A generous response, renewed hope

Today’s FDR is 2 Chronicles 31:2-21 and Matthew 9:27-38.

In our our Old Testament reading today we see a bright and prosperous time for Israel. They are led by Hezekiah who appears to be an anomaly  in a line of kings who regularly turn their backs on God. We are told that Hezekiah ‘did what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God’ (v20). He sought God with all his heart. We also see that like their king, the people have turned their hearts to God and respond with generosity… to the point of overflowing.

As I read this I am encouraged and challenged that as my heart  turns and seeks God, one of the practical outworkings is generosity – in time, money and effort – joyful generosity! How I long to give of what I have more generously. I will pray therefore, not that I would be more generous but that I would have my heart turned more to and captivated by God!

In our gospel reading, the compassion of Jesus is displayed in the healing of two blind men and casting out of a demon in a third. I am struck straight away by the response of the blind men – Jesus ‘sternly’ warns them not to tell anyone about their miraculous healing and their response…. we’ve got to tell everybody! I can only imagine what it must have been like for them to have their eyes opened, to have their lives changed forever and to want to respond by telling others. In the same situation, I don’t know that I would have been able to contain my joy either!

Jesus ministry so far is summed up in v35 – moving throughout the towns, healing the sick and proclaiming the gospel. We are told of his compassion for the crowds, harassed and helpless. He subsequently encourages, no, commands his disciples to pray for labourers for the harvest. I’m sure that during our world missions conference towards the end of July we will hear many stories of labourers and the harvest in Australia and around the world. As we have been commanded, may we continue to pray for those who have been sent and in so doing realise that we too are called to the harvest as co-labourers in proclaiming the gospel… and willingly follow Christ in that calling.

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Two Kings choose to mock God

Today’s (Tu 04/06/2017) and tomorrow’s Old Testament FDR is 2 Chronicles 25 and 26 and can be read by clicking on the blue link.  (Today’s and tomorrow’s New Testament passage will appear in tomorrow’s blog.)

Other Gods in life (ch25)

Amaziah, as the new king of Judah, begins well.  He deals with those directly involved in his father’s assassination by putting them to death.  This also separates him from any involvement.  Note too, he observes the law that applies here to dealing with sin against other persons and only executes those involved and not their families.  Now to war.  He assembles his own tribes who make a great number (300k) ready for war and hires another 100k from Israel at twice the going rate.

Unfortunately at this time Israel has become apostate.  Although Amaziah is raising a ‘host’ he relies on a reinforced army made up of 25% of non-believers.  (It is thought the purpose was to deal with the sin of the Edomites when they invaded Judah 50 years before.  Considered a sin because the Edomites attacked the people of God.)

This choice to involve the Israelites demonstrates Amaziah’s decision not to rely on the Lord for assistance, but to seek earthly assistance from an apostate mercenary force.  Little wonder the ‘man of God’ is outraged! (v7)

The reading takes us through the victory, in unlikely ways that God brings to the fight, as the ‘believers’ fight on their own with the Edomite southerners.

Sadly, the Chronicles record notes the departing mercenary contingent that raids civilian towns on their unhappy dismissal and returning angrilly home from a bounty of booty they could have expected in plundering the Edomites with Amaziah’s force. (v13)

Unfortunately what then follows  is another poor decision of Amaziah’s.  Rather than destroying the false gods and images of the Edomites where they stood he brings them home to Judah and places them in a special place and continues to recognise them as gods by prostrating himself and making burnt offerings!  At least he did not place these in the Temple of the Lord, yet he worshipped them!

God calls a prophet in His anger to challenge Amaziah!

The prophet asks this rehotorical question.  “Why do you resort to the gods of another people, when they were powerless against you, when you were commissioned by the Lord himself?”  The text records that it was all down hill from here.

For us this should read – “Why do we resort to the powerless gods of others when we know the Lord Himself?”

Too big for his boots (ch 26)

This chapter introduces Uzziah to us and cites his great feat of opening the trade route to Aqab, that had been an aim of Amaziah’s reign (v1&2).  This chapter goes on to record his pleasing behaviour before the Lord, his worship of God and that God made him prosper.  Uzziah was successful before God in fighting, in agriculture and being prepared to defend his people and land (v3 – 15).

Then at v16 Chronicles records Uzziah’s departure from relying on God.  Although he has reached the watershed of his reign and become very successful as God’s earthly representative he becomes arrogant and violates one of the rights of God by entering the nave of the Temple to offer incense.  This is a role of the priests alone, as commanded by God, and is done twice daily in normal circumstances.

Here we see a mark of the respect and fear in which Uzziah was held (v17).  Quickly we see both the priest’s proclamation of judgement and God’s judgement placed on him in the form of a skin disease.  Interestingly the passage records Uzziah’s awakening to what he has done (v20).

God’s judgement includes Uzziah now being isolated from all he has done and his own people and family as prescribed by Leviticus 13:46.  Even when he dies his body is buried rather than placed in the sepulchre of the royal house (v23).

For us the priests’ question can be rephrased, “What arrogance will lead us to deny God his rightful place in all we do?”

Sisters and brothers, although we can see these kings of God’s choosing and their stories as part of Old Testament history they also speak to us .  Through Jesus we too are elect of God and can succumb to the temptations of the evil one to choose other gods or think we are cool enough to treat God with disrespect, even unthinkingly!

A prayer:  Father and Almighty God,  I too am able to turn away from you and pay attention to other things I put in the place in my life that You only should have.  Sometimes these are things I might worship.  Sometimes these are things I might do that push you aside from being central in all I do, think and say.  Help me Father to realise when I have done this.  In Jesus’ name forgive me please Almighty God?  Help me to keep You central in my life in all times.   I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord.  Amen

God Bless,

Glenn

The following publication was used to assist in preparing this 
blog: 
Johnstone, William. (1997) 1 & 2 Chronicles Vol 2  in  Journal 
for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series 254, 
Sheffield Academic Press, Midsomer North. pp 150 - 169

The List.

Today readings are 2 Chronicles 30 and Romans 5:6-21

I started thinking about those lists we compile during the holidays of all we need to do and be reminded of….here is mine.

*To do list for holiday break…

*Paddle surfboard on Belmore Basin

*Exercise walks (heart operation)

*Bunnings – Tiger grass

*Programming for school

*Manly Jazz Weekend

*Spend lots of time with Marian

*Note to self….Remember, at just the right time, a time unknown to you, Christ died for you. You were powerless to influence this and you were undeserving and sinful but still Christ gave himself for you. You were far off, certainly had shown no interest in the things of God, but still He loved you enough to demonstrate this great love. You had no idea what had been done for you in this amazing transaction, you were clueless.
But it’s not just that you have been justified and saved from death, but that through Christ you’ve been been freed to live a life that was impossible before. Guess what, you are even allowed to boast in Christ about what has been done for you. Nothing from you, all from Him by Grace you can be sure.
Reconciled with God, but also with others in a way you or the world can never fully understand.
You were the unhappy recipient of Adam’s sin, You were tainted from birth, no, even from conception and there was nothing you could do about it. One sin brings many deaths, including your own but Christ’s gift brings so much more. Overflowing blessing to you and all creation! It’s pretty astounding.
All can be justified, you, those people you see out and about who show not the slightest regard for God, who scorn the death and resurrection of Jesus. Even those undeserving and ungrateful people, ‘many will be made righteous’ is what it says. You have to be faithful to Christ though, keep walking the Christian walk, read your Bible, spend time with others who love Christ, pray and meditate on the things of God. It’s all good stuff too, you’ll be built up and blessed and even have the responsibility of sharing the ‘Good News’.

Don’t forget!

Matthew 12:13

2 Chronicles 21, Matt 11:25-12:14


 Matthew 12:13  (New International Version)

 13 Then he said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other.


Jesus says to the man with a shrivelled hand, ‘Stretch out your hand’. He is telling the man to do the exact thing we know that the man cannot do. The only information we are given about this man is that his hand is shrivelled. This is how the character is introduced into the story – no name, no connections, no background – simply defined by his shrivelled hand. This is all we need to know.

Jesus says to the man with a shrivelled hand, ‘Stretch out your hand’. And the man does it. At Jesus’ word, the man does the very thing he could not do. And in doing so the man is healed.

Perhaps again today – for healing, or to spur generosity, or fellowship – Jesus says, “Stretch out your hand”.

 

Vision and Victory

2 Chronicles 20:1-13

I love this portrait of humble and faithful leadership. In the face of overwhelming opposition Jehoshaphat humbled himself and the whole nation fasted. They had no answer without God’s leading and Jehoshaphat wasn’t too proud to admit it. He called on God and together they were all saved by God’s mighty hand. In Australia in 2014 we do not have multitudes of warriors bearing down on us here (but spare a prayer for Christians and other people groups in Iraq and Syria). In Western countries there are more subtle threats to the faithful church such as the rising tide of Christian nominalism, religious pluralism and some efforts by Muslim people to convert others to Islam. Without a renewed vision of Christ nurtured by His word our faith is bound to become brittle and skin deep. It is incumbent on our senior leaders, the parish council and every church member to keep calling upon the Lord in our insufficiency before we can discover His vision for the local church toward 2020 and beyond.

Matthew 9:35-10:42

"Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd." v36. NASB

When we look around us and see distressed and harassed brothers and sisters in Christ do we see them as an inconvenience or do we see them as Jesus did? This passage comes right before Jesus sends out the twelve on mission. Healing and miraculous signs come before it and after it. He told them to go without waiting for stockpiles of money, bags, clothing or shoes. In other words he told them to trust his provision. Open the eyes of our heart Lord, to look with compassion on the harvest and trust you with provisions for the journey! May those who receive us receive you too Jesus. – cf Ephesians 1:18; Psalm 119:18

Matthew

Fickle, fickle, fickle . . .

Today’s FDR (Th 04/09/2014) is from 2 Chronicles 11 and Matthew 5:21-48

We are such fickle human beings it is no wonder we need, for our past, our present and our future, a Saviour, the Messiah, to lead and teach us how to act so that our God is held in the supreme regard.

Murder, adultery, divorce, oaths, an eye for an eye and love for enemies are topics of our Matthew reading.  This part of the Sermon on the Mount sets the New Covenant standards much higher than the Law or Old Testament standard of “just don’t do this”.  Jesus sets a higher general standard that specifies, in response to God’s love for us and our demonstration of His love to others, that we must exhibit love at this generous level to our Christian family and our enemies!

Our 2 Chronicles 11 passage tells of a previously joined kingdom split apart by the greed of the new King Rehoboam taking the advice of his less experienced advisers against that of his more experienced advisors.  In today’s passage, following a failed attempt at mounting an attack on the towns of Israel, Judah’s towns are fortified in expectation of battles and skirmishes.  Priestly leaders become part of the worship of man-made idols and people are led astray.  While some remained faithful to God walking in the ways of David and Solomon.

The hardest hitting section of this Matthew passage is in the last couple of verses.

Two of these are; 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven.

Also 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

How do we meet the standards required of us?  Only by the grace of God.  Grace to act as Jesus instructs.  Grace to be forgiven when we fail to act in the expected way.  Grace to step away from our fickle selves again and enter into the way of life as demonstrated by Christ and seek to live according to His teachings.

I love the challenge of our communion service that appears in the Prayer Book just before the General Confession (The Australian Prayer Book, 1978, p121) that, in part says, “You, then, who earnestly repent of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbours, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God and walking in his holy ways, draw near with faith, and take this holy sacrament to strengthen and comfort you.  But first, let us make a humble confession of our sins to Almighty God.”

However and whenever these words come to mind or are said I am reminded of the complete and all encompassing grace that flows from God that permits you and I to live a life before our God, by hour, by day and by week.  A life in which I too am fickle.

A prayer – Lord and Father, while I in my own strength am unable to live as you require of me please accept, through the gift of your Son Jesus to me, my heartfelt confession of those things I have done that are sinful before you.  Please bless me with your continuing grace and mercy. I turn to you for forgiveness, pardon, and delivery of me from my sins, and strengthen me in a new life before you. Amen

Glenn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Vision of Heaven

image

2 Chronicles 7:1-10

Revelation 21-22:5

Today’s readings are a powerful reminder of what the Christian looks forward to and a testament to God’s mighty hand as he brings his purpose to its conclusion. Pray today that he will open your heart and mind to his transforming message and truth.

The Chronicles reading describes Solomon’s inauguration of the temple. The appearing of God’s glory is confirmation that Solomon’s plans had been carried out as God intended them to be. The fire is something more, the temple was now being used as God himself intended, ie an encounter between himself and his people by way of Solomon’s prayer. It is a public sign for all Israel to experience and remember in contrast to the private answer God was about to give Solomon himself (v12-22). Verse 3 indicates that He was now above as well as in the temple so that everyone could see.

Note also in verse 10 that David and his son Solomon are bracketed as equal partners in God’s plan.

In the Revelation excerpt we read of God’s dealings with humanity reaching a climax in this passage. God and his people dwell together in perfect fellowship. The purpose is to strengthen the faith, hope and resolution of the church as it faces it’s ultimate trial.

The new creation, begun in Christ’s resurrection is to be experienced by all believers in the present (2 Cor 5:17). Heaven has come to earth in the kingdom of God!

From now on the dwelling of God is to be with men. They (we) will live in his presence. All things will find fulfilment in Him because he is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. None shall be thirsty either because the eternal spring will refresh.

The reminder that those who are immoral will find themselves consigned to a fiery lake of burning sulphur comes as a powerful stop in the midst of the surrounding verses.

The description of the city, shining like a brilliant jewel is breathtaking. The dimensions etc should be read not so much an exact description but more an infinite multiple of twelve. John may be saying that the city reaches from earth to heaven and so unites them.

The fact that there is no temple is a vivid reminder that The Lord and the Lamb will be in our midst.

The curse pronounced upon the original paradise is reversed. The goal of redeemed humanity is stated, ‘They will see his face’. Such a vision will involve the transformation into the same likeness.

These are wondrous words that ought to give us such encouragement and comfort. Pray that as you read them He will allow them to dwell in your heart.

Amen.