Any Indolent Knaves Out There?

Psalm 118 – what a wonderful read! A wealth of song writing and poetry material. It is worth reading daily to enjoy reminding ourselves we are not in this life alone. This good, good Father loves us from before we were created, and now and to eternity. What comfort! Such love! We need not fear the future or worry about the past but live each day appreciating every gift from this all knowing and faithful Lord.

As I read this Psalm lines of songs pop into my head:

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love endures forever

Christ alone, cornerstone, weak made strong in the Saviour’s love

I will give thanks to you, O Lord among the heavens

This is the day, this is the day that the Lord has made.

I read the following quote from Enduring Word by David Guzik: Though this was [likely] David’s Psalm it was also Luther’s Psalm.

“This is my own beloved psalm. Although the entire Psalter and all of Holy Scripture are dear to me as my only comfort and source of life, I fell in love with this psalm especially. Therefore I call it my own. When emperors and kings, the wise and the learned, and even saints could not aid me, this psalm proved a friend and helped me out of many great troubles. As a result, it is dearer to me than all the wealth, honor, and power of the pope, the Turk, and the emperor. I would be most unwilling to trade this psalm for all of it.” (Martin Luther, cited by Boice)

Luther went on to say about verse 5 Out of my distress I called on the Lord :

“Thou must learn to call, and not to sit there by thyself, and lie on the bench, hang and shake thy head, and bite and devour thyself with thy thoughts; but come on, thou indolent knave, down upon thy knees, up with thy hands and eyes to heaven, take a Psalm or a prayer, and set forth thy distress with tears before God.” (Luther, cited in Spurgeon)

Such faith in action! Let’s hope and pray we recall this Psalm when any indolent knaves we know are facing problems in life. May we be prepared to get down on our knees and call on our Saviour as a first resort.

Re-read the psalm again and think about our God and Father, his never-ending love and all he has done for us with the death of his Son, and be thankful.

Iris

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Take the Water of Life – No Charge

Disclosure – I haven’t read any Harry Potter books. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe haven’t made it to my shelves. Books about dragons, plots with supernatural themes don’t capture my interest. Finally, I have never watched any Star Wars movies!

The book of Revelation then is a struggle but as long as I keep reminding myself of John’s opening words: The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.

We’ve read in past FDR posts that the imagery throughout this book is apocalyptic. This world as we know it will end whenever God decides the time is right. Unlike the supernatural themes in popular fiction (but what would I know about these…) which are figments of a wonderful imagination, this final chapter of Revelation contains a real message, God’s last message to all of us. To all humankind.

Here at the end of God’s word we have come full circle. We are reintroduced to the tree of life which featured in Genesis 3 with Adam and Eve. Paradise has been restored by this all powerful God. The opening verses are a beautiful description:

 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb  through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign for ever and ever.

Beautiful images – clear, flowing water, bright as crystal, cascading from His throne reflect the glory of God. It is accessible to all. Tall trees, shiny green foliage, branches laden with ripe, juicy fruit in constantly changing varieties entice the passerby. Nothing tawdry or worn but everything beautifully crafted.

Another picture – the majestic throne of our Creator and the Lamb waiting for our presence, their face visible to all. Us being welcomed into His presence, worshipping Him face to face.

Every scene is lit by a wonderful bright light emanating from the glory of our Lord’s face. No more darkness. The curse on humanity and the earth because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience will be finished. No more sin. Paradise restored. That is worth reading!

Verses 6-21 form a conclusion or summary to the whole book. They emphasise the authenticity of the book as a revelation from God and the imminence of the return of Christ.

Verse 7 “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

I gather this is Jesus speaking and His return is imminent. I’m not sure how to keep the sayings of this book of Revelation as I don’t understand all the references or imagery. Perhaps it means I’m to have read and be diligent in keeping God’s words from throughout the whole bible. I think then that the purpose of the book of Revelation is not to entertain or satisfy the curiosity of readers about their future and heaven in general, but to reveal God’s glory and dominance over the world and encourage us to live for Him as we wait for His Son to return. These prophecies are to be proclaimed, not sealed up, so all people have the opportunity to know about God, so they will have no excuse when He comes to judge them.

Verse 11 Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy is not a command, but rather a statement of fact and a warning. People’s characteristics generally are fixed and unchangeable, especially after a lifetime of habitual action. At the end it will be too late to change.  Verse 12 Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done.

Verse 17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. Let us all quench our thirst with this free gift of the water of life as we eagerly await the return of Jesus.

Thank you Lord God for your love for us and the grace you have poured out on us already. May our thoughts, words and actions honour you every day.

 

Who Do You Say I Am?

Who do you say I am?

You know I am the King.

I am your Lord

I created everything.

I am your God who loves you more than you know,

Who loves you more than you deserve,

Who loves you despite your unkind thoughts and words.

Yet loves you, just as you are.

 

Who do you always put first?

You know I am the Creator.

I am the King.

I created everything.

I am the God who made you, who has plans for your life,

Who knows the paths your journey will take.

Who knows of the good times and bad

And carries you through the hardest of times.

 

Who deserves your attention now?

You know my Son; He died for you

This very day that you call “Good.”

He was despised, mocked, lashed, nailed

His hands, his feet, slammed into a piece of wood,

Agony, pain, abandonment, betrayal

Mocked and insulted. Alone. Forsaken.

Dead.

 

Who do you say He is?

He is our King, He died for us

This very day that we call, “Good.”

He paved a way for us to be led,

Clean, untarnished to the throne of God.

One day we will stand, bathed in His love

An account to give of all we’ve said, and done.

Who do you say He is?

The Innocent for the Guilty

Jesus Before Pilate
11 Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.” 12 But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” 14 But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.
The Crowd Chooses Barabbas
15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. 16 And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. 17 So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. 19 Besides, while he was sitting on the judgement seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.” 20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” 22 Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” 23 And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”
Pilate Delivers Jesus to Be Crucified
24 So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood;[b] see to it yourselves.” 25 And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” 26 Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged[c] Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.
Jesus Is Mocked
27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters,[d] and they gathered the whole battalion[e] before him. 28 And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 And they spat on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.

Get Out Your Eagle’s Wings!

What a great read is Isaiah 40! So full of promise, challenges and reminders of God’s sovereignty.

When I read this chapter it encourages me with comfort in my life, to be filled with hope and to persevere in all circumstances. God is in control and apparently The Creator of the Universe doesn’t need my assistance or even really helpful handy tips.

Things I see I need to focus on include looking forward – to the coming of Jesus. Comforting one another with God’s love and hope – especially those of weaker faith. Encouraging fellow Christians – to build our faith together based on God’s word and finally…..

Waiting!

May we all be blessed with hope, comfort and perseverance as we wait on what our loving Father has planned for us, now and in the future.

Isaiah 40

28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?

The Lord is the everlasting God,

the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He does not faint or grow weary;

his understanding is unsearchable.

29 He gives power to the faint,

and to him who has no might he increases strength.

30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,

and young men shall fall exhausted;

31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;

they shall mount up with wings like eagles;

they shall run and not be weary;

they shall walk and not faint.

Here Comes the Son

Isaiah 4:2-5:30

I feel for our farmers. Many, many hours of hard, physical work in all weather conditions. Timing of annual events to ensure the highest quality of the final product. Waiting…. Waiting…. watching for crops to become plump, colourful, healthy and these changes totally dependent on the weather. Drought, flood, hail, dust, gales, greedy insects, the list goes on.

In our reading from Isaiah there are many references to the agricultural world. Everything looks bleak. But then the sun comes out, the approaching good news is mentioned. In this passage there are many references  to the coming of Jesus about which a large number of learned people have written copious words. I like this quote from Matthew Henry: The success of the gospel is the fruit of the branch of the Lord; all the graces and comforts of the gospel spring from Christ. With God’s perfect timing there is no angst here waiting for the best climatic conditions. We thankfully acknowledge Christ’s presence, growing us, shaping us to be the best version of ourselves, transformed to His likeness and not subject to weather conditions but changed in God’s perfect timing.

Acts 11:19-30

As we read in previous chapters in Acts, the first Christians scattered throughout the Roman Empire only preached to Jews. In the immoral city of Antioch, the gentiles were included in the evangelistic talks. Verse 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. Great fruit, produced again in God’s perfect timing.

We read of Barnabus, one of the leaders, previously known for his generosity (Acts 4:36-37) and his warm acceptance of Saul after he was converted (Acts 9:26-28) being sent to the fledgling church in Antioch. As a respected leader of the church God used Barnabus’ presence to grow and encourage His people.

When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. Two reminders: that any changes in the hearts of people are brought about only by the grace of God and it’s a great idea to encourage each other.

What a great difference it makes to have leaders who are full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. They are the ones who teach, plant seeds, nurture and encourage people to produce great fruit. We can be thankful for our leaders here at Figtree and must remember to prayerfully, and personally, encourage them in their faithful, everyday walk as they remain strong in the Lord.

May we all be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit as He continues to ripen and grow us into people with hearts like Jesus.

 

Welcome to the Prince of Peace!

The second half of this Isaiah passage is so well known. While reading these familiar words various songs fill my head. Such is the power of music!

The chapter before this passage though has many references to trouble, pain and darkness. In spite of all the advances we have made over the centuries the world is still looking for the elusive answer to “world peace.” (Cue beauty pageant speech!) The Middle East continues to be a hot spot with the possibility of war at any moment. We are living in a world more frightening than ever with strong countries using power to secure peace and radical countries resorting to terrorism to gain the upper hand. Is there anyone who is interested in securing real peace and justice or are they all just interested in achieving their own desires? Following the prophecy of war and destruction in chapter 8 Isaiah has given this prophecy about the coming King. A King who will be born a child yet will govern over all nations bringing justice and righteousness and unending peace.

Verse 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom,  to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore.

What a wonderful picture! What a contrast to our present world.  No wonder musicians from over the centuries have used these words as a celebration of the birth of the Saviour.

I pray that we all remember the hope we have as we celebrate the birth of our Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Enjoy the link below. Written in 1741 by Handel this oratorio is a celebration of Jesus’ birth and taken from verses in the Psalms. It is still one of the most frequently performed choral works in Western music today.

Praise to the Prince of Peace!

https://youtu.be/TN5BaOGTmGs