Be Still and Know Daily Bible Devotion

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Day 43 - Issue 42

1 John 3:16 'We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.' Probably the most famous verse in the whole bible is John 3.16: “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” It’s a wonderful verse and takes us to heart of the good news. But we need to read it alongside today’s verse, 1 John 3:16, its natural twin. This verse reminds us that it is not only about God loving us and sending Jesus for our salvation, but also about us, in turn, offering up our lives for our Christian brothers and sisters. I thank God for the amazing Christians that I have known over the years who have poured out their lives for others. I think of children’s and youth workers, deacons and elders, ministers and carers who, because of their love for God, have gladly given everything to support other people. They have thought little of their personal safety or health but have kept on loving in the face of disappointment, discouragement and ill health. They looked for no reward other than to know that they had faithfully served their Lord. This practical love takes many forms. In the next verse, John speaks of the obligation on those who have enough money to show compassion to Christian brothers and sisters who are in need. C.H. Dodd, the great biblical scholar, defined love as “the willingness to surrender that which has value for our own life, to enrich the life of another.” That is to say, love is always costly. It involves giving to others something that we genuinely value, but doing so gladly in order to bring joy and blessing to them. It’s a challenging way to live life, but it’s God’s way and is always the best. Question: As you serve God today what is he calling you to give to others in need? Prayer: Loving Father, thank you for sending Jesus into the world to be my Saviour. Help me to be more ready to be loving and generous to others. Amen

Aug 12
Day 42 - Issue 42

1 John 3:1 'See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!' My wife and I have had the privilege of being foster parents for the past six years. Those years have helped me to understand in a way that I never knew before how important our relationship is with our parents. To be honest, I think I took for granted the love, security, affirmation and warmth of my own parents. But those amazing gifts should be treasured. Here, John reflects on the even more important relationship that we can have with our father God. He burst out in wonder as he reflected on the fact that God loves us so much that he chose to call us his children. And he did so not as a mere formality but because we really are his children. Just as the relationship between children and their parents will have life-long implications so, too, should our relationship with God our Father colour and shape our lives. We have the privilege of being able to walk into every new day with the certain knowledge that we are loved. We are secure for time and eternity. As John unpacked this theme, he reflected that he didn’t know what we would be like in the future when Christ appears. But he knew one thing – that we would be like Christ, for we will see him as he really is. Little is known about the future, but that’s absolutely fine if your relationship with God is secure. Whatever his plans may be for us we can be sure that they will be the best. God’s love for us is all about grace. He loves us not because of anything good that we have done or could ever do. He has called us to be his children. All we have to do is reach out and accept his hand of love. Like John, all we can do is to burst out in praise and thank him that we are not only called children of God, but really are! Question: What does it mean to you to be one of God’s children? Prayer: Lord God, I thank you for the privilege of being your child and knowing that my future is completely secure in your hands. Amen

Aug 11
Day 41 - Issue 42

1 John 2:26-27 'I am writing these things to warn you about those who want to lead you astray. But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie.' Our world today is very different from the one that John knew, but I suspect that if he was addressing us, he wouldn’t have changed his message at all. The Christians he was speaking to were under constant attack from false teachers and he was eager that they should be strong in their faith and able to stand up to every challenge. These days, anyone with access to the internet can have instant connection to an unlimited number of religions and philosophies. It could all be very bewildering and confusing. John would want to offer us the same encouragement that he brought 1,900 years ago. The Holy Spirit is still our completely reliable teacher. He teaches us everything that we need to know. Towards the end of his ministry, Jesus told his disciples that it was to their advantage that he left them because when he went, the Holy Spirit would be sent to them. (John 16.7) He described the Holy Spirit as the advocate or paraclete. This Greek word literally means ‘someone who draws alongside us’. I’ve always found it helpful to think of the Holy Spirit as the supreme friend. He understands and loves us perfectly and is able to lead us into all truth. If we are relying on him then we can be confident as we face challenges from other philosophies and religions. In my experience, the Holy Spirit uses lots of different ways to teach us. He speaks through the Bible and prayer, but also through other Christians, music, art, literature and nature. Our role is to be open to him, listening out for his voice, but doing so with the confidence of knowing that he loves to share his truth with us. Question: What has the Holy Spirit been teaching you recently? Prayer: Lord God, thank you for sending us your Holy Spirit. Help me to be constantly listening to his voice so that Jesus will be praised in all that I do. Amen

Aug 10
Day 40 - Issue 42

1 John 2:15 'Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.' John’s concern here was very similar to that of Jesus when, in the sermon on the mount, he said that it was impossible to serve both God and money (Matthew 6:24). As believers, we have a choice to make: do we allow our energy to be expended on worldly interests or on God’s kingdom. We cannot possibly do both. So John encourages us to focus our attention on loving God and not on the temporary pleasures of the world. Does that mean we should all leave our jobs and homes and sit on a park bench reading the Bible? No, far from it! We are called to enjoy God’s world, to serve him in our jobs and homes and to live alongside those who know nothing of him but, as we do so, we need to keep our focus on the things that last. Pleasures, possessions and achievements have a very short shelf life. John writes in sharp language to encourage us to sort out our priorities. When our actions are shaped by our love of God, everything else will flow the right way. We will see our achievements and possessions as a gift of God’s grace and not as a sign of our brilliance and success. We will seek to use everything that God has given us to bless other people and enhance their enjoyment of life. In doing so, we will please God. But when we focus our attention on possessions and pleasure, we push God out. And, in the process, we push life out. John’s language may be blunt, but it was because he wanted his readers to live their lives to the full. And that can only happen if we live for God. Question: How do you seek to give God priority in your daily life? Prayer: Lord God, thank you for the life that you have given me. Help me to live responsibly and carefully in this world and never to fall in love with it. Amen

Aug 09
Day 39 - Issue 42

1 John 2:9-10 If anyone claims, “I am living in the light,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is still living in darkness. Anyone who loves a fellow believer is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble. The letters in the New Testament give us a great insight into the life of the early Church. These were exciting years, but it is clear that enormous struggles were going on. There were people teaching heresy and making great claims about themselves, yet their lives showed that they were a sham. There were the Gnostics, who claimed to have discovered deep mysteries and to have encountered the light. But their lives told a completely different story. So John set out some very clear guidelines to help the believers understand who was truly living for God, and who wasn’t. The key test was love. If someone showed true love for their fellow believers, you could be sure that they were living in the light. But those who were showing hatred towards others were walking in the darkness. Let’s be clear that even in a church it isn’t easy to love other people all the time. It might be relatively easy to love our Christian brothers and sisters within the confines of a service of worship, but when you work hard alongside them it can be a very different story. The truth is that we all see things somewhat differently from one another. We choose to do things at different speeds. Some are cautious and careful in their approach and others are eager to launch into bold new, daring initiatives. Some feel that evangelism should be the Church’s priority and others feel deeply committed to social action. Some love to sing the latest worship songs and others are much happier with hymns. Some are thrilled with their church leaders and others think that they leave a lot to be desired. I could go on! The point is: churches are filled with a wide variety of people with a wide variety of views. Loving everyone isn’t always easy. But this is God’s way, and it is the only way to live in the light. Question: How do you manage to love people who are very different from you? Prayer: Lord God, I thank you for all my Christian brothers and sisters. Please fill me with your love for everyone, and especially those who I find most difficult to love. Amen

Aug 08
Day 38 - Issue 42

1 John 1:8-9 'If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to God, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.' John couldn’t have been more blunt. If we claim to be sinless then we’re lying. Presumably there were people in John’s day who were saying precisely that and he knew it was such a dangerous point of view that he had to be decisive in his language. We can’t be exactly sure who these people were but, in every age, there have been people who have claimed to be perfect. We certainly know that there were gnostic groups around in John’s time who believed that they had special knowledge and were not touched by sin. The fact is, we are all sinners, and we all need to own this fact. We might like to blame our parents, our upbringing, our education, the government or the weather but, at the end of the day, we must take responsibility and acknowledge that we have sinned. We have deliberately gone our own way and done things that have got in the way of our relationship with God and the people around us. Because we are sinners, we will always try to make light of our sin and suggest that we are not as bad as other sinners that we know. But sin is sin, and we need to stop trivialising it. As Jeremy Taylor said: “No sin is small. It is a sin against an infinite God, and may have immeasurable consequences. No grain of sand is small in the mechanism of a watch.” But sin needn’t have the last word. If we own up and confess our sins to God, then he is willing to forgive us and set us free from sin’s grasp. This is an incredible miracle and couldn’t possibly happen without God. Only he has the power to send us off on a new journey of life and liberty. Question: What do you need to confess to God today? Prayer: Lord God, I own up to the fact that I often let you down. Please forgive my sin, fill me with your Spirit and enable me to live a new life with you. Amen

Aug 07
Day 37 - Issue 42

1 John 1:3-4 'We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.' As a teenager, I developed a great interest in the law, and often visited the local Magistrates’ and Crown Courts. I was gripped by them. To describe these as eye-opening experiences would be a considerable understatement. Having been brought up in a very loving Christian home, I was learning about a world of which I knew nothing at all. I soon learnt the way in which the courts worked, and I recall the way in which the magistrate or judge would insist that witnesses stuck to their own personal memory. The moment they strayed into talking about what they had heard from other people they were quickly told to get back to their own experiences. John knew the importance of sticking to his own personal witness. He had had the immense privilege of listening to Jesus first hand and of seeing him respond to the pressures and challenges of everyday life. He knew that Jesus was the source of true life and joy and he couldn’t wait to share it with other people. Of course, we are not in the same position as John, but we are all witnesses. If we have welcomed Jesus into our lives, then we have our own authentic, personal account to share with others. I love hearing people’s testimonies. It’s wonderful to hear of the love, joy, peace and purpose that Jesus has brought into their lives and to hear of the way in which he has been faithful to them as they have walked through challenging times. Sharing our witness is valuable and important but it isn’t an end in itself. John was clear that it should lead to fellowship. As we share what Jesus has done in our lives, it brings us closer to one another and to the Lord, and the outcome is joy. Who wouldn’t want to be part of something as wonderful as this? Question: How would you describe what Jesus has done in your life? Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for the ways in which you have blessed my life. Help me to become bolder in sharing my witness with others. Amen

Aug 06
Day 36 - Issue 42

1 John 1:1 'We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life.' Most of the letters in the New Testament start with a greeting in which the author identifies himself. The only exceptions to this are the letter to the Hebrews and this first letter of John. It seems to me that John was so eager to share his message that he hadn’t got time for such pleasantries! He wanted everyone to know that Jesus really was the Son of God and that he came and lived a fully human life here on earth. John wrote this letter about 100 years, or two generations, after the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Some people had come up with the theory that Jesus wasn’t really human at all but merely appeared to be human. But John would have none of it. He knew for certain that Jesus really did come to this earth because he had seen him with his own eyes – and even touched him. Throughout the centuries, there has been continuous debate about whether Jesus really was an historical figure. The evidence for Jesus is in fact incredibly strong. We not only have the four Gospels, the earliest of which was probably written within thirty years of Jesus’ ministry, but we also have the letters of the apostle Paul, which were written even earlier. Of course, all these writers were followers of Christ so it is important to also look for evidence of Jesus’ life from non-Christian sources. Most notable of them was Flavius Josephus, a Jew who wrote a history of Judaism in AD 93. He made two references to Jesus. About 20 years later, two Roman politicians called Pliny and Tacitus wrote about Jesus. Tacitus recorded that Jesus was executed while Pontius Pilate was the Roman prefect in charge of Judaea, and Tiberius was emperor, both of which we know to be historically accurate. And Pliny records that when he was governor in northern Turkey, Christians worshipped Christ as a god. Neither of them liked Christians – Pliny writes of their “pig-headed obstinacy” and Tacitus calls their religion a destructive superstition. The fact that Jesus was a real man was desperately important for John, and still is today. Our salvation depends upon it. Question: What encouragement do you draw from the fact that Jesus was a real historical figure? Prayer: Loving God, thank you that because of your love for us you sent Jesus Christ to our world. Amen

Aug 05
Day 35 - Issue 42

Psalm 106:6-7 'Like our ancestors, we have sinned. We have done wrong! We have acted wickedly! Our ancestors in Egypt were not impressed by the Lord’s miraculous deeds. They soon forgot his many acts of kindness to them. Instead, they rebelled against him at the Red Sea.' I strongly recommend that you read through this psalm and the previous one because they are twins. In Psalm 105 we hear about all the amazing things that God did to guide and strengthen his people from their earliest days until their entry into the promised land. Now, in Psalm 106, the psalmist takes another tour through the history of God’s people and concludes that, humanly speaking, it was a complete disaster. Just as God was consistently faithful and loving, his people were repeatedly faithless and disobedient. But the psalmist didn’t simply point the finger at people in the past. He recognised that his own generation was also guilty of disobeying God and forgetting to walk in his ways. As we look back through human history, there is much that we can learn. Every page of history contains accounts of bad decisions and stupid failures and, if we are honest, we aren’t so very different. Our lives fall well short of perfection. We need to own up to our failures and strive to live richer, fuller and more obedient lives. The point of looking back is to learn. We don’t have to repeat the past, but can set off on a new journey inspired by the lessons that have been well learnt in history. The most consistent fault of God’s people in this psalm was the sin of forgetting. I’m sure that’s something we can all relate to. Some things are minor: we may forget someone’s name or whether they take milk in their coffee. But forgetting God is another matter. Time and again we read that the people of Israel forgot the way in which God had blessed them. They carried on with their lives as if God didn’t exist. We need to do everything we can to remember who God is and what he has done. We need to ensure that we maintain a rhythm of worship and prayer so that we can’t possibly forget our great God. Question: What do you do to ensure that you don’t forget what God has done in your life? Prayer: Loving God, thank you that you never forget me. Help me to make sure that I never forget you. Amen

Aug 04
Day 34 - Issue 42

Psalm 105:1-2 'Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done. Sing to him; yes, sing his praises. Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.' In this beautiful psalm, the writer rooted his praise in the way in which God had acted in history. He looked back to the way in which God had led Abraham, Jacob, Joseph and Moses. Through the years God had been consistently faithful to his people and they had every reason to rejoice. This psalm was written for a very specific moment in Israel’s history when David brought the ark to the place of meeting in Jerusalem. In 1 Chronicles 16:7 we are told that David gave Asaph and his fellow Levites this psalm as a song of thanksgiving to the Lord. It wasn’t a general song of worship but one which specifically charted the way in which God had been at work amongst his people. We need to remember our history. A birthday is a brilliant moment for looking back, and every church is wise to have a specific moment in its year when it reflects upon its history. It’s very easy to forget the story of faith in a church community unless it is regularly repeated. We need to listen to the people who were part of the church ten, 20, 30, 40 or more years ago. Almost certainly there will have been times of encouragement and despair, success and failure, growth and decline but, through it all, God has been faithful and we need to celebrate together. And if your church has only been planted in the last few years, listen to the stories of faith from those who founded the church and the ways in which God led them. Our remembering should never be a selfish activity to make us feel good about life, but should always lead us to action. As we recall the history of what God has done, we are challenged to go forward with the mission on which he has sent us. That will always involve proclamation. We want to proclaim God’s faithfulness within our churches in order to encourage one another, and then to everyone else we meet in order to help them to see how great God is. Question: In what ways does your church celebrate the history of what God has done? Prayer: Loving God, I praise you for your faithfulness. Help me never to forget the amazing things that you have done. Amen

Aug 03
Day 33 - Issue 42

Psalm 104:24-25 'O Lord, what a variety of things you have made! In wisdom you have made them all. The earth is full of your creatures. Here is the ocean, vast and wide, teeming with life of every kind, both large and small.' Many of the psalmists use the wonder of creation as a springboard for their worship. This particular psalm does so by reminding us of the six days of creation. The poetic language is beautiful. Take for example day one when God made light. He writes: “You are dressed in a robe of light. You stretch out the starry curtain of the heavens; you lay out the rafters of your home in the rain clouds. You make the clouds your chariot; you ride upon the wings of the wind. The winds are your messengers; flames of fire are your servants” (Psalm 104:2-4). As he looks through the days of creation it becomes clear that God didn’t create the world and then disappear, but continues to have an active involvement in his creation. It is good for us to spend time reflecting on creation because, as we do so, we are bound to gasp in wonder. Let’s start with our bodies. Sir Isaac Newton, the famous scientist, said: “In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God’s existence.” Our bodies are thought to be made up of about 100 trillion cells. We all have about 100 billion neurons which fire off between five and 50 messages each second. I could go on, but however you happen to be feeling today, let me assure you that you are amazing! If you look at a flower, you will need to do some more gasping. The intricate detail of each petal and leaf is awe-inspiring, to say nothing of the miracle of growth. Wherever you look, creation screams at us that God is a great God and worthy of all our praise. Many of us were taught from an early age to pray with our eyes shut. We were encouraged to do so to save us from distractions – and that makes a lot of sense. But I would strongly encourage you to pray with your eyes open from time to time. Look at the people around you and the world that God has made, and give thanks for the wonder of his creation. And as we do so let us gasp in wonder. Thomas Carlyle said that “wonder is the basis of worship” and I think he was right. Question: When did you last gasp in wonder at creation? Prayer: Creator God, I worship you. Forgive me for those times when I have taken your amazing world for granted. Teach me afresh how to enjoy the wonder of your creation. Amen

Aug 02
Day 32 - Issue 42

Psalm 103:2-4 'Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies.' This psalm begins with King David talking to himself! He called to mind the fact that his life had been wonderfully blessed by God and concluded that his whole being needed to be involved in giving thanks for God’s generosity to him. In the words of the famous hymn ‘Praise my soul, the King of heaven’ he had been “ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven”. Perhaps, as he wrote this psalm, he had in mind his adulterous affair with Bathsheba. He had foolishly strayed from God’s way and one disaster followed another until he repented and received God’s healing and forgiveness. As he reflected on the way that God had dealt with him, he not only praised the Lord but also urged the whole world to join him. In the final verse, he proclaims: “Praise the Lord, everything he has created, everything in all his kingdom” (Psalm 103:22). It’s important that we talk to ourselves. I know that it is often seen as the first sign of madness but I much prefer the observation that it’s actually the first sign of gladness! It’s good to remind ourselves of the ways in which the Lord has blessed our lives. We may not have known the dramatic ups and downs of King David’s life, but we have all had moments of success and failure, of blessing and disobedience, of fulfilment and loss and, through it all, God has been faithful. We need to ensure that we are continually giving thanks to God for all that he has done in our lives and also taking opportunity to encourage others to do the same. Question: As you look back through your life, what can you praise God for? Prayer: Lord God, I thank you that you have been so generous to me. Help me to make praise increasingly central to my life. Amen

Aug 01
Day 31 - Issue 42

Psalm 102:11-12 'My life passes as swiftly as the evening shadows. I am withering away like grass. But you, O Lord, will sit on your throne forever. Your fame will endure to every generation.' We are often reminded of the fragility and brevity of life. A couple of days ago, a cyclist was knocked over and killed by a lorry on a roundabout which I often use. Death is never far away, and the psalmists often reflect on that. In this particular psalm, the writer was in a dreadful state. He had lost his appetite and was reduced to skin and bones. He couldn’t sleep and was surrounded by people who mocked and cursed him. Nothing seemed to be going right. He lashed out at God, whom he accused of picking him up and throwing him out. But amid his groaning, he recognised that God would live for ever, and he looked forward to the fact that future generations would praise God and thrive in his presence (v.28). The brevity and fragility of life shouldn’t depress us, but encourage us to see our lives within the bigger context of God’s activity. Today is one page in the book of God’s eternal purposes, so we need to treasure this day and make sure that we use it to the full. There is a continual danger that we will be so busy with the pressures and opportunities of everyday life that we forget to see our days in an eternal context. We fall for the lie that this world is all that there is. The best way to avoid that is to ensure we maintain a rhythm of prayer and worship throughout our lives. Every day, we need to spend at least some time acknowledging our total dependence upon almighty God. As we spend time with him, we start to see things from his perspective. We see the importance of every conversation, relationship and task. Far from depressing us, seeing life in the light of eternity increases the preciousness of every single moment. Question: What helps you most to think about your life in the light of eternity? Prayer: Lord God, I thank you for the gift of today. Help me to treasure every moment that you graciously give to me. Amen

Jul 31
Day 30 - Issue 42

John 12:3 'Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance.' The anointing of Jesus by Mary was a beautiful act of devotion, but it is hard not to have at least some sympathy for Judas, who pointed out that the precious perfume would have cost the equivalent of one year’s wages. That’s a great deal of money. We know that Judas was a thief and that his motives were entirely bad, but anyone might question the wisdom of spending such a huge amount of money in that way. However, incredible generosity is the natural language of love. She was devoted to Jesus and I am sure that, so far as she was concerned, no gift could have been too lavish or generous for her Lord. I love the fact that the fragrance of the perfume filled the house. I’m sure it did, and probably for many days afterwards. And 2,000 years later her lavish generosity still gives us a beautiful insight into the nature of love. There are thousands of people in our country who care for friends and relatives. They receive no pay, and their lives are severely limited by their caring responsibilities. If you were to count up all the hours they devote to caring, it would come to a vast sum. But it’s not a calculation they have ever bothered to do, and that’s because of love. I have seen people pour out themselves for children’s activities, youth groups, fellowship meetings and church gatherings. They have rarely been thanked for their efforts and never received any rewards, but they have kept going, through thick and thin. I find that incredibly impressive. Their love for the Lord compelled them to pour out their time and effort in a way that would seem ridiculous and unwise to others. But they did so because of love – and we should rejoice! Question: Think of an act of incredible generosity that you have seen. What did you learn from it? Prayer: Lord God, we thank you for those who act with incredible generosity out of love for you. Help me to learn from their example. Amen 

Jul 30
Day 29 - Issue 42

John 11:33-36 When Jesus saw Mary weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. “Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.” Then Jesus wept. The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!” Very soon after this, Lazarus was brought back to life. But we shouldn’t rush past this moment of intense emotion and anger. Jesus was up against the great enemy of death, and he is clearly overwhelmed by the sense of tragedy. He had the power to overcome death but, in this moment, he fully entered into the sheer sadness of the situation. His dear friends Mary and Martha were clearly grief stricken and, as he went to see the body of Lazarus, nothing could hold him back from weeping. Those who looked on immediately saw this as a clear sign of his love for Lazarus. Even though Jesus was the resurrection and the life, he entered fully into the emotional turmoil of this sad situation. The writer to the Hebrews described Jesus as being the Great High Priest who was supremely able to give us access into the holy presence of God. Jesus’ sacrifice of himself was once and for all. No further sacrifices would ever be necessary. But he was only able to be the Great High Priest because he shared our humanity completely. He wrote: “It was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest for God” (Hebrews 2:17). Jesus knew what it was to laugh and to cry, to know great joy and terrible sadness. We worship Jesus as the Son of God but also as the Son of Man, the one who totally understands the emotional roller coaster of human life. He understands our times of laughter, and also the times when we are in distress and the tears flow. Isn’t that wonderful? Question: In what way have you been encouraged by Jesus’ understanding of your emotions? Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, thank you that you are able to enter fully into the joys and sorrows of my life. Amen

Jul 29
Day 28 - Issue 42

John 11:25-26 Jesus told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.” Jesus had known for some days that Martha’s brother Lazarus was seriously ill, but he had decided not to visit. So when he finally arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had already been dead for four days. Martha clearly regretted the fact that Jesus had taken so long. She immediately blurted out: “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21). Nevertheless, Martha had confidence in Jesus and, shortly afterwards, this was fully justified as Jesus raised Lazarus from death. We can’t be sure why Jesus decided to delay his visit to see his friends in Bethany but, arriving four days after his death, no one could possibly question the fact that Lazarus was indeed dead. So, when he was brought back to life, there was no question that what had happened was completely miraculous. Jesus had already spoken of the way in which his ministry brought life to people but now he was going much further. He was claiming that he, personally, was that life. No one can deny the fact of death but, in Jesus, it takes on a completely new significance. When Jesus gives his life, it is eternal life and so nothing can bring it to an end. Even death can’t get in the way. The apostle Paul mocked death when he wrote to the church in Corinth: ”Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15.54-57). The thought of death being the end completely disappears as we acknowledge that Jesus is both the resurrection and the life. Question: How do you understand death and what lies beyond it? Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, I worship you because you are both the resurrection and the life. Thank you that the future is something that I can look forward to with confidence and joy. Amen

Jul 28
Day 27 - Issue 42

John 10:19-21 NLT The people were again divided in their opinions about him. Some said, “He’s demon possessed and out of his mind. Why listen to a man like that?” Others said, “This doesn’t sound like a man possessed by a demon! Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?” I am so grateful for the complete honesty of the Gospel writers. They were clearly deeply committed followers of Jesus and it would surely have been tempting for them to have chosen to ignore the opposition that Jesus faced. But they didn’t! They are astonishingly honest about the way in which Jesus brought division between people throughout his ministry. And it wasn’t simply a case of people liking or not liking his teaching. Some people believed that he was mad and demon possessed. The fact is, of course, that Jesus has always divided opinion and still does. Richard Dawkins, the well-known atheist, recently conceded that, on the balance of probabilities, Jesus did exist. Although he also once stated that: “Somebody as intelligent as Jesus would have been an atheist.” John Lennon stated: “I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It’s just that the translations have gone wrong.” Former US President Barack Obama said: “Accepting Jesus Christ in my life has been a powerful guide for my conduct and my values and my ideals.” It is vital that we all make up our mind about Jesus. C.S. Lewis powerfully expressed the decision that we all need to make when he wrote: “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” Question: How would you respond to someone who suggested that Jesus was merely a great teacher? Prayer: Lord God, thank you for sending Jesus into the world to be our saviour and friend. Amen

Jul 27
Day 26 - Issue 42

John 10:14-15 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.” Years ago, I read a book about Eleanor Philby who was married to the spy, Kim Philby. I was stunned to discover that Eleanor never had any idea that her husband was a secret agent. That seemed incredible to me at the time, but the truth is that our knowledge of even our nearest and dearest is always limited. We know much about them but there will always be aspects of their lives which we do not know. But that is not the case when it comes to the Lord Jesus Christ. He knows us completely. There are no dark corners of our lives that he does not know. This could all sound thoroughly intimidating were it not for the fact of his complete love for us. His willingness to die for us shows the full extent of his love, and so we can feel not only safe but affirmed and encouraged by his knowledge of us. In the Old Testament God is often compared with a shepherd, most famously in Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honour to his name.” The psalm describes God’s shepherd-like care of us even when we pass through the most threatening times and assures us that his love will go on for ever. No wonder many of the psalms encourage us to worship God because of his care for us. Psalm 100:3 commands: “Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” In Jesus, we see all the shepherding qualities of God the Father. Truly he is a good shepherd. The word ‘good’ in Greek is richer than our word for good and has the sense of beautiful, attractive and noble. He is in every way worthy of our worship and praise. Given that we have such a wonderful and all-knowing shepherd to guide us through life, the challenge for us is to get to know him better. Nothing in life could be more important than this. Question: In what way are you seeking to get to know Jesus better? Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, thank you that you were willing to lay down your life for me. Help me to get to know you better each day. Amen

Jul 26
Day 25 - Issue 42

John 9:24-25 For the second time the Pharisees called in the man who had been blind and told him, “God should get the glory for this, because we know this man Jesus is a sinner.” “I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied. “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!” The Pharisees were fuming. Jesus had just healed a blind man and they were determined to do anything possible to prove that Jesus hadn’t really healed the man. He confirmed that Jesus had given him back his sight, but they were still unconvinced and so they interviewed the man’s parents. They confirmed that he had been born blind, but had no idea how he had received his sight or who had performed the miracle. John adds that the parents were fearful of the Jewish leaders who had announced that anyone who said that Jesus was the Messiah would be expelled from the synagogue. So the parents tried to brush off the Pharisees by encouraging them to have a word with their son. “He is old enough. Ask him,” they said. The Pharisees were clearly starting to realise that the healing had indeed taken place. But this presented them with a problem, because the healing had taken place on the sabbath and so, according to their strict rules, that proved that Jesus was a sinner. No faithful Jew, and certainly no Rabbi, would think of doing work on the sabbath. They asked the man for a second time about the healing. Wisely he wasn’t willing to engage with them on exactly who Jesus was. But what he knew for sure was that he used to be blind and now he could see. Nothing in the world could persuade him to say otherwise. I love this man’s simple, clear testimony. He didn’t want to get mixed up in the Pharisees’ religious or political battles. All he knew was he was a new man. Jesus had transformed his life. If you have given your life to Jesus, you will have your own account of what God has done in you. You may be able to speak of the way that God has walked with you through difficult times and given you his peace and security. You may not know how to answer difficult theological questions, but you know what God has done for you and, like this man, you need to share it. Question: What would be your quick summary of what Jesus has done for you? Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for the way in which you have blessed my life. Help me to be ready to share my story, however questioning and dubious others might be. Amen

Jul 25
Day 24 - Issue 42

John 8:12    Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” Jesus spoke these words during the festival of tabernacles, which was a seven-day holiday at the end of the harvest. It was one of three pilgrimage festivals, so Jerusalem would have been heaving with people. On the first evening of the festival there was a ceremony called ‘the illumination of the temple’ which took place in the court of the women. Four great candelabra were placed in the centre of the court and, when darkness came, they were lit. It is said that the light from them was so great that every courtyard in the city was illuminated by their brilliance. It must have been quite a sight! This was a powerful backdrop to Jesus’ claim to be the light of the world. In the Old Testament, time and again God is identified as being light; there is no doubt that in this bold statement Jesus was claiming to be the Son of God. The great candelabra were no doubt impressive, but however amazing a candle might be, there comes a time when it runs out. Jesus offers himself as the light that will never go out. Whatever difficulties and challenges we face he will continue to shine his light. All that is needed is for us to follow him and ensure that we keep our eyes fixed upon him because, the truth is, the darkness is never far away. At any moment if we head out into the dark we are likely to stumble and fall. I have had very little experience of darkness in this country, but when I lived in a small village in India I often experienced deep darkness. Throughout the year it got dark at about 6 o’clock in the evening. The Indian family with whom I lived rarely ventured out after dark; they knew that it was too dangerous. However, from time to time, I needed to go out. I well remember running across our compound fearful of the snakes and huge country rats that were lurking all around. It was very scary. It was all so very different in the daylight when I could walk around with confidence. And that’s exactly what Jesus offers to us. We don’t need to fear the darkness when we allow his light to shine in our lives. Question – In what specific ways are you conscious of the need for Jesus’ light in your life? Prayer – Lord Jesus Christ, light of the world, help me to follow you more and more closely each day. Amen  

Jul 24
Day 23 - Issue 42

John 8:7   Jesus said, “Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” By this time, Jesus had become a deeply controversial person in Jerusalem, and the Pharisees and teachers of the religious law were looking for a way to trap him. They brought to him a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. Presumably they also caught a man at the same time but, interestingly, we hear nothing of him. The religious leaders reminded Jesus that according to the law of Moses, anyone who committed adultery should be stoned to death. They wanted to know Jesus’ response. It was a clever trap because if Jesus suggested that he disagreed with the Mosaic law, they would have had all the proof they needed that he was a heretic. But if he took a hard line and encouraged the stoning of this woman, his reputation for kindness and compassion would be shattered, and he would also have run into difficulties with the Romans who were proud of their exclusive right to execute people. Jesus’ response was incredibly wise. Saying nothing, he stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. We have no idea what he wrote but he clearly frustrated the religious leaders who were desperate for an answer that would trap him. His brilliant response was that the one who was sinless should throw the first stone. Then, one by one, the woman’s accusers slipped away. John notes, fascinatingly, that it was the oldest who left first, suggesting that they had the greater awareness of their own sin.  Once everyone had left, Jesus asked the woman where her accusers were. “Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” he asked. “No, Lord,” she replied, to which Jesus responded: “Neither do I.  Go and sin no more.” (John 8:10-11). Jesus wasn’t in any way suggesting that what the woman had done was OK. He identified it as sin, and told her not to continue in it. The woman must have been amazed by the grace and gentleness of Jesus, which stood in such sharp contrast with the harshness of her accusers. Jesus wasn’t condoning her sin or treating it lightly, but he was lovingly encouraging her to live a life in line with God’s will.  Question – How should we respond to people who flagrantly disobey God’s rules? Prayer – Lord Jesus, forgive me for times when I have been harsh and judgemental of others. Help me to reflect your loving heart in all that I say and do. Amen

Jul 23
Day 22 - Issue 42

John 6:66-69  At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?” Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.” Up until now Jesus seemed to have been attracting more and more followers. In John 4 we hear that he was attracting more disciples than John the Baptist and, even in the hostile territory of Samaria, people were believing in him. In the Galilean region of northern Israel, he had miraculously fed thousands of people but the next day, the mood was very different. He spoke seriously to his followers about the nature of the bread that he was offering them, and that this was, in fact, his flesh. They concluded: “This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?” (John 6:60). As a result, many turned away and deserted him. Jesus’ question to his remaining disciples is heart-rending: “Are you also going to leave?” As it was so often, Simon Peter spoke up for the others. He bluntly summarised the situation by saying that had no desire to leave Jesus because there was nowhere else to go. Only Jesus had the words of eternal life. No other philosophies or religions were offering that.  In our society, there is any number of people and organisations wanting to attract our attention and get us to sign up. They make bold claims and offer glossy publicity for their philosophies, but only Jesus makes the offer of eternal life. If we want to receive this amazing gift, there is nowhere else to turn. When Peter gave his response, he wasn’t saying that he understood everything. In fact, it is likely that he had as many questions as those who had turned away. But he was declaring that he was committed to Jesus and that he trusted him for the future. Equally, when we make a commitment to follow Jesus, we are not claiming that we have a full understanding of who God is and his plans for our lives. We are simply saying that we trust Jesus as a person and know that he can be entirely relied upon. Question – Why are you committed to Jesus? Prayer – Lord Jesus Christ, I worship you because you have the words of eternal life. Amen

Jul 22
Day 21 - Issue 42

John 6:33-35  The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”  “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.”  Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”  When I was a boy, bread, so far as I can recall, was only offered to us in two forms, either brown or white. These days, there is brioche, ciabatta, focaccia, multigrain, naan, pitta, rye, sourdough, whole wheat…to name but a few! I never imagined that bread could be so interesting. But the fact is, however interesting it may be, it can never ultimately satisfy us. We will always need more. When Jesus identified himself as the bread of life, he was claiming that we would never need to look elsewhere for satisfaction. He would meet all our needs. This is the first time in John’s Gospel that we hear Jesus using the expression “I am”. These words are a clear echo of the way in which God spoke of himself in Exodus 3:14: “I am who I am.” There is no doubt that Jesus was acknowledging that he was the son of God. I am so glad that Jesus spoke of himself as being bread because, important as he undoubtedly was, it made it clear that he was for everyone. If he had spoken of himself as the caviar of life, we would have got the message that he was reserved for the wealthy. But bread is ordinary. Bread is for everyone. So Jesus was identifying himself as the one who could satisfy the needs of everyone, whatever their background or circumstances. Today, as every day, we will need to be nourished and have our thirst quenched. Jesus offers himself to us. When we come to communion, and receive the bread and wine that remind us of Jesus’ offering of himself on the cross, it is a supremely sacred moment. But we can also receive him as we pray amid the rush and noise of our lives. As we go to the shops, eat, work or play, we can reach out to the bread of life and receive his peace and love. Question – In what ways is Jesus the bread of your life? Prayer – Lord Jesus, thank you that you offer me bread which will always satisfy my deepest needs. Amen

Jul 21
Day 20 - Issue 42

John 6:8-9    Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up.  “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?” I’m sure we are all very familiar with Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the 5,000. It’s an amazing miracle and must have had a profound effect on everyone who witnessed it. But I’m particularly interested in what happened before the miracle took place. John records that Jesus asked Philip where they could buy food for the people. Then John added that Jesus knew exactly what he was going to do, but was merely testing Philip. Philip gave the (not unreasonable) answer that, even if they worked for months, they wouldn’t have sufficient money to pay for enough food for the crowds. And then Andrew pointed out the hopelessness of the situation by highlighting a young boy in the crowd with his packed lunch. But with despair he observed: “What good is that with this huge crowd?” This all feels very familiar. When we look at the problems of our world, or even in our local community, it is very easy to get depressed. There is so much to be done. The needs are not only vast but also extremely complicated. We look at our resources and, like the disciples, conclude that there is absolutely nothing that we could do to make a difference. The boy’s packed lunch was just a joke! It didn’t contain enough to satisfy the needs of one grown man let alone a vast crowd of hungry people.   Jesus’ miraculous feeding of this enormous crowd was a lesson that the disciples needed to remember throughout their lives. In the years to come, they all faced great challenges as they served God, and they needed to keep their eyes on Jesus rather than the problems. It is absolutely right that we should apply our logical thinking to the challenges that we face, but we must never forget that we are serving a God of miracles who, to use the words of the apostle Paul, is able “to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:20). Question – In what way do you find Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000 an encouragement? Prayer – Lord Jesus Christ, I place my faith in you. Forgive me for those times when I become overwhelmed by the problems, and forget that you are a miracle worker. Amen

Jul 20
Day 19 - Issue 42

John 5:2-6     Inside Jerusalem, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda, with five covered porches. Crowds of sick people—blind, lame, or paralyzed—lay on the porches.  One of the men lying there had been sick for 38 years. When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?” I love spending time in Jerusalem but it is often impossible to know exactly where the events that we read about in the Gospels took place. But not so with the pool of Bethesda. We know exactly where it is, and you can still see a part of it, adjacent to St Anne’s Church, near St Stephen’s Gate. The pool had a reputation for being a place of healing, but Jesus met a man who had been ill for an extremely long time. Curiously, he asked the man if he would like to get well. On first hearing, this might sound a rather callous question. Surely the answer was obvious. Who wouldn’t want to be healed if they had been sick for 38 years? But it is actually a profoundly caring and important question. No doubt the man’s sickness had become an integral part of his personality. For many years, I suffered with a bad back. The typical greeting that I would receive during those years was: “Hi Jonathan. How’s your back?” As soon as people saw me, they thought of my back, because it became such a major part of my identity. Jesus’ question showed a deep respect for the man. He alone needed to decide whether he wanted to be better. If he was healed, his life would be completely turned around, profoundly different from that day forward. And I believe that the Lord still comes to us with that same question. He can give us his forgiveness, peace and joy but he may well ask us whether we want to receive them. Perhaps we are so used to living with unforgiveness, tension and joylessness that we couldn’t cope with his gifts. I thank God that he doesn’t steamroller his way into our lives but asks us whether or not we want his help. Question – How would you like God to bless your life today? Prayer – Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for your sensitivity and grace. I ask you to come into my life afresh and give me your blessings. Amen

Jul 19
Day 18 - Issue 42

John 4:13-14 Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” Jesus was in conversation with a Samaritan woman when he spoke these words. Everything about their meeting is surprising. First of all, it would have astonished everyone that he had travelled through Samaria. For deep, historical reasons, the rivalry between the Samaritans and the Jews was intense. After the breakup of the kingdom of Israel following the death of Solomon, the northern territory was annexed by the Assyrians, who resettled the area with foreigners. As far as the Judaeans in the south were concerned, Samaria had lost its racial and religious purity. The divide was made even deeper when the Samaritans built their own temple at Mount Gerizim in around 400 BC. To put it mildly, Samaritans and Jews hated one another. Jews would almost always have made a careful detour around Samaria. But not Jesus. The other astonishing fact is that Jesus was willing to talk to a woman. The rabbis of the time gave very clear guidance on this subject: “One should not talk with a woman on the street, not even with his own wife, and certainly not with somebody else’s wife, because of the gossip of men.” But that didn’t stop Jesus. Here was a woman, most likely a prostitute, and Jesus offered her the water that would satisfy her deepest needs. I love the fact that Jesus gladly offered his gift of life to every kind of person. In the previous chapter he met Nicodemus, who was as different from this woman as could be imagined. He was educated, religious and utterly respectable. She was probably illiterate and a social outcast; there could be no other explanation for the fact that she was collecting water in the hottest part of the day. But Jesus came to both of them and made his generous offer of new life. And that’s what he still does today. He comes to the wealthy and well connected, as well as to the homeless and the hungry. To refugees, prisoners, prostitutes and princes – to each and every one of us – he offers the gift of eternal life for all who will receive it. Question: What was the water that Jesus came to bring? Prayer: Loving Father, thank you for the life-giving water that you offer to me, and all those whom I will meet today. Amen

Jul 18
Day 17 - Issue 42

John 3:29-30 John the Baptist said, “It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the bridegroom’s friend is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at Jesus’ success. He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” John the Baptist knew his place. He knew that he was simply the one who was preparing the way, and that all the attention should be on Jesus. He was like a best man, whose task was to do everything possible to make the wedding go smoothly, but without drawing attention to himself. The focus should be entirely upon the bridegroom and the bride. John knew what his God-given role was and he was clearly happy with it. Indeed, his goal was to become less and less, so that Jesus could become greater and greater. It is never appropriate for Christian leaders to become stars and try to draw attention to themselves. I thank God for men like Billy Graham, who gained considerable fame but consistently pointed people to Jesus with amazing effectiveness. It is believed that more than 3 million people responded to his call to accept Jesus as their personal Saviour, and that more than 2 billion people heard him preach at public events or on the radio. Nobody who listened to Billy Graham would have concluded that he was trying to draw attention to himself. His focus was on Jesus alone. Today, God calls us to do exactly the same. We need to be moving increasingly into the shadows so that Jesus gets the attention and worship that is rightfully his. This is not for a moment to deny the importance of the gifts and responsibilities that we have – they are all incredibly important – but they have been given to us so that we can draw attention to the bridegroom, Jesus himself. If we turn ourselves into the stars of the show, we have totally missed the point. Question: What would it mean for you to become less? Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me in this and every day to make you the focus of my life. Amen

Jul 17
Day 16 - Issue 42

John 3:16-17 'For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.' I recall the first time somebody, other than my parents, told me that they loved me. I can remember everything about that moment. It was simply amazing – and I am sure that those of you who know me will think it was also completely astonishing! However, it happened, and it was absolutely wonderful. In these verses, which are probably the most famous in the entire Bible, we hear the amazing news that God loves us, and that his love is so total that he gladly sent his own son into the world so that we could have eternal life. In the Old Testament, there is great emphasis upon God’s love for the people of Israel, but now we see that the doors are flung open to the whole world. Everyone is welcome. The last thing God wants is for anyone to perish and so he invites everyone to believe in him and receive eternal life. In the Old Testament we read about Abraham, who was willing to sacrifice his precious son, Isaac, in obedience to God’s command. He bound his son, laying him on top of a pile of wood upon an altar, and took hold of a knife to kill him. But, in that terrifying moment, an angel told Abraham not to lay a hand on his son. Instead, he was to offer a ram, which was miraculously provided, caught in a nearby thicket. It was a clear echo of God’s willingness to offer his Son, Jesus, many years later. But there is a significant difference – because Jesus actually died. God made the complete sacrifice. Whether you are in a secure, loving relationship or not, you need to know that God loves you completely and always will. He has proved that by sending his precious Son into the world, and we can be sure that we can rely on his love for all eternity. Question: What does it mean to you personally to know how much God loves you? Prayer: Lord God, I thank you for loving me and opening the door to eternal life. Amen

Jul 16
Day 15 - Issue 42

John 3:3 Jesus replied to Nicodemus, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” Nicodemus was an unlikely visitor to Jesus. He was a Pharisee, and we all know that Jesus was locked in a constant struggle with this group of Jewish leaders throughout his ministry. Perhaps that’s the reason he visited Jesus secretly, at night. He wanted to ask his questions of Jesus without being spotted by his fellow Pharisees. Jesus had no formal accreditation as a Jewish teacher and so it was generous of Nicodemus to address him as “Rabbi”. Clearly, he was impressed by Jesus’ teaching and miraculous signs and acknowledged that they were evidence that he had been sent by God. Jesus didn’t engage with this but responded to Nicodemus with words which would have rocked his world. He needed to be born again. Nicodemus seemed to be confused by Jesus’ words. He was baffled by the thought of entering into his mother’s womb a second time, and so Jesus spelt out exactly what he meant. He made it clear that just as human life starts with a birth, so too does spiritual life. Nicodemus needed to allow the Holy Spirit to breathe new life into him if he was to enter the Kingdom of God. Two thousand years later, nothing has changed. If we are to experience spiritual life, we need to be born again. I sometimes hear people talk about ‘born again Christians’ as if they are something different from normal Christians! That is not the case. The only way to become a Christian is by being born again. The fact that you have been born into a Christian home, attended church and live in a supposedly Christian country is irrelevant. Without new birth you cannot start out on the Christian life. The apostle Paul was in complete agreement with this. He wrote: “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). No amount of human effort can ever make us into Christians. It is only as we allow the Holy Spirit to take over our lives that we can experience new birth. Question: How do you respond when people refer to ‘born again Christians’? Prayer: Loving Father, thank you that through the power of your Holy Spirit it is possible for people to be born again. Amen

Jul 15
Day 14 - Issue 42

John 2:23-25 'Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him. But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew all about people. No one needed to tell him about human nature, for he knew what was in each person’s heart.' Whether we like it or not, the world knows a great deal about us. Organisations go to extraordinary lengths to store up information on every aspect of our lives so that they can lure us into buying their products and using their services. However, although it might not feel like it at times, there are limits to what they know. They can’t see into the deeper recesses of our minds, but there is one who can. In these remarkable verses, John reveals that Jesus knew all about the people of his time. Some were responding to his message because of the miraculous things that he was doing but Jesus knew that, for many of them, this was a superficial response which would soon evaporate. He understood human nature completely and knew every person’s heart. When we first hear that Jesus knows everything about us, we might well feel concerned, and even anxious. We would like to think that we had some privacy and were able to hang on to at least a few secrets. But we cannot. Despite this, when we come to realise that Jesus only has love for us, and will only ever use the information that he has for loving purposes, we can start to relax. His knowledge of us is nothing like our knowledge of ourselves. We only understand a very limited amount about ourselves, but he knows the whole story. So when we put our lives in Jesus’ hands we are putting them in the most secure and loved place possible. Question: How do you respond to the fact that Jesus knows absolutely everything about you and, at the same time, loves you perfectly? Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, thank you that you know me and love me completely. I gladly place my life in your hands. Amen

Jul 14