Nahum and Luke

Today’s (Mo 08/01/2018) FDR is Nahum 1 and Luke 18:1-8

What does Nahum chapter 1 and the first 8 verses of Luke chapter 18 share in common?  Not many things but a great powerful and merciful God. Our glorious God as the centre piece.

Yesterday Steve took us into Psalm 99 and concluded with these words:
“. . . shows us that God is both reigning king, mighty and awesome, AND loving father, responsive, forgiving and faithful. What more can we do than to fall upon our knees and ‘exalt the Lord our God for the LORD our God is Holy!’ (v9).”

Today, Nahum’s prophecy in this first chapter prophesies about an overlord called “Ninevah”, a great and worldly powerful oppressor whose descent from its own glory and might occurs in the face of the Lord’s greater power and justice.  This provides us with the same perspective as more ancient readers of this prophecy such as those between 7th century BCE and Christ’s birth.  That is, a message of hope and trust in God for those of us who are oppressed by our own “Nineveh”.  The same message for the ancients and ourselves.

Today also this familiar passage from Luke 18,  as Jesus relates the parable of the lonely and persistent widow and her constant approaches to the normally unsympathetic judge so that he accedes to her requests.   Luke, in his helpful style, identifies for us that the parable’s purpose is prayer.

But how to characterise these two players in this parable?  While it is easy to see ourselves as the petitioner, the widow. Possibly feeling alone and unsuppported.  I don’t believe we should ascribe the role of the judge to God!  In fact, it is my view that the description of the judge is deliberate to encourage us to think about our own perspective in which we see our God.

Is He a grumbling reluctant judge who approves our prayers after we have “droned on” for a while about what we want?  Not so.

The Bible describes an very different God.  Our God, in my experience, is an extremely generous and considerate God.  A personal and committed God, who is keen for each of us to know Him and Jesus and the Holy Spirit, as part of our own lives.  Also as part of our collective lives together as the church, as Christ’s redeemed people.   God demonstrates His great care and interest in us in many ways, not the least of these being the provision of both a personal and collective prayer connection for ours and His use, as often and as many times as it is needed.  There are many different prayer modes, of which some examples are, those urgent times when something disastrous is about to occur or has just occurred, when we or our brothers and sisters are in need of grace and peace, and in praise and worship of our great God.

Just three of all the many examples of prayer conversations we can have with God.

Why is prayer so important?  Briefly, prayer demonstrates our faith in God through Christ and it stokes our hunger for things of God encouraging us to leave the sin and mundane of this world and revel in Him.  Prayer is an important part of each of us remaining as an elect child of God and those who will be taken on Christ’s turbulent return to be with Him.

Its time to pray.  Its always time to pray.

Blessings,

Glenn

Note to all diaries: Monthly FAC Community prayer mornings recommence on Sat 3rd February, 2018 from 7am to 9am.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Luke 2:11

Luke 2:8-20


Luke 2:11 (New International Version)

11 Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.


Today’s the day! No more big sleeps. No more waiting. Today we celebrate the birth of the long-awaited one.

But, what an unusual birth announcement! It does not mention the weight or the height or the head circumference of the newborn. Rather, it sets out three other characteristics. Saviour – this one will save, this one will rescue. Messiah – this is the anointed one, the appointed one, the Christ. Lord – this one deserves all respect, all allegiance. An extraordinary birth notice, but this is no ordinary baby.

And in between are those ‘most significant two words’: to us. The child is born to us. Our Saviour, our Messiah, our Lord.

Christ the Saviour is born!
Jesus, Lord at your birth!

Longing

Todays passages are Isaiah 40:1-5 and Luke 1:67-80.

With just two more sleeps till Christmas, some of us will be full of anxious anticipation as what is coming while others are racing around making sure that something will be coming on Christmas morning. At some point in life we transition from the childhood longing for Christmas to the Adult who becomes responsible for making the things children long for come to fruition. We look forward to Christmas in different ways… and we look forward to different things.  I’m looking forward to the marriage of my son in about 6 months time. I anticipate a great day of joy and celebration when the wedding day arrives.

We pick up Isaiah at the start of Chapter 40, conscious of the chapters prior which have talked about the distress coming to Jerusalem due to the rebellion of the people against God. A time of great exile is coming for Israel. The tone changes quickly in Chapter 40, with words of comfort, not judgement, for Jerusalem. Another day will come when

A voice of one calling:
In the wilderness prepare
    the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
    a highway for our God…

And the glory of the Lord will be revealed

The exile will not be the end. Another great day will come where Jerusalem will be comforted and the glory of God revealed.

We know when Christmas is coming. I know the day my son will be married. We wait, but with a definite timeline. The Israelites waited in hope not knowing when this great day would come.

Fast forward 700 years or so years later. After living in this great anticipation and expectation, trusting that God would come to his people and reveal his glory again we find a Father full of joy at the birth of his child:

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
    because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
 He has raised up a horn[a] of salvation for us
    in the house of his servant David (Luke 1:68-69)

The Lord has come to his people.

The Lord has redeemed his people.

The time of exile is over.

The glory of God will be revealed.

Who is this child? Luke makes it clear in Luke 3:4-6 (notice the similarities and the difference in the Isaiah quote). He is the one preparing the way for the Lord’s salvation.

As we continue to prepare for Christmas, may we long for the coming of God in the lives of those around us; and may we be filled with praise to God for what he has done in freeing his people from captivity.

May you have a Happy and Blessed Christmas

Deaf as posts but the invitation is for those who will come.

Today’s (Fr 08/12/2017) FDR passages are Amos 3 and Luke 14:15-24

Deaf as posts

Amos chapter 3 is the first of the prophetic word reports in this book.  These concern judgement against Israel and in Chapter 3 vv3-8 use a rhetorical cause and effect framework of questions that culminate in v8:

The lion has roared –
    who will not fear?
The Sovereign Lord has spoken –
    who can but prophesy?

The implied question being;

“How is it the prophet prophesies the impending doom of God, but the people do not pay any attention?”

So the judgement is spoken and very little of use will be left.  Vv12-15 describes how desolation will be made of Israel and the ineffectual pieces that will be left.  This is punishment on a very grand scale.

Celebrations for all.

We can be too familiar with this next passage, Luke 14:15-24.  We think it means God invites people who are celebrated guests and they refuse so He invites others, some whom we would not normally consider.  Yet it is about those who already know God too.

When we hear the call of God, in what ever means it comes to us,  to act either by direct invitation or through a quiet whisper, perhaps as loud to us as a trumpet call, will we recognise it is the Master’s call and promptly obey?

Our passage characterises the first group as those who are too busy.  Yet it is the Master calling.  Then he gathers people from all places and there is still room.  Another call is made, this time with determination – ” . . . and compel people to come in so that my house may be filled.” (v23)

Behind these words is a very clear message delivered by v24 “. . . none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.”

SHUT OUT!  EXCLUDED!  Missed out on the one and only opportunity to celebrate with God, the marriage of the Lamb to His people!

Revelation 7:9 describes the resulting celebration like this:

After these things I looked, and here was an enormous crowd that no one could count, made up of persons from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb dressed in long white robes, and with palm branches in their hands.

There are only two responses possible here;

Yes, Lord I’ll come.  Or

No Lord, I’ve something else to do!

An obedient servant

What of the servant carrying out the Master’s instructions?  This is the fourth group and they follow the Lord’s direction and keep extending the invitations until the work is finished.

There is no criminal record check, nor talking to the invitees’ referees, nor checking if they are clean and well dressed, nor making sure they don’t already have a religion, nor making sure they are from the right suburb, or town or country.

No prior checks to see if the invitees are qualified.  Just asking, cajoling and compelling people to come to the feast.  Yes, no strings attached.  Everything is supplied by the Lord.

Do we approach our role as servants of God in this “All are invited, no exceptions” frame of mind?  Are we taking and making opportunities to bring into God’s kingdom all people?

Whatever role we have in this parable of Jesus the Bible’s 2 Peter 1:3 reminds us, whether we are called to the dinner celebration or are a servant doing the calling, that everything is provided, we need nothing of our own:

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Peter 1:3)

NO excuses – whether we are the servant or the guest we are expected, and equipped, to take our part seriously and be part of the solution.

Glenn

Call to review and blessings from God.

Today’s (Tu 05/11/2017) FDR passages are Joel 2:13-28 and Luke 13:10-21

Both passages today contain calls to review and resultant blessings.

Our reading in the book of Joel takes us to a challenge to review our standing before God as the passage prophesies what might need to be done to return to accepting the Lord’s favour and beseeching Him to turn back from the terrible judgement being described in yesterday’s reading.  These passages are also seen as a description of the times of tribulation that occur in the end times before Christ’s second coming and the relief prophesied to His faithful people on His return.

Our Luke reading describes one scene and a number of actions from Jesus’ ministry.  Here we see again Jesus working to heal and discuss or challenge belief and understanding.  There are three facets I want to focus on in the Sabbath healing to again examine Our Lord’s foci.

The woman healed came to the synagogue to hear a man who was becoming known as a prophet and healer and before He is finished she is healed of an 18 year affliction and “immediately she straightened up and praised God.” (v13b)  Jesus heals this woman in the place she is most hurting.

The synagogue leader, here addressing his people, requires them to come on days other than the Sabbath to be healed.  Yet Jesus beginning with a lesser rule argues that even the donkey would be given water today, on the Sabbath.  Then asks why not heal a person who is bound by evil.  Jesus, using a tool common to synagogue discourse, engages in discussion with this synagogue leader, and other opponents, by arguing from the same  rules as applied to work on the Sabbath.  Moving from a lesser being, an animal which needs care to a person who needs care, He argues that there is a stronger reason to heal and to do so straight away.

Those attending the Synagogue with its leader and this healed woman are either defeated or delighted. As v17 puts it “all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.”

Finally, challenging the gardeners and the cooks!   Picking up on Greg’s theme from yesterday;  What are we doing with our mustard seeds and our yeast?  Are we planting the seed of truth in people’s minds and hearts and praying for God’s Spirit to water it into a child of God?  Are we putting the yeast of Christ’s saving grace into people’s lives and setting it in the sunlight of God’s Spirit so those we are among can rise into a person of Christ?

You and I have been blessed with a ‘mustard seed’ or the ‘yeast’ of faith.  Are we replanting them in others by witness and prayer?

A prayer – Lord God, may we cherish the faith you have blessed us with enough to look for and pray about opportunities to bless others with your seeds and yeast in our short time on this earth.  In Christ’s name we ask this.  Amen. 

[My apologies to our early starters for this late posting.]

Glenn

Sliding doors

Today’s readings are Hosea 11:12-12:14 and Luke 12:13-21

In the movie sliding doors, two  alternative scenarios are played out in parallel regarding a woman’s relationship with her husband. The movie creates a “what if” scenario.

The passages before us this morning create a similar feel – particularly when read together.

In Hosea, we read about a nation judged for their evil… and we wonder “what if?” What if they had been obedient to God? What if they had lived in covenant faithfulness? What if rather than chasing the wind and pursuing dishonest gain, they had pursued the Lord God? Imagine the regrets…

In Luke we find a parable about a rich man who pursued selfish gain during his bumper harvest but was never able to enjoy the life he had prepared for himself as his life was taken from him that night. Imagine the regrets… From Jesus’ comment on the parable (v21), we can take it that the scenario would have ended differently had the rich man made a different decision regarding the bumper crop.

Today will be full of sliding door situations for all of us. Sometimes they are little decisions, sometimes big. Life is the cumulative effect of our decisions. The point is not to be overwhelmed by them, but to live in obedience to God in even the little decisions. Under God, the “what if” then becomes irrelevant. As Proverbs 16:9 reminds us

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.

As we approach today’s sliding doors, may we live with humble obedience such that we have no regrets come the days end.

Luke 11:33

Hosea 9, Luke 11:29-36


Luke 11:33 (New International Version)

33 ‘No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.


 

Everybody knows that the lamp is lighted

Everybody knows that the oil won’t last

Everybody knows the world’s benighted

Everybody knows the night’s soon past

Everybody knows the how and why

The bowl must go, the stand is high

That’s how it glows

Everybody knows.