Deaf as posts but the invitation is for those who will come.

Today’s (Fr 08/12/2017) FDR passages are Amos 3 and Luke 14:15-24

Deaf as posts

Amos chapter 3 is the first of the prophetic word reports in this book.  These concern judgement against Israel and in Chapter 3 vv3-8 use a rhetorical cause and effect framework of questions that culminate in v8:

The lion has roared –
    who will not fear?
The Sovereign Lord has spoken –
    who can but prophesy?

The implied question being;

“How is it the prophet prophesies the impending doom of God, but the people do not pay any attention?”

So the judgement is spoken and very little of use will be left.  Vv12-15 describes how desolation will be made of Israel and the ineffectual pieces that will be left.  This is punishment on a very grand scale.

Celebrations for all.

We can be too familiar with this next passage, Luke 14:15-24.  We think it means God invites people who are celebrated guests and they refuse so He invites others, some whom we would not normally consider.  Yet it is about those who already know God too.

When we hear the call of God, in what ever means it comes to us,  to act either by direct invitation or through a quiet whisper, perhaps as loud to us as a trumpet call, will we recognise it is the Master’s call and promptly obey?

Our passage characterises the first group as those who are too busy.  Yet it is the Master calling.  Then he gathers people from all places and there is still room.  Another call is made, this time with determination – ” . . . and compel people to come in so that my house may be filled.” (v23)

Behind these words is a very clear message delivered by v24 “. . . none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.”

SHUT OUT!  EXCLUDED!  Missed out on the one and only opportunity to celebrate with God, the marriage of the Lamb to His people!

Revelation 7:9 describes the resulting celebration like this:

After these things I looked, and here was an enormous crowd that no one could count, made up of persons from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb dressed in long white robes, and with palm branches in their hands.

There are only two responses possible here;

Yes, Lord I’ll come.  Or

No Lord, I’ve something else to do!

An obedient servant

What of the servant carrying out the Master’s instructions?  This is the fourth group and they follow the Lord’s direction and keep extending the invitations until the work is finished.

There is no criminal record check, nor talking to the invitees’ referees, nor checking if they are clean and well dressed, nor making sure they don’t already have a religion, nor making sure they are from the right suburb, or town or country.

No prior checks to see if the invitees are qualified.  Just asking, cajoling and compelling people to come to the feast.  Yes, no strings attached.  Everything is supplied by the Lord.

Do we approach our role as servants of God in this “All are invited, no exceptions” frame of mind?  Are we taking and making opportunities to bring into God’s kingdom all people?

Whatever role we have in this parable of Jesus the Bible’s 2 Peter 1:3 reminds us, whether we are called to the dinner celebration or are a servant doing the calling, that everything is provided, we need nothing of our own:

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Peter 1:3)

NO excuses – whether we are the servant or the guest we are expected, and equipped, to take our part seriously and be part of the solution.

Glenn

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Call to review and blessings from God.

Today’s (Tu 05/11/2017) FDR passages are Joel 2:13-28 and Luke 13:10-21

Both passages today contain calls to review and resultant blessings.

Our reading in the book of Joel takes us to a challenge to review our standing before God as the passage prophesies what might need to be done to return to accepting the Lord’s favour and beseeching Him to turn back from the terrible judgement being described in yesterday’s reading.  These passages are also seen as a description of the times of tribulation that occur in the end times before Christ’s second coming and the relief prophesied to His faithful people on His return.

Our Luke reading describes one scene and a number of actions from Jesus’ ministry.  Here we see again Jesus working to heal and discuss or challenge belief and understanding.  There are three facets I want to focus on in the Sabbath healing to again examine Our Lord’s foci.

The woman healed came to the synagogue to hear a man who was becoming known as a prophet and healer and before He is finished she is healed of an 18 year affliction and “immediately she straightened up and praised God.” (v13b)  Jesus heals this woman in the place she is most hurting.

The synagogue leader, here addressing his people, requires them to come on days other than the Sabbath to be healed.  Yet Jesus beginning with a lesser rule argues that even the donkey would be given water today, on the Sabbath.  Then asks why not heal a person who is bound by evil.  Jesus, using a tool common to synagogue discourse, engages in discussion with this synagogue leader, and other opponents, by arguing from the same  rules as applied to work on the Sabbath.  Moving from a lesser being, an animal which needs care to a person who needs care, He argues that there is a stronger reason to heal and to do so straight away.

Those attending the Synagogue with its leader and this healed woman are either defeated or delighted. As v17 puts it “all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.”

Finally, challenging the gardeners and the cooks!   Picking up on Greg’s theme from yesterday;  What are we doing with our mustard seeds and our yeast?  Are we planting the seed of truth in people’s minds and hearts and praying for God’s Spirit to water it into a child of God?  Are we putting the yeast of Christ’s saving grace into people’s lives and setting it in the sunlight of God’s Spirit so those we are among can rise into a person of Christ?

You and I have been blessed with a ‘mustard seed’ or the ‘yeast’ of faith.  Are we replanting them in others by witness and prayer?

A prayer – Lord God, may we cherish the faith you have blessed us with enough to look for and pray about opportunities to bless others with your seeds and yeast in our short time on this earth.  In Christ’s name we ask this.  Amen. 

[My apologies to our early starters for this late posting.]

Glenn

Queen Esther and Jesus pauses

Today’s (We 08/11/2017) FDRs are Esther 2 and Luke 7:18-35

Queen Esther

Esther is taken into the King’s harem after a competition and wins his favour.  Shortly to be crowned Queen.

Meanwhile Mordecai, her tutor and cousin, keeps close to her residence to see how she is going and keep watch over her.  Yet the story line depicts some unusual extravagances such as 12 months of beauty treatment.  Others that reappear later are the new queen’s feast and declaring a kingdom wide holiday and liberal gift giving.

Yet these three events foreshadow the festival of Purim and are part of the Purim celebration.

Mordecai’s discovery of the plot on the King’s life and its reporting by Esther to the King, carries the story on into the intrigue between Haman and Mordecai and the events that follow in the coming chapters.

Jesus pauses.

This passage describes the ongoing work of Jesus, the question of John’s disciples and Jesus answer, and His concern about those who believe and those who don’t.  It also allows us to accept the ‘pause’ in the ongoing events and look more deeply at these events that are Jesus’ ministry.

So, I’d like you to take some time flipping back over the previous chapters of Luke that describe Jesus ministry so far and briefly catalogue all the events Jesus describes in vv 21-23?  Perhaps you can find some he didn’t include in this summary?

I think you’ll be amazed at the breadth and number Jesus acts in.

Glenn

 

Zion, City of our God.

Today’s (Su 05/11/2017) FDR is Psalm 87

Although fairly short in only seven verses this psalm has strong links to our past, present and our future as God’s people.

The psalm begins with God establishing His city on the mountain and how much He loves it.   Zion (see  Ps. 2:6; 48:1) is identified as the favourite and how glorious it is. (v1-3).  This picks up on God’s Old Testament (OT) promises to His people Israel, that they would eventually join Him in the Holy City set aside for them and over which He would preside.  Also there is a future perspective that this verse encompasses the New Testament (NT) future, mostly written in Revelation.  Here in Revelation 21:1-5.  In both pictures God is seen as being close to his people (Ps. 121:1).

The purpose of v4 is to describe an end-times picture in which all peoples are together and part of God’s people and He will affirm people as belonging.  Here the use of first person voice, (I and me) suggests it is God that is affirming the city and His people.

Verses 5 and 6 reaffirm people who belong to Zion and God’s establishment of this city.  Particularly by His keeping of a register of His people who belong here.  However both are written in the third person voice and indicate a witness to God’s actions.  In other words, ‘Yes, this is happening.’

Verse 7 speaks of the source of God’s peoples safety, fountains or springs, of God’s people as seen in Deut 33:28.

Overall, this psalm is a picture of the special place of God in which His people (OT), now His Church (NT), will live in close proximity to God who both raises Zion and collects and records the people who belong here.  As Jesus is the Messiah who brought God’s message of salvation and redemption for all the people of the world.  Jesus’ first coming is to bring not the select nation, Israel, into Zion but all His select people, the Church, into Zion under the new covenant.  But to do so at Jesus’ next and second coming.

This is the time for us to live in God’s grace and live as Christians in this broken world seeking to be ambassadors for Christ so that God’s Spirit might work in people’s lives bringing them into a personal relationship with Jesus and that they might join us as part of His Church.

Glorious things of Thee are spoken.
John Newton (1725-1807) wrote this well loved hymn which reflects on these subjects.

God’s Blessings,

Glenn
(Thanks to Youtube.com for access to the music and lyrics.)

Storm’d at with shot and shell, Boldly they rode and well,[1]

Today’s (Su 08/10/2017) FDR is Psalm 83 .

This psalm sets out to call God’s attention to the assault made on Him through the attacks of His enemies on His people, Israel.  So in a similar way the poem describing the chaos and cacophony of the cannon against which the British Light Brigade rode in 1854 mimics, in an earthly way, the forces aligned against God and His people.

There are two perspectives here that I want to focus on briefly:

God is responsible.  Not for our troubles, but for our safekeeping.  Biblical historians tell us there is no time in earlier history when all these nations were arraigned, all at the same time, against God’s chosen people Israel.  Since the resurrection of our saviour Jesus we live in the ‘end times’, those times between Jesus’ resurrection and His second coming.  Various authors have suggested that now, in the late 20th and early 21st Centuries, there is an alignment of nations, descended from the listed nations in Psalm 83, arranged around the current physical home of the Israel nation. This cry of help calls for assistance from God prophetically for this occurrence.  This is a call for assistance against the physical threat of being overrun and wiped from the face of the earth.

God is attentive.  We have a much more important perspective to understand here.  Our living in the ‘end times’, before Christ returns to  judge the earth and its people, has a whole other level of understanding.  While, the spiritual struggle is won in Jesus Christ and death has lost its sting, we are to continue here on earth seeking to enable as many who don’t know Jesus as Lord to change their minds and accept Him.

None of our circumstances today deny the opposition Satan and his workers bring to our current environment whatever you or I think will crush us or destroy us.  Yet we too have the words of the Great Commission[2] and other repeated affirmations in Scripture, including the words of Jesus in many circumstances, to assure us that God is responsible for us and is attentive to us.

But more than that.  God has promised us that He alone provides us with an eternal life through faith in Jesus.  These promises are written in the Bible and on our hearts as we come to faith in Jesus and understanding of the great gift of eternal life in God.

Can I encourage you to take this psalm into your own personal armoury against the powers of evil to use when you feel overrun by those apparently arraigned against you or those whom you love.  To call on our Almighty God to hold back the perceived overwhelming forces opposed against Him and His children.  Yes, You and I too.

May you be blessed and strengthened through calling on Our God.

Glenn

  1. Title from verse 3 of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem The charge of the Light Brigade
  2. The Great Commission as recorded in Matthew 28: 18-20

 

God who is supreme over all, the seen and unseen.

Today’s (Su 01/10/2017) FDR is Psalm 82 .

It will come as no surprise to you that this is one of the shortest psalms in this book of the Bible.  But my reading suggests it is one of the most debated and written about.

I’d like to draw out two particular points: (i) how its constructed poetically and (ii) how part of it was used by Jesus.

It has three strands of thought with two encapsulated in the prior one so that it is a clear indicator of the simple emphasis that is encouraged by this form of expression.

A  God stands and judges the assembly of the gods. (v1)

B  The gods are confronted over their injustice. (v2-4)

C  The chaos left by the gods is described. (v5)

B  The gods are confronted with their mortality. (v6-7)

A  God is asked to rise in the assembly and judge the earth. (v8)

God stands over all for what He desires.  A just world in which He exercises judgement of all for those things done and not done.  For the chaos created.  God’s authority is emphasised here by the use of the word ‘gods’ to include both the earthly and supernatural over which He has supreme authority.

Jesus, God’s son and part of the Trinity, is recorded in John 10: 30-49 as being charged as blasphemous when He says He and the Father are One (v30).  Jesus goes on to defend himself before those wishing to stone Him (v33-36) using Psalm 82:6 through the interpretation that some mortals are “gods’ or immortal.  Jesus goes on to argue that He was sanctified and sent by ‘the Father’ to do the Father’s works.

Here’s how John records this interchange between Jesus’ accusers, attempting to be His executioners, and Jesus.

John 10:30-39 New International Version – UK (NIVUK)

30 I and the Father are one.’

31 Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’

33 ‘We are not stoning you for any good work,’ they replied, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.’

34 Jesus answered them, ‘Is it not written in your Law, “I have said you are ‘gods’”[a]? 35 If he called them “gods”, to whom the word of God came – and Scripture cannot be set aside – 36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, “I am God’s Son”? 37 Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. 38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.’ 39 Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.

Footnotes:

  1. John 10:34 Psalm 82:6
(Sourced from Biblegateway.com on 29/09/2017.  With thanks.)

 

So we are able to sing in great joy and praise of our Almighty God and His son Jesus:

I know not why God’s wondrous grace

(Sourced from Youtube.com on 29/09/2017.  With thanks.)

May your Sunday be blessed as you praise the Almighty Triune God,

Glenn

Lessons from History, theirs and ours.

Today’s (Su 03/09/2017) FDR is Psalm 78

This 78th psalm is the second longest in the whole book of Psalms.  Do you know which is the longest?  Which is the shortest?

As you begin to read this psalm today you’ll realise its a lesson for us, the readers, about history and God’s punishment because of Israel’s inveterate return to sin.  This psalm is also a note for their and our future.  Each time God’s anger is aroused so too is His mercy.  His judgement is stayed by His great love for us all.  A new beginning is promised to those who remain faithful.  Often those saved are only a remnant.

However, there is also a long range promise of a new beginning from within this Psalm.  Verses 14 and 53 both contain the phrase “he led them” that is used of God rescuing His people.  This phrase is used again in verse 72 and at first, in the Israelite context, speaks of David’s role as King and shepherd of the nation.

Yet this psalm is written for learning from the past and to teach about the future.  Yes, even the New Testament future. The prior phrase (v71d) “His very own”  or “his inheritance” links the “he led them” (v72) phrase back to God.

How faithful is our Almighty God.  Not only does He  rescue Israel, but at the same time He is preparing to rescue us.

Asking Peter’s question from yesterday in a different way;
Are we firmly resolved to stay faithful to the only God who was and is preparing for us before we have being?

Jesus did.   We can by faith in Jesus.

Glenn M