Only two ways to live; for or against

Today’s (Mo 07/05/2018) FDR passages are Jeremiah 19 and Romans 1:16-32

Jeremiah’s personal task for God was to deliver God’s hard message of Judgement to Israel for their disregard of Him as the only true and living God.  Jeremiah was charged with making clear prophecies in front of the leaders of the Israel nation to clearly espouse God’s condemnation of their regard of God’s teaching and requirements for life as God’s Chosen People.

Paul, in writing Romans, makes stark the distinction between these same two paths we can chose to walk through out our lives.  Briefly and very pointedly in verses 16 and 17 in this passage Paul describes the one way to live.  It is “. . . salvation to live by faith” in God.

He continues to describe the alternate path leading to God’s condemnation and judgement.  For those who chose to ignore Him (through ungodliness) he describes the path chosen in v18 and the result that “. . . they are without excuse” (v20c), and He “gave them up . . . to the degrading of their bodies among themselves.” (v24).  So walking this path of disregard and unbelief leads to separation from God.

Perhaps best encapsulated in these words; “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done” (v28).

These are warnings for us too.  As followers of God, we need to acknowledge the severe penalty for living as if we do not know God.  That is, for God to give us up to our own debased actions and thoughts and to becoming trapped in the mire and death of godless thought and action.

In our faith before God, we acknowledge God and trust in Him for our lives before Him eternally.  We also have a requirement from God to speak and act, like Jeremiah and Jesus, to those who will listen, of the dangers and judgement waiting for those who disregard God and ignore Him.

Yet, because we share relationships with fellow travellers, who remain non-believers, most of us are charged with describing the consequences in a way that permits conversation and builds relationships so as to convince them, through permitting them to see Jesus in our lives, and to come to faith in Him.  Others, yes some whom we know, are charged with the more public task of making known God’s requirements for all our lives, and pointing out the distinction using public opportunities.

Paul’s words make it plain, we will live on the basis of faithfulness in God.  As we have chosen this path, we must understand and make carefully plain our concern for others who choose to disregard Him.

As with Jeremiah and his public and prophetic charge these are not easy paths or words to utter, but need to be spoken by us when necessary and lived out in our lives.

A prayer: Lord God, you are creator and judge of all.  By your grace and Holy Spirit may we walk in your paths and be faithful to your teachings and commands for us, in all we do and say.  May we graciously speak and act out of Your love and forgiveness to those who don’t know you as we seek to demonstrate your forgiveness and faithfulness.  We make these requests through Your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

Yours in His service,

Glenn

 

 

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Psalm 116: Oh worship the Lord

Today’s (Su 06/05/2018) Faithful Daily Read is Psalm 116.

We ought  not lose a moment to worship our God.  Our God who, as Psalm 23 (The Message version) tells us “Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure.

So what do you and I wait for?

This Psalm (NIV2011 Version) shows us what David thinks and does after he looks at what has happened to him and what the Lord has done for him.

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
    he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
    I will call on him as long as I live.

The cords of death entangled me,
    the anguish of the grave came over me;
    I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
    Lord, save me!’

The Lord is gracious and righteous;
    our God is full of compassion.
The Lord protects the unwary;
    when I was brought low, he saved me.

Return to your rest, my soul,
    for the Lord has been good to you.

For you, Lord, have delivered me from death,
    my eyes from tears,
    my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the Lord
    in the land of the living.

10 I trusted in the Lord when I said,
    ‘I am greatly afflicted’;
11 in my alarm I said,
    ‘Everyone is a liar.’

12 What shall I return to the Lord
    for all his goodness to me?

13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
    and call on the name of the Lord.
14 I will fulfil my vows to the Lord
    in the presence of all his people.

15 Precious in the sight of the Lord
    is the death of his faithful servants.
16 Truly I am your servant, Lord;
    I serve you just as my mother did;
    you have freed me from my chains.

17 I will sacrifice a thank-offering to you
    and call on the name of the Lord.
18 I will fulfil my vows to the Lord
    in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the Lord –
    in your midst, Jerusalem.

Praise the Lord.

 

(This blog was published previously by Glenn on 03/05/2016.)

Invited, reminded and enjoying.

Today’s (We 04/04/2018) Faithful Daily Read (FDR) is taken from Isaiah 55 and Revelation 5.

Plainly in both these passages there is an invitation and both invitations are fulfilled for us.

This is not the type of invitation we might see in a nice park for a picnic or an elusive carpark at the shopping centre.  In this type of invitation, we must act to a first take up the apparent invitation we see in an inanimate space.  That is, we need to stop for a picnic or drive into the car space.  To do so requires us to already be prepared with our picnic meal or bbq and with rugs and meat or sandwiches.  Even the car space is only of use to us if we are in our car or on our motorcycle.

But these passages express the invitation of the one true almighty and Holy God.  Not just to accept the invitation but to receive from God that which we need to fulfil the invitation.

But most importantly the first three verses of Isaiah 55, provide us with both the invitation and 12 things to receive these gifts from God.

John Piper[1] defines the imperatives in this way:

Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters [#1]; and he who has no money, come [#2], buy [#3] and eat [#4]! Come [#5], buy wine and milk [#6] without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me [#7], and eat what is good [#8], and delight yourselves in rich food [#9]. Incline your ear [#10], and come to me [#11]; hear [#12], that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.

What is being asked of each of us to engage in God’s invitation?

Revelation 5 provides us with a picture of the being who can open the scroll with the seven seals.  Yes, only the slain Lamb of God can do this.   Here too there is the purchasing of the people of every tribe and language for God at a cost to God.  The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  So that these people may form a ’church’, or kingdom of priests to serve God. (vv 9 – 10)

What a special place is reserved for us through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ?

There are four ways to proceed from knowing these exhortations of God and His place for us His people:

  1. If you are distant from God, draw near.
  2. If you are assessing and examining God’s invitation, it is time to buy in.
  3. If you accepted God then you need to devour and learn from His scriptures so that you experience God in your life.
  4. If you have accepted God and are learning from Him, then enjoy and delight in the Lord.

Yes, there are Ten Thousand Reasons to know, love and enjoy God.

Yours in His great service,

Glenn

[1] Piper, John. In The Great Invitation: Come! Drink! Eat! Live! from Desiring God, 31 July 1988, https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/the-great-invitation-come-drink-eat-live

 

Almighty God who was and is and will be, forever.

Today’s (Su 04/03/2018) FDR is Psalm 107

The last few month’s have seen many we know or with whom we have had contact, being called home by God to be with Him in glory. Some who were close to us and some who were close to our brothers and sisters.  Billy Graham tells us that he’s not dead, but that he’s changed his address.  So too have those we know  or those who are our friends or relatives.

Some who are our brothers and also dads, husbands, grandads and great grandads.  Some who were our sisters and also mothers, wives, grans or great grans.  Whatever our own personal relation, those who have gone home were close to us and close to our remaining sisters and brothers.  Some have been children, youths or younger adults of our families or families we know.  Those who are daughters and those who are sons.  But are no longer here.

Psalm 107 holds four vignettes that remind us that in times of trial and desolation, or stress and depression, we, on recognising our difficult and stressful circumstance, should turn to God and call on Him in prayer seeking His Grace so that we may persevere.  Then, when we recognise the grace He supplies, to worship and thank Him offering praise for lifting us up from the depths.

We may never find ourselves literally wandering in a desert wasteland (vv4-9), forced to dwell in a place of deep darkness (vv10-16), sick to the point of death (vv17-22), caught in a tumultuous storm at sea (vv23-32) but we can feel as if  these things have occurred to us.  Particularly buffeted by the physical separation from loved ones by death.

God will and does redeem and pour out His grace and love on us from all directions.  More often than not from surprising places and people. (Yes this is my experience and my witness.)

So we are reminded:

17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate [or reflect] 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 (NIVUK)]

Now, how to go on?   How to live in this life that always changes?

There are a few concise guides and many books but, you can read and live as
the Bible says in Colossians 3:1-17  {Just click this link to make a start.}

Yours in God’s grace and love,

Glenn

Psalm 103.

Today’s (Sun 04/02/2018) FDR is Psalm 103.

Writing for this blog is a joy, whether blogger or incidental commentator.  But more so the readings of Scripture and the growth in understanding that is opened to us all as we study in God’s name and under the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

Today, this psalm says all I want to say.  Enjoy.

Psalm 103

Of David.

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits –
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
    and justice for all the oppressed.

He made known his ways to Moses,
    his deeds to the people of Israel:
the Lord is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
    nor will he harbour his anger for ever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children –
18 with those who keep his covenant
    and remember to obey his precepts.

19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
    and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Praise the Lord, you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his bidding,
    who obey his word.
21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
    you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the Lord, all his works
    everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the Lord, my soul.

 

Singing as we live our lives before us.

Ten Thousand Reasons (Bless the Lord oh my soul.)

Thanks to biblegateway for this Psalm.
Thanks to youtube for this beautiful hymn written by Matt Redman.

Nahum and Luke

Today’s (Mo 08/01/2018) FDR is Nahum 1 and Luke 18:1-8

What does Nahum chapter 1 and the first 8 verses of Luke chapter 18 share in common?  Not many things but a great powerful and merciful God. Our glorious God as the centre piece.

Yesterday Steve took us into Psalm 99 and concluded with these words:
“. . . shows us that God is both reigning king, mighty and awesome, AND loving father, responsive, forgiving and faithful. What more can we do than to fall upon our knees and ‘exalt the Lord our God for the LORD our God is Holy!’ (v9).”

Today, Nahum’s prophecy in this first chapter prophesies about an overlord called “Ninevah”, a great and worldly powerful oppressor whose descent from its own glory and might occurs in the face of the Lord’s greater power and justice.  This provides us with the same perspective as more ancient readers of this prophecy such as those between 7th century BCE and Christ’s birth.  That is, a message of hope and trust in God for those of us who are oppressed by our own “Nineveh”.  The same message for the ancients and ourselves.

Today also this familiar passage from Luke 18,  as Jesus relates the parable of the lonely and persistent widow and her constant approaches to the normally unsympathetic judge so that he accedes to her requests.   Luke, in his helpful style, identifies for us that the parable’s purpose is prayer.

But how to characterise these two players in this parable?  While it is easy to see ourselves as the petitioner, the widow. Possibly feeling alone and unsuppported.  I don’t believe we should ascribe the role of the judge to God!  In fact, it is my view that the description of the judge is deliberate to encourage us to think about our own perspective in which we see our God.

Is He a grumbling reluctant judge who approves our prayers after we have “droned on” for a while about what we want?  Not so.

The Bible describes an very different God.  Our God, in my experience, is an extremely generous and considerate God.  A personal and committed God, who is keen for each of us to know Him and Jesus and the Holy Spirit, as part of our own lives.  Also as part of our collective lives together as the church, as Christ’s redeemed people.   God demonstrates His great care and interest in us in many ways, not the least of these being the provision of both a personal and collective prayer connection for ours and His use, as often and as many times as it is needed.  There are many different prayer modes, of which some examples are, those urgent times when something disastrous is about to occur or has just occurred, when we or our brothers and sisters are in need of grace and peace, and in praise and worship of our great God.

Just three of all the many examples of prayer conversations we can have with God.

Why is prayer so important?  Briefly, prayer demonstrates our faith in God through Christ and it stokes our hunger for things of God encouraging us to leave the sin and mundane of this world and revel in Him.  Prayer is an important part of each of us remaining as an elect child of God and those who will be taken on Christ’s turbulent return to be with Him.

Its time to pray.  Its always time to pray.

Blessings,

Glenn

Note to all diaries: Monthly FAC Community prayer mornings recommence on Sat 3rd February, 2018 from 7am to 9am.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The battery of good works God has already prepared for us to do.

Today’s (Fr 05/01/2018) FDR is Ephesians 5:1-20

The previous readings in the last few days have sought to remind us of our response to God on becoming Christians. (Thanks Steve for these.)  Much of the underlying theme of each of these is the path made smooth for us by Jesus.  Just as the lead Sherpa, when climbing Mt Everest, seeks to find the best path for we who are following, to tread trustingly to reach our goal.  So are Jesus demonstrations and instructions about how to live as believers in this world.

So that we as faithful Christians may adopt a lifestyle that exemplifies God as described in these 20 verses.

vv 1 & 2 asks us to not just talk to the talk, but to walk the walk.  That is to act in Christian ways, “to walk in the way of love.”  Essentially we are encouraged to act as Christ taught us.  Yes even to imitate God by taking on Jesus example of behaviour.

vv 3 -7 Provides us with a list of behaviours and people who behave in these ways that are to be rejected.

vv 8 – 20 encourages us to ” . . live as children of light . .” (v8), “. . making the most of every opportunity, . .” (v16), ” but understand what the Lord’s will is.” (v17b) and “. . .be filled with the Spirit, . .” (v18b).

 

Hebrews 10: 23 & 24 has this to say about why we should act like this;

23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.  24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

 

Martin Luther (1483-1546) picks up on the continual imperative of imitating God with these words:

This life, therefore, is not godliness but the process of becoming godly, not health but getting well, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way. The process is not yet finished, but it is actively going on. This is not the goal but it is the right road. At present, everything does not gleam and sparkle, but everything is being cleansed. (1)

 

Lastly, but not least, we should ask for guidance and assistance through prayer;

Holy, blessed and glorious Trinity, three persons in one God,
have mercy on me.

Almighty God, Creator and sustainer of the universe, I worship you.
Lord Jesus Christ, Saviour and Lord of the World, I worship you.
Holy Spirit, Sanctifier of the people of God, I worship you.
Heavenly Father, I pray that I may live this day in your presence and please you more and more.
Lord Jesus, I pray that this day I may take up my cross and follow you.
Holy Spirit, I pray that this day you will fill me with yourself and cause your fruit to  ripe in my life: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-control.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now, and shell be forever.
Amen.

 

Blessings,
Glenn

(1) Defense and Explanation of All the Articles”, transl. 
Charles M. Jacobs, in Luther’s Works, Volume 34 (Philadelphia: 
Muhlenberg Press, 1958), 24.