Ezra 1-2 & John 21

Today we finish the Gospel of John. And what a beautiful way to finish it. Jesus standing by a charcol fire asks Peter if he loves him three times. Do you get the symbolism here?

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.

One can look at the different words used in this passage, but what I want to focus on is the absolute acceptance Jesus has of Peter. He does not scold him or rebuke him for his denial before the crucifixion. He doesn’t have to mention it. One of the deepest betrayals in the history of mankind and Jesus doesn’t mention it.
In another passage Jesus let’s Peter know that he’s praying for him. He says, 31”Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. 32But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31&32).
If Jesus can forgive Peter for what he was going to do and give him a mission – “strengthen your brothers” how much more is he waiting to forgive you – has already done so – and is now wanting to give you a new mission. In both these passages Jesus is about the mission.
Peter, who betrayed the God of the universe, goes on to lead the church of Jesus Christ. What a God we serve. Despite your sin this morning, what mission does God want to give you?

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Daniel 10-12; John 20

A man comes to Daniel and shares a vision of the future. He tells it like it has already happened. He gives details in strategy, character, weaknesses and strengths–like it already happened. And even though the news is a wartime play-by-play, there is a message of certainty, comfort, and guidance.

11 And the man said to me, “Daniel, you are very precious to God, so listen carefully to what I have to say to you. Stand up, for I have been sent to you.” (Daniel 10:11, NLT)

19 “Don’t be afraid,” he said, “for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!” (Daniel 10:19, NLT)

This man speaks of “appointed time” in several spots–and there is sovereignty in those words.

Regarding the words another man spoke, Daniel says:

I heard what he said, but I did not understand what he meant. So I asked, “How will all this finally end, my lord?”

But he said, “Go now, Daniel, for what I have said is kept secret and sealed until the time of the end. 10 Many will be purified, cleansed, and refined by these trials. But the wicked will continue in their wickedness, and none of them will understand. Only those who are wise will know what it means.

11 “From the time the daily sacrifice is stopped and the sacrilegious object that causes desecration is set up to be worshiped, there will be 1,290 days. 12 And blessed are those who wait and remain until the end of the 1,335 days!

13 “As for you, go your way until the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days, you will rise again to receive the inheritance set aside for you.” (Daniel 12:8-13, NLT)

In the Old Testament reading, blessed are the ones who wait and remain until the end. In the New Testament reading, blessed are those who believe without seeing.

26 Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”

28 “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.

29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

30 The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name. (John 20:26-31, NLT)

When things don’t make sense or seem unbelievable to be real, when trials purify, cleanse and refine, Lord, help me to quiet my thoughts and remember this: you are sovereign. Nothing happens without your knowledge and appointment. Help me to walk out my days in faith and confidence.

Courtney (66books365)

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Psalm 91;John 19

*Psalm 91;

This is one of my favourite scriptures in the Bible because it brings assurance from our Father of His protection over us always and a demonstration of His love for us.

In Ps91:1-2(AMPC) we see how safety for every child of God is in dwelling in God’s presence, staying close to Him for He is our refuge and our protective fortress who we can “lean and rely” on and “confidently trust”

In verse 3 God promises to rescue us from traps and contagious diseases. So if you were looking for a scripture to use when praying for God’s protection against Covid19 here it is.

God’s will, which is an active will, is to cover you like a chicken covers its chics under its wings but as it says in verse 4 we must trust in God’s capability to protect us.

We must take our eyes and ears off calamity and destruction going on around us and not be grabbed by fear because of these happenings…why? Simply because we are under God’s protection and this is the assurance verses 5-7 gives us.

Once again God emphasise through verses 9-12 the importance of making Him our refuge for protection against calamity and diseases because His ministering angels have been assigned to protect us.

There is a condition for this safety and it is clearly stated in verse 14 and this condition is loving The Lord and knowing His name. Loving God and knowing His name means we desire God, we put Him first and we study His word so that we get to know Him more, we get to know His personality and capabilities.

What a beautiful way to end this scripture with a firm assurance from God in verses 14-16 that He will never forsake us, He will deliver us from trouble and He will satisfy with long live and constant salvation from disaster!! Glory Hallelujah!!

*John 19

I have always been mesmerised by Jesus and the way He handle His trial by Pilate.

Despite all accusations Jesus remained focused and refused to say or do anything that would prevent Him from going to the Cross to die for our sins.

He had to focus on the bigger picture and also draw grace from His father to avoid being distracted by the false accusations railed against Him and the sorrow He must have felt seeing His mum, brothers and the disciples weeping and in pain. If He hadn’t maintained His focus on the bigger picture of salvation for mankind He would have aborted His mission to the cross.

We also see in verses 38-42 how Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodamous risked their lives by going to ask for Jesus’s body and anioting it with spices before laying it in a tomb. This act of bravery sometimes gets overlooked when reading these verses but must be noted as they were also in fulfillment of scripture and a demonstration of these influential men’s love for Jesus. It makes me ponder on how I should use my place of influence or any advantage I have to showcase my Lord and saviour as a demonstration of my love for Jesus

In Christ

BM

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Haggai, Zechariah 1, Psalm 138

I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise; I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. On the day I called you, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.” (Psalm 138:1-3 ESV)

On a spring evening when I was eleven years old, I remember calling out to God, in my heart, during a prayer, that I wanted to commit my life to Him. I had believed with a child like innocence for as long as I could remember, but this was different. My silent prayer was answered by feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit for the first time. I felt wrapped in His love in a way that I could physically feel. It was very personal.

All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O Lord, for they have heard the words of your mouth, and they shall sing of the ways of the Lord, for great is the glory of the Lord. For though the Lord is high, He regards the lowly, but the haughty He knows from afar.” (Psalm 138:4-6 ESV)

I love corporate singing in church. The whole congregation gathering together to sing God’s praises. We all can testify to God’s faithfulness and the songwriters give us the voices to express it.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me. The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.”(Psalm 138:7-8 ESV)

I go through trials from time to time like anything else, sometimes big things like death and other times small things like inconveniences to my schedule. But I wonder if one day I will know of the things that the Lord in His mercy spared me from? What things were intended to come my way but never did? Thinking about that prospect helps me focus on being thankful in the good and the bad.

Lord, during this week on our calendar when we celebrate Thanksgiving in our country, may we be truly thankful for all that You have done for us. May we be thankful for those things that help us build our testimony to your faithfulness, to those things that we consider blessings, but also for those things that You only knows about. You are the author and perfecter of our lives, so may we focus on that this year.

Kellie

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Daniel 4-6; John 18

Daniel and the lions’ den—a familiar Bible story that most of us have probably heard thousands of times.  I admit that when I hear this story, I typically think of Daniel as the young adult who wouldn’t eat the royal food and stood unharmed in the fiery furnace with his friends.  And this is not untrue.  At the beginning of the book, Daniel is probably in his late teens/early 20s, but what we don’t always realize is that by the time we get to Daniel 6, he is 80 or 90 years old.  A lifetime has passed, and Daniel has always been obedient and faithful.  He practiced, as Eugene Peterson would say, A long obedience in the same direction.

As the beginning verses of Daniel 6 illustrate, integrity and obedience were standard practices for Daniel.  He didn’t wake up one day and decide to defy the king and continue worshipping the one, true God.  The decree of an unbelieving king wasn’t going to stop him from doing what he knew was right and had been doing for nearly 80 years.

Daniel distinguished himself above the administrators and satraps because he had an extraordinary spirit, so the king planned to set him over the whole realm. The administrators and satraps, therefore, kept trying to find a charge against Daniel regarding the kingdom. But they could find no charge or corruption, for he was trustworthy, and no negligence or corruption was found in him. Then these men said, “We will never find any charge against this Daniel unless we find something against him concerning the law of his God.”

When Daniel learned that the document had been signed, he went into his house. The windows in its upstairs room opened toward Jerusalem, and three times a day he got down on his knees, prayed, and gave thanks to his God, just as he had done before. (Daniel 6:3-5, 10, CSB)

In reality though, the familiar stories we read in the first six chapters of Daniel—refusing to eat the royal food, interpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, the fiery furnace, the handwriting on the wall, the lions’ den—are just a few exciting highlights in the life story of a man who loved and served God most often in the ordinary and mundane.  Most of Daniel’s days, the ones we don’t read about in Scripture, were spent as an employee, a friend, a believer who valued his God and his faith above all else. 

Ultimately, Daniel’s “long obedience in the same direction” was rewarded. We don’t often hear much about the end of Daniel 6, but it says that King Darius, after witnessing Daniel’s trust in God and God’s power in saving him from the lions, issued a new decree, which directed everyone to worship God rather than himself.  God used Daniel’s lifelong example of obedience and trust to change King Darius’ heart.

Currently, Jeff (my husband) and I are teaching a beginning theology class at our church.  Some weeks are great—all the attendees are tracking and learning and actually enjoying it!  Other weeks are pretty discouraging—people don’t come, everyone seems thoroughly confused, and enthusiasm is lackluster, at best. I’m constantly reminding myself that God, not Jeff and Jen, is responsible for the outcome.  He sees the long hours of preparation and prayer and our deep desire for these precious people to know Him and His word more deeply. He also sees our discouragement and feelings of inadequacy.  He will do the heart work; we simply need to be obedient. Be encouraged! Your faithfulness makes a difference. You may not see it as quickly or as clearly as Daniel did, but God is always working to draw people to Himself and glorify His name.

For he is the living God, and he endures forever;
his kingdom will never be destroyed, and his dominion has no end.
He rescues and delivers; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth….(Daniel 6:26b-27a)

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