Ephesians 2:18

[Originally posted by Helen and Roger Lewis on 11 December 2015]

Zephaniah 2, Ephesians 2


 Ephesians 2:18  (New International Version)

18 Through [Christ] we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.


One, two, three: access have we.

One Spirit. The Spirit does not divide but unite. There is an essential unity in Christianity: one Spirit, one Lord, one God, one faith, one baptism, one body, one hope.

We both. The two parties directly referred to in this letter were Israel and others. Christ made the two groups one. He made one new humanity out of the two. Both now have access to the Father, through the Spirit. There are no divisions in the renewed humanity. Jew and Gentile, men and women, bound and free, together are reconciled to God in Christ.

Three in one. These few words depict the relationship of three persons in one God. In theological terms, the Trinity. The movement is by the Spirit, through Christ, to the Father.

But the striking heart of the passage is ‘we have access’. Each one of us, individually, but together as the redeemed people of God, can approach the unapproachable, can commune with the almighty and holy God, now that the Son has opened up the way, and the Spirit is with us as our guide.

 

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The Day of the Lord’s Wrath

[Originally posted by episcopos1 on 10 December 2015]

Zephaniah 1

Nothing will save them on the day of the Lord’s wrath

This prophetic and poetic word was spoken in or around the time of good king Josiah of Judah (640-609 BC). It’s worth reading 2Kings 22 to get the picture.

Habakkuk, seeing the judgement coming, cried that God would, in His wrath remember mercy. This reading expresses the same judgement, his wrath on a people that refused to love and honour Him.

Called to be the light of the nations, God would use the nations almost to stamp out that light. They had turned light into darkness. They had sinned against the Lord living like the nations and not as the people of God.

It is a sad passage. There is in the next chapter a call to seek the Lord with the hope that some might be hidden on the day of God’s wrath. And in the final chapter a promise with hope. But the judgement duly came. The efforts of good King Josiah were not enough to turn the hearts of the people.

We who stand on this side of these times and this side of the life, death, resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus, know that God never gave up on his purpose even though these instruments failed. In his mercy a good King, mighty to save, has come and has set his people free.

We are called to honour that King and His Heavenly Father in a life of love and service.

 

Ephesians 1

God’s Eternal Plan

This piece of Paul’s correspondence, somewhat in the form of a general letter perhaps sent to more than one church, is a pearl of great price.

Gathered around verse 10 what comes before it and after it tells of the magnificent purpose of God as He goes about fulfilling his plan to sum up all things in Jesus. Here past, present, and future unite in the saving and sanctifying plan of God.

This is to be read, meditated on, believed, prayed with, and looked for. There is no better commentator here than Paul himself and the Spirit who prompted him, the Spirit prayed for in verse 17. Depend on both.

Use the passage for your own good and for God’s glory

In Wrath Remember Mercy

[Originally posted by episcopos1 on 9 December 2015]

Habakkuk 3

“In Wrath Remember Mercy”

Habakkuk’s three chapter lament joins with the other prophetic activity around the period of the end of the 600s BC and the early part of the 500s BC: Zephaniah, Nahum, and Jeremiah. Babylon is appearing as God’s instrument of punishment.

This chapter is a remarkable psalm. Verses 1-2 are a prayer that God will renew his ancient work and show mercy to his faithless people. Verses 3-15 weave together elements from the history of God’s victories on behalf of his people and verses 16-19 record the prophet’s resolve to wait on God and trust him who his Saviour and the Saviour of his people.

This chapter has a lesson for us who await the day when God will remove all evil and gather his people to himself.

 

1 Corinthians 16

“Let All You Do Be Done In Love” – “Maranatha”

Here is an insight into the busy schedule of an enthusiastic servant of the Gospel. In the cause of unity and of the acceptance by the Jerusalem Church of the Gentile Churches of Asia Paul would collect and carry material help to the poor brethren in Jerusalem. Word and works went together. There is active ministry in Ephesus which he finds hard to leave. However, at the front of his mind is his relationship with the church in Corinth and he hasten to reply to the issues raised in a letter brought to him in Ephesus by Stephanus, Fortunatus, and Achaicus. This was in response to a letter he had written to them (5:9) which we longer possess.

The life of the church in any place is rarely long without some sort of challenge. Loving concern for unity is a necessary ingredient.

We also get an insight into others workers like Timothy and Apollos as well the people who brought the Corinthian’s letter to Paul across the Aegean Sea. Here to, now in Ephesus, are Aquila and Prisca (Priscilla) in whose house there Christians were meeting. They will later be in Rome when Paul writes his letter to the church in that city from Corinth. All these in the own way served the cause of Christ.

God uses all sorts of people to serve his purposes both then and now. A grateful heart is the one needed requirement. The opportunities will soon present themselves.

Verse 13 is to be taken to heart: “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 14 Do everything in love.

To features represent the life of the churches; the holy kiss – fellowship, and Maranatha (a phrase carried over from Aramaic) – “come Lord come” – the hope we await.

 

 

 

Questioning God …is that OK??

[Originally posted by Karen Dixon on 8 December 2015]

Today’s Readings: Habakkuk 2:2-20 & 1 Corinthians 15:50-58

Ever overheard a conversion of significant proportion; a conversation that has such major ramifications it will impact a nation? Can’t say that I have …. and not sure I ever want to either!!!

Reading Habakkuk is like listening in on a very significant private one-on-one conversation but interestingly, what we read in Habakkuk is not so much about a revelation of prophesy to be shared with God’s people as in other prophetic books, but rather, it’s more about eves dropping in on a very frank and honest conversation between a prophet who because of his security in relationship, is prepared to ask BOLD questions of his God.

And Habakkuk for us, highlights that we are no different today than those who have gone before us; an honest reflection of a mirror to the soul of the struggle that is a cry from the heart; yes, a deep and authentic questioning of God of what we see continuing to happen around us today …

God, how can such evil happen in our world?

God, why do you allow such godless people to rule nations, when you God, are the ruler of ALL nations?

And the lesson for us … if we are honest and candid in out questions, God will answer our genuine plea.

It’s easy to skim across the passages of the Lord’s answer, but there is significance in his opening comment.

“Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.” Hab 2:2

For Habakkuk, the medium (tablets) were the norm for the day, but what it meant was that God’s response would be LASTING. In our disposable world; in a world where technology allows things to be so easily replaced, for Habakkuk, this was about recording something that would firstly take time to record (just imagine what it took to carve out the tablet of stone) and secondly, it would be a lasting reminder that others would ‘run with’.

As God goes on to remind Habakkuk of all the ‘woes’ that will unfold; the knowledge of the coming judgement of the wicked  … suddenly there is an oasis in the midst of the gloom …

‘For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.’  Vs14

And then in verse 20 …. ‘But the Lord IS in his holy temple; let ALL the earth be silent before him’.

If we fast forward to Corinthians, how profound the words of Paul. Paul’s words that would have spoken volumes if they could have been spoken to Habakkuk at his time in history; words that at a time when he dialogued with God, would have encouraged him to remain faithful to the call on his life. In the same way Paul encouraged the Christians in Corinth; in the same way we can be encouraged; in the same way Habakkuk would have been encouraged …

‘Therefore my dear brother(s) – and sisters – stand firm. (Habakkuk, stay true to the call God has on your life)

Let NOTHING (and I mean nothing) move you. ALWAYS give yourselves FULLY to the work of the Lord, BECAUSE you KNOW that your labour in the Lord is NOT in vain.  1 Corinthians 15:58

Habukkuk, dear brother in Christ, thank you for your honesty and faithfulness. Thank you for the legacy you have left us. Thank you that we know of life we hold to because of Jesus …

‘But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’  1 Corinthians 15:57

On the almost eve of Christmas … on the eve as we celebrate the birth of God’s incredible plan of salvation of mankind, how good to be reminded of this victory!

May you, like me, take time to stop … enjoy … rejoice … and remember that moment when you discovered this truth and promise.

May we never stop being amazed at God’s response to Habakkuk …

‘ … I am about to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.’  Hab 1:5

KD

GOD KNOWS

[Originally posted on 7 December 2015 by pesmart]

HABAKUK 1-2:1

Today we begin reading the little book of HABAKUK.  The format of this book is

Habakuk’s complaint ch 1:1-4

God’s response ch 1:5-11

Second complaint ch 1:12-17

God’s answer ch 2:1-4

Psalm ch 3

We were surprised at how closely we connected to this ancient prophecy – not in content but in sentiment.

HABAKUK is overwhelmed by the evil around him and cries out to God whom he knows can fix it but who doesn’t seem to be doing anything!

God assures him that the evil that HABAKUK is distressed by, sees and is living with, will be punished and dealt with through Babylonian invasion.

‘No Lord, surely not was Habakuk’s response for he could not believe God would use a murderous, violent, cruel nation to bring Israel back to Himself.  It was inconceivable.  HABAKUK cannot believe that this action could be consistent with God’s purposes or with His nature.

Whether, like us, we are struggling with personal issues or with the agony of knowing the horror  and ongoing evil in places like Syria we were encouraged by today’s passage –

First, that we can & do cry out and complain to God.

Second, that God has things under His control, no matter what life seems like.

Third, our solutions are often not God’s and we can trust Him for ‘ He has plans for us, plans for good and not to harm.’  Jeremiah 31:

The commentator Child reminds us that, in the autobiographical style of the confession, the prophet himself serves as an example of a faithful response of one person living ‘between the promise of the end and its arrival.’

 

1 CORINTHIANS 15:35-49

In today’s reading Paul continues his reply to the Corinthian Christians who were concerned about death and particularly resurrection – issues that no doubt occupy our thinking too.

Even though Paul’s response v36 to the people who were having trouble believing that resurrection was a possibility (Foolish) he continues with a clear explanation from nature, likening death and resurrection to the cycle of sowing, germination and harvest. Leon Morris in his commentary reminds us that God is adequate for all this.  Our bodies are fitted for life on earth, so it is God’s will for us to have more glorious bodies which will be suitable for heavenly existence.

Recently a friend of ours spoke at the funeral of a young grandmother.  Because she wanted her grandchildren to know the truth of the Christian hope of life and resurrection, he gathered the children and gave them each a sunflower seed to plant after the service.

St Paul is keen for Corinthian enquirers to know that, though death is not the end it does mean CHANGE.  The new body we will receive is no longer subject to decay and will be APPROPRIATE TO THE NEW AGE.  ‘The spiritual body that follows death is new, animated by the Spirit of God, clothed and equipped for the age to come and reached by the way of resurrection.’  C K Barrett p373

This is our strong hope to live by, which can colour the way we see life and death right now.

 

Sinfulness Does Not Go Unpunished

[Originally posted by episcopos1 on 10 January 2018]

Sinfulness Does Not Go Unpunished

Nahum 3

“… the book of Nahum tells us in very straight terms that evil will be punished. It warns us about our own sin, and it encourages us when we are oppressed by great evils by reminding us that God will have the last word. We need this message bringing home to us at times when our persecutors ‘increase like the locusts’, or on the other hand, at times when we think we are getting away with behaviour which is not strictly honouring to God. The book may have a limited scope, but its message is a vital one.” (M. Butterworth)

It is worth reading Revelation 20:11-15 as a New Testament equivalent.

Psalm 123 – Looking Up

[Originally posted by Matthew Broadbridge on 16 June 2013]

 

David Cornejo

 

Psalm 123

Yep, this is how I want to be. Too often when the going gets tough I send up short little yelp-like prayers without lifting my eyes to really gaze upon Him. It seems my eyes need filling before opening my mouth. Upon whom do we call? – “The Lord Our God” – not just any ‘deity’! Sometimes when I’ve seen a humble person pushed to their limit they’ve quietly uttered the words “Lord give me strength!” It’s a telling phrase. When proud and arrogant people make life difficult – perhaps only through their plain foolishness and ungodliness – we need a superhuman source of endurance. The Lord provides it (Jehovah Jireh). I don’t have an internal source of forbearance, but if I follow the example of Psalm 123 my supply won’t run out so easily or if I do hit the wall He offers mercy. Also when we lift our eyes off the people giving us grief and look to our Lord we become humbly dependent on God which is not just a good thing it’s the only way to avoid becoming proud and self-righteous yourself. It looks like the eyes have it.