WARNINGS

JOEL 1.

Today we begin reading the message given to the people of Israel by the prophet Joel, following a devastating locust plague.  This plague was so severe that it is described as being like that of an invading army that completely destroys the good and fertile land.  

When disaster strikes, whether it is at a national or personal level, often it is claimed that God is to blame!  Here however the priests and people are urged to mourn, wail, (v 8 &13) and cry out to the Lord (v14), and to repent   because there is someone to go to and He is listening.

In our own experience, through our television sets we see devastating destruction of people and land in countries like Syria, iraq, Yemen. The Lord will listen if we ‘mourn, wail and cry’ to Him for them and perhaps even for our own land that we may repent and turn back to Him for  ’the day of the Lord is near.’

 

 LUKE 12 : 49 – 59

Jesus talks a lot about peace – blessed are the peacemakers Matthew 5:9, peace I leave with you, my peace I give you John 14:27, I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace John 16:33.  The good news that He brought produces that peace with God that comes from forgiveness and a restored relationship.  But in today’s passage Jesus warns His disciples that His reason for coming to earth is SO impacting on lives that even families will be split apart as those who reject Him will also reject believers.  

While we know that people who commit themselves to Christ from other religions receive strong opposition or even death, it is a very sad development in our current Australian society that vehement opposition to the Christian position is growing fueled largely by the media/internet.

Warnings are positive – Bluebottles!

                                    Crocodiles swim here!

                                    Stand behind the yellow line

These can save us pain or even death if we heed them.  

Jesus’ love for people meant He gave clear warnings of a future judgement on His return.  Are we listening?

Peter and Elizabeth

 

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A TOUGH CALL

Today’s readings – Numbers 30-31.    and Luke 6:27 – 36.

What a message we have in today’s reading from Luke!

The foundation principle of the gospel is LOVE – God’s immeasurable love for us and therefore the expected response of love by us for Him, and for others.

Today’s passage is bookended by – ‘love your enemies’ v 27 and 35.                                                     Of course we all experience and desire love in our everyday life – husband/ wife, parent/children, extended family, friends                                                                                                              BUT Jesus’ ideal is also that we ‘love our enemies’  which includes those who mistreat us in any way.  He even gives us the steps to take to make this a reality –                                                                       ‘Do good to them’‘  v27.                                                                                                              ‘Pray for them’  v28.                                                                                                                        because this is the sort of love God extends to us   –  (once His enemies).

Isn’t it ironic that He also says ‘do to others as you would have them do to you.’ v31.  and                         ‘ be merciful as your Father is merciful.’  v36.

I find that it happens that I can treat others as I think they deserve and to often seek mercy for myself and hand out judgement for others – not a good way if following Jesus is my aim!

Lord in your mercy, help,us to delight in your ways of love and mercy and please guide us in growing to be more like Jesus.

FREED TO LOVE AND SERVE

Today’s passages are Leviticus 10 – 12 and 2 Corinthians 5:11 – 6:13.

We are sure the readings that we have been following last week from Levitcus needed the encouragement that the passages from 2 Corinthians have given us  since Thursday.

Those chapters in Leviticus (5-12) cover in great detail the ceremonial regulations which the developing community of Israel needed to follow, in order to stay in relationship with God.    Sin and guilt had  to be dealt with and though the practices seem quaint and exaggerated.it does remind us that GOD IS GOD, AND IS NOT TO BE TRIFFLED WITH.  ‘I dd it my way’ does not hold credence when God has set out the procedures to follow – the ordination of Aaron’s sons and their decision to add their own touch to what God required as regards their sacrifices,   (Leviticus 10:1 -3) demonstrates the importance of trusting what God says.  

Chapters 11 and 12 cover health and social regulations which must have been appropriate for the wandering tribes.

However, like Iris on Thursday, it has been a relief for us to turn to the Corinthian passages and discover again the assurance that GOD HAS DONE ALL THAT IS REQUIRED FOR OUR SALVATION AND RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM.  No ceremonial is required on our part but instead, BELIEF, as He has done all that is required.  It is a bit overwhelming, but worth the effort, to sit and read over again passages like

 5:15  and He died for all, that those wholive should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.

5:17-18  Therefore if anyone is in Christ the new creation has come.  The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God who reconciled us to Himself through Christ

6:1  as co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain –       –  just enjoy with thankfulness what we’ve read.

No more sacrifices, or fear we may not have covered all our misdoings.

Join us in taking some time today to let these promises sink in and then let’s all go out and live in love and thankfulness as though we believe it is true and that the BEST IS YET TO COME.

Peter and Elizabeth.

MY WAY NOT YOURS O LORD!

Judges 14

 The story of Samson continues – this promised child has now grown up.  In God’s plan he was to be the one to confront the Philistines – those constant enemies of Israel who were now ruling them. Today’s passage shows  Samson only following his own way – not God’s  at this stage. Samson was spoilt, self seeking and by his behaviour it would seem that he was either ignorant of or ignoring God’s way (he married a Philistine woman v2). So we will have to read on. 

Maybe this is a reminder for us all – how easy it is to satisfy our own desires in this busy world rather than remembering the verse – ‘be still and know that I am God.’  

May we look to God and take time with Him so we can  know and follow His way. 

 

Matthew 26:57-68

As we turn to the beginning of Jesus’ trial before the Sanhedren we are faced with an amazing picture of people who had known God’s purposes for humanity from the beginning of time, and who had decided HOW this would occur.  When the fulfilment of prophesy was not in line with their ideas they stubbornly rejected the evidence of Messiah from Jesus’ life with them and his claims to be the One.

To ensure their purposes were not discounted they were willing to resort to lies and false witnesses resulting in supreme injustice (but mercifully for us our salvation.)  Their method is not unknown in the world today.

Perhaps today is a strong reminder to us all to be very careful that we do not decide for God and expect Him to fit in with our ideas of His purpose for us all.  A reminder to listen to His word and to be guided by his Spirit.

Peter and Elizabeth

DO SOMETHING

The title of this psalm Maschil, means ‘ a psalm that gives instruction – instruction in what? 

Actually it instructs believers in how to act when in any distress – that is to turn to God in prayer. 

So, have you ever felt like this?

Perhaps the Eugene Peterson paraphrase The Message makes the emotion stronger –

You walked off and left us, and never looked back.  

God how could you do that?

We’re your very own sheep:

how can you stomp off in anger?    v1

 

 

One commentator suggests that if the Asaph of David’s time wrote this psalm it would have been prophetic pointing to the time when Jerusalem was actually sacked/ obliterated by Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldeans, or perhaps the author was another Asaph from that time and who wrote like Jeremiah, from exile. Remember Jeremiah’s long lament that we read in the middle of July?  It is a comfort to hear someone else feeling that in spite of constant appeals God is distant and unwilling to engage at all on our behalf.  Yes this Asaph felt abandoned!  Yet he knew God had the power to rescue but  wasn’t acting on his people’s behalf; but still he prayed,

Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand?

Take it from the folds of your garment and destroy them.     v11

 

Back to The Message:

Why don’t you do something?  How long are you going 

to sit there with your hands folded in your lap?     v11

 

However Asaph’s faith and knowledge of God’s faithfulness and purpose encourages, strengthens, restores him in the midst of his pain and suffering – both for himself and for the nation –

God is my king from long ago;

he brings salvation the earth.   v12

 

This writer agonises over God’s apparent disinterest, but most likely being aware of the people’s disregard of God he anchors himself in God’s character 

(v12) and reminds himself while at the same time reminding God of his almighty power, and care for his creation in the past.

Maybe when we feel abandoned, or when the pressure is too great, or sickness overwhelming we can settle our hearts by focussing on God’s good character and look back over his great actions not only in our own personal lives but also reflecting on the whole  purpose of Christ’s coming to earth and all the steps that remind us of his salvation for now and for eternity.

While we all want God to act on our behalf will we do something too in times of trouble?  Praying is a solid basis for connecting with our Lord God.

 

 

Peter and Elizabeth.

DRAMATIC CONTRASTS

2 Chronicles 27-28.

It is a relief to come in chapter 27 – to the leadership of a good king of Judah! –

 ‘Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the Lord his God.‘ v 6

It would be wonderful if, while reading this chapter, you could be here with us today in Amman, because the war Jotham fought and won was against the Ammonites, and right here was their territory.

Unlike many of his predecessors (and many of those who followed) Jotham did not let the power he gained turn him from God.  We too need to pray for our leaders that they will be God honouring rather than self satisfying.

However, in chapter 28 by contrast, we once again revert to a king who:

‘did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord.’  v1. He was defeated by the king of Aram                 (Syria/Damascus today) and then by Israel – his kinsmen.  It is interesting to note that in God’s sight even in war these prisoners were not to be mistreated and there is no place for ‘killing  in rage.’ v9.       The captives were clothed, fed and given medical care, with those too weak to walk returned on donkeys.  Although these prisoners were from the same ‘ tribe’ it is interesting to compare this treatment to the way current prisoners of war are treated.

May the Lord help us all to ‘ walk steadfastly‘ before Him and to look carefully at ourselves when judging others and justifying our actions. v 10b

 

MATTHW 9:9-13.

Another contrast where Matthew’s life is turned around!                                                                   On meeting Jeaus,

Matthew heard – ‘follow me‘ v9     and                                                                                                   he obeyed – ‘ got up and followed      and then                                                                                   he shared this new found commitment with people like himself, having them to a meal so they too could connect with Jesus. v 10

What a comfort to hear again Jesus’ words, ‘ I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners’ and to know that we too are accepted (when we hear and obey).

 

Peter and Elizabeth.

REJECTION AND REALITY

1CHRONICLES 28.

As I guess you may know we are writing from Amman in Jordan, surrounded by DAVID!

Beside where we lived last time is the ruin of a Watch Tower believed to have been used by David when he was fleeing from Saul and fighting local tribes.

The Citadel here is surrounded by the remains of a wall which is thought to be where Uriah was placed on David’s command, in order to be killled!

Now today, after reading all the lists of the last few days, we come to a very moving account of David handing over to his son Solomon, all his very detailed plans for the building of the temple.  This happened in a very public way as David had called together all the people and not just Solomon for the occasion.

Have you ever put your heart into something, thought it all through in great detail, even prayed seriously, only to have the proposal rejected by those you thought you were helping?  I wonder how David felt at this point at the end of his life?

While REJECTION is tough for anyone, David has some encouragement for us today.

1.  He heard God ‘you are not the one.   v3

2.   He recognised his own worth in God’s sight.  v4

3.   He passed over all his detailed preparations to Solomon ( leaving it to Solomon to follow completely, in part or not at all and leaving room for Solomon’s own creativity).       v10-11

4.    In handing over to Solomon he acknowledged the first priority for success in leadership (and I guess for all of us) success requires obedience to God.

I found this an encouraging new way of looking at rejection and thank God for it!

 

MATTHEW 1.

Another list!

However, it does for those interested in family history, anchor Jesus’ coming to earth , in the original purpose of God to rescue the human race from destruction.  Abraham was just the beginning!

It is a great encouragement to be reminded that Jesus’ ultimate purpose in coming as a human being was to save us from our sins.  v21.        and

that He was God here with us on Earth    v 23

We have much to thank God for in today’s readings.

Peter and Elizabeth