Faith based on promises kept

Today’s Reading 1 Chronicles 17 and 1 Corinthians 11:2-16

Has God ever answered your prayers with an emphatic “NO”. David certainly knew the feeling.

David – A prayer answered with promises made.

In the reading from 1 Chronicles 17 this morning we read how David, moved by the fact that the temple had yet to be built in Jerusalem, asked God for permission to build it. The answer from God through the prophet Nathan was a clear “No”. Instead God’s answer to David took for the form of a promise:

  • That his son would build the temple (not him)
  • That he would have a descendant that would reign over a kingdom that would last forever!

Daniel – A prayer unanswered and promises made.

Our church has just finished a teaching series on Daniel. Coincidentally 42 teenagers, 6 of their leaders and a handful of house parents attended a weekend of worship, teaching and fellowship with 2000 other teenagers from across NSW at KYCK17 in Katoomba, where we received teaching on the book of Daniel.

Separated by distance and time, we read in Chapter 10 how Daniel, like David, was moved to pray to God, this time for the rebuilding of God’s temple in Jerusalem (the temple that David’s son Soloman built!)

In a similar way to the answer to David’s prayer in 1 Chronicles 17, God’s answer is unexpected. In Daniel 11 and 12 God responds in a vision with a very specific list of kings and world events that would ensue before God would rebuild his kingdom – not the restoration of the old template in Jerusalem that Daniel had asked for – but the final victory over sin and death and the coming of the true King who would raise His people from death to eternal life.

Faith based on promises kept.

Both David and Daniel receiving amazing and unexpected promises from God as a result of their prayers – yet neither of these me saw these promises fulfilled.

We did!

We know that God fulfilled the promise the David and his son Solomon did build the temple. We know that a king did rise from David’s line and his kingdom will last forever: Jesus. We can trace the line of Kings in Daniel 11 to figures in Ancient history, from Alexander the Great to King Herod – and we know that God made the final atonement in the death of Jesus on the cross – as promised to Daniel 500 years before it happened,

In the words of one of the speakers at KYCK on the weekend

“We do not have a faith based on promises made – We have a faith based on promises kept!” Brett Middleton, KYCK17,

We know that God has delivered on his extraordinary promises to these two Old Testament Saints – and we know that God will deliver on his promise to us – to save us from God’s wrath through the atoning death of His Son, and to raise us up to life to live forever with Him when Jesus returns in Glory.

Today

Thank God that He is a promise keeper. Thank God that he kept the promise made to David and Daniel. Thank God that we do not need “blind faith” in order to trust Him, that we can point to promises made and kept over, and over again in His Word the Bible. Prayer for Jesus return and praise Him that he will keep his promise to us to raise us up from the dead to new life on the last day. Amen

 

 

My Soul Thirsts for You

Today’s reading is Psalm 63

Do you pray for blessing or for suffering?

I know I would much rather have riches and comfort than insecurity, threat or pain. Yet when I read David’s wilderness psalms, as he is pursued by his enemies, I see that these are the times when his soul truly thirsts for God.

So too it has been in my life. It’s much harder to thirst for God, and consciously think about trusting him when all is going well. When I have been out of work, financially insecure, or seen loved ones suffering in hospital and been helpless to help them, it has been much easier to long for God’s comfort and to lean on him.

I am not advocating physical suffering in order to achieve spiritual devoutness, nor shutting out the world in some monastic denial of comfort, but I do wonder whether in order to truly thirst for God, we need to avoid taking our fill of all the other things that vie for our affections.

I have a good friend, who loves chocolate, but has consciously given it up. Some think he’s weird, but it was a choice he made because it reminds him that knowing God is better than the finest things of this world; that God’s word is sweeter than honey; and as David says in this Psalm, God’s steadfast love is better than life.

It is wonderful to enjoy the blessings God has made for us. The safety of the life we live. The comforts of a healthy western lifestyle, with shelter, security and satisfaction. But be on your guard that these things do not fill your life in a way that leaves no room to thirst for God. Instead, let your soul be satisfied [with God] as with fat and rich food, and your mouth praise God with joyful lips as the first priority, then add those other comforts in their proper place behind.

As Jesus said, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

GLORY!

1 Chronicles 16 and 1 Corinthians 10:23 – 11:1

We belong to God. We belong to our Creator God, Yahweh, LORD over all the earth, the creatures, the nations, the seas, the heavens. We belong to God who has made all things good, “the earth and its fullness are the Lord’s” (1 Cor 10: 26, quoting from Psalm 24:1). We belong to God, whose glory is sung across the universe: Splendour and majesty, strength and joy, marvelous works, holiness, salvation, goodness and steadfast love. The heavens are glad, the earth rejoices, the sea roars, the fields exult, the trees of the forest sing for joy. Wondrous works, miracles and judgements. The glory of God, the worthiness of God, the precious weightiness of His presence and value and faithfulness.

The glorification of God, honouring of God, giving God love, gratitude and worship, is the goal at the heart of our lives as His creatures. We are created to enjoy the freedom of growing into being fully human in the environment of this abundant earth, in the company of our Creator.

Wisdom and life experience teaches our freedom that “All things are lawful, but not all things are beneficial. All things are lawful, but not all things build up.” (I Cor 10: 23) At the most trivial level the post Easter chocolate haze is a great reminder of this truth! The earth may rejoice and the fields may exult, however every day in small and large ways we are faced with tough choices about how to bring glory to God as we live with our fellow human beings and with creation, in ways which do not bring harm or offense. We sense powerfully the tension of not seeking our own advantage, and instead seeking the advantage of the other.

Whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, do everything for the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31). How can we live in a freedom which gives expression to our humanity, which honours the freedom and humanity of others, and in doing so brings glory to God?

Paul calls us to be imitators of Christ (1 Cor 11:1). And what is Christ’s example? Utter obedience, dependence and reliance on the goodness, faithfulness and love of God. Following in the steps of Christ is not about ‘trying hard.’ It is about taking on humility, trust and honesty before our Father. It is about loving and serving our neighbour, as we love ourselves. It is about the day to day miracle of Christ’s transformation in our lives, through our weakness and need.

 

For the glory of God is a living human; and the life of humanity consists in beholding God.

Irenaeus

Love, Jane

The Lord’s favour on David

In 1 Chronicles 14, the narrative of the ark’s home-coming pauses to reflect back on the favour that the Lord has shown David- sharing content also found in 2 Samuel 5:11-23.

Verses 1-2 highlight that the king of Tyre provided him tradesmen and timber in order to construct a palace.

Verses 3-7 detail the increase in David’s family – that he took more wives shows a moral failure on David’s part and was contrary to the law – see Deuteronomy 17:17 – a failure that would come back to haunt him later in his life.

The verses that follow (v.8-17) describe David’s first international crisis – a confrontation with an old enemy – the Philistines. When David fled from Saul’s kingdom, he became a Philistine vassal (1 Samuel 27:1-28:2) and during those years at Hebron the Philistines probably considered him as just another client king.

With his anointing as king over a reunited Israel, David became a threat that the Philistines could no longer ignore and move to mount an attack before he is able to occupy Jerusalem. But because he looked to God for his strategy and strength, he was able to repel the Philistine attack and secure independence for God’s people and end the threat of Philistine conquest and oppression.

As a result “David’s fame spread throughout every land, and the Lord made all the nations fear him.” (v.17)

God’s Dwelling Place

Todays’ reading is taken from 1 Chronicles 13 & 1 Corinthians 8.

1 Chronicles 13 is a tricky passage to make sense of. Was God a bit unreasonable in striking down Uzzah for trying to keep the ark of God from falling? Perhaps it was a reflexive response as the oxen stumbled!? (v9) Thinking of it now, it does seem like something I would’ve done if I was in Uzzah’s place. God could have responded with something along the lines of “Thank you trusted servant for keeping my ark from falling, you and your family will be blessed for this selfless act”, but instead He cut him down, right then and there.

So why was God so inconsiderate? This was an occasion of grand celebration. The mighty King David himself at the risk of looking like the fool boldly made merry along with the rest of Israel (v8). It would seem –on the surface- that God’s wrath against Uzzah in verse 10 is uncalled for – a classic kill-joy moment.

These are the questions I asked as I read through this passage the first time round. However as I kept reading something else came into focus – the ark itself. You see the Ark of the Covenant was God’s dwelling place – the temple of God, so to speak. For the Israelites in the wilderness, this was the means through which God ministered to and led them on for forty years (Ex. 25). The glory of God was on display here through a cloud by day and fire in the cloud by night (Ex. 40:38). The ark was placed in the ‘holy of holies’ with a curtain shielding it and separating it from the tent of meeting. The instruction given in Numbers 4 to the Kohathites (the people tasked to do the carrying of the ark) on transporting the ark is a clear one in summary – to observe reverence toward the dwelling place of God (Num. 4:15). So when God struck Uzzah down it was because Uzzah was in clear breach of God’s commandment.

In 1 Corinthians 8 Paul implores the Corinthian with knowledge (the ability to tell the lawful apart from the unlawful – Strong’s) to be mindful of those that are still green in their faith or as verse 10 puts it – weak in conscience. He tells them to not let their knowledge puff up and so become a stumbling block to those that don’t yet possess this knowledge. The point Paul is making here is that each man regardless of the strength and maturity of his faith is precious. He is valuable to God and no one has the right to hinder his walk with Him. The command here is to show reverence and consideration to any man of God regardless of the depth of his faith.

In the Old Testament God dwelt among his people through the ark. This ark was the physical embodiment of God among them. However, when the curtain is torn in Matthew 27 the dwelling place of God shifts from that of the Ark to the very hearts of men. The common denominator in both these passages is a high reverence for the dwelling place of God. As the Ark displayed the glory of God so now we living on this side of the Cross display his glory through our very lives. We are now the temple of God, the holy of holies where he dwells. In the knowledge of this truth let us take a moment on this day to look inside our own hearts to see if we are living up to this high calling.

Sam, KIC

Jesus Has Risen

There is a simplicity about this moment in time. There is also much that is complicated. There are many burdens on us, many concerns we have about our past and our future, many concerns we have for others future. All those things that roll around in our heads before we head to sleep. So much that is complicated. Yet there is a simplicity to this day. A simplicity of a celebration of the most beautiful moment in the history of humanity.

 

3 women in mourning go to the tomb where their friend is buried. Many emotions are building up in them, many concerns about what is to come. So much that was hoped for has been wiped out in a moment. They reach the burial sight and see that something is out of place. The stone that blocks the tomb has been rolled away. They enter the tomb and find that their friend is not there, he has gone. There immediate thoughts would no doubt have been that some injustice has occurred. Someone has stolen the body and taken it for some reason. Robbing them of the opportunity to mourn. Two strangers with lightning clothes appear next to them and respond to the women’s surprise with a question –

Why do you look for the living among the dead?

This is not the question on the women’s minds but it now is. For as the shiny clothed men say Jesus told them about this. In Matthew 16.21 Jesus foretold the events of the past week. That he would be delivered into the hands of sinners, crucified and on the third day raised again. The women at the reporting of the shiny men remember Jesus words.

They reported all that had happened to the 11 apostles. They do not believe the women. Yet Peter, the one who denied Christ, goes back to the tomb and is lead to wonder what happened.

 

There is a simple fact. A man who was alive was killed and then he came back from the dead. It is simple. The result is also simple – whatever this person came to say and do is clearly more important than anything else in history. For no one else has done this. Whatever he has said and then goes onto say is given an authority above all else. There is much that is complicated and much that needs to be discussed. Yet there is something simple and beautiful about this day where we remember a moment in time that changed all other moments forever.

 

24 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: “The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.”Then they remembered his words.

When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

Luke 24.1-12

Good Friday

The passage today, very appropriately is the record of the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, Luke 23:26-49.

Before Jesus was born and angel told Joseph that he was to name the baby in Mary’s womb, “Jesus”, because he was going to “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

WHY DID JESUS HAVE TO DIE?

Jesus secured our salvation because of God’s love and justice. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

In Romans 3:25 we see God’s justice is affirmed when Paul writes that Jesus was put forward (by God) as a “propitiation” – that is, a sacrifice that bears God’s wrath, so that God will be able to look favourably upon us’ Paul, says this was done “to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins” and “so that He might be just” (Romans 3:23-26). In other words, the sins God “passed over” or didn’t punish before Christ came to earth, had to be punished somehow if God was to be “just”.

Therefore, someone had to take the punishment for those sins. Because of God’s great love, that someone was Jesus. In Jesus’ death we find a full expression of God’s justice (sin is punished) and faithful love (God gave His own Son to bear the punishment). Praise God…how great is that?

WAS JESUS DYING NECESSARY?

It was not necessary that God should save any one at all, yet He did choose to save some. But Jesus chose to follow the will of God and He was “obedient unto death”. After Jesus rose from the dead, he asked the rhetorical question, “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?” (Luke 24:26). The answer of course is “Yes, it was necessary”. Jesus knew there was no other way for God to save us other than for him to die in our place. Jesus had to suffer and die for our sins. The other means of dealing with sins, like the sacrifices offered for sins in the Old Testament had no lasting value – “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). The perfect way of dealing with sin was by Jesus, “by means of His own blood”, securing “an eternal redemption” (Hebrew 9:12), thereby putting away sin “by sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 9:26)

WHAT THE DEATH OF JESUS DID FOR US,

Christ lived a perfect, sinless life and died a horrific, sinner’s death, in order to “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). He paid the penalty we deserved to pay for our sin. He bore the wrath we deserved to bear. He overcame the separation that our sin caused between God and us. He freed us from the bondage caused by sin. Because of Christ’s work on our behalf, God can “deliver us from the domain of darkness and transfer us to the kingdom of his Son (Colossians 1:13)

What a great salvation that Good Friday delivered to us,

Praise God and have a great day,

 

Peter Clark.