her father had for her when growing up - and he was the man who was forcing this adoption. Agony. Guilt. Pain.

We know God doesn’t punish us for things other people have done to us. But, that is not something easily believed every year on your child’s birthday when you cannot hold her because you signed the papers.

As Teddy and I prayed for a little sister, our beautiful mother prayed for forgiveness. “Dear Lord, if you can forgive me, please give me a little girl.” 

And then they flew to Nicaragua. They came back - without a baby. A little girl had been chosen and she would come home on the next trip.  Our sister was sick from malnutrition and needed to be nursed to health in a hospital. Now, Teddy and I prayed, “Dear Jesus please keep our little sister safe until she is well enough to come home.”

When my parents came home after the next trip, Teddy and I were both amazed at the answer to our prayers. We had been praying for a sister to share but, instead, Jesus had given us both a sister! A miracle of two mothers’ souls meeting on the steps of the hospital had resulted in more rushed paperwork and two healthy baby girls - Petia and Jacinta. One for Teddy and One for Davy.

But for our mother, it was deeper - so much deeper. In giving her two baby girls, God have given her a double portion of His matchless forgiveness. Not because God had been holding anything against her but because He knew she needed it.

God’s like that.

Reflection Question:
It changes us when we know we are forgiven. What would you like forgiveness for, today?

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

Friday, January 22, 2016

DJD122 - Look to Jesus

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John 3:14,15

Starting Question:

Have you ever received a painful bite or sting? What got you?

Look to Jesus

Late one night, Jesus said to one of the Jewish religious leaders named Nicodemus, “As Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.”

Jesus compared himself to a story from the escape epic of God’s people - from slavery in Egypt to salvation in Canaan. This snake story was right near the end of their journey. 

The people complained. Again. They didn’t like God’s food - the Manna was getting old. They were thirsty and didn’t like waiting on God for every drink. And they wanted bread. Bread like Egypt. Food like Egypt. Water like Egypt. “Give us Egypt or give us death!” 

Had they forgotten what slavery was like? 


So, God sent snakes with fiery venom. And the snakes began biting people. And the people began dieing. Lots of people. Lots of death.

The people realised without God, they were surrounded by death. They asked Moses to beg for forgiveness. And God said, “Make a bronze snake. Put it on a pole. Lift it high. Those who look will live.”

And Jesus compares Himself to this bronze serpent, on a pole, lifted up. And He says, “Those who lift their eyes, and look upon Me, will be saved.”

Saved from what? 

The serpent from whose bites we all die, the Master of Sin, Satan himself. 

We complain about the death all around us. We complain from lack of water - Jesus offers his side. We complain from lack of bread, Jesus offers his body. We complain from lack of life-giving food, Jesus offers his blood. And yet all of this, offered by Jesus on the cross, is useless - unless.

Unless we lift up our eyes. Stop looking at the fiery sores, the sadness, the death - caused by sin and Satan - and look up at Jesus on the cross. 

God’s people who lifted their eyes and fixed them on the pole-top serpent Moses held high - were saved, made well and lived. Jesus promised the same for those who drag their gaze away from their sin soaked selves and lift them up, to fix them on Jesus - suspended between Heaven and Earth atop an old wooden cross. 


Made well. 

Life eternal.

The first time eyes were lifted, to the serpent on the pole - the bites were cured.
The second time eyes were lifted, to the Saviour on the cross - death was defeated.
The third time eyes will be lifted, all believers will rise - forever with Jesus.

It’s a worthy comparison. 
If it makes us uncomfortable, good. It should. The wages of sin is death.
If it makes us loosen our self-centered focus, good. It should. The gift of God is eternal life.
If it makes us lift up our eyes, good. It should. It is all and only through Christ Jesus our Lord!

The Dragon, that old serpent from the Garden, Satan has been defeated at the cross. He is now in his death throes. And he still strikes out, indiscriminately, hurting the people whom God loves. 

Fear not. 

His time is short. 

Lift up your eyes.

Reflection Question:
What are your thoughts about the great battle going on between good and evil?

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

Thursday, January 21, 2016

DJD121 - It’s In Your Hands

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James 4:8-10

Starting Question:

In your mind, what does it mean to be a Christian?

It’s In Your Hands

We know that Jesus is the great gate into the Kingdom of God. This is the primary story we tell as Christians. His gift on the cross gives us entrance to new life - eternal life.

But once we pass through the great gates of His Love, what are we to do? Once we are Kingdom citizens, how are we to live? What are we to become? What difference does being a Christian make, really?

While Philemon is one of the shortest letters in the New Testament, it is also one of the most powerful. It is powerful because of what Paul, who is writing the letter, challenges Philemon to do. Paul packs his entire theology into this one short page of practice.

Years before, Paul introduced Philemon to Jesus. He invited Philemon to move from the kingdom of this world into the Kingdom of God. Philemon loved Jesus and became a Christian.

Paul wrote this letter to Philemon from prison. While there, Paul told the other prisoners about Jesus. One prisoner, Onesimus, fell in love with Jesus and joined the Kingdom. As fellow Christians they worked together - Paul and Onesimus - to care for prisoners and write letters. In their time together Onesimus told Paul his story: Sometime ago, Onesimus was a slave and escaped from the house of Philemon. 

Paul was amazed! He told Onesimus the story leading Philemon to Jesus. And then Paul said to Onesimus, “You know what the right thing to do is, don’t you?”

“Go back to Philemon,” Onesimus said. “Because I stole myself away from him and owe him my service.”

“Indeed,” Paul said. “Christian slaves must serve their masters with Christlike humility.”

Quickly, Paul wrote the letter to Philemon, and sealed it. He gave Onesimus the letter to deliver and, having made the arrangements to return a ‘found slave’ to his master, sent Onesimus to Philemon.

When Philemon receives his slave back, he also receives the letter from Paul. He opens the letter and what it says changes everything. Well, only if Philemon is truly a follower of Jesus.

“You know how much God forgave you,” Paul wrote. “All your sin was washed away because of Jesus! He set you free. This slave of yours became my friend in prison. But, even more exciting, he has become our brother in Christ! He has returned to you of his own free will. But he is our brother! I know you will do the right thing. If you do, please let him know I would love to have him back to help in my work.”

Imagine receiving that letter! 

Being a follower of Jesus means that we set people free. Free from old ways of bondage. Not because they deserve it but because we are in Christ - all forgiven for our sins. As we enter the Kingdom of Heaven the field is leveled. We are brothers and sisters. All are forgiven. All are loved. All are equal. 

Slave and Master
Male and Female
Jew and Gentile
Rich and Poor

When, as Christians, these old distinctions of bondage are brought before us, we are challenged: You may be living in the Kingdom of God, but is the Kingdom of God living in you?

Forgiven, forgive. Loved, love. Equals, equal. 

Philemon, you hold Paul’s letter in your hand. What will you do?

Reflection Question:
In your heart, what does it mean to be a Christian?

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

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

DJD120 - God Still Speaks

Read More Daily Jesus

Acts 22:14-16

Starting Question:

Has God ever helped you do something? How did He help?

God Still Speaks

My Dad always starts the story the same way. “Lots of people don’t believe me when I say I have heard God’s voice. They say, ‘You mean you’ve had an impression of something you should do? Right?’ … No,” My Dad continues in story mode, “I mean, like you are hearing my voice right now, I heard God’s voice. Then they look at me like I’m crazy.” And then he tells the story. 

Before my brother Teddy and I were old enough to be in school, Dad was a logger. Sometimes he fell trees. Sometimes he loaded them onto trucks. Sometimes he talked to landowners about the job. And sometimes, when he wasn’t doing anything dangerous, we got to go along for the day. What an adventure!

So, this day was Teddy’s turn. Dad was going out to see the progress on a job and then coming home. A simple day. Nothing dangerous. 

When they got to the job, the tree-feller hadn’t shown up. There were two trees that needed to be down today. So, Dad explained to Teddy that he must stay in the truck and play with his toys. Teddy agreed and Dad locked the doors, got his chainsaw and protective gear out of the back.

Dad put his ear plugs in, put his helmet on and pulled the earmuffs down over his ears. Then he put on his goggles and gloves. When he waved at Teddy through the window, Teddy laughed because of how silly Dad looked. Dad grabbed the chainsaw and walked away.

After the first tree, Dad came back and checked on Teddy. Everything was great. Teddy was having fun playing with his toys and said he would be fine until Dad fell the other tree.  

About halfway through cutting the second tree, Dad heard a voice say, “Stop.”

I’m not sure if you’ve ever heard a chainsaw. It’s loud. That’s why Dad was wearing the earmuffs with ear plugs under them. Dad laughed to himself. What would people say when he told them he was hearing voices? Knowing it was impossible to hear a voice through the ear plugs, muffs and the roar of the chainsaw, Dad pulled the trigger and let the chainsaws teeth dig into the tree. He was almost done.

Again, he heard it. This time louder than before. “Stop!”

Dad pulled the chainsaw out of the tree and turned it off. He took off his gloves, lifted his earmuffs, pulled out the earplugs and shouted, “Is there somebody out there?” 

“Yes, Daddy! I’m almost there!”

Dad walked around the base of the first tree - the one that was already laying on the ground - and saw Teddy making his way along the tree, climbing over one branch and under the next. 

If Dad had finished the second tree it would have fallen alongside the first. And they would have bounced sideways as trees do when one crashes next to another.

“So, yeah, I’ve heard God’s voice, more than once” my Dad always says. “And you can too, if you believe He still talks to people!”

Reflection Question:
When God speaks, there is a clear reason. What was the reason in this story? What was reason in today's scripture passage?

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,...