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Are you hungry?

 John 4:27-42

27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”

32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”

33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”

34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labour.”

39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.

42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Saviour of the world.”

Have you eaten yet today? Are you hungry?

Jesus has just been offering the Samaritan woman a drink of living water that, if she drinks it, will leave her to never thirst again. He was talking about the Holy Spirit. (see yesterday’s Grow Daily if you missed it)

Now Jesus speaks of ‘food’ – metaphorical, not real, food – that his disciples know nothing about. “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work” (v34). This food seems to keep Jesus going, even when he’s been traveling by foot and hasn’t eaten anything in quite some time.

Hunger can be a terrible thing. ‘You’re not yourself when you’re hungry.’ We all get ‘hangry’ sometimes – that ugly combination of angry and hungry. But Jesus seems to be different. Jesus doesn’t get ‘hangry.’ He has resources that feed his soul, even when food isn’t available.

The disciples don’t get it. “Could someone have brought him food?” they ask (v33). The idea of filling your stomach with something other than food seemed absurd to them, just as it does to you and me.

It seems that the food Jesus is talking about is helping people to come to believe in him as the Messiah. He’s just been offering ‘living water’ to the adulterous Samaritan woman. Now she’s run off and told everyone about Jesus, and at the end of today’s passage we read, ‘because of his words many more became believers’ (v41). This is the harvest that quenches Jesus’ hunger, even more so than bread.

Are you hungry? There is a way to deal with our deepest hunger, and Jesus is calling you to be a part of it: tell people about the Messiah, Jesus, the thirst-quencher, the hunger-killer, and taste of the richness of seeing people come to put their trust in him. Savour that.

Head: Consider the radical shift in thinking Jesus is calling us to make: telling others about him fills our hunger more than food.

Heart: Are you hungry? Satisfied? What are you looking to to fill your hunger instead of telling others about Jesus?

Hands: Is there one person you will see in the coming week you can share the gospel with? Can you offer to buy them – or cook them – some actual food, in order to share with them the food for their souls?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Jesus often shatters my way of thinking and shows me how it falls short of truth. I enjoy eating good food every day – thank you for providing it for me. But please forgive me, because I think actual food is more important than sharing the eternal, soul-quenching food of the gospel of Jesus. Please change me, by your Spirit, to share Jesus with the hungry people around me. Soften their hearts, by your Spirit, so that they will trust in you and find satisfaction in your Son alone. In Jesus’ name, and by the power of your Spirit I pray, Amen.

A song to listen to: Only You Can Satisfy

Peter Yock

This Grow Daily was originally posted as part of a previous series called the Spirit of Jesus in 2016. During the School Holidays we take the opportunity to look back at the best of Grow Dailys over the years.

The post Never be hungry appeared first on Creek Road Presbyterian Church.

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 Jesus offers a drink that quenches thirst so deeply that the one who drinks it will never again be thirsty.

 John 4:1-26

Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.

Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” 11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” 13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” 16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” 17 “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” 19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” 25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” 26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

Water. Water is a source of life. Doctors say we should each be drinking 2-3 litres a day in order to be healthy. That’s a lot of water. Without water, we would die. Without clean water, many can and do die every day. Water is as essential as air. As a beating heart. Water is more essential than food. Without water, all of us would quickly die.

But no matter how much water we drink, we still get thirsty again. Drinking water is never enough. We always need more. And being thirsty for too long is a particularly unpleasant experience.

So what do we make of Jesus offering a drink that quenches thirst so deeply, so fully, that the one who drinks it will never again thirst? The Samaritan woman is intrigued. She wants some. But she doesn’t quite get it – she’s thinking on a more practical level. She just wants to avoid having to keep coming to the well. (Makes you realise how much we take our kitchen taps for granted.) She doesn’t understanding that Jesus is using water as a metaphor for the eternal life he has come to offer everyone – even to a non-Jewish woman who seems to have been having sex with an awful lot of men.

Jesus is using the common experience of water and thirst to draw the Samaritan woman – and us – into a deeper understanding of what he came to offer. This woman thought people had to worship God in the right geographical location. But Jesus says the time has come for people to worship Jesus in the Spirit and in truth (4:23). And Jesus has come to make it possible. He is the Messiah (4:25-26), the one who will give the Spirit, the one who makes worship of God ‘in Spirit and in truth’ possible. Even for a frequent adulterer. Even for you. Even for me.

Are you thirsty? Jesus offers water – living water – that won’t just quench your body, but will quench your soul. He offers it through his death. Through his life. Through the Spirit. Our souls will never be quenched any other way. Only Jesus satisfies. Only Jesus offers us the water – the Spirit – that will leave us never thirsty again.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Head: Are you surprised that Jesus offers living water – his Holy Spirit – to this adulterous woman? What does this say about who can be saved?

Heart: All of us seek satisfaction in something or someone other Jesus. The Samaritan woman seems to have been seeking satisfaction in sexual relationships with a stream of men. What – or who – are you seeking ultimate satisfaction in? Will it – or they – ever truly quench your thirst – the longing of your soul?

Hands: How can you seek ultimate satisfaction in Jesus, rather than in things and people who will never quench your thirst?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Jesus is amazing. He offers the lowest scum of society eternal life. He pours his Holy Spirit into the hearts of the unholy. He offers living water to the thirsty and dying. Thank you for sending your Son to die and rise and pour out your Spirit, so that I could have the eternal thirst of my soul quenched in him. Forgive me for looking for satisfaction elsewhere. Help me to see that satisfaction outside of Jesus will never happen. Help me, by the leading of your Spirit, to quench my soul in him alone. In his name I pray, amen.

A song to listen to: Spirit of Jesus

Peter Yock

This Grow Daily was originally posted as part of a previous series called the Spirit of Jesus in 2016. During the School Holidays we take the opportunity to look back at the best of Grow Dailys over the years.

The post Never be thirsty appeared first on Creek Road Presbyterian Church.

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Names are important, aren’t they? They can be powerful, beautiful or terrifying.

John 1:19-29

19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.”

21 They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”He said, “I am not.”“Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” 22 Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”

24 Now the Pharisees who had been sent 25 questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”

26 “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”

28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

29 The next day John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 

This is the first time in John’s gospel that the Son of God is addressed by a person in the account. So far Jesus has been introduced to us readers as ‘the Word’, ‘the light’, ‘the true light’, ‘the one and only Son’, and ‘the Lord’. And now John the Baptist calls him ‘Jesus’. Why? What does ‘Jesus’ mean? What is the significance of his name? Why is the Son of God named Jesus?

Names are important, aren’t they? A few years ago I had the privilege of travelling to the Philippines to visit our cross cultural connect partners. Their names are Paul and Debbie and Jubab Howells. They’d arrived in 1987 and gone straight into an animistic culture, where there were many spirits and demons said to live in the jungles and villages up in the mountains. The people there had all sorts of names for things, and one stood out to Paul and Debbie: ‘Magbabayà’, which literally means “The One who does whatever He wants”. The people recognised Magbabayà as being the supreme spirit and creator – the one you don’t mess with. The one you can’t control. The one who does what he likes. Paul and Debbie decided to start with this name and explain the one, true and only God by explaining much more about who Magbabayà really is, and what he is really like: he is the one who does what he likes because he knows everything, is everywhere all the time, and has power over the whole of creation. His name became loaded with even meaning to the people.

Names are important in almost all cultures. Names can be powerful. Beautiful. Terrifying. I wonder what your name means. Do you know? My name is ‘David’, and it means ‘a man after God’s own heart’. I like that. It’s an aspirational name for me – I want to be the way I’ve been named, to have my heart ‘after God’s own’. My name is important to me, and not just because my parents liked it. 

In Jewish (Hebrew) culture, names are extremely important, dripping with meaning. ‘David’ is an ancient Hebrew name and hence the rich meaning it gives to those blessed by it. The name ‘Joshua’ is also an ancient Hebrew name, and means ‘the Lord saves’. When you know your Old Testament, you’ll come to know why: ‘Joshua’ was the agent of the Lord’s salvation. Following the death of Moses, he’d led the ancient Israelites across the river Jordan and into the original promised land. In a sense, ‘Joshua’ had embodied ‘the Lord’s salvation’.

The name ‘Jesus’ is simply the Greek word for ‘Joshua’ (in the common language of the time, which is called New Testament Greek). ‘Jesus’ literally means ‘the Lord saves’.

When we read in John’s gospel about John the Baptist baptising ‘on the other side of the Jordan river’, we’re now expecting a Joshua-like figure. Someone to lead the people. Someone to take them into a newer, greater promised land. Someone to ‘save them’ from their mortal enemies, the Romans. 

Well, that’s exactly what we get, but from the one, true God who really does do whatever he wants:

28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

29 The next day John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 

‘Jesus’ is the new Joshua. He has come to save. But he’s come to lead the people by dying for them (as we’ll see later in the gospel). Jesus has arrived to take people to a promised land far greater than just Israel. And he ‘saves’ people from the mortal enemy of sin, something far more dangerous than several, massive Roman armies. And to top it all off, Jesus’ is going to save people from all around the world. Jesus, the greater Joshua, is the Lord himself, who does what he likes… It’s Jesus, the Lord who saves!

Head: Have a think about your given name/s. What do they mean? Do you know? What do you think of your name?

Heart: Regardless of the names others have given you, how do you feel knowing that because Jesus lived up to his name, you have been given a new name – ‘a child of God’? (John 1:12-13)

Hands: Think about the names of people you work or meet with today. What are their names? What do they mean? How do they feel about their name? Be curious about people today. What might the Spirit of Jesus be doing in their life, as you ask them about their name?

Prayer:  Our Father in Heaven, thank you for giving us your one and only Son, that whoever believes in his name, Jesus – ‘The Lord saves’ – will be saved from your anger against us. Thank you for Jesus, who takes away our sin, so that your wrath no longer remains on us. Father, in Jesus, you have saved me and given me a whole new name – you now call me ‘a child of God’. Your love has changed everything! I praise you for the name of Jesus, and ask you to help me today to honour his name. In his name I pray, and by the power of your Spirit, Amen.

A song to listen to: Love Changes Everything

Dave Bailey

This Grow Daily was originally posted as part of a previous series called the Spirit of Jesus in 2016. During the School Holidays we take the opportunity to look back at the best of Grow Dailys over the years.

The post Why is the Son of God named Jesus? appeared first on Creek Road Presbyterian Church.

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Our sin brings death, but Jesus brings new life by breathing his Spirit into us.

John 3:1-21

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

When I was in senior at high school, I toyed with the idea of studying criminal psychology or forensic pathology. Those fields interested me, but I wasn’t interested in the amount of study they required! I still love reading about them in fiction novels: a good Kathy Reichs, Val McDermid or Patricia Cornwall will do nicely with a hot cup of tea, a quiet husband (hush David!) and plenty of chocolate. I also love British crime drama: forensic shows like ‘Silent Witness’, which is all about the silent testimony of a dead body when examined forensically.

I’m still fascinated by things like ‘body farms’ in forensics. A body farm is a quiet place where bodies are placed to rot. Silently. Various states of body decomposition are then studied to help investigators do their jobs. Real, silent bodies become real witnesses in real life crime scene investigations.

The image of a body farm has no sense of life at all (aside from the insects that might be present!) The valley of dry bones that the prophet Ezekiel is presented with in the Old Testament has this same sense. The only way these bones can come to life is by the Spirit of God:

The he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!  This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones:  I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. . .’”  Ezekiel 37:4-5

The Bible tells us that we’re all like the bodies in a body farm. And we’re all like the bones of the Israelites in Ezekiel – dead, dried up and without hope – utterly helpless. This is what we are like spiritually. We need the breath of life to enter us so we can come to life. Our sin brings death, but Jesus brings new life by breathing his Spirit into us.

Here in this episode of John’s testimonial, a crime drama with several dead bodies to come, Nicodemus weighs Jesus’ words carefully. When Nicodemus listens to Jesus, it’s like we can see his mind turning over the words of Jesus: ‘I tell you the truth, you must be born again.’

As we progress through John, we’re going to see more episodes with Nicodemus. He seems to sit on the fence when it comes to how he’s going to deal with the confronting words of Jesus. John wants us to be asking: Will Nicodemus believe in Jesus? Will he receive Jesus, and so receive his Spirit of new life? Will he come alive again to testify to Jesus, or is Nicodemus going to remain just a ‘silent witness’?

Head: If Israel’s teachers found these things hard to understand, then why should we think that we may understand better?

Heart: Many of us have heard about or experienced ‘flesh giving birth to flesh’ and know that real ‘labour’ is required. Have you pondered in your heart lately the cost required for ‘spirit to be born of spirit’?  How does this make you feel?

Hands: Who can you pray for right now that needs ‘new life’?  Remember that we pray because of his Spirit and in his power!

Prayer:  Our Father in Heaven, Holy are you and great is your mighty name. Thanks that because of Jesus we no longer stand condemned, but stand with Jesus. Thanks that by your Spirit we are born again into life eternal. Please help us to trust in you for all things, knowing that you are the giver of grace. Please let what we do today and tomorrow, testify to what Jesus has done for us through his death and resurrection. In Jesus’ name, and by the power of his Spirit, Amen.

A song to listen to: O Breath of Life

Sarah Bailey

This Grow Daily was originally posted as part of a previous series called the Spirit of Jesus in 2016. During the School Holidays we take the opportunity to look back at the best of Grow Dailys over the years.

The post A ‘Silent Witness’? appeared first on Creek Road Presbyterian Church.

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The Spirit of God that remained with Jesus, will remain with you.

John 1:19-34

19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.”

21 They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”

He said, “I am not.”

“Are you the Prophet?”

He answered, “No.”

22 Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”

23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”

24 Now the Pharisees who had been sent 25 questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”

26 “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”

28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”

The beginning of the Bible tells us the Spirit of God was there back in the beginning. And through the Old Testament we see the Holy Spirit come and go. Not in a flighty and indecisive sense, but for short visits with certain people, by God’s will and for his particular purposes.

But now the testimony of John the Baptist, in this episode, is compelling: He describes the Spirit as coming down from heaven as a dove – and remaining with Jesus. The Spirit of God descends upon Jesus and stays with Jesus. It’s not a fleeting encounter. He is God’s Spirit, he is the Spirit of Jesus. And the Spirit remains.

Here John the Baptist testifies to ‘God’s Chosen One’ – given to us freely and promised long ago – who has come not to baptise with water, but with the Spirit of God! John the Baptist wants us to see that Jesus is the fountain of the Holy Spirit. That with his Father, Jesus is the source of the Spirit. We will see through the gospel that our heavenly Father gives us his Son, and the Son gives up his life, and then he gives us his Spirit. And all so we can have life. The Son of God… the Spirit of God… these are given freely to us so we might have new life, and life eternal!

I often wonder if any of those who were sent to question John the Baptist – the priests and Levites and Pharisees – ever came to believe that Jesus was the Messiah. Did they want new life? Did they taste new life? Did they ever realise that this really was ‘the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’?

If we want new life then we need to believe in the source of the Spirit. When we trust in Jesus, in his death for our sins and resurrection for new life, then his Spirit is at work in us, deep in our hearts. And He will remain. He will stick with you. He stays. The Spirit of God that remained with Jesus, will remain with you. In fact, soon in John’s gospel, Jesus will tell us how his Spirit makes his home in us! What a generous gift, from a generous giver, that keeps on giving.

 . . .When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.  (Ephesians 1:13-14)

Head: Can you remember/find some instances in the Old Testament where people are filled with the Spirit of God?

Heart: Are you filled with the Spirit of God, having new life in Jesus?  How does this make you feel – that the same Spirit we see working powerfully in the Old and New Testaments is the same one who is given and remains with us if we are believe in Jesus?

Hands:  Let’s ‘step-up’ our belief that God is really at work amongst us. What might you do differently today if you’re not relying on your own ‘power’?

Prayer:  Father God, we are so glad that you’re a God who is steadfast and true with not a speck of flightiness or passivity. Thanks that in your amazing plan to rescue us we become the recipients of new life. Thanks that you gave us Jesus and that Jesus has given us his Spirit. Thanks for taking us and making us your own, by the power of your Spirit, which brings us to life. Lord, by your Spirit, please help me to stop toying with darkness. Let your light shine in my whole life so that every part of me is living for you, to glorify your name and to testify to your love.

In Jesus’ name and by the power of your Spirit we pray,

Amen

A song to listen to: Jesus

 

Sarah Bailey

This Grow Daily was originally posted as part of a previous series called the Spirit of Jesus in 2016. During the School Holidays we take the opportunity to look back at the best of Grow Dailys over the years.

The post He who ‘Remains’ appeared first on Creek Road Presbyterian Church.

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With the arrival of Jesus, the world is tangling with its Maker.

John 1:1-14

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe.He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

I don’t know if you get frustrated with God, but I get pretty frustrated with him on a regular basis. Instead of me being shaped by God to be like him, I just think it’d be best for everyone if I could shape Him to be like me. Do you ever think that? When things go pear-shaped, I wonder how God can claim to be wise: can’t he see the wisdom in what I see? Or when things go crazy: are you really in control God? Doesn’t look like it sometimes. When things do start settling down and going my way, I wonder why God can seem so distant. Then, when I’m not left alone to be comfortable, I question how God reckons he can comfort. Who is this God who continues to defy my expectations?

In John 1:1, in the beginning of his gospel, the disciple John takes us right back to the beginning of the Bible, right back to the creation of the cosmos. He takes us back to remember Genesis 1:1-4:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.

The Beginning. God. Creation. The Spirit of God, the words of God. The light, shining out amidst the darkness. Except that John, the gospel writer, isn’t retelling Genesis. His tale’s about the coming of Jesus: the ultimate beginning. The Word of God, breathing the Spirit of God. The light, shining out amidst the darkness, and the darkness not overcoming it.

When my family sat down for breakfast recently, we read Genesis 1 and John 1 together like this. One of my boys looked up immediately and asked, ‘Dad, is John saying that basically, Jesus is God being visible?’ Yes. That’s it mate. You’ve got it.

Even children can hear what John is saying: that with the coming of Jesus into the world, it was the coming of the divine; that when it comes to what we do with Jesus, you and I are dealing with the God who became a man; that with the arrival of Jesus, the world is tangling with its Maker.

As we wrestle with our expectations of God each day, we need to remember who’s dealing with us. If our idea of God is someone other than Jesus, then we don’t know who God really is. But as John says, if we believe his testimonial about Jesus, then we can really know who we’re tangling with.

Head: If what we think about God doesn’t line up with what we hear about Jesus, then we’re misunderstanding who God really is. What is your biggest beef with God and how do you imagine Jesus speaking to you about it?

Heart: We’re going to see in John’s testimonial that Jesus came to speak words of new life, new hope, a new beginning for anyone who receives him. As we set out on this series, ‘The Spirit of Jesus’, do you know you have the Spirit at work already in your heart? Have you been moved by his Spirit to receive Jesus? If so, ask God what he’s teaching you today. If not, ask the Spirit of Jesus to make his home in your heart.

Hands: Say something outrageously encouraging to one person you spend most of today with. Surprise them with the generosity of your words. Pray that Jesus’ Spirit would help you to speak words of life and love and hope, instead of the sarcasm and small talk which may otherwise consume the day. 

Prayer: Our Father in Heaven, thank you for your Son, Jesus, the Word of God. Thank you for speaking this world into existence, and for speaking words of new life through Jesus. Over the next term Lord, please help me believe, and aid me to see. Help me to wrestle with who you really are, by helping me to hear and receive Jesus each day. I pray this in the name of Jesus, and by the power of the Spirit of Jesus, Amen.

A song to listen to: Spirit of Jesus

Dave Bailey

This Grow Daily was originally posted as part of a previous series called the Spirit of Jesus in 2016. During the School Holidays we take the opportunity to look back at the best of Grow Dailys over the years.

The post Tangling with our Maker appeared first on Creek Road Presbyterian Church.

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So often we talk about Jesus being ‘humbled’ and take it for granted or don’t really know what it means. Reading through Matthew again over the last few weeks, have you noticed the significance of Jesus’ humble beginnings?

Matthew 2:19-23

19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”

21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.

Reading through the story of Jesus’ birth over the last few weeks, I’ve been struck anew by the significance of the humble beginnings of Jesus. Perhaps you have too – realising and understanding the weight of the start of our Hero’s journey.

That Jesus, the hero of the story, the sovereign king who had every right to dominion and power and rulership and riches and glory would instead be born in such a seemingly insignificant way: In a stable, surrounded by animals, celebrated by lowly shepherds. That’s not really the start of a great heroic story, is it?

And now in this passage we read that Jesus’ family returned from Egypt not to Bethlehem the city of David, but to Nazareth in the district of Galilee. Our Hero is confirmed as the promised King with one of many fulfilments of prophecy from the Old Testament (see v23).

But, Nazareth? A little, insignificant agricultural town. Not quite the palace or great country or land worthy of a king’s home. And even more, being labelled a Nazarene meant being despised, rejected and treated with contempt by others.

Yet again, there’s this unexpected twist in the beginning of our Hero’s story. Surely the hero should be lauded as he begins his journey! Surely he should be admired and celebrated, not despised and rejected?

Throughout this humble beginning to our Hero’s story, God has been showing that his plan is not just for the salvation of Jews, but for all people! Jesus walked the humble path of the outcast and the despised, to show us that he has come for the broken and the outcast and the lost, to bring them hope and salvation!

Here we get the first hint of the Hero’s cause – the reason for his journey. And we’ll see more of this unfold in the next few weeks. Get excited for that! But for now, what an amazing start to our Saviour, King and Hero’s story, where God has shown his plan for the salvation of the whole world through humble beginnings of our hero, Jesus.

 

Head: Go back and re-read Matthew up to this point. What are some of the other things that have happened so far in the story of Jesus that show his humble beginning? How would the story of Jesus have changed if he’d come with great power and glory and riches?

Heart: What does it look like for us to be humbled before God, allowing our life stories to be a part of his greater story of salvation given to us through Jesus?

Hands: We have been given the privilege to share the amazing story of Jesus from humble beginnings through to victorious defeat of sin and death. Write down how you would share this amazing story and its significance for us with someone who isn’t a Christian.

 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you that you are in control of our stories. Thank you that through the ultimate story of Jesus’ journey to the cross, you have shown us just how deep your love and grace for us goes. Help us to be struck anew by the significance of the Gospel and how far you went to save us from our sinfulness. We praise you that you, our King, humbled yourself to nothing so that we might be reconciled to you and given new life through Your Son. Amen.

A song to listen to: The One Who Made Us One

Hayden Wilcox

This Grow Daily was originally posted as part of a previous series in Matthew in 2017. During the School Holidays we take the opportunity to look back at the best of Grow Dailys over the years.

The post Humble Beginnings appeared first on Creek Road Presbyterian Church.

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At the moment of the most significant birth in history, what does it look like to be wise?

Matthew 2:1-12

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

What a story! The wisest of people following a star across the country…a jealous king… expensive gifts…  All because of one birth- the most significant birth in history! It’s a story that we often hear of through Christmas carols and nativity plays, but reading it straight from God’s Word can really help us to see the gravity of the events that occurred when our hero was born.

These days, we expect important babies to be visited by important people, and it certainly is easy to spread the news through TV and social media. I wonder if Mary and Joseph were expecting the visitors that came. They didn’t have Facebook to let people know that the baby had been born, but the Magi still knew. They saw the new star that God placed in the sky, and understood its significance. They travelled across the land to worship the one born King of the Jews. The Magi knew that it was a wise choice to seek Jesus.

King Herod wasn’t as wise as the Magi, but he was very powerful. He was the king, and he was very disturbed when he heard that another king was born. He probably got even more disturbed after he heard from the chief priests and teachers of the law that the birth of this baby was foretold in the Scriptures. All of history had been leading up to this moment, when God’s chosen Saviour would enter the world. Can you imagine how Herod would have felt? What a time to be alive!

As people, we can act like either the Magi or King Herod. We can choose to seek Jesus and worship him or pursue selfish gains. Let’s continue to follow the story of Jesus’ life and investigate his Hero’s journey.

 

Head: Many of us have heard this story a lot before. What is one thing from the story that stands out to you that reminds you of God’s glory?

Heart: Take some time to ponder the most significant birth in history – the birth of Jesus. How do you feel, knowing that God kept his promises of sending a forever king to rescue his people?

Hands: Our habits can help us to seek Jesus, or encourage us to live selfishly. What is one change that you could make today to help seek Jesus?

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, it is such a joy to know you, and to be able to seek Jesus through your Word. Thank you so much for sending Jesus to be born, to grow into a man, and save us from our dark and selfish hearts. We see your glory in the way that you fulfil your promises. You set stars in the sky and fires in hearts. Thank you for the example of the Magi…the wisest men who sought and worshipped Jesus. Please help me to seek Jesus in all that I do. I pray this in Jesus’ name, by the power of your Spirit, amen.

A song to listen to: Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

Katy Lee

 This Grow Daily was originally posted as part of a previous series in Matthew in 2017. During the School Holidays we take the opportunity to look back at the best of Grow Dailys over the years.

 

The post A Wise Pursuit appeared first on Creek Road Presbyterian Church.

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In a time of conflict Isaiah prophesied a saviour or rescuer. A baby who would be called Immanuel (“God with us”.)

Matthew 1:22-25

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Most days the thought of needing to be rescued does not cross our minds. However, when we do find ourselves in trouble or in difficult situations it is a relief to be rescued and taken care of.

When I think of being rescued, images of a superhero come to mind. The superhero needs to swoop into the dangerous situation in a spectacular fashion and grab the victim from the clutches of death and deposit them safely away from danger. In reality our rescue heroes nowadays are far less obvious and consist of the call centre person who sorts through frustrations with poor internet connections and gets us back on line, the electrician who gets our broken oven working again, or a roadside assistant who jump starts our car so we can continue on our journey. This is not very dramatic but the sense of relief once our 21st century ‘disasters’ are taken care of is very real.

About 700 years BC during a time of conflict with threatened invasion, the people then needed rescuing too. Isaiah prophesied that the King of Judah, Ahaz, and his people would not be torn apart in conflict. Isaiah stated that the sign from God confirming the truth of his words would be a baby born of a virgin who would be called Immanuel (“God with us”.) He was describing how God would send a rescuer to the world – a rescuer who would be the ultimate conqueror of evil.

This baby would be called by a name that would describe how he would rescue us – “God with us”. Jesus was with us in this world conquering evil while he lived. He was with us in his death and by his death clutched us back from our own deaths. He was with us after the resurrection and after he ascended to heaven till this day. He is with us in the form of the Holy Spirit.

In this world we do need rescuing every day – we are in the middle of a constant conflict, we have a powerful evil enemy distracting us and tempting us. In this world our fate is death and we do need a rescue hero to save us in order to have eternal life. In the Gospel Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled: Jesus the baby he spoke of is born and reveals himself, and we can ask him and trust him to rescue us and know he is with us – Immanuel.

 

Head: God with us – Immanuel. Have you asked him to be with you and to be your personal rescuer?

Heart: God with us – Immanuel. Have you felt his presence? Have you felt his influence on your life when distracted or tempted?

Hands: God with us – Immanuel. When God is with you, you will reveal him to others. When you go out into your day, help stand against injustice, greed and other unfair practices.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I praise and thank you for working out a rescue plan for me. Would you please be with me and save me from the distractions and temptations I face every day. Would you please be with me and save me from death to eternal life. May I know and trust in your presence with me every day as I go about my daily chores. Please reveal yourself in me to others so that they may too see your perfect love.  I pray this in the name of Jesus, amen.

A song to listen to: From the Day

Hayley Alexander

This Grow Daily was originally posted as part of a previous series in Matthew in 2017. During the School Holidays we take the opportunity to look back at the best of Grow Dailys over the years.

The post Immanuel – “God with Us” appeared first on Creek Road Presbyterian Church.

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