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

 

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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

A new book – Nehemiah

Today’s (Sa 05/08/2017) FDR is Nehemiah 1 and Matthew 18:10-20

Beginning a new book today we can take a brief but broad view of what we are about to read for the next few weeks.

Nehemiah is a book largely about renewal, in this case principally about the wall for the defence of Jerusalem.  The wall that is used to control and regulate the way of life inside the city by the use of its gates in accordance with ritual and commercial processes inside the city.

For us though, there is a strong reason to see this account as a broad euphemism for our own renewal and protection against being drawn into sin and keeping our walk with God righteous.  The image of the wall and the struggles of Nehemiah to establish a rebuilding operation are much like our own struggles to keep evil out of our lives and to walk in the paths of our God.  So too its possible to see in this record’s course our own use of defences and primarily the acts of relying on God for both guidance and sustenance for the whole journey.   For example, the acts of adding weapons to the work parties on the walls mimics our need and adoption of prayer, in faith, and actions that seek to keep us from falling into sin.  Yet there are plenty of distractions in our lives to sin and so too Nehemiah and the people are constantly buffeted by opponents.

Enjoy Nehemiah and encourage each other in our own lives before God and each other.

Glenn

 

 

But we have sinned!

Today’s (Fr 04/08/2017) FDR is Ezra 10 and Matthew 22:1-14

Ezra 10

As we open the last chapter of Ezra we are struck by Ezra being in a confessional mode.  For something serious enough to again remove the Israel nation from its earthly home and worship place.  Israel could again loose Jerusalem, Judah and the Temple!  Ezra 9 disclosed this sin.

The banishment to Babylon came after God’s judgement on a people who had filled their land with abhorrent practices.  Their guilt for accepting this judgement is finally accepted by Daniel. (See Daniel’s prayer at Dan 9:4-19.)

Like other Old Testament leaders such as Josiah, Mordecai and Esther and Jehoshaphat, Ezra adopts an attitude of confession and prayer while seeking to make right what is wrong.

Moses tells us in Deuteronomy 30:19 what use the Law is before God. “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.

Even today the law has the same purpose. Martin Luther too, gave this strong argument based on the same Deuteronomy passage: “… that by the words of the law, man is admonished and taught, not what he can do, but that what he ought to do; that is, that he may know his sin, not that he may believe that he has any strength.”

Then Ezra’s people, lead by their leaders, agree to a way to set themselves right before God and they spend a number of months carefully going about rectifying the abhorrent practices so that they may walk in God’s paths of righteousness.

Sending away their wives who were taken from other non-God fearing peoples and their children was a practice we would find very difficult in today’s post resurrection age.  Essentially, Ezra and his people are removing those who would not believe from among the tribes of Israel.  Here a cleansing of God’s people is being undertaken.

Matthew 22

This passage too is about conviction and choice.  Choice to obey or not.

As the King sends out his servants to bring in guests, each time he is refused.  Each time his royal invitation is disobeyed. So each time the King makes a more generous invitation to those less likely by earthly standards to be invited.

Jesus’ parable mimics His own work among us.  Even after the wedding celebration is filled the King finds those who did not respond correctly to his invitation and this person is bound and cast out of the wedding.  Here are echoes of Jesus’ parable about the sheep and the goats and the sorting out of the ‘faithful’ at judgement time by removing those who mimic the sheep of Jesus.  (see Matthew 25:31-46)

John 1:12-13 makes it clear why there is only one way to become and remain a sheep in Jesus’ flock, or a member of His church.

12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

May each one of us walk prayerfully and carefully in the paths of our Lord Jesus Christ and encourage and support our sisters and brothers to remain faithful.

Glenn

Some glimpses of God’s son Jesus demonstrating his authority.

Today’s (We 05/07/2017) and yesterday’s New Testament FDRs are Matthew 8:23 – 9:8 and encompass three accounts of Jesus ministry that demonstrate his authority as the Son of God and Messiah.  In each the way in which his verbal and actions are received and responded to tell us much.

The forces of nature  (ch 8:23 – 27)

Here in Matthew, and in the other gospels the description of this incident is pretty clear: The storm that overtakes and threatens Jesus and the disciples’ boat trip is stilled by Jesus.  The action by Jesus, in front of His disciples, shows that Jesus can turn fear and anxiety away.  Jesus shows He, like God, can and does control forces of nature.   More than that, Jesus is prepared to challenge the disciples to assess their lack of faith, read mistrust in this circumstance.

Jesus has demonstrated that we are called to follow Him, in earlier scenes in Matthew, and here shows that life following Him can be rough. But with Jesus as Master of All, we should be emboldened to follow Him as He can look after the problems.

Demons in a foreign land (ch 8:28 – 9:1)

Arriving in this foreign place Jesus and his disciples encounter two men who live in a graveyard.  But they are more than men.  They are possessed by demons.  Demons who recognise the Son of God and Him being out of expected time and place.  The demons urge Jesus to send them into a second best place to live and while Jesus does this, He also exercises judgement on them and drowns the pigs.  Now, for some local people having lost their source of income and having disturbed the town enough to bring the locals out they want nothing to do with Jesus and send Him away.  From here Jesus returns to his own town.

We will come up against apparently impassable opposition and hardship.  Some of it demonic and Satanic.  However, Christ is in control and we must still follow Him.

Healing and forgiveness (ch 9:2 – 8)

We know faith to be an expression of dependence on our Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Here too the faith of the paralytic and his bed carriers is dependence on God.  The scribes suggest that Jesus is blaspheming, or doing God’s role of forgiveness.  Without them ascribing to Jesus the authority and power God has given Him.  So Jesus exercises His mission of saving people from sin and sends the man home healed.

Here, unlike the Gadarenes, the local people of his own town see Jesus for who he really is.  A man, born of God, with God’s mission to forgive and save the people.  The people who will listen.  They rejoice in this revelation.

Here Jesus heals not only the physical sickness but also the spiritual sickness.  Again Jesus demonstrates His God-given authority over us in His ability to forgive us and also to heal us of a much more than serious illness, by healing our spiritual illness.

The son of God and the son of Man

So how do we respond to Jesus as The Messiah?

Here, in these three passages Jesus pre-eminently exercises His authority over the natural world, over the spiritual world and over us.  But not in a offhanded nor uncaring way.  He saves the disciples to challenge their faith.  He judges the demons and frees the possessed men, healing their spirits.  He challenges the thinking of the scribes about God and heals the paralytic man.  Both in spirit and in body.

Who is this man of God?  The one and only Son of the Almighty, Jesus Christ.

He whom we must follow, obey and serve.

God Bless,

Glenn

The following were used as resources for comments and analysis
in the preparation of this blog:
Carter, W. (2003) Textual Notes to Matthew's Gospel in The 
New Interpreters Study Bible, Abingdon Press, Nashville. 
(p 1761)
Wilson, A.W. (2000) Matthews Messiah, a guide to Matthew's
Gospel, National Photo Engravers, Singapore. (pp 105 - 106)

Two Kings choose to mock God

Today’s (Tu 04/06/2017) and tomorrow’s Old Testament FDR is 2 Chronicles 25 and 26 and can be read by clicking on the blue link.  (Today’s and tomorrow’s New Testament passage will appear in tomorrow’s blog.)

Other Gods in life (ch25)

Amaziah, as the new king of Judah, begins well.  He deals with those directly involved in his father’s assassination by putting them to death.  This also separates him from any involvement.  Note too, he observes the law that applies here to dealing with sin against other persons and only executes those involved and not their families.  Now to war.  He assembles his own tribes who make a great number (300k) ready for war and hires another 100k from Israel at twice the going rate.

Unfortunately at this time Israel has become apostate.  Although Amaziah is raising a ‘host’ he relies on a reinforced army made up of 25% of non-believers.  (It is thought the purpose was to deal with the sin of the Edomites when they invaded Judah 50 years before.  Considered a sin because the Edomites attacked the people of God.)

This choice to involve the Israelites demonstrates Amaziah’s decision not to rely on the Lord for assistance, but to seek earthly assistance from an apostate mercenary force.  Little wonder the ‘man of God’ is outraged! (v7)

The reading takes us through the victory, in unlikely ways that God brings to the fight, as the ‘believers’ fight on their own with the Edomite southerners.

Sadly, the Chronicles record notes the departing mercenary contingent that raids civilian towns on their unhappy dismissal and returning angrilly home from a bounty of booty they could have expected in plundering the Edomites with Amaziah’s force. (v13)

Unfortunately what then follows  is another poor decision of Amaziah’s.  Rather than destroying the false gods and images of the Edomites where they stood he brings them home to Judah and places them in a special place and continues to recognise them as gods by prostrating himself and making burnt offerings!  At least he did not place these in the Temple of the Lord, yet he worshipped them!

God calls a prophet in His anger to challenge Amaziah!

The prophet asks this rehotorical question.  “Why do you resort to the gods of another people, when they were powerless against you, when you were commissioned by the Lord himself?”  The text records that it was all down hill from here.

For us this should read – “Why do we resort to the powerless gods of others when we know the Lord Himself?”

Too big for his boots (ch 26)

This chapter introduces Uzziah to us and cites his great feat of opening the trade route to Aqab, that had been an aim of Amaziah’s reign (v1&2).  This chapter goes on to record his pleasing behaviour before the Lord, his worship of God and that God made him prosper.  Uzziah was successful before God in fighting, in agriculture and being prepared to defend his people and land (v3 – 15).

Then at v16 Chronicles records Uzziah’s departure from relying on God.  Although he has reached the watershed of his reign and become very successful as God’s earthly representative he becomes arrogant and violates one of the rights of God by entering the nave of the Temple to offer incense.  This is a role of the priests alone, as commanded by God, and is done twice daily in normal circumstances.

Here we see a mark of the respect and fear in which Uzziah was held (v17).  Quickly we see both the priest’s proclamation of judgement and God’s judgement placed on him in the form of a skin disease.  Interestingly the passage records Uzziah’s awakening to what he has done (v20).

God’s judgement includes Uzziah now being isolated from all he has done and his own people and family as prescribed by Leviticus 13:46.  Even when he dies his body is buried rather than placed in the sepulchre of the royal house (v23).

For us the priests’ question can be rephrased, “What arrogance will lead us to deny God his rightful place in all we do?”

Sisters and brothers, although we can see these kings of God’s choosing and their stories as part of Old Testament history they also speak to us .  Through Jesus we too are elect of God and can succumb to the temptations of the evil one to choose other gods or think we are cool enough to treat God with disrespect, even unthinkingly!

A prayer:  Father and Almighty God,  I too am able to turn away from you and pay attention to other things I put in the place in my life that You only should have.  Sometimes these are things I might worship.  Sometimes these are things I might do that push you aside from being central in all I do, think and say.  Help me Father to realise when I have done this.  In Jesus’ name forgive me please Almighty God?  Help me to keep You central in my life in all times.   I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord.  Amen

God Bless,

Glenn

The following publication was used to assist in preparing this 
blog: 
Johnstone, William. (1997) 1 & 2 Chronicles Vol 2  in  Journal 
for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series 254, 
Sheffield Academic Press, Midsomer North. pp 150 - 169