BETWEEN HIS SHOULDERS

Journal Entry by Jared Lawson

S – Deuteronomy 33:12 (NIV)
When Jesus saw her condition, he called her over and gently laid his hands on her. Then he said “Dear woman, you are free, I release you forever from this crippling spirit.” Instantly she stood straight and tall and overflowed with glorious praise to God!

O – Observation
Moses had been the one to lead Israel out of the Egypt into the promised land. He had seen so much unfold during this time including the ten plagues of Egypt, Israel’s rebellion and water spilling out of a rock. The Bible even says that he saw God face to face (Deuteronomy 34). Some of the last words he spoke are outlined in the scripture above. Specifically, he was talking to the tribe of Benjamin, but thanks to Jesus’s work we can claim this blessing as our own (Romans 11). When believed, the words above have the power to shape the way we think and act each day. We are the beloved of God and we have the right to rest secure in him. I love how the end of the verse talks about being between God’s shoulders. When I truly think about this it conjures up images of being on his back like a child would be if piggy-backed by his father.   

A – Application
So much consumes us each day. I know that anxiety and worry can easily grab a hold of my mind and before I know it my imagination runs wild with impossible scenarios and becomes consumed. However, what if I let this scripture consume my mind instead? What if I spend more time thinking about how loved and protected I am rather than what could go wrong and what I’ve left undone? How would that change the way I feel about myself?

P – Prayer
Heavenly Father, I thank you that you are the one and only true God. Thank you for your kindness towards me. Father help me to grab hold of this scripture, may it be the air my mind breathes. May this reality take over when my mind turns to worry and fear and remind me of this truth everyday. 
In Jesus name, Amen. 

THE ONES YOU DON'T SEE

Journal Entry by Warren Mortomore

S – Luke 13:12-13 (The Passion Translation)
When Jesus saw her condition, he called her over and gently laid his hands on her. Then he said “Dear woman, you are free, I release you forever from this crippling spirit.” Instantly she stood straight and tall and overflowed with glorious praise to God!

O – Observation
I loved reading these verses! Here we see our Lord Jesus healing a woman who had been crippled for the past 18 years. He did this in spite of the fact that it was the Sabbath and that it infuriated the Jewish leaders around him. Not only do I love that He healed her (because how ridiculously life changing for this lady!!!!!), I love His heart. He was compassionate, gentle and kind. He saw someone in need who most people would not have taken notice of, He treated her kindly and generously as a person of value and He healed her.

A – Application
Reading these verses makes me wonder how often do I see people around me that others don’t see? How often do I bring a compassionate, gentle and kind heart into a situation? How often I do see a person in need and introduce them to Jesus the healer? The truth is I could do better. Jesus gives us a beautiful example of how we are to treat people and what we can offer them that is so different to the world.

P – Prayer
Father, thank you that you love every single one of us without exception. Thank you that you see and understand each one of us even when it feels no one else does. Thank you for your healing power that brings wholeness into our lives. Help me to follow your example. Help me to see and reflect your heart in every situation I encounter. Amen.

WHERE IS MY HOPE

Journal Entry by Geoff Allen

S –  Psalm 39:7(NLT)
And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you. 

O – Observation
I love the honesty of David.  How he lays everything out before the lord, his fears, anxieties, frustrations, his actual feelings.  It’s not always clear sailing and open roads.  He is not afraid to let his feelings known to God.  But even through his anguish and turmoil David finds his answer in his relationship with God as he declares “my hope is in You”

A – Application
There are many times a day when my mind wanders to some of the difficult circumstances in my life.  I am learning seemingly ever so slowly that I need to bring my fears, worries and concerns to my savior as soon as I can.  I get no peace trying to sort things out in my own mind and dwelling on them.  But as soon as I turn to God and hand them over I get the strength to go on and I have a renewed confidence within myself that God is at work on my behalf.  I need to continually declare where my hope is and it’s not in me. 

P – Prayer
I declare my dependence on You, and reaffirm that my hope is in You. 
 

THE MARSHMALLOW EFFECT

Journal Entry by Esther Lawson

S –  Luke 6:20-21 (ESV)
20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.

O – Observation
Have you heard of the ‘Marshmallow effect?’ It’s a famous study done by a then professor at Stanford University to study delayed gratification. He gave the children in the study a cookie and told them if they could wait to eat it until he came back they would get an extra cookie. However, he gave all of the children something to think about while he was gone. He told some children to think about marshmallows – ‘fluffy white clouds’. This group was the most successful of those he studied. Why? Because the marshmallows were the food that was most different in texture to the cookies than the other things he gave the other groups to ponder.

A – Application
Delayed gratification is not a popular concept in our world. We get what we want instantly – drive thru, constantly updating media, gyms open 24/7. I mean you can pour water on a bag of powder and make ‘mashed potatoes’ (what a joke). We can generally access what we want when we want it. That’s the ‘texture’ of our world and it is beyond easy to lose the God-like ‘texture’ of our lives. The verses above remind me that there is an element of trust to our walk with God. In these verses he asks me to wait. The reward? God. God is our reward. How do we do it? Set your mind on things above, guard your heart and trust that instant is not always best. This is not rocket science. It is a tried and true path. We can all agree real mashed potatoes are worth the effort.

P – Prayer
Thank God that you know what is best for me. I don’t need everything I want. I need what it is you want me to have. Help me to believe it. Help me to be heaven minded – to set my mind on things above. You are my satisfaction, portion, prize and reward. Amen.

RESCUE

Journal Entry by Geoff Allen

S –  Luke 2:11 (The Passion Translation)
For today in Bethlehem a rescuer was born for you.

O – Observation
How great is this, no matter who you are or where you are, no matter what circumstances you are in "a rescuer was born for you” Sometimes I need strength and courage beyond what I think I have, sometimes patience and endurance to see things through; sometimes I need that peace that only He can give.  I know I can keep adding to this list, how about you?   Like most I have two pasts, a life without Christ and a life after accepting Him as my Lord and Saviour at the age of 32. I was astounded as a father, the depth of love that God had for me – that He sent his Son for me knowing that he would die a horrible death in the hope that I would come to know Him.



A – Application
A tradesman looks at the task that he has in front of him and chooses the appropriate tool for the job at hand.  He is often just given situations to fix and repair; to build or rebuild; or even to make safe, because further work needs to be done at a foundational level. I think our father in heaven looks at us and makes similar decisions, but he has given us a free will to accept the tradesman’s help and advice. For me looking back on my life, the one thing I need in my tool belt is a relationship with the living Christ, my Rescuer and Savior. If you are reading this and don’t know Him or need a rescuer, please speak to someone today.

P – Prayer
Dear Lord thank you for sending your son, a rescuer, a saviour for us, may we continually grow in the knowledge of your love for u

BECAUSE YOUR HEARTS WERE HARD…..

Journal Entry by Paul Davila

S – Mark 10: 1-9 (NIV)
“Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds of people came to him, and as was his custom, he taught them. 2 Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”
3 “What did Moses command you?” he replied.
4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”
5 “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied.6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8 and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh.9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

O – Observation
As usual, the religious scholars wanted to trap Jesus on a matter of the Law and as usual, He was always one enormous step ahead of them. Here the big issue was “divorce” and what Jesus had to say about it. Also, clearly stated, was Jesus’ view of marriage being between a man and a woman. 

The line that stood out to me though was, “it was because your hearts were hard”. 

In other words, Jesus was saying that God the Father never intended it to be this way. Their hardness of heart caused Moses to change the law. 
This got me thinking about our recent law changes with respect to marriage equality and saw a bit of a parallel here. This time it's not Moses changing the law but our govt with the backing of the majority of Aust people. 

Q: Could it be that our hearts have become hardened just as they were in Moses day? YES!!!

A – Application
A hardened heart can cause us to crave for so many things that are often contrary to God’s ways as we know them through His Word. 
A hardened heart makes us want things around us to change to accommodate our poor choices and lifestyles, rather than me changing my ways. 
A hardened heart makes me the victim and personal responsibility goes out the window. 
A hardened heart distorts my views and makes right things seem wrong and wrong things seem right. 

P – Prayer
Thank you Jesus that you weren’t afraid to challenge the thinking and wrong attitudes of the day and your words are still as powerful today as they were then. May I/we choose to keep our hearts soft so that we don’t become hardhearted and fall into error and pay the consequences

HAVE FAITH IN GOD

Journal Entry by Warren Mortomore

S – Mark 11:22 (NLT)
Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God”

O – Observation
Our faith is not to use for claim this and claim that, although we are told by Jesus to speak his word to the mountains of impossibility that face us. Faith is not in things but to be ‘in God’. Means that my conviction, my confidence, my trust, my belief, my reliance is in Him and who He says He is. Faith is the opposite to doubt which only breeds fear.

A – Application
When everything is going wrong, or not the way we expected, when faced with obstacles of situations and people, it is in these times that we stand firm and declare to ourselves and to what we are facing, that my assurance, my faith, my confidence is in God.  God I don’t only believe in you, but I believe you.  Believing causes faith and expectancy to grow. 
Our faith is not in things but in God and in alignment of what he says in his word to us. Jesus goes on to say that the faith in our hearts is to be spoken, and in so doing becomes active and effective to what we are believing and praying for.
Listen to Jesus words of encouragement to you today – ‘Have faith in God’ 

P – Prayer
Father God, our faith is in you, and in all that you have spoken in your word. We thank you that you are a faithful God, faithful Father. We believe that our faith in you releases the resources of heaven into our situations and our lives here on earth.

MULTIPLICATION FROM OUR ADDITION

Journal Entry by Cristian Tobar

S – Mark 8:4-5 NIV
'His disciples answered, ‘But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?’ ‘How many loaves do you have?’ Jesus asked.  ‘Seven,’ they replied. '

O – Observation
With seven loaves Jesus begins to feed the 4,000 that had been with him for 3 days. He felt compassion for them as many of them were going to travel a long distance back home without any food. The place where they were, was remote with no food in sight. Amongst the disciple there was 7 loaves of bread. With this small quantity of loaves, Jesus miraculously makes provision to feed them all and have baskets of leftovers. This is an example of God’s miraculous hand of provision.  

A – Application
As we give God the “little” we have, we are giving to a God that multiplies. His provision of our needs goes beyond what we can see in the natural. The disciples having previously seen Jesus feed 5,000 with 2 loaves and 5 fish. Still asked from their natural perception, “Where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread?” Sometimes we get into this same mindset and ask the question from what  we see in the natural. It isn’t until God asks us the “How many loaves to do you have?” question, which He does in order or in the hope that it reminds us of what He has done for us in times past. All he needs is the small amount that we have on hand. God is a multiplication God and He uses what we have, to bring about a miracle that astounds us..


P – Prayer
Father God, I thank you that you are a miracle working God. You use the little I have and multiply it.

Ssssssssh!

Journal Entry by Trina Bossard

S – Psalm 4:4-5 (Message)
Complain if you must, but don’t lash out. Keep your mouth shut, and let your heart do the talking. Build your case before God and wait for his verdict.

O – Observation
This is something that I need reminding of every now and then. I hate injustice…which means in turn I also love justice and right principals. Quite often when correcting something I see that doesn’t seem “Fair” I’m quick to open my mouth and say something…express my “opinion”. This isn’t necessarily always a bad thing, God wants us to have a voice and an intelligent say on certain things.

A – Application
When it could tear something down, discourage or cause conflict I need to do as it says here….keep my mouth shut and wait to hear God's verdict on the situation.  I can’t let anger, frustration or disappointment control me and be the first response. Life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21) which is why the verse is so important.When it could tear something down, discourage or cause conflict I need to do as it says here….keep my mouth shut and wait to hear God's verdict on the situation.  I can’t let anger, frustration or disappointment control me and be the first response. Life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21) which is why the verse is so important.


P – Prayer
God, I thank you that you’re in the business of refining and building character. I ask today that as I wait on your verdict for certain things, you will reveal them in the right time and right manner. I thank you for your correction!

WILDERNESS JOURNEYS

Journal Entry by Brenda Jones

S –   Exodus 8:27 (NKJV)
"We will go three days’ journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the Lord our God as He will command us.”

O – Observation
Here as Moses petitioned Pharaoh for a fifth time to allow the Israelites to leave Egypt to go in the wilderness to worship God as instructed, I was struck that the original request of Pharaoh was only for 3 days.  I’m guessing I had not noticed this before when reading these chapters, knowing the ending that the Israelites were going to be set free from Egypt at the end of this petitioning process.

But did God always say it was going to be a 3 day journey?  In Exodus 3:18 , God directed Moses to ask for a 3 day journey, but that Pharaoh would also say no, and that when the Israelites do leave, it will not be empty handed (Exodus 3:21).  Then as God spoke with Moses and Aaron in Exodus 7:1-5 of today’s reading, He clearly indicates that He is about to do something bigger than they anticipated.

A – Application
We all go through wilderness journeys at some point in our lives, and as I find myself in wilderness moments, the endurance required to persevere when things are not happening in my expected timing has been greater than I can sustain.  In this place I have found myself frustrated and hurt by feelings of abandonment from God, and question if He really is here for me.  Surely I can’t be the only one who has ever felt like this, and appreciate that I am reassured as I read God’s word that as the Israelites fled Egypt and forgot about His powerful hand which had helped them escape, that I am not the only one in history to have done this.

What a reminder this verse is, that just as Moses petitioned Pharaoh knowing full well he was requesting to go on a wilderness journey, that over the years I too have petitioned God to bring about change in me, which I was acutely aware could be a difficult process.  So why then in the middle of the wilderness journey do I feel abandoned knowing full well that the sanctification process I sought, was going to lead me to this place?  Maybe have I, like Moses, seen only the instruction God gave me, and failed to recognise that the journey was going to be so much more.

So what can I learn from this?  God's instruction was to go into the wilderness for 3 days to worship Him.  But as He freed the Israelites and they escaped into the wilderness, He fulfilled His promise to not leave them empty handed, and He continued to provide along the way.  But it was their lack of faith and disobedience that saw them flounder in the wilderness and have to await receipt of the promised land some 40 years later.  It is only by keeping my eyes on Jesus, and not doubting that His promises are true that I can see the bigger picture and all that lies ahead, even when surrounded only by the wilderness.


P – Prayer
Dear Lord, Your word truly is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.  In my times of unbelief, thank You that You have all I need ready to remind me that You have not forsaken me.  Thank You that You understand just who I am and how I tick.  That You can provide a Word and it taps into my mind that seeks to understand, and it is in that place that the pieces fall into place and You give me a glimpse of the big picture, and the very reminder I need to restore my faith in You.  Lord, I ask that You strengthen me through Your Spirit, that I will not do as the Israelites did and fall into a perpetual place of losing sight of You and all You have promised me.