More than transformed rubble

Nehemiah 12 commences with a generational roll call of eminent priests and Levites (v.1-26) among whom is Abijah (v.4) from whom Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist was descended (Luke 1:5).

Having shared his account of the building of the wall in chapters 1-7, Nehemiah now depicts for us the dedication day, with its twin processions and loud rejoicing for their restoration (v.27-43).

After an extensive rebuilding program that touched the lives of the entire community and brought security and pride to the people of Jersulem again. It was a time to celebrate the goodness of God and give thanks. There is no doubt that this would have been a spectacular event to behold, bringing together Levites, singers and musicians from the surrounding regions. But it was also a sacred event requiring the purification (v.30) of the Levites, the people and gates and wall itself.

Two impressive choirs led the processions which departed in different directions to circumnavigate the city, coming together at the house of the Lord (v.40) where great sacrifices and loud rejoicing was offereds because “God had given them great joy.”

In verses 44- 47, this show of joy and zeal is tapped into, to ensure that worship remains part of the fabric of society with key appointments made to collect and look after the tithes and offerings and lead worship.

While the story of Nehemiah teaches us that rubble can be transformed to restore pride and give security again, the Parable of the Tenants in Matthew 21:33-45 further educates us that more than physical walls can be built with that which has been rejected.

“‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is marvellous in our eyes’?

Jesus prophecises of a time when those very walls that Nehemiah built up, were about to come tumbling down again, because the religious zeal for God had been lost (v.43-45).

He is Faithful, we are Sinful, His Grace Covers Us

Today’s reading is taken from Nehemiah 11 & Matthew 21:23-32.

The Israelites through the ages have been a people who have had front-row seats to witness the faithfulness and patience of the Lord. Time and time again these ‘stiff-necked’ people tested Him beyond reason. Starting with the ‘golden calf’ incident at Mount Sinai all the way to the Asherah Poles in Josiah’s day, the people responded to His faithfulness with scorn.

Reading Nehemiah 11 the first time round will not give you much, just a list of names which are not the easiest to pronounce. However, what unfolds here is part of the restoration of Jerusalem and the revival of Israel. You see God had made a covenant with Abraham in Genesis 12 and created Israel, a chosen nation through his seed. Turned out this nation had a knack for sinfulness and at every turn they challenged God’s authority and purposes. God himself famously states: “I have seen this people, and they are a stiff necked people”. However, not for one moment did God forget his promise to Abraham to make him into a great nation. Although like a father disciplines his child, God disciplined Israel. But never did He throw in the towel and say ‘Okay, I’ve had enough!!’

Throughout the Old Testament God displays his faithfulness and patience to a sinful people despite their explicit rebellion. A part of Israel’s disciplining was the exile to Babylon and Assyria, and after the time was completed emerged a remnant that ensured the Abrahamic covenant didn’t end there. Nehemiah 11 is a record of how God in His Grace restores a people that constantly rejected him.

Now fast forward the story of Israel to the Gospel of Matthew. Chapter 21 reveals to us that not much had changed with these people. They were still as determined to question God’s authority as they were in Nehemiah’s day. God, however had been faithful to Israel and had preserved them through the centuries and had now brought to them their Savior, the culmination of the Abrahamic covenant, to finally reverse the curse of Genesis 3. But even here, His chosen people responded to His relentless faithfulness with contempt.

But because of His grace, even then, God refused to throw in the towel and say ‘Okay, I’ve had enough!!’, but instead decided to lay down his very life ‘for the joy that was set before him’. This is what His faithfulness to the Israelites looked like, and this is what His faithfulness to us looks like today. That ‘while we were still sinners He redeemed us’ through the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. Our God is faithful, although once sinners we have been set free from the bondage of sin by His grace that covers us every time we stumble. Let us be a people determined to trust in Him and not question His authority, to worship Him and not replace him with useless idols like the Israelites did at Mount Sinai.

Have a listen to this song. Blessings!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9E5Yck_cvQ

Sam, KIC

Humble Confession

Humble Confession

Nehemiah 9:1-37a

The passage is a sustained confession of spiritual failure and an acknowledgement that their history of exile was the consequence of their failure of loyalty to the God who had made them his people.

In our own daily lives there are ample occasions to be disloyal to the God who has called us in Jesus to be His children. Confession and repentance are not matters for the past only. Here now in Australia, Christians face a serious challenge to the universally and millennia held view of the nature of marriage. In the future it could well become a punishable offense (as it has in other places) to maintain that ancient and universal view and to express in public the Bible’s position on marriage and same sex unions.

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

Matthew 21:12-17

Matthew, Mark and Luke each record this event while John has a similar account but placed earlier in the ministry of Jesus. There has been sustained discussion about the reasons for this difference.

Jesus drew on three Old Testament passages in this segment. The first is from Isaiah 56:7, the second from Jeremiah 7:11, and the third from Psalm 8:2.

The first quotation comes from a passage in which Isaiah speaks of God including in his people members of others nations who serve Him and love His Name. His temple will be a place for all nations. Jesus’ command to take the gospel to all the world and make disciples from the nations is the further expression of this same truth.

The second quotation is from God’s word to Jeremiah in which ancient Israel is challenged to begin to practise obedience to God and not to place confidence solely in the physical presence of the Temple. The applicability of Jesus’ words is obvious.

The third Old Testament passage quoted by Jesus links the gratitude and praise of those whom Jesus healed to the infants mentioned in the Psalm. Sadly the leadership saw the deeds of Jesus but would not accept what they conveyed.

Let us pray that we will always be attuned to what God is doing in His world.

Humble Confession

Humble Confession

Nehemiah 9:1-37a

The passage is a sustained confession of spiritual failure and an acknowledgement that their history of exile was the consequence of their failure of loyalty to the God who had made them his people.

In our own daily lives there are ample occasions to be disloyal to the God who has called us in Jesus to be His children. Confession and repentance are not matters for the past only. Here now in Australia, Christians face a serious challenge to the universally and millennia held view of the nature of marriage. In the future it could well become a punishable offence (as it has in other places) to maintain that ancient and universal view and to express in public the Bible’s position on marriage and same sex unions.

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

Matthew 21:12-17

Matthew, Mark and Luke each record this event while John has a similar account but placed earlier in the ministry of Jesus. There has been sustained discussion about the reasons for this difference.

Jesus drew on three Old Testament passages in this segment. The first is from Isaiah 56:7, the second from Jeremiah 7:11, and the third from Psalm 8:2.

The first quotation comes from a passage in which Isaiah speaks of God including in his people members of others nations who serve Him and love His Name. His temple will be a place for all nations. Jesus’ command to take the gospel to all the world and make disciples from the nations is the further expression of this same truth.

The second quotation is from God’s word to Jeremiah in which ancient Israel is challenged to begin to practise obedience to God and not to place confidence solely in the physical presence of the Temple. The applicability of Jesus’ words is obvious.

The third Old Testament passage quoted by Jesus links the gratitude and praise of those whom Jesus healed to the infants mentioned in the Psalm. Sadly the leadership saw the deeds of Jesus but would not accept what they conveyed.

Let us pray that we will be attuned to what God is doing in His world.

Humble Confession

Humble Confession

Nehemiah 9:1-37a

The passage is a sustained confession of spiritual failure and an acknowledgement that their history of exile was the consequence of their failure of loyalty to the God who had made them his people.

In our own daily lives there are ample occasions to be disloyal to the God who has called us in Jesus to be His children. Confession and repentance are not matters for the past only. Here now in Australia, Christians face a serious challenge to the universally and millennia held view of the nature of marriage. In the future it could well become a punishable offence (as it has in other places) to maintain that ancient and universal view and to express in public the Bible’s position on marriage and same sex unions.

 

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

Matthew 21:12-17

Matthew, Mark and Luke each record this event while John has a similar account but placed earlier in the ministry of Jesus. There has been sustained discussion about the reasons for this difference.

Jesus drew on three Old Testament passages in this segment. The first is from Isaiah 56:7, the second from Jeremiah 7:11, and the third from Psalm 8:2.

The first quotation comes from a passage in which Isaiah speaks of God including in his people members of others nations who serve Him and love His Name. His temple will be a place for all nations. Jesus’ command to take the gospel to all the world and make disciples from the nations is the further expression of this same truth.

The second quotation is from God’s word to Jeremiah in which ancient Israel is challenged to begin to practise obedience to God and not to place confidence solely in the physical presence of the Temple. The applicability of Jesus’ words is obvious.

The third Old Testament passage quoted by Jesus links the gratitude and praise of those whom Jesus healed to the infants mentioned in the Psalm. Sadly the leadership saw the deeds of Jesus but would not accept what they conveyed.

Let us pray that we will be attuned to what God is doing in His world.

What Can I Do For You?

The readings set down for today are Nehemiah 7:4-73 and Matthew 20:17-28. (I am going to include the incident where the two men receive their sight in verses 29 -34, because it seems to me that it fits).

It is hard to get into our thick heads isn’t it? If we want to be great – then it will come through serving. We are slow learners, but so were Jesus’ disciples.

James and John didn’t understand. They asked their mother (or so the other disciples thought) to ask Jesus for the top positions in His Kingdom. We can just imagine Jesus shaking his head, and telling the two that they had no idea what they were asking. The high positions in the Kingdom of Jesus call for drinking His cup (vs. 22-23). That cup was for Jesus death on the cross (vs. 17-19).

Jesus explained that high position in the secular world means having authority: it means lording over people. Jesus on the other hand came to be a Servant and, like a slave, to put the good of another before His own (vs.25-28). I suspect the disciples still didn’t understand what Jesus meant. Perhaps we wouldn’t understand either, if it weren’t for the indicent with which this chapter ends.

Jesus led His disciples away from Jericho, up the road that led to Jerusalem and His crucifixion. How sad and distressed He must have been,  because He knew what lay ahead. As He left, two blind men, hearing from the crowd that Jesus was near, cried out urgently. The crowd tried to hush them. But they shouted all the louder. And Jesus stopped. He called them over to Him, and He asked, “What do you want Me to do for you?”

And at last we understand. Greatness in the kingdom of Jesus is stopping for the needs of others. It is setting aside for the moment our own hurts and concerns, to listen, and then to ask, “What do you want me to do for you?”

We may be small in the eyes of other people, but if we follow Christ’s example of servanthood, we will be great in the eyes of God.

 

John Wesley wrote, ” Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, and long as you can.”

Why not begin each day asking God for an opportunity to serve.

 

Have a great day,

 

Peteer Clark.

“I will build a great wall — and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me”

Now…… Matthew 19:1-12 I don’t know how I got another passage on marriage/divorce and what message the people selecting the passages are trying to send me… Only recently in my April FDR did I ponder the 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 passage in which Jesus’ instructions here are quoted. Even going back to November 2015 I was given 1 Corinthians 7:1-16. Yeah I get it….

But I digress….. Excuse the Trump quote as a title. Hard to not think about anyone else when it comes to building walls at the moment. Nehemiah 3 is a chapter on rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. On a superficial level it’s as exciting as a genealogy – it’s kind of a name drop of all who contributed. Like linear notes on an album or credits in a movie. I think it’s important for a couple of reasons though:

  • There is a common vision for the task of accomplishing God’s work. There is an ultimate outcome all the people listed are working towards.
  • The work is divided so everyone knows what they need to do and to do it with excellence – without contention and separate interests.

We have been commissioned greatly in Matthew 28. Jesus says “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

It’s been exciting to come off the World Mission Conference with a increased focus on what our task is as followers of Jesus… to be on mission to make disciples of all the nations! We should have that as our common vision for the task of accomplishing God’s work at FAC.

And how do we do this? By dividing the work according to our gifts and skills which is beautifully articulated in 1 Corinthians 12 with the body of Christ teaching from Paul (and was recently preached on by Myles as part of our Power of One series).

Let us be unified in the vision of the task God has purposed us for and let us be celebrating the unity and diversity of the body of Christ we have in our church!