Wrath and mercy!

Today’s readings May 11: Jeremiah 23 and Romans 5: 1-11.

What a contrast!

Do you ever wonder why God gets angry, withdraws from His people and allows them to suffer? Shouldn’t the all-loving God put up with His people’s wilful disobedience, immorality and defiance? Shouldn’t He accept their leaders’ blatant false teaching and disregard of justice and care for the needy?

Our age would like that too wouldn’t we – knowing there is a perfect God but being able to suit ourselves, do exactly what pleases us but expecting God would be there to come to our rescue in a crisis!

We’ve been reading Jeremiah over the last few weeks – his urging, his railing against the people’s behaviour, their love of idolatry. Now, the leaders want him out of their way and the people want to continue as they are.

That however is not God’s way! He is righteous and requires a standard of living that reflects (even in small measure) all His qualities if we claim to belong to Him. His wrath is strong and real against those who falsely represent Him, but His mercy is great v3, which we see more clearly in the Romans passage. So read on!

Romans 5: 1-11

What could be a happier situation?

Abraham’s faith was counted to Him as righteousness and this declaration applies not just to him but to us! Our faith like Abraham’s is ‘counted’.

We

* are justified by faith

* are at peace with God through Jesus

* have access to God’s grace

* live in hope – even in suffering

and we have the gift of the Holy Spirit who floods our lives with God’s love.

Now justified and in relationship with God our Father surely we will want to return that great love by living in ways that honour Him. It is a daily, steady stepping forward in awareness of His presence.

To God be the glory.

Peter and Elizabeth.

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The Greatest Rescue.

Today’s readings ISAIAH 52 and 53

Where do we stop and focus in today’s Old Testament reading? There is so much to grip us with thankfulness and awe! – especially as we have just relived the celebration of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Where to begin?

Isn’t it overwhelming to read in such detail the description of Christ, here on his day of crucifixion – Just as there were many who were appalled at him – his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness. (Isaiah 52:14). – written about 600 years before the event! But there is more! We just had to keep re reading through chapter 53 which so graphically describes the detail of Christ suffering – despised, rejected, pain, held in low esteem, punished, stricken, afflicted, pierced, crushed – all for our sin; the sin of disobedience and rejection by the human race, for, ALL we like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. v6. How can rejection and ignoring God continue with the evidence of such love?? Let’s all reread these chapters today and let the wondrous gift sink deep into our lives.

There’s more! If we go back to chapter 52 there we find in v7 how beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, your God reigns.

We have the knowledge of the greatest rescue operation ever and it is beautiful to proclaim it through word and deed to those who don’t have that peace with God.

Don’t lose heart, ‘our God reigns! v7

REVELATION 3.

Having been buoyed up by the Isaiah reading we were saddened by the first part of the message to the church in Laodicea. They no doubt had been caught up in the material success of their city, seeing that as significant instead of buying their treasure from Christ. v18. Leon Morris makes a startling claim when he writes ‘ to profess Christianity while remaining untouched by its fire is a disaster. There is no one further from the truth in Christ than the one who makes an idle profession without real faith’.

However Jesus does not leave his followers to flounder when tempted, or even when we are following this world’s standards because he says those whom I love I rebuke and discipline – then comes that wonderful assurance that Christ is there waiting and willing to be with the people of the Laodicean church , as he will be with us, when we open the door to him.

Are we following him wholeheartedly or could we ever be described as lukewarm?

Peter and Elizabeth

A time to OBSERVE and a time to SPEAK

ISAIAH 14.

The Isaiah readings for the last few days highlighted to us God’s abhorrance of evil, which seems to be surrounded in success, but ultimately God’s perfect way will overcome.  Today there is also the encouragement that God will fulfil His plan for the world.

 

ACTS17:16-33

Paul, in today’s reading, arrives in Athens, (that great city of learning and art) and while waiting for Silas and Timothy to join him –

OBSERVED and was DISTRESSED by what he saw of these ‘religious’ people and their gods.

REASONED in the synagogue about Jesus and His resurrection

Most of those who listened did not understand and some rubbished his claim .

However, those who wanted to know more took him to the hill (Areopogus) where the Chief Council met)  so he could explain this new teaching of a God of forgiveness and grace, whom they could know.

Many still wanted to know more and arranged a further meeting, while others dismissed this new teaching.

So, what is different today?

How encouraging it is for us who live in a society that worships its ownparticular idols, and loves, not so much to debate , but to strongly express personal views and make them known – through the media in particular.  Open air campaigning, even Billy Graham type Crusades do not seem to attract sympathetic crowds any more but we can share the wonderful news of salvation as Paul did –

Being distressed over our nation.                                                                                                        Talking about the good news of salvation wherever opportunities open up.                                           Listening to others                                                                                                                           Seeking ‘follow up’opportunities and being prepared to explain our faith and hope in Christ.

This is a  passage worth rereading and pulling out applications for ourselves.

Peter and Elizabeth

ENCOUNTERING CHRIST.

JOSHUA 18 & 19.

We don’t know about you, but for us the journey through Joshua in the last few days has been a bit of a struggle!  A map is a help, especially as so many of the names of places mentioned are unknown to us.  However it is helpful to remember that the book of Joshua is probably a compilation of the accounts of the settlement of the Promised Land, from a number of sources; hence the repetition!.  Seven tribes who had crossed over the Jordan had been slow (or perhaps afraid) to take up God’s promise, so today we find Joshus urging them to get on with the job, claim God’s promise to them and settle.

Are we as slow as the Israelites to hold on to and to live out Jesus greater provision of salvation and of ‘life to the full’?

LUKE 24:13-35

As you read today’passage, did your ‘hearts burn within you’?  What an amazing event we have been drawn into!

2 people, possibly husband and wife, walking home from Jerusalem with their hopes dashed!  Hopes for the rescuing of the people of Israel, God’s chosen people (as He had done so often and so dramatically before), this time from Roman occupation.  These two knew Jesus as and hoped in Him, but now He was dead!

Then they meet the risen  Christ!                                                                                                        What does Jesus do?                                                                                                                       He listens to their troubles and then He opens the story of God’s ultimate plan of rescue for humanity by sharing the scriptures as they walked.  Following an invitation from the pair for Jesus to stay, He was recognised by them when He broke the bread during the evening meal.

For these people encountering Christ involved,                                                                         meeting Him and listening to Him open scripture.                                                                     being present when He broke the bread                                                                                   racing back the 7 miles to Jerusalem to share the good news of the resurrection.     

The way we encounter Christ may be different but will involve some of the elements of Jesus’ encounter with the two on the road home to Emmaus.

May God bless us with His presence as we journey with Him.          

Peter and Elizabeth            

Everything Changes

2 Corinthians 5:14 -6:4

What a passage to read at the start of 2018! It is a strong encouragement that calls us to have a new attitude in life. We wonder what words stood out for you, but some strong ones like – compel v14, implore v20, don’t receive God’s grace in vain ch6:1 challenged our approach to life in this new year.

Three thoughts struck us in this rather solid theological statement

1 The power of God’s love, fulfilled in Christ’s death and resurrection, compels us to live for Him. Once we recognise this love, which brings reconciliation and relationship with God Himself, we must live for Him and not for self. V14,17,18

2 We are new creations. Our old ways and attitudes no longer fit in Christ’s company because we are driven by His love . In following Christ we become new people in every way which enables us to see others as He sees them. This brings us to focus on others not as the world sees them but as God does. V16

3 We are Christ’ ambassadors v20 and coworkers ch6:1. To be called into partnership with the Almighty Creator of he universe means sharing in bringing reconciliation with God to those who do not yet know His love.

We’ll need to draw on the guidance of the Holy Spirit if these goals are to be ours in 2018.

Peter and Elizabeth.

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

 

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.