Trust in You

Our readings today are Proverbs 16:1-17 and James 5:1-6

Our Proverb today is beautifully bookended by these verses:

We can make our own plans,
but the Lord gives the right answer.
(v1)

The path of the virtuous leads away from evil;
whoever follows that path is safe.
(v17)

As I read through this proverb, I was reminded of the words of the song “Trust in You”.
In particular these lines:

When you don’t move the mountains
I’m needing you to move
When you don’t part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When you don’t give the answers
As I cry out to you
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in you

Who has not felt this way as we make our plans for our lives and pray earnestly for the Lord’s support?

What I find most reassuring are these words:

Truth is you know what tomorrow brings
There’s not a day ahead you have not seen

The proverb reminds us that as we follow His path, we are safe. He knows the way we need to go – although we may feel we are stumbling in the dark!

The ever practical James warns the “rich” about investing themselves in their wealth. The corruption that follows will lead them away from the virtuous path described in our proverb.

How easily could this rich person be you and me as well live another day in our Australian paradise?

I pray that we will look ahead humbly trusting the Lord for the next day and for ways we might wisely bless others with our riches.

Advertisements

Psalm 52

Psalm 52 was written by David at a time when Saul’s jealousy of David was reaching its darkest depths. You can read about the incident in 1 Samuel 22. As ever, David pours out his heart to God and shows us the depths of his trust in Him.

Why do you boast of evil, O mighty man?
    The steadfast love of God endures all the day.
Your tongue plots destruction,
    like a sharp razor, you worker of deceit.
You love evil more than good,
    and lying more than speaking what is right. Selah
You love all words that devour,
    O deceitful tongue.
But God will break you down for ever;
    he will snatch and tear you from your tent;
    he will uproot you from the land of the living. Selah
The righteous shall see and fear,
    and shall laugh at him, saying,
“See the man who would not make
    God his refuge,
but trusted in the abundance of his riches
    and sought refuge in his own destruction!”
But I am like a green olive tree
    in the house of God.
I trust in the steadfast love of God
    for ever and ever.
I will thank you for ever,
    because you have done it.
I will wait for your name, for it is good,
    in the presence of the godly.

Born to die

Our readings today are Deut 20 and Matthew 2:13-18

One thing that struck me from Deuteronomy was this verse:

When you go out to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.
Dt 20:1

Note that it doesn’t say you “should not be afraid” but rather “you shall not be afraid”. Why? Because they knew that God was the one who brought them up out of Egypt. This would jog their memory of all the awesome works which that entailed. Truly, Israel had first hand knowledge of God. A God who had proven he was a match for any world power. How could they not trust in him? Yet, like us, they had an amazing capacity to lack trust in their God.

Matthew records for us the early years of Jesus on earth. The dark character in this chapter is Herod.

We saw back in verse 7 that Herod had tried to manipulate the visitor’s from the east into revealing the location of the new king when they found him. When this plan was foiled, the insecure despot ordered the murder of all boys under the age of 2 in an attempt to secure his own kingship.

Although God allowed Herod to exercise his power in this evil way, he would not allow him to interfere with Jesus’ rescue mission for humanity. So Jesus is protected with his family in Egypt until Herod’s death after which time they returned to settle in the town of Nazareth. And so, although the messiah was born in Bethlehem as prophesied, he would be known as a Nazarene.

As we have some quiet time to reflect after Christmas, let’s be thankful that God took such an interest in humanity that he sent his son into this broken world. Born to live among us so that he might die for us.

Apocalypso

Today’s readings are Deuteronomy 2 and Mark 13.

In our Old Testament reading, Moses is just warming up on his “Second Telling” (Deuteronomy) of Israel’s story. Here in chapter 2 he covers the beginning of the wilderness years, starting with a long family conflict that traced back to their forebear Jacob and the tribe that traced their lineage back to his brother Esau (Genesis 25).

Mark gives us a rush of prophetic words from Jesus as he comes to the close of his earthly ministry.

As they walk through the streets of Jerusalem, a city steeped in history and the seat of the golden years of David and Solomon’s rulership, one of the disciples marvels at the buildings. You can understand that he would. According to the NLT commentary:

It was the largest temple complex in the world, with immense stones. One stone that has been uncovered in the the western wall is estimated to weigh 600 tons. With its white stones, gold trim, and the gold-covered roof, the Temple complex looked like a snow-covered mountain; in the sun it was a blinding sight (Josephus, War 5.5.6).

However, Jesus response must have shocked him:
“Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
v2

This leads into discussion with the disciples about the end of the age. Some of the signs will be:

  • false messiah’s
  • wars and rumours of wars
  • earthquakes
  • famines

These are just the “beginning of the birth pains”!

Jesus tells us these things so that we are forewarned, so “no one leads you astray” and we should “not be alarmed”. (v5-7).

As Jesus has assured us elsewhere, there will be persecution for those who stay true to His name. We have begun to taste this in post-Christian Australia, but it is our brethren in other countries that truly have felt this persecution in our time (e.g. Iraq and Syria).

What do we know about the final day?

  • It will be obvious (v24-27) so we won’t need anyone to tell us
  • No one knows when it will be (v32-37) so we needn’t pay attention to any predictions

screen-shot-2016-11-27-at-5-32-33-pm

What we can and should do is rest on Jesus assurance:

But the one who endures to the end will be saved

A Prophet Like Moses

Today’s readings are Isaiah 65:1-16 and Mark 6:30-44

The feeding of the 5,000 is the only miracle worked by Jesus recorded in all 4 gospels. Clearly, it was a significant miracle. As with many miracles of Jesus, there is an Old Testament connection that we can easily miss as New Testament believers.

I can remember this connection being shown to me many years ago in a home group. The connection is Moses:

The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen
Dt 18:15

Here God was telling his people he would raise up a prophet “like Moses” from among them. And since that promise was made, the Israelites were looking for this man in their midst.

One of the most significant things Moses did for the Israelites was fed them with God’s Manna. This was undoubtedly in the minds of the Israelites as Jesus fed the multitude on this day.

John records their response for us:

After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.
Jn 6:14-15

Jesus had a different mission to the one the people had in mind.

As New Testament believers we too can forget Jesus mission might not align with our plans. I find that it is easy to fall into a self-centred view of my faith.

One of my favourite verses reminds of this:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Rom 8:28

It is easy to co-opt this verse to mean that God will fall into line with ur plans. But verse 29 reminds us of his purpose for us:

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
Rom 8:29

The best summary I have heard, which removes us from the centre is this:

Not God’s purpose for our life, but our life for God’s purpose.

Or as Paul puts it:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship.
Rom 12:1

References:

 

Lean on Him

Today’s readings are Isaiah 31-32 and 1 Tim 6:11-21

“Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help”.

Israel often turned to Egypt as their saviour rather than the Lord. I find the most memorable description of Egypt as a “splintered reed of a staff, which pierces the hand of anyone who leans on it”.

As I reflected recently on what it means to have a biblical worldview with some of the men from KIC, I was reminded again that my western materialistic education and environment often leads me to rely on my own resources. Resources that, like Egypt, cannot be safely leant upon in this fleeting life.

I am reminded again that king Jesus will “reign in righteousness” – and that since I believe this, I should also be conscious of living my life with that end in mind.

Indeed, Paul has a great reminder for all of us in the fabulously wealthy Western World:

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.
1 Tim 6:17-19

I pray that together we might be rich in good works and not hesitant in sharing the good plans that the Lord has for our welfare under his rule. Not only physical welfare but welfare for true life in His presence – he being the only one we can safely lean upon.

Day by Day

Today’s readings are 2 Kings 8 and John 18:28-40

In our Old Testament reading we see some characters from past chapters. Namely the Shunammite woman from chapter 4 and Elisha’s servant Gehazi from chapter 5.

As I read this familiar story I wondered whether Gehazi had found another job telling stories to the King following his disgrace in the Naaman incident. I also wondered whether a leprous Gehazi would be permitted in the presence of the King.

It turns out that “leprosy” relates to a number of skin diseases, not all of which excluded people from society. Another possibility is that the stories are not chronological as ancient historians don’t feel the same need for chronology as modern historians. You can read more about this at bibleq.

Whatever the backstory to this situation, we see God’s grace continuing to be extended to a non-Jew in the Shunammite. She, like Rahab, shows that God extends his grace to any who will be loyal to him. A wonderful foreshadowing of the outpouring of grace to the nations that comes with Jesus.

As I read our verse from John I was reminded of Jesus words to the Pharisees:

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.
Matt 23:23

Here we see the hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders in practice. They would not enter the house of a gentile lest they be defiled (even though there was no such law from God) while they orchestrate the execution of an innocent man!

Our bible study group has been watching “The Reason for God” in which Timothy Keller converses with a group of non-Christians on a variety of topics. One of the topics was around hypocrisy in the church. It was surprising to see how understanding the group members were in this area. The basic consensus was that people are flawed and no one lives up to their standards. The harsh words were reserved for those who pretended they were perfect and felt free to stand in judgement over others.

It is telling that Jesus also spoke harshly against such hypocrisy. Hypocrisy was a feature found in Jesus’ enemies. Jesus was clear that his friends would stand out for a different reason:

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
John 13:15

I pray that as a church we will stand out in our love for our unswerving fidelity to our Lord Jesus.

In the words of Godspell:

O, dear Lord, three things I pray:
to see thee more clearly,
love thee more dearly,
follow thee more nearly