Present and Future

1 Cor 15: 35-49

Meditate today on our great and glorious God, and His plans for His Son, and His redeemed sinners. Jesus the man from Heaven shares His  glorious likeness with broken men and women. The purposes of God extend far beyond the walls of this world; the immediate, the physical. Power, glory and  imperishable awaits.

We seek to bring the reality of this new creation into our daily experience. We are already in Jesus by faith, and our future is secure. Our daily concerns should be seen in this context. Meditate on this passage, on your blessings in Christ, and let this shed light on how you live  today.

This is a great death-bed reflection, but don’t leave it to then! We have an amazing hope, and it changes the way we live today.

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Love Songs

Song of Songs 8. Acts 21:1-36

You can’t miss the emotion of Song of songs 8, even though the meanings may be somewhat elusive. If you’re poetic – enjoy.

Paul experiences strong emotions as he leaves  the Ephesian church and heads to Jerusalem receiving repeated prophecies that it will end in his capture. Even though his mind was made up, Paul’s heart was breaking.

Reflect on the strong love experienced between Paul  and the Christians in Tyre who he had not previously met. Strong fellowship in the love of Christ.

He then catches up with  Philip, one of the 7 chosen to distribute food in the early church; scattered by Saul’s persecution of the  church 20 or so years earlier, to reside and flourish in Caesarea, a Wollongong to Sydney distance from Jerusalem. Paul will shortly be back there for 2 years of imprisonment.

Paul is travelling with Gentile Christians bringing financial offerings to the Jewish Christians. He finds himself in a Jewish ceremony, pressured to reassure others that he remains pro Moses (1 Cor 9:20). Walking the steps from the Court of Gentiles to the Court of Israel of the Temple were signs in Greek and Latin – “Any foreigner entering within will have himself to blame for his ensuing death”; and the Roman authorities ratified this as law. Nearly beaten to death by the crowd, Paul was fortunate that a Roman garrison was stationed nearby…

The Jewish crowd shouts “away with him!”, reminiscent of similar shouts 27 years earlier…

Through these series of moments, each with their own emotion, relationship, pressure and conflict; we see the Author of our lives making His plan and purposes prevail.

Pray that today the moments you live in, each with  their emotion and pressure, will be to the praise of His Glory.

My Refuge

Psalm 61

As you meditate on this psalm of prayerful trust in God and longing for His presence, remind yourself that God is our rock – we are fragile, shifting and brief. Remind yourself that He is much higher than us; something we may forget in practice as we pursue our important daily priorities and goals.

He does hear our cry, He does listen to our prayers – that’s who He is. And we are formed to depend on Him – that’s who we are. Dependent. When we are desperate, when our own resources are exhausted, we know we have nowhere to go but to God. We experience that dependence in a way we don’t when all is going well.

“You have been my refuge”-  Not merely an acknowledged, intellectual belief; but in  experience. God has shown Himself a refuge in the walk of faith. ( I knew there was a hut there- it was on the map – but the relief I felt when it became a refuge from the wind, rain, cold, hunger and exhaustion was something else!)

Do you refuge in God? He made us for that. We long for security  and permanence, He gives us that. We should have hearts that are humble and trusting.

As David prayed and wrote the words of this Psalm, so Jesus prayed and fulfilled them, so we can pray the same words, knowing God has answered all these longings in Jesus; securing our refuge in God, sheltering us from all our foes.

Praising God now and forever! As David ends his psalm, let us start our day.

 

Blackest darkness

2 Peter 2. Prov 22: 1-16.

Stern words indeed today for any who might be a false teacher. Peter, the Shepherd, warns his flock of the dangers of those promoting destructive heresies. He seems to have specifics in mind, noting those carousing and feasting with them, as being lustful, seductive and greedy (v 14). Peter reminds them of God’s judgement of the ungodly (v 4-10), and the blackest darkness reserved for them (v 17). The danger fake teachers pose is real – enticing people back into slavery (v 18,19).

While you may not be able to name a false teacher you’ve seen carousing after church,  we are well aware of the impact  of false teachers ‘bringing the way of truth into disrepute’ . (v 2). Also, perhaps not being able to name a specific teacher, we may allow false teachers into our lives, into our homes and onto our screens. With the touch of a button we can permit movies, TV, Google or Facebook to entangle us, and to deny our Lord (v 1). What would Peter say to his flock today?

The evilness in being a false teacher, or of being seduced by destructive heresies is in the denial it brings of the sovereign Lord, who bought us. Denying who He is and what he has done. We belong to Him – His love, His sacrifice, His Spirit breathe life into our dead souls. His supreme price declares our worth to Him,  His unfathomable love for us. We are bought. We are His.

Look to your Lord today, not to false imitations.

 

 

Never alone

Prov 11:16-31.  Heb 13:1-6.

We were made for relationship with God.That is why we were created.Being in that relationship is the only way our souls will be satisfied.We are fulfilled, our purpose realized as we worship God as He deserves; with thanks, reverence and awe (Heb 12 v 28).

Recognizing His presence, the reality of that relationship, forms part of the conclusion to Hebrews. “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.”(v 5)

Never. Not when you fail. Not when your faith is weak. Not when life’s circumstances leave you feeling anxious, alone or beaten. Never. We are encouraged to trust in Him; His provision, presence and character, and so satisfy our souls. Today we will all seek satisfaction. Our souls  search for contentment. The question is, Where will you look for it? As God’s child you have God – his presence, power, love and help.

We are weak – we fear (v 6), we forget  who we are, our identity as His. His – ransomed by Jesus – saved and safe by His work and grace. We seek satisfaction in ourselves, created things, money –  traps which never satisfy, having to slavishly return time and again to get more, never  content.

Trust in your Savior. He will not forsake you. He is the final definition of love, wisdom, mercy and power. He wants to free us from what is not true. He is our soul’s rest.

We are given a capacity to love. This should not be directed to money (v 5), which never satisfies, but to other souls. To each other  (v 4), strangers (v 2), prisoners, the mistreated and our marriage partner (v 4). Love is God’s essence, his signature, his character.

Proverbs echoes this; the importance of being kind (v 16), generous (v 25), not trusting in riches (v 28), the importance of the soul (v 30).

The encouragement to love is not a deadening law, but life-giving grace. Trust Him. Living this day with  awareness that He is with you, and will never leave you is your right as His child. It will help you  take on those challenges to your faith that will  come, possibly today.

As you pray in this day rest in the presence and power of your heavenly Father.

Best wishes

Deut 24.   1 John 5:13-21

What did you wish for this Christmas? Young readers would excitedly rattle off a list of must haves and would likes. The more mature may, after some thought, note time with family, peace or some pudding.Even as the frantic bustle of Christmas fades, we keep wishing. Wishing this year would be a good one. Wishing some relationships would be easier. Wishing the job problem would resolve.Wishing my health would improve. Wishing 2017 would not be as busy, hard,tiring as last year. Wishing the fighting in Syria would end, the fighting in politics, the media, families and in individual minds would just stop.

John tells us that this world is controlled by the evil one (v19).It is full of things we  wish it wasn’t .  John has been telling his readers the amazing truth that God’s Son has brought us eternal life. Bigger and better than any wish – abundant , forgiving, life changing Grace.

John is writing  to those who believe in the Son of God. Belief is not merely  wishful thinking. He wants us to know what we have, and live accordingly. We can know for certain, now that we have life eternal (v13), that we can approach God confidently in prayer, knowing he hears us (v15), that we won’t, in an ongoing way deliberately keep sinning (v18) and that we are God’s children- with all that that means (v19).

It doesn’t mean we no longer live in this broken world, and experience all its hurt, but while we do that, we know Him, and are in Him – Jesus – the true God and eternal life (20).

This truth should bring to us the joy and peace, yes and the excitement that Christmas did to the young, and our maturing, our living in this fallen world, should not shake our belief in and experience of Jesus, and all that a relationship with Him, by grace, brings.It’s better than we could wish for.

No can do.

Zephaniah 3. Mark 7:31-37.

We tolerate sin. God can’t. We can live with our little bit of pride, self reliance, independence. God can’t. We can act as if  we are King. God can’t. Because God can’t, Zephaniah tells Judah of their coming destruction, the great Day of the Lord, when man is cut off from the face of the earth; the day of the Lord’s wrath when the whole world will be consumed – Judah as well as her enemies. God can’t tolerate evil and evildoers.

Chapter 3 speaks of the day after. The day after the great Day of the Lord. Judah’s restoration is nothing like what is promised here. Purification.” Then will I purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord, and serve him “(9).Obedience.” They will do no wrong”.(13) Pardoned.”The Lord has taken away your punishment” (15). Union.” The Lord, the King of Israel is with you.” (15) Loved and delighted in (17).Rejoiced over. Healed. Gathered. Honoured.

These are all actions of God. He loves. He restores. He pardons.He saves. We can’t.

The wrath of God for the nations was unleashed, and Matthew 26:39 tells us who drank that cup of God’s wrath. Jesus purifies the lips of the peoples, that they may call on the name of the Lord.

Jesus restores. And what he does to one man, recorded in Mark 7:31-37, restoring his hearing and speech, in a personal, physical way, foreshadows what Jesus is doing on a global yet personal, spiritual way. Restoration.

So, in the words of Zephaniah, Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, The Lord has taken away your punishment.