The Journey Of Faith

The passages set down for today are Numbers 28-29 and Luke 6:20-26.

It has been a life time since I have taken time to write a post. The reasons are varied. But it is good to stop and reflect on the words that come from Luke 6. The passage itself has parallels of course to the what is known as the “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew 5 to 7. However, even though some may “hate you when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil “ I cannot say that it is because, under the circumstances due to the “Son of Man”. For me it has been more of a case of other priorities.

Because, let’s face it, the challenge that we read from Jesus, is not about what must be done to enter the Kingdom of heaven, but more what is expected of one who is already in the kingdom of heaven. It is clear that as Jesus speaks his words are for his apostles and disciples.

Jesus sermon calls for the implementation of these ideals coming from Isiah 61:1-2.

Though we may be poor and hungry now, we really are rich because the Kingdom of God belongs to us. Likewise though we may weep and men may hate and insult you, there will come a day when we will laugh and receive a reward in heaven.

Finally, the four woes are worth reflecting on as they turn the tables upside down. How others were treated back then is how people can be expected to be treated in the future. Luke in his gospel continues to concern himself with those who truly hunger and others who are truly wealthy. May this be our concern as we live the gospel.

While it is good to be back posting, many thanks goes to all those who have continued to post in my long absence. More to come over the following days.

Ian Barnett

Advertisements

Judging or Discerning

Todays readings are 1 Kings 9 and John 7:1-24.

“Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgement”. (John 7:24).

Today, one verse is worthy of some reflection.

Jesus opponents had been judging by mere appearances. Jesus makes the point that they should stop judging and work much harder at making a right assessment. One can refer back to the OT and see many similar parallels in Dt 16:18-19 and Is 11:3-4. Both these passages deal with the  administration of public justice.

However, here Jesus appeal is far more personal. Yes, before you jump to conclusion I am very aware of Matthew 7:1 (Do  not judge, or you to will be judged). This verse forbids judgmentalism but not moral discernment.

In John 7:24 what Jesus s looking for is more moral, ethical and theological discernment. This is not about heresy witch hunting as one writer said. Nor is it about self righteousness either.

If those who were being quick to judge, used the approach of faith, they would be able to quickly discern that Jesus is not a Sabbath breaker, but the one who fulfils both Sabbath and circumcision requirements.

In today’s world, the man or woman on the street has probably become more aware of the call not to judge even more than the great John 3:16 passage. The challenge is, that if we try and be discerning in today’s world, most people are very quick to say stop judging others.

However, we are called to be discerning. Yes and not being quick to judge the actions or motives of others. We are called to make a right judgment abut issues that are presented to us on a daily basis. Look beyond that which we see and think a bit harder on the issues that we do face.

May it be that we seek to grow in wisdom as endeavor to make right judgments.

Pastor Barney

 

 

 

Hello Darkness

Todays readings are Job 34-37 and Acts 14.

Pauls Simon sings, “Hello darkness  my old friend, I have to talk to you again” in his song “The Sound of Silence”. Job while he had never heard this song, probably had the same thought with his friend Elihu.

Chapters 34  to 37 of Job provides many words and many thoughts from Job’s friend. After he finished speaking, the Lord himself will speak and he will have a word or two to say.

As you read the chapters, and I encourage you to do so, I am sure that Elihu’s motives were sincere, but he was way to presumptuous in assuming he had worked out Job’s life. We too can sometimes fall into the same trap. We know someone well, well we think we know someone and we watch their lives and then we believe even with good motives that we can correct their errors and put them back on the right path.

Unfortunately, like so many well meaning messengers of grace, Elihu was so fully convinced of his good intentions that he became insufferably overbearing.

One of the major mistakes Elihu had made was tied in with Job’s view of God’s justice. If God is so unjust, why did Job want to be vindicated by him? It did not make sense. But this was Job’s point to his friend. He wanted to be vindicated by God because God is just. God isn’t indifferent to his people as people are to God.

We always need to remember that God never takes his eyes of the righteous but uses their troubles for disciplinary instruction and to call them to repentance. Time and time again God uses pain and affliction to get people’s attention. But to his credit in Chapter 37, Elihu challenges Job to ponder God’s power of all the elements and over all of life.

That indeed is a good thing for us all to reflect on.

Ian Barnett

 

 

 

 

 

Silence May Still Be Golden

Today’s reading Job 4-5 and Acts 2:1-41.

“If someone ventures a word with you, will you be impatient? But who can keep from speaking?” (Job 4:1).

So it will all begin. Many words will be spoken, many thoughts shared and many challenges raised. Job in chapter 3 was wrong and so it would not be hard for Eliphaz or any friend to speak and appear to be right. His words and many of the words that follow seem appropriate and on the money. The Apostle Paul would even quote them in 1 Cor. 3:19. For example, “Who, being innocent, has ever perished?”

But it is important to keep in mind that the overall purpose of the book of Job includes the concept that Job’s friends, the counsellors, were also fundamentally wrong (see 42:7-8). Words spoken can often appear right, yet with further reflection you can see flaws in the logic of that which is spoken. There is truth when you read, “Blessed is the man whom God corrects, so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. (5:17).

What Eliphaz didn’t know, was God’s hidden purposes for Job. Therefore, all his wonderful words and beautiful poetry ended up becoming a trap or snare for Job. Yes, the words spoken were good to contemplate, like the disciplining aspect of suffering, but these words in the long term did not apply to Job. His last words in 5:27 would have not only stung Job, but I also believe irked him as they seem so patronising.

The thought for me that comes from theses two chapters is how careful we must be in how we counsel people in pain. It does us well to remember to point out what you think is the bleeding obvious to you, may not actually be the case at all.

Seek the Spirit’s guidance, listen more, walk closely with the person suffering and then and only then if you still feel the need to speak, be very gracious with your words.

Ian

 

 

 

 

Across The Street

Reading’s for today are Exodus 25 and Luke 17.

I am sitting across the road and I notice that about 10 people are receiving gifts, lots of gifts, they are hungry for more and they get more. It is an amazing sight to witness. I am wondering who it is who is handing out all the goodies? As it continues, I could tell that what was happening was going to have a life changing impact on them all. I continue to watch from a distance, it feels like being at the Royal Easter Show and the kids have that excited look on their faces as they get show bag after show bag after show bag.

Finally, those who are there have been fully blessed and they start to wander off. I soon realise that they had come empty handed but this stranger, whoever he was, had given then far more than they were expecting. They leave and it all goes quite. I stay sitting, pondering what had just happened, maybe even a bit jealous that I had not walked across the street to ask some questions.

Then out of the corner of my eye, I notice that there is only one who is walking back as he approaches this stranger. He drops all his stuff and falls on his knees. He is crying now and while I can’t hear what he is saying, it is evident that he has been profoundly impacted by the generosity of this person. I am a bit surprised that he is the one who came back, because by the clothes he wore he was different to the other 9. I think that at least one came back to say thanks. However, it did make me wonder what this stranger must have thought!

In Luke 17:11-19, this story appears. We do not have to wonder what Jesus thought when he cleansed the 10, “Were not all cleansed? Where are the other nine?” Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” (v17-18).

It makes you stop and wonder about how we express thanks and appreciation to others, let alone giving thanks to God for all that he has done.

This day is yours, why not thank God for all that you have and while you are at it thank someone who as helped you. And yes, they could even be living in the same house with you.

Ian Barnett

 

 

Repent or Perish

Today’s Readings are Exodus 13:3-22 and Luke 13:1-9.

The NIV titles the Luke passage “Repent or Perish.” So as the saying goes when you are on a good thing…stick to it.

If fact no matter what is said about Luke 13, or how it is said or the points that are made, there is still one thing that stands out and refuses to die down. Repent or perish.

This is a timeless call. It never changes nor will it ever go away. We are once again reminded that the death that kills permanently is not physical death, but what is often called the “second death” sin produces (see Rev 20:6; 21:8). Most assume that the parable and the use of the fig tree refers specifically to Israel. There is a coming judgement and a short time to decide. The call to repent is issued to both Israel as a nation and to individuals. The call is to enter a new relationship by grace with God. To put it simply it is a now or never call.

We need to realise that repentance is more than just saying I am sorry or that I have made an error. It is a full recognition that a change of direction is required.

Many people, in fact maybe most people when it comes to repentance, too often rely on what is called a “death bed conversion.” The aim is to enjoy all that life has to often and then at the very last minute repent. I find it amazing that we can think that we will have that opportunity at the last minute to do this let alone, after a life time of no repentance,  decide now is the time.

Jesus calls us to repent today, before its too late or we become too comfortable with sin.

Meanwhile, if you are still deciding and you want to “leave it alone for one more year”, just remember it may not be you who ends up doing the digging.

Ian Barnett

 

 

Innocent or Guilty?

Today’s reading is Psalm 7.

This psalm makes you stop and think.

The psalm itself is one of David’s earliest and he is not yet King. A charge was brought against him which was designed to ruin his character. Many consider that it was all tied in with Saul’s attempt to take David’s life. So the stage is set, his enemies were circling and he needed to respond. So what does he do?

He turns in trustful desperation to God. “O Lord my God, I take refuge in you, save and deliver me from all who pursue me.” In asserting his innocence he seeks refuge in the only one he can. What follows from vs. 3-5, is his full assertion that he is innocent (3-5), not in such a way that he is self-righteous, but that he is willing to lay his life before our sovereign God.

You feel that after having done this and cleared himself of all charges he then turns on his enemies. One must have a clear sense of right and wrong to do this! Yet, David still acknowledges that he has to wait for complete vindication until the ‘Day of the Lord’ (vs9-11). We too feel this as we also need to wait for the ‘judgment seat of Christ’ (see Romans 1:18; 1 Thess. 1:10).

What impacts me is that David is not just seeking justice for himself, but he longs for the day when evil will come to an end.  His final words are to those who inflict evil as he calls them to change.

What is encouraging is that David accepts that God is holy and righteous and he could therefore depend on him to uphold the godly and protect them (v17). This s why he can, no matter the circumstances “give thanks to the Lord.”

What about us? Can we trust God to bring vindication to his children?

Blessings from Ian