Overcoming Temptation

The passages for our Faithful Daily Reading today are 2 Chronicles 4:1 – 5:1 and Matthew 4:1-11. Pastorally, I judge, that the Matthew passage might be far more helpful to comment on.

In this reading we see Jesus recalling verses from the Old Testament and quoting them to Satan. Jesus was victorious. Have you tried doing what Jesus did and it hasn’t worked? I wonder, “Why?”.

Perhaps the answer lies in the distinction between magic and faith. Magic is using an object or chant in a desperate attempt to ward off evil or control circumstances. Faith on the other hand is a quiet confidence that what God says is true enough to act on. We have to be careful about using Bible verses as a magic talisman, waving them around to desperately repel temptation (but we wouldn’t do that would we?).

But when we look at Matthew chapter 4, we see that Jesus used Scripture in quite another way. He went into the Word, found a principle or truth, and said in effect, “I will now live by this truth.”

Jesus saw the Word of God as truth, and was determined to act on that truth. It was this exercise of faith that gave Him victory over His temptations. And it is just the same exercise of faith that will give us the victory when we are tempted today.

So, we have to look for the key to our victory in the Word of God (really, where else would we find it?) – but not use our Bible as if it is a magic formula. Rather, let’s take God at His Word, act on what He says and let God use our faith to give us the victory over temptation.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer has a good word on “Temptation”, and I quote it here…

“The Bible tells only two temptations stories, the temptation of the first man and the temptation of Christ, that is, the temptation which led to man’s fall and the temptation which led to Satan’s failure. All other temptations in human history have to do with these two stories of temptation. Either we are tempted in Adam or we are tempted in Christ. Either the Adam in me is tempted – in which case I fall. Or the Christ in us is tempted- in which was Satan is bound to fall.”

Have a great day,

 

Peter Clark.

A heart of integrity …

Today’s Readings: 1 Chronicles & 1 Matthew 18-25

It was about 24 years ago when I was sitting in our Sunday church service and listening to our Senior Minister preach a sermon on this final chapter of 1 Chronicles. You see, we as a church community were about to start a building program that would provide a bigger facility to enable ministry to expand.

‘It’s not about brick and mortar, but about lives changed for Christ’ was the vision we were to be reminded about time and time again. And when the task seemed huge, again, we were reminded that this was something only God could do.

‘The task is great, because this (palatial) structure is not for man, but for the Lord.’ 1 Chronicles 29:1b

The leadership of our church followed the same action David did, when he told the people of God how much he would be financially contributing, as the leader. Unheard of!! Why would one be so upfront and so vocal, especially when it comes to money??

Again, as I’ve read and re-read this passage, I’m transported back to that time in the history of our church, where many people did in fact rejoice in the leadership and embrace the opportunity that they could be part of God’s plan to reach the lost in a very tangible and long lasting way.

As I reflect back, there are a number of things I can recall that were important lessons for me:

  • There were many people who gave sacrificially and very generously, who would never see the completion of the building – and knew that would be the case at the time – but that didn’t stop them giving. In so many ways, we may never see the fruit of our labour, whether the work of our hands or the outcome our prayers or our financial giving.
  • There were faithful saints who prayed for an expanding influence of the gospel into our community and beyond who are now in glory.
  • There were some who left a financial legacy to the church (with no strings attached) before the vision for the facility was ever spoken about.
  • There will always be people who complain and grumble …

It’s so very easy to want to hold tight to what we have materially; a constant battle that starts as children, when we need to be taught from an early age what it means to share. A tug of war starts as one child holds tight and the other pulls, with the cry ‘she won’t share with me’ and the response, ‘but it’s MINE!

David put’s it very simply when he says, “But who am I and who are my people that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” vs 14

This verse is one that I know I constantly need to remind myself of, especially when it comes to being generous. It’s not that I have given, but rather the reminder that it’s God who allows me to keep some …

“I know my God that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things have I given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willing your people who are here have given to you.”  vs 17

Today, I am still part of the same church community and yes, we have an amazing facility. Time and time again I’m reminded as ministry unfolds across the week and events are held, what a blessing it is to have such a home base. But I pray I (we) never get complacent or believe we’ve arrived; it was never about the bricks and mortar, but about the lives that would be changed (and have been changed), by the grace of God!

What David started he never saw finished, but what he did see and experience throughout life was a God who was forever faithful. David understood that he was part of God’s greater plan for his people, and in David, God saw a man with an incredible heart.

My prayer … the we as God’s people today, would have the same hearts of integrity, that seek to bring glory to God in all we do … that hold very loosely onto the material things of this world.

KD

 

REJECTION AND REALITY

1CHRONICLES 28.

As I guess you may know we are writing from Amman in Jordan, surrounded by DAVID!

Beside where we lived last time is the ruin of a Watch Tower believed to have been used by David when he was fleeing from Saul and fighting local tribes.

The Citadel here is surrounded by the remains of a wall which is thought to be where Uriah was placed on David’s command, in order to be killled!

Now today, after reading all the lists of the last few days, we come to a very moving account of David handing over to his son Solomon, all his very detailed plans for the building of the temple.  This happened in a very public way as David had called together all the people and not just Solomon for the occasion.

Have you ever put your heart into something, thought it all through in great detail, even prayed seriously, only to have the proposal rejected by those you thought you were helping?  I wonder how David felt at this point at the end of his life?

While REJECTION is tough for anyone, David has some encouragement for us today.

1.  He heard God ‘you are not the one.   v3

2.   He recognised his own worth in God’s sight.  v4

3.   He passed over all his detailed preparations to Solomon ( leaving it to Solomon to follow completely, in part or not at all and leaving room for Solomon’s own creativity).       v10-11

4.    In handing over to Solomon he acknowledged the first priority for success in leadership (and I guess for all of us) success requires obedience to God.

I found this an encouraging new way of looking at rejection and thank God for it!

 

MATTHEW 1.

Another list!

However, it does for those interested in family history, anchor Jesus’ coming to earth , in the original purpose of God to rescue the human race from destruction.  Abraham was just the beginning!

It is a great encouragement to be reminded that Jesus’ ultimate purpose in coming as a human being was to save us from our sins.  v21.        and

that He was God here with us on Earth    v 23

We have much to thank God for in today’s readings.

Peter and Elizabeth

Finishing well

Today’s (Mo 05/06/2017) FDR readings are 1 Chronicles 27 and 1 Corinthians 16

The Chronicles reading today from chapter 27 is about finishing well. At this point David’s kingdom is in a fairly good state and here we see the numbers counted for the army, those in charge of agriculture and provisions, and those in charge of various responsibilities with the King’s Court. But you may recall that there was a problem when David decided to count the army. Verse 24 just gives us a hint of what that problem was.  This comment links through to 2 Samuel 24 where we read reports that David chose to ask for the census of the fighting men. This appears to have represented a glorying in human power and not the power of the Lord.

However as you’ll see with tomorrow’s reading this appears just before the Ark was moved into the rebuilt temple and so there is an opportunity here for David to have relied on himself and the nations that he ruled, rather than God. God’s judgement and the punishment meted out is also referred to in 2 Samuel 24.

 

In 1 Corinthians 16 Paul is trying to close off his fairly critical letter to the Corinthians. If you’ve been a teacher, coach, parent, or some other supervisor of people, after admonitions and criticisms and answers to difficult problems, it is difficult to round off and finish well. As we mentor people in our spheres of influence, including our brothers and sisters in Christ, we may have critical or direct things to say.  We want to balance our criticisms with some supportive or encouraging finish while still maintaining our stand on the correction that we’ve asked for. Not just to make it work but to make it work so that the outcomes glorifies our God.

Paul uses three things here that are not extremely important nor not particularly critical, but things that directs the attention onto other matters. (i) He writes about   finances and what needs to be done before he gets there, (ii) he mentions some personal arrangements and his visiting plans, and finally (iii) he finishes by acknowledging God working among Christians.

As we serve each other we too must remember that we have a responsibility to encourage others in the broader perspectives as well as the individual one that we might be concerned about.

A Prayer – Our Father God, as we exercise our responsibilities under You for our brothers and sisters we ask for wisdom to work with them fairly and honestly as we encourage them in a life following your son Jesus Christ. Help us to see each person as a cherished child of Yours. Help us to walk with them in the Christian life and to be frank, fair and understanding in our love and care for them. We ask these things in your son’s name, our Lord Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Glenn

God With Us.

The Reading today is Psalm 65. I would particularly like to focus on verse 4 of that Psalm.

“Blessed are those you choose
and bring near to live in your courts!
We are filled with the good things of your house,
of your holy temple.”

We might be challenged to do many wonderful and great things in this life that we have been given. Even in our congregation, as we look around there are many superb things happening that lead us to praise our great God, like the Sunday preaching, the children’s and youth work, the life groups, pastoral care and so on.
He will continue to equip and call out many of our number to launch out in faith with tasks to build up the body of Christ and to reach out to others.

But there is something that brings an even greater degree of satisfaction than anything that we can experience on a human level – and that is, our time spent in quiet devotion to Him and with Him.

I realise that I am speaking to the converted – if you are a regular reader of this blog, but could I encourage you to keep on doing what you are doing.

Our lives are very busy – too busy probably. It is hard to take the time to be alone with God. But let us remember…..He is never too busy to be with us.

God’s one consuming desire is for each of us to know Him. When we do this even the smallest of activities will take on a new meaning.

Start today. Spend quality time with God and enjoy the awesome privilege of being in His presence.

Have a great day doing that.

Peter Clark.

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.

A pair of Kings, from different houses and judgement

Today’s (Wed 31/05/2017) FDRs are 1 Samuel 26 & 27 and Revelation 17 & 18

As we continue our reading in the books of Samuel about two earthly kings from different families we continue to see a stark contrast between Saul and David.  Saul is now under God’s judgement and has been given over to an evil spirit or demon.  Do you remember after which sin God turned His back on Saul?

David is still making day to day decisions with God’s supremacy and will in his mind.  So he chooses not to take revenge opportunities that he comes into but to leave judgement to God.  Given our first impulses many of us will want to react to offences given. Just like David’s men in both the cave and Saul’s tent.  It is hard to restrain the ‘urge’ to strike out at the person who has hurt us.  Perhaps we’ve been passed over for a promotion or the desired cream task has been handed to somebody else! Perhaps our friends have been told a false story about us or our family that they’ve believed!

In the moment we discover that this has happened to us we often want to teach the perpetrator a lesson!

Jesus teaches us that there, in the flash of a thought to take revenge, we have sinned!  How do we remedy this response in us?

Why do you think we see David acting differently?   Look into Jesus’s teaching and the apostles writings about how to keep ourselves from sinning?

As we read our Revelation chapters today, are you struck, as I am, by the immense forces unleashed on  the earth and its people.

We read, hear or see news of apparent threats from North Korea and this country’s testing of missiles that could carry nuclear war heads onto our country.  War heads that can unleash tremendous destruction and desolation.  What will these end-times forces that God is sending in judgement do?  Why judgement?

Whatever you believe the form of these visions in Revelation are, it is pretty clear they depict the end of the world and its peoples.  The way in which these descriptions occur and are written are similar to any other passages in the Bible where God brings judgement on an individual, on a people, on nations and on countries.  As a direct example look at the earlier Samuel passage where Saul is judged as God withdraws Himself and allows an evil spirit to control Saul.

While David’s prime role in the Bible is to continue the line from which the gracious gift of God is made, that of Jesus Christ in the form of forgiveness for our sins.  This is so that forgiveness comes to life personally in our world.  So too we are reminded by Revelation that judgement can and will come to us all.

David’s life, although faulted, becomes an exemplar for our own life.  To live in faith and hope under the glorious grace and mercy of our Triune God.  Our Father God!

I trust this hymn and its words build you up and encourage you as you seek to live as God asks.  I encourage to go into today with these words and your commitment to our Almighty God on your heart and mind.

I, the Lord of sea and sky

May we be blessed by God and bless each other as we seek to walk together as children of God.

Glenn

Thanks to youtube.com for the clip above.