Yes…It Did Happen!

Todays’ readings are Joshua 13-17 and Luke 24:1-12.

So here we are, at the last chapter of Luke’s gospel. So much has been said by Luke, so many things have happened. And what can be said of the one who is centre stage in this gospel? In fact in all the gospels…Jesus.

Here we are presented with the empty tomb and the resurrection of Jesus. Evidence before us of all the fulfilling of the promises that have been made. As we read in 2 Cor. 1:20…”for no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ”. Yet, even the disciples were shocked by all that had happened. They certainly had their doubts…”while they were wondering about this” (v4). and they had to work hard to overcome these doubts. What were they to make of what they were seeing and hearing. Makes you wonder what  we would have made of the same events?

However, and the very thing that we must keep at the forefront of our minds by every generation and that is that God’s plans were not derailed by what they saw but in fact fulfilled by what they saw. I love the comment that “the resurrection was not created by the church but the church was created by the resurrection.” So true.

It has been said time and time again that the women were more responsive than the disciples. This should never be forgotten as it validates the resurrection, as the disciples themselves, thought “their words to them seemed like nonsense” (v11).

What is interesting to me is that the disciples would have had some experience of miracles, yet on this occasion they had to be persuaded. Their initial response is typical of our own world today.

Let us be honest the resurrection is often a had doctrine to understand, so we should always show patience and kindness as we hold out the hope of such a resurrection. Remember no change can happen without the spirit working in the lives of others.

Today, ask the spirit to work in the life of someone you are close to and then be courageous as you speak to them.

Blessings from Ian B.

 

 

 

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Victory In Life

The readings set down for today are Joshua 11 and Luke 23:44-49

In both these readings we witness great victory at the hands of God.

In Joshua 11 the enemy in the north of Canaan is united to resist Israel’s advance, and their forces were formidable. There was too much opposition for the Israelites to meet it alone. But God assured Joshua that he would win the battle, and he did.

God assures us before the battle (v.6). He fights for us during the battle (v.8) and commands us after the battle (vs.9 & 15). How we follow orders after the battle is as important as what we do before the battle begins.

(We might ask why Joshua had to treat the horses as he did. We are not told, but perhaps it was so that the Israelites would continue to rely on God and not on their own military might.)

We see that Joshua conquered the whole land and did it to provide each Israelite with his inheritance from the Lord (v.23). God helped him defeat thirty-one kings and claim their land and their wealth for the Lord and His people.

In the New Testament we see Jesus, the Son of God as being “our Joshua”. Jesus has defeated every spiritual enemy, by His death on the cross (Luke 23:44-49) and now He reigns in heaven (See Ephesians 1:15-23 and Colossians 2:9-15).

Now, because of everything that Christ has done, we can “live and rule like kings” (Romans 5:17)

There is the victory.

Have a great day,

Peter Clark.

What would it take?

Today’s reading is Joshua 10

What would it take for you to know God was on your side? It can be so easy to doubt his work in our lives and his power to break through in our culture.

When Joshua went to help the Gibeonites, so many amazing things took place that give the reader a very clear indication that God is at work (those hailstones!). But it is only when the sun stands still for 24 hours that we read “Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!” It seems like this miraculous phenomena was the turning point for the Israelites seeing the hand of God at work.

It got me thinking… what do we need to acknowledge God’s hand at work? What would it take to be able to confidently say that “the Lord is fighting for us?”

Whenever my mind wanders down this track I’m reminded of The parable Jesus told about the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man begs Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his family about the torment the rich man experienced. Abraham’s reply is

He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead. Luke 16:31

It’s fascinating in light of the resurrection of Jesus himself. Do we really need any other sign to show the Lord is fighting for us? What he has done in raising Jesus from the dead is a miraculous phenomena that speaks loudly of his goodness toward people and his total defeat of evil and death.

Let’s not be like those whom Abraham referred to who will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead. Rather, confident in the resurrection of Jesus be assured that the Lord is fighting for us, achieving his purposes. Whatever situation you find yourself in today, know the Lord is fighting for you.

“Siri, tell me all.”

Joshua 8:30-9:27, Luke 22:63- 23:5

Information overload. Siri, Google, Facebook. Facts and features about people, politics, music, culture. Knowledge is sought.

Nothing new, it seems. The leaders of Israel, and the leader of Roman occupation of Israel, asked questions. Wanting information.

“Are you the Christ?   Are you the Son of God?    Are you the King of the Jews? ”  Filling their knowledge gap.

Knowledge and information does not constitute belief , Jesus tells us (v 67). We can know the answer to these questions, but let that knowledge have limited impact on our lives. The implications the answers to these questions raise, deeply impact our self perception, self reliance, and how we ultimately view reality.

Jesus answers that he is at the right hand – in a position of power and rule- of the mighty God (v69), and yet those around him see him  as trapped, weak and condemned. We are tempted to see him that way at times, as our culture challenges God’s sovereignty over  choices, and challenges His very existence.

Seeing the mighty God and seeing his Christ, takes faith and belief. It takes the power of God working in our lives to heal our blindness, and set our captive hearts free. Without this, our questions about about God remain merely information. We may take it or leave it. follow another thread, another trending topic. We continue to be self- determining. Like Israel, we will fail to seek His council (Joshua 9:14), and suffer the consequences. We remain clouded by sin in our thinking, our hearts remain kidnapped.

Praise our mighty God who is indeed, mighty to save.  Save his creatures from their sin, and dwell with His children through His Spirit and power. May knowledge drive us to belief, to trust and obedience, and to praise.

Luke 22:39-46

Joshua 7, Luke 22:39-46


Luke 22:39-46 (New International Version)

40 ‘Pray that you will not fall into temptation.’


Jesus tells the disciples to pray. They don’t pray. Shame on the disciples for not praying. More shame on them for not praying when they were directly told to pray. Instead, they fall into sleep.

A relentless temptation is to abandon God. This is what Eve did, in heeding the snake. This is what Adam did, in following Eve. This is what Judas did, in betraying Jesus. This is what Peter will do, in denying Jesus. This is what the disciples do now, in falling asleep.

While the disciples sleep, Jesus does the precise opposite of abandoning God: Jesus aligns himself exactly with the will of God the Father. He prays ‘Father … your will be done’ (Luke 22:42), just as he had taught the disciples earlier, ‘Our Father … your will be done’ (Matthew 6:10).

This is the final test for Jesus, coming near the end of his work, echoing the entrance examination at the beginning (Luke 4:1-13). In both times of testing the option was canvassed of him doing other than what God the Father wanted. Both times, Jesus rejected any alternative and aligned himself with the will of the Father.

This is the Christian way in a nutshell. To turn from temptation and to line up with the will of God. Our prayers should reflect this orientation. Lord, you have shown us how to pray; now help us to pray.

 

 

A Brand New End

Our readings are from Joshua and Luke.

In both chapters 5 and 6 of Joshua there is much to occupy ones mind. For me, I am captured like the Amorites by chapter 6:20-23.  What stands out for me is the amount of time God gave the Canaanites to repent. While he did indeed punish them he also gave them ample time to repent. However, as a result of their rebellion God was going to bring in Israel as one writer puts it as “His executioner”.

The lack of repentance would result in devastation for the city, “They devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed every living thing in it, men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.” (6:21). Things could have been so different. The case of Rahab the prostitute in v 23 is evidence of this. Any Canaanite could have saved his or her life by sincerely accepting  God’s will and repenting from their past actions.

One thing that is worth reflecting on is, “Why did God seem to go beyond the normal actions required of any conquering nation?” (see Deut. 20:10-18). Could it be considered that the destroying of everything that could be destroyed was actually “overkill?”. Yes. However, we would then have forgotten that this was not a “normal” situation. This action did go beyond the normal, to show that Israel were not just common plunderers but were in fact acting as God’s hand of judgement.

Yes as we read on 6:27, “The Lord as with Joshua”, but even then, to try and picture in my head the actual situation is quite hard. It must have been awful for the inhabitants of Jericho. The marching, the wailing of ram’s horns, the falling if the walls and much much more.

God was calling a people and a city to account. Their time was up. One even feels the weight of this in reading Luke 22:24-38.

So today, give thanks that God has not called time yet on our own rebellion and maybe we still have time to turn back to him with our whole hearts.

Ian Barnett

 

Stones serving as signs

Our readings today are from Luke and Joshua.

Our years are filled with events that remind us of important occurrences – Australia Day, Easter, Birthdays, Wedding Anniversaries, Christmas. In part it’s so we don’t forget. It’s also so we remember what’s important.

My daughter tells the story of the time I forgot to pick her up from school. She was waiting, and I didn’t show up. She rang me (she was mid-late High School not infants) and reminded me about where I should be. I had been distracted by other things and hadn’t realised the time. I should have set a reminder, because I know I can forget things either due to distraction or just forgetfulness.

So, the story of Israel going into the promised land encourages me (no, it doesn’t excuse my action… it just makes me realise I’m not alone). Having witnessed the incredible miracle of the parting of the Jordan River, and crossing through it, 12 representatives (one from each tribe) go back into the river and take 12 stones from the middle of the river to make a monument that would be a sign to Israel (Josh 4:1-9).

Why grab these stones unless they are needed? Why would they need reminding of the parting of the Jordan except that they would forget? How could they possibly forget what the Lord had done on that day? Yet God knew they could, and he knew they would. The stones were erected and the people instructed to use the memorial stones as a sign and reminder of how the Lord had cut off the flow of the Jordan.

In God’s plan of salvation, this entry into the promised land was very significant. It was important for the people to remember.

What are the “stones” that you use to remember God’s action in your life? What are the “stones” you use to remember how he brought you into his promised land?

I have a number of memorials that I have collected over the years to remind me of God’s goodness. A railway nail, photo’s, carvings, drawings… and even some stones. In part, they are scattered around various places to make sure I don’t forget his loving kindness. But more, they are there to reminded me of the priority, significance and importance of his great love and goodness in my life. In a world that bombards me with so many messages, while I may not forget his love, I can easily be distracted away from its immense significance and importance.

When God parts the river for you, don’t forget to grab a stone 🙂