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.

The Deeds and Death of a Good but Lonely King

The Deeds and Death of a Good but Lonely King

2 Chronicles 35:1-36:1

On the events in today’s reading one commentator has written: “For the last great king of Judah, coming to the throne in 641BC, stands at the midpoint in time between the covenant of Sinai and that of Calvary. From the last mountain-top of the monarchy he looks back over six centuries to Moses, determined to revive in his own day the old covenant which had failed so often before, and would fail again. For that the law had ‘but a shadow of the good things to come’, and could never ‘make perfect those who draw near’(Hebrews 10:1). But from the same point the prophet Jeremiah looks forward, also across six centuries, to Christ the ‘mediator of a new covenant’ who by a single offering … has perfected for all time those who are sanctified’” (Hebrews 9:15; 10:14).

Seen in this light, it is poignant but appropriate that Josiah should be such a lonely figure, trying to lead back to God a people who did not want to be led. For the very weakness of the old covenant was that it could not make people good, whereas that was the very strength of the new one foreseen by Jeremiah.”

And of his death the same writer concludes, “With this determined, solitary man there perished the last of the true shepherd-kings of Israel, until the day when the great Shepherd should come, whose voice, though despised and rejected by many, his own sheep would heed and follow”.

 

The Messenger and the Master

Matthew 11:1-19

John and the Lord Jesus mark a dramatic change in the drama of redemption. One comes as the forerunner, the other is the Fact. One points to the King and the kingdom: the other is the King and brings the kingdom.

The sad fact is that the account reveals a people who will neither heed an ascetic nor give attention to one who moved freely amongst the people. One is possessed by a ‘demon’, the other ‘a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners’.

When the heart is not right every attempt by God to reach out to a human being is misconstrued. The message of the King and the Kingdom today is not heeded by all, but to those who listen and respond there is eternal life.

Let us be immensely grateful the our Saviour was, and is, ‘a friend of sinners’. He has come to make us, by grace, into true children of God. He is the true Shepherd of the sheep.

The Story of a Good Man

The Story of a Good Man

2 Chronicles 34

The unimpressive stories of Manasseh and Amon as kings of Judah that precede this chapter (even though the former wonderfully repented and changed his ways) provide a dark background that highlights this bright episode in Judah’s history.

Josiah was good king as the record reveals. He sought to please God, and the discovery of the Book of the Law (perhaps Deuteronomy) provided a basis for reform and covenant renewal.

Perhaps there is a lesson here that we should learn: the presence of women and men, who graciously seek to honour God in whatever situation they happen to find themselves, are indeed a blessing. The careless or compromised may not see it that way. However, genuinely God-conscious people bring a touch of heaven to any environment in which they operate.

Josiah is a good example.

 

Take up the Cross and Follow Jesus

Matthew 10:32-42

This reading is both simple and challenging as it recalls the words of our Lord Jesus. We are to take up the cross and follow him.

The cross was an instrument of death. It means death to every motive other than love for God and love for others. That was how Jesus lived and died: for God and for others.

Only God, by the operation of His Spirit, can enable us, in some broken fashion at least, to rise up and follow truly in our Master’s footsteps.

The Temple of God

2 Chronicles 7

This chapter records three things of particular importance.

First, it records the coming of the presence of God to the Temple which David had planned and which Solomon built. This was like the coming of the glory of God to the wilderness tabernacle recorded in Exodus 40:34-35.

Next, it was the place where repentant Israel was to come to experience God’s renewed mercy and forgiveness.

Finally, its ruin would become and appalling witness to God’s departure from his people if they worshipped and served other gods.

There is no account of a similar coming of the glory of God on the second temple built by the exiles returning from Babylon. But God’s presence did in fact come to that Temple enhanced by Herod in Jerusalem when God, the Son came to that complex and to the people of God.

Though rejected by many, those who welcome Him become His temple (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16). It is we who believe in Him who are the location where His Spirit dwells

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)

Who Are the Truly Happy?

Matthew 5:1-12

Here is the Lord’s summary of those who are truly happy. Some observers may think the very opposite but these are they who look to God and in so looking are blessed indeed. There is a sharp contrast between the values of God’s Kingdom and those of our surrounding culture.

Prayer and the Whole of Life

2Chronicles 6:12-42

This magnificent prayer makes life before God a whole-of-life affair. These people were the people of God and God was to be their first and final resort in all aspects of their life..

Solomon reckons on God as a promise keeping God and so we find Him to be also. We live by and upon His promises.

The great and prayerful George Mueller wrote: “… the first thing I did, after having asked in a few words the Lord’s blessing upon His precious word, was, to begin to meditate on the word of God, searching, as it were, into every verse to get blessing out of it. … The result I have found to be almost invariably this, that after a few minutes my soul has been led to confession, or tho thanksgiving, or to intercession, or to supplication; so that, though I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately more or less to prayer. When thus I have been for awhile making confession, or intercession, or supplication, or have given thanks, I go on to the next words or verse, turning all, as I go on, into prayer for myself or others, as the Word may lead to it.”

The Sovereign Lord of all listens to our prayers and we are shaped as we pray.

Jesus Begins His Public Ministry

Matthew 4:23-25

The Kingdom that Jesus proclaimed and whose powers he demonstrated has come, not yet in its fullness, but it has come. The final rule of God has broken into our fallen world and it is being peopled by those who become new creations through faith in Jesus.

We who look to Jesus wait expectantly for that final day knowing that as Paul wrote: “… we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)