FREED TO LOVE AND SERVE

Today’s passages are Leviticus 10 – 12 and 2 Corinthians 5:11 – 6:13.

We are sure the readings that we have been following last week from Levitcus needed the encouragement that the passages from 2 Corinthians have given us  since Thursday.

Those chapters in Leviticus (5-12) cover in great detail the ceremonial regulations which the developing community of Israel needed to follow, in order to stay in relationship with God.    Sin and guilt had  to be dealt with and though the practices seem quaint and exaggerated.it does remind us that GOD IS GOD, AND IS NOT TO BE TRIFFLED WITH.  ‘I dd it my way’ does not hold credence when God has set out the procedures to follow – the ordination of Aaron’s sons and their decision to add their own touch to what God required as regards their sacrifices,   (Leviticus 10:1 -3) demonstrates the importance of trusting what God says.  

Chapters 11 and 12 cover health and social regulations which must have been appropriate for the wandering tribes.

However, like Iris on Thursday, it has been a relief for us to turn to the Corinthian passages and discover again the assurance that GOD HAS DONE ALL THAT IS REQUIRED FOR OUR SALVATION AND RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM.  No ceremonial is required on our part but instead, BELIEF, as He has done all that is required.  It is a bit overwhelming, but worth the effort, to sit and read over again passages like

 5:15  and He died for all, that those wholive should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.

5:17-18  Therefore if anyone is in Christ the new creation has come.  The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God who reconciled us to Himself through Christ

6:1  as co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain –       –  just enjoy with thankfulness what we’ve read.

No more sacrifices, or fear we may not have covered all our misdoings.

Join us in taking some time today to let these promises sink in and then let’s all go out and live in love and thankfulness as though we believe it is true and that the BEST IS YET TO COME.

Peter and Elizabeth.

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God who is supreme over all, the seen and unseen.

Today’s (Su 01/10/2017) FDR is Psalm 82 .

It will come as no surprise to you that this is one of the shortest psalms in this book of the Bible.  But my reading suggests it is one of the most debated and written about.

I’d like to draw out two particular points: (i) how its constructed poetically and (ii) how part of it was used by Jesus.

It has three strands of thought with two encapsulated in the prior one so that it is a clear indicator of the simple emphasis that is encouraged by this form of expression.

A  God stands and judges the assembly of the gods. (v1)

B  The gods are confronted over their injustice. (v2-4)

C  The chaos left by the gods is described. (v5)

B  The gods are confronted with their mortality. (v6-7)

A  God is asked to rise in the assembly and judge the earth. (v8)

God stands over all for what He desires.  A just world in which He exercises judgement of all for those things done and not done.  For the chaos created.  God’s authority is emphasised here by the use of the word ‘gods’ to include both the earthly and supernatural over which He has supreme authority.

Jesus, God’s son and part of the Trinity, is recorded in John 10: 30-49 as being charged as blasphemous when He says He and the Father are One (v30).  Jesus goes on to defend himself before those wishing to stone Him (v33-36) using Psalm 82:6 through the interpretation that some mortals are “gods’ or immortal.  Jesus goes on to argue that He was sanctified and sent by ‘the Father’ to do the Father’s works.

Here’s how John records this interchange between Jesus’ accusers, attempting to be His executioners, and Jesus.

John 10:30-39 New International Version – UK (NIVUK)

30 I and the Father are one.’

31 Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’

33 ‘We are not stoning you for any good work,’ they replied, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.’

34 Jesus answered them, ‘Is it not written in your Law, “I have said you are ‘gods’”[a]? 35 If he called them “gods”, to whom the word of God came – and Scripture cannot be set aside – 36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, “I am God’s Son”? 37 Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. 38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.’ 39 Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.

Footnotes:

  1. John 10:34 Psalm 82:6
(Sourced from Biblegateway.com on 29/09/2017.  With thanks.)

 

So we are able to sing in great joy and praise of our Almighty God and His son Jesus:

I know not why God’s wondrous grace

(Sourced from Youtube.com on 29/09/2017.  With thanks.)

May your Sunday be blessed as you praise the Almighty Triune God,

Glenn

Glad I Didn’t Need to Buy a Ram

Today’s readings are from Leviticus 5 and 6 and 2 Corinthians 3 and are well contrasted in reference to the old and new covenants.

Rob and I recently attended our first ram sale at Peak Hill. We went as observers only as our back yard would definitely not feed one of these beasts for more than an hour or so. They are huge, beautifully laden with thick, soft merino wool which has just the right amount of crinkles in the tufts to provide a very high CF (comfort factor for those who don’t know these things!) Some of the most valuable of these rams are preciously housed at night in a shed with ABC FM playing.

I can imagine the high worth of these beasts throughout the centuries as they can provide food, warmth, progeny and income for their owners. As we read in the Leviticus passage today, rams were used as payment for sins. Sheep were restitution for sins such as not speaking out when one should, speaking untruthfully or touching something unclean, all without realising it. I don’t know who the sin police would have been to catch people out in this way!

To unknowingly sin against God however, required a ram as a guilt offering, plus an extra fifth for the priests. Each beast would probably have had as much value to the owner then as those at the Peak Hill ram sale last weekend. Verse 16 And the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering, and he shall be forgiven.

Were the people in Moses’ time more willing to admit to their hidden, guilty actions? I can’t imagine most of us these days admitting to our own hidden sins. Is that because we want to keep our public persona credible, likeable, reliable? Or is that because we can confess them directly to our Lord God, our God who loves us and is always ready to shower us with his grace?

The 2 Corinthians reading describes the hope and confidence we have in living now under a new covenant with Jesus. I like verse 3 And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.  

I love the picture of the Holy Spirit capturing my heart with knowledge of Jesus. The words etched on the stone tablets given to Moses will always be a preferred recipe for living. Our hearts though are configured by the Holy Spirit. Verse 4 Such is the confidence that we have through Christ towards God. Verse 6 The letter kills but the Spirit gives life. We don’t need to be bogged down in trying to adhere to an enormous list of rules and we don’t need to be continually racked with guilt after we have realised a sin we have committed. Thank you Jesus!

I am so grateful that I live now, confidently, freely under God’s grace because of Jesus’ death. May my life reflect my love and faith in who God is and may we all know his forgiveness for the times we do something wrong, whether publicly or not.

I’m glad we didn’t need to buy that ram!

Iris

 

2 Corinthians 2:15

Leviticus 3-4; 2 Corinthians 2:5-17


2 Corinthians 2:15 (New International Version)

15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.


What’s your favourite smell? Vanilla? The beach? Rose petals? Rain? Fresh cut grass? Baking bread? Brewing coffee? A ‘burnt offering’ of crisp bacon, perhaps?

It may seem surprising, perhaps sacrilegious, to think of God as enjoying smell. Yet we think of God as having ears to hear and eyes to see. It should not surprise that another sense possessed by humans, the sense of smell, is also attributed to God. ‘An aroma pleasing to the Lord’ recurs repeatedly in the Old Testament. Often this refers to an actual ‘burnt offering’ – a sacrifice, made according to God’s instructions. Such a gift pleases God and the pleasure is not expressed through the senses of sight or sound but strongly through smell.

Funny thing about smells: they can divide. Petrol, bonfires, cheese and seafood emit aromas that please some, but disgust others. This says as much about the smeller as the smell.

So it is with the aroma of the gospel: it divides. To those who are being saved, it is an aroma that brings life. To those who are perishing, it is an aroma that brings death. The astonishing thing is that we who are in Christ are sweetly fragrant to the one person who really counts: we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ.

 

Description is not prescription

Psalm 81

This psalm could be the type of worship song we might sing in our church. There is encouragement to sing, a reference to the director of music and mention of various musical instruments, (although I am still waiting for a worship song that includes the exhortation “Turn up the bass!”)

Typical of many psalms and other prophetic passages in the Old Testament, it contains:

[A] A warning to Israel from God that they should follow his ways.

[B] A historical reminder of what God has done for them in the past.

[C] A promise that if only they would be obedient then God would defeat their enemies and supply their needs.

Nothing unusual here as this has occurred repeatedly throughout the Old Testament and could probably be generalised to various gods throughout the history of religion citing what was expected of, and promised to their adherents.

But, do not translate this as relocatable to our situation and relationship with God in the current age. Has God promised to Australia, The British Commonwealth, Western Christian countries in general or groups of Christians in any society that he will defeat their enemies? Not unless you mean their spiritual enemies, and you are referring to eternity. So expect to live among enemies; expect to live without all your needs being met; expect that although Donald Trump declares “May God bless the United States of America” that God may not!

One last point, the psalm refers to the God of Jacob. It also addresses remarks to the nation of “Israel”. Yes, Israel and Jacob are the same person, as God changed Jacob’s name to Israel, just as he changed Abram’s name to Abraham. This person Jacob was so favoured by God that the whole nation was named after him (Israel) and the twelve tribes were descended from his sons. No one in biblical history could be more feted than Jacob. And yet, Jacob had 2 wives (Rachel and Leah) and he also had children by their handmaidens (slaves perhaps as they could be apparently assigned as surrogate mothers by their mistresses).

So could this indicate that polygamy is OK? Could this indicate that surrogacy is OK? Is slavery OK if the slaves are in agreement with the social customs and treated well? I would urge any anyone reading the Old Testament in particular, or any part of the Bible in general, not to assume that because a practice was carried out by the Israelites or even by early Christians for that matter, that it automatically determines God’s will. And therein lies a great test for us in a rapidly changing society.

The Church of ME

Today we are reading Ephesians 4:17-32 and Ecclesiastes 9

This Ephesians passage was part of the Fuse depth series 2 weeks ago and one of the home group studies.

WELCOME TO THE CHURCH OF AL

I just love the worship song playlist, all the sermons cover my favourite bible subjects and passages, everyone I talk too agrees with me on pretty much everything, it’s great that we have no theological disagreements, it’s good that we all come from the same educational and socio-economic background, the people here are interesting to talk to – no awkward moments in welcome time, we even have the same sense of humour. Amazing!

We enjoy great unity. It’s a great church. I love this church!

Easy to laugh at too but sadly it’s often the truth………not just for me but for many I think.

A real church of course is made up of  different people with different views, backgrounds, likes and dislikes and of course……………problems.

Following on from Peters reflection yesterday, Ephesians 4 is pretty much book ended by vs 2 and 32. “bearing with one and other in love”…..and “forgiving each other as Christ forgave you”.

In this church we are to “put off the old…..put on the new”

This is highly intentional. It would be so much easier if we could passively blob around and God by his spirit would almost magically transform us into the “new”.

We have to desire the new, seek the new, and yes by the power of his spirit we will slowly be changed, transformed. He helps us put off, put on. In fact without Him we wont at all.

Frustratingly though it’s a lifetime journey and a daily thing.

As we do, “bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander and malice will fade to be replaced with kindness, compassion and forgiveness.

Surprisingly too the church of me will also become less important.

 

A Life Worthy

Today’s readings: Ephesians 4:1-16, Ecclesiastes 8

Today I thought it might be helpful to spend sometime meditating on just one of the verses from the 2 chapters to read today.

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2

Paul encouraged the Ephesians to adopt these four character traits in order to live a life worthy of their calling. As I considered these over the past day or so I couldn’t help but meditate on how Jesus perfectly modelled them for us.

Jesus is completely humble

Jesus created the World. He owns it. He rules it. When he was abused and misunderstood, when he was whipped and beaten, he could have blown them away in a fashion more fantastic than any Avenger in a Marvel movie.

And yet he didn’t. He laid down his rights. He let the little children come to him. He commended and comforted the widow. He brought peace to the demon possessed.

He did not trumpet to the world how good he was or thunder about how much respect they should have shown him. He did not jump up and down on the spot and tantrum about his rights. He was selfless and served to the point of death, even death on a cross.

O Lord, today I want to live a life worthy of my calling – I want to be more humble like Jesus.

Jesus is completely gentle

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. … For I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul”. Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus is not gruff. He will not crush a broken spirit or a bleeding heart. He will not judge a repentant sinner. He is not sarcastic. He is gentle.

I am not completely gentle. I get worked up about those with whom I disagree and get angry. Even if it doesn’t come out of my mouth (as it too often does) inside I rage with righteous indignation about kids not doing their chores, work colleagues who just “don’t get it”, drivers who abuse cyclists and SSM campaigners – just to name a few.

O Lord, today, I want to live a life worthy of my calling – I want to be gentle like Jesus.

Jesus is completely patient.

How many Christian’s did Saul kill before Jesus saved him? How many men did Rahab sleep with before God saved her from Jericho? How many excuses did Moses use to avoid conflict with Pharaoh when God called to him from the burning bush? How many Africans did John Newton sell into slavery before God revealed his Amazing Grace?

Peter asked “How many times should I forgive a brother who sins against me, 7 times?” Jesus answer: 70 times 7!

I get annoyed when I am lined up in the Coffee queue, or I have to wait for the next train. Yet I have lost count of the times Jesus has heard me confess the same set of sins or have to learn the same lessons over again.

O Lord, today I want to live a life worthy of my calling – I want to be more patient like Jesus.

Jesus completely bears with us.

See Jesus weeping with Martha and Mary when Lazarus Died. See how he sympathised with the woman who had been bleeding for 20 years. Watch him comforting the grieving parents whose young son had just died. See how he fed the hungry thousands on the hill side. Watch him befriend lonely Zacheus. Hear him reassure the guilty thief who died beside him on the cross.

Oh Lord. I want to live a life worthy of my calling – Help me to bear in love with those that cross my path today.

Amen.

Peter.