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

IN GOD WE TRUST

1 Samuel 1.           Acts 27

‘In God we trust’ is the motto emblazoned on American coins and notes as a statement of faith since 1864. Whether people believe it or not they handle the currency constantly and the reminder is before them.

Today we read of 2 people who really did believe that they could trust God, the Lord of all creation, with their deepest need and with unshakable belief in His word.

Hannah came to God after years of derision from Peninnah, no doubt with feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness.  Elkanah’s human love was not sufficient to remove her deep pain.  So she turned to God and He heard and answered her prayer.

Paul, in spite of the many opportunities for freedom, when appearing before, Governors Felix and Festus and King Aggrippa, moved towards Rome because he believed God’s word to him.  You might remember back in chapter 23: 11 the Lord appeared to Paul in the barracks where he was being held for his safety,

‘Take courage!  As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.’

In today’s account we find the journey to Rome pressing on in spite of ship change, unpredictable winds, a raging storm and finally shipwreck.

Whether our prayers are answered as they were for Hannah – a miraculous response that God brought about and being exactly what Hannah longed for; or whether the answer carries with it difficulties and tests, or is a clear statement from God Himself as it was for Paul; or whether the answer is different from what we really wanted, do we pray and believe?  Then, do we live out our side of the prayer as Hannah did by taking the boy back to serve in the temple as she had promised, or Paul, using the slow process to share the truth of God in unlikely places and with people he would not normally have had contact with or do we forget our promises?

Romans 15:13 is a great encouragement to trust God in all situations in this life as we saw Hannah and Paul doing today.

  ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Peter and Elizabeth

LICENCE TO JUDGE

1CORINTHIANS 5

This is a difficult passage!   There has been an obvious violation carried out in the congregation and the members are not only condoning but are accepting the immorality of the situation and are doing nothing about it.  They should have been ‘ grief-stricken‘.  Paul is appalled, urging the believers to be aware that claiming to belong to Christ means behaving in a way that honours Him and thus honours all others and also having a real compassion for one another which leads to action.  The reminder for us as we read is to watch our own behaviour ensuring that when we slip up we seek Christ’s help

to be aware, 

to ask for forgiveness and 

to make sure we don’t continue on that sinful path.  

There is another warning too that we do not become complacent and allow the world’s standards to become our standards in the church.

Jesus’ words in Matthew (chapter 7:1-5) are the parallel truth that we must also practise, ‘do not judge or you too will be judged ……’ reminding us to check our own behaviour before going in to battle.

 

1CHRONICLES 7

If you have persevered with the Chronicles lists of dynasties over the last few days you, like us, may have been encouraged by the last verse from today’s reading.  The descendants of Asher are described as ‘ choice men, brave warriors, outstanding leaders.’  They are the only ones with such a commendation.  It would be wonderful for our descendants to be similarly remembered.

Peter and Elizabeth Smart.

GOD IS IN IT ALL

PROVERBS 24:1-22

We have been reading so much lately about WISDOM

God being its source,                                                                                                                     His willingness to gift it to us if we ask and                                                                                       how much it is needed for ‘successful’ living in this beautiful but ‘broken and divided world.’

In today’s reading we were struck by  v11&12    –  a strong warning reminding us that we are responsible for justice being carried out in our world, and we can’t just excuse our lack of action or participation and say –        ‘ but we knew nothing of this.’

While we cannot right all the injustices of the world, we can be prayerfully aware and; much happens from small beginnings.

Perhaps our prayer could be: Lord please give us your wisdom, so we will be aware of injustice and help us to know how we can best act on behalf of those in need.

These’s also a timely warning:    to neither envy the success of the wicked   (v19-20)  or to gloat over them when they fall  (v17)

Does any situation like this come to mind?

 

ROMANS 1:1-15

Today we begin our journey with St Paul through his letter to the Romans – that letter which so clearly presents the argument for salvation through Christ alone.

Just in the introduction we find a strong clear statement of the wonder of the gospel. In the ancient world in which Paul was living, a gospel was a solemn, often political announcement, which was to be taken seriously, good news that it may well be.

Paul is keen for his readers to recognise that Christ is the fulfilment of ancient prophecies concerning the Messiah who would be both human (Son of David) v8                                                                and divine (shown in his resurrection) v4

Paul, while wanting to encourage the faith of his readers, acknowledges the mutuality of ministry to one another. v12.  A real encouragement to us today!

Peter and Elizabeth 

THE POWER OF WORDS

PROVERBS 12:12-28

Did you notice today how important our words are?  Many of us chatter about all sorts of things but we need to remember that what we say MATTERS to God because it reflects who we are and supports or destroys our profession of faith in Almighty God. Perhaps you noticed that God hates 

sinful talk v13                                       

hurtful comments  v18

lying  v19 & 22

but He delights in 

truth v17  v19  v22

wise words v18

encouragement of others v 15, v25

Today’s reading from Proverbs is a clear reminder to use our conversations to build each other up – knowing that our WORDS come from our thoughts ie our true inner self.  We are reminded that being aware of this means we are walking/living ‘ in the way of righteousness …….. the path to immortality.’

 

HEBREWS 13:20-25

When we pray we mostly use words!

What do we wish for?  What better wish and thus prayer could we have for our family, friends, church leaders than the prayer ending the letter to the Hebrews, v20-21?  I have just been challenged to pray this way fo those groups of folk.

We all need the Holy Spirit to ‘equip’ us to do God’s will and to behave and work in ways that are ‘pleasing’ to Him.

I don’t know about you, but I find myself, like St Paul, ‘doing the evil I do not want to do, and I do not do the good I want to do’. Romans 7:19  so what a comfort and encouragement it would be if we were regularly praying this Hebrews blessing for each other.  It is easy and normal to pray for health, safety and success for our children and friends, they are vaid prayers, but ultimately it is our behaviour,  (that is allowing Christlikeness to be our main characteristic and theirs), that is most precious in God’s sight. We certainly all need His enabling for this to happen.

May God help us to trust the power of prayer and walk in His ways this week.

Peter and Elizabeth Smart

‘GRACIOUS’ PERSUASION

Apologies readers – I’m blaming my eyesight for the wrong passage from OT today & apologies to Greg for jumping to his reading.

Deuteronomy 28:15-19

Yesterday Glen’s passage outlined the wonderful blessings God had for His people when they OBEY His commands.  He is for them (and for us) but today we see that God is almighty, all powerful, and is not to be trifled with.  

The people of Israel had trouble remaining faithful especially when God’s blessings – provision and protection- flowed to them, and easily turned to what seemed like more attractive, less demanding gods.

Are we very different today?

Though we are only reading three verses today, the chapter goes on to spell out God’s punishment and rejection of those who do not follow His ways.  He requires obedience, and we need a saviour.

 

Philemon.

The little letter Paul writes to Philemon is full of encouragement to behave in love towards others, reflecting God’s own character.  

The beginning, ( v 4-7) is a great testimonial to Philemon’s Christlike behaviour- keeping his faith in Jesus, and demonstrating the love of others, which God requires of His followers.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if that is what other church members could say about us?!

Presumably Philemon lived in Colossae.  He had been converted under Paul’s ministry and was wealthy enough to have slaves.  One of these, Onesimus, had left Philemon, an action punishable by death, but, under Paul’s ministry he had been converted and had joined the group supporting Paul in prison.  Paul had grown to love and value him.

Paul makes huge demands both of Philemon and Onesimus as he sends the salve back to face his master, and he asks Philemon to welcome him as a brother in Christ – so unheard of in the culture of the day.  

When we are faced with difficult relationships, do we see the other person as if they are loved by Christ, or is that too much to ask?

‘ This is a delicate and highly skilful piece of writing,’ according to Tom Wright,and is certainly a way for us to follow.

Peter and Elizabeth Smart.

DON’T FORGET

DON’T FORGET

Deuteronomy 8-9:6                 Marl14:66-72

‘Don’t forget……….’ seems to be a phrase  we are using more often with each other these days!, and in both readings today that is the theme, eventhough it is frequently put more positively by Moses as REMEMBER!

Remember what wonderful things the Lord did for the people of Israel during the Exodus.

Remember God’s marvellous provision during the years of wilderness wanderings (food, water, clothing that didn’t wear out, guidance (pillar of cloud or fire when they had to move), protection and rules to live by.

Remember too the Lord’s severe discipline as a result of disobedience and disregard of those rules. (‘You shall have no other God’s but me.  Love the lord your God with ALL your heart.’)

Remember that the people who were conquered and destroyed were living lives that followed and worshipped other gods.

The reason for this reminder to remember was that God knew that when the people were successful and entered the promised land and became prosperous they may well forget and credit their success to their own doing!  Doesn’t this ring true for us today.  We are the lucky country, founded on Christian principles resulting in wealth, peace and prosperity for so many.  But have we too attributed our success to our own abilities and cleverness and no longer need God?  We have become a Godforgetful nation.                                                                                                                                          God would not tolerate disregard of his commands and standards for the Israelites perhaps we are in the same boat.  Can we hope to escape his judgement?


Peter remembered, but not in time!! Yes after denying Jesus, Peter remembered the words Jesus had spoken to him v72 and that remembrance brought him to tears.  Regular listening to Jesus’ words enables us to remember them.

May our remembering, both of God’s wonderful provision (not least our miraculous salvation) and an awareness of our own failures to live Jesus’ way, return us to him in thankfulness and trust.  How real is his grace for us right now as we are about to focus on the first coming of Christ, and as we wait hopefully for his return.

Let’s not forget.

Peter and Elizabeth