I am Christ’s.

[Originally posted by Glenn Murray on 4 December 2015]

FDR part 2 for Fr 04/12/2015.

Following on from my blog and exercise this morning titled: :”Why I am Christ’s” I was able to produce a short list that reminded me of these briefly described reasons: Reasons why I am Christ’s.

Amazement.  Mouth open,  chin on the floor Amazement.  Still.

Learning as a farm boy about all that is life through a child’s eyes.  Seasons,  growing food crops and annimals,  using it for ourselves and selling it for others.  Understanding how the world works as a physical entity.

Regular Sunday School and church attendance where I heard the accounts of the bible and its people.  Then late in primary school a locum minister,  an ex-army chaplain,  who could show us copies of paintings of the crucifixion in its different stages.  Pictures beyond belief that conveyed the scene as it probably occurred . Pictures that visually fitted around the biblical words I knew.

A journey.  From calm to turgid, and back and very challenging.  But accompanied with a great sense of peace and being held in God’s hands.

Nothing stops.  The learning continues.   The journey continues.

God’s people always nearby.  Some sail in and out of my life as God wills. Always for some purpose.   And yet many come along for longer periods,  including my family.  In this current season I find myself at a home-like place working alongside and with my FAC colleagues.

Healing and refining.  I don’t expect to ever tire of seeing my brothers and sisters healed by God.  Some in so terrible a place that no earthly medicine or process will ever produce a cure.  I too am healed in ways I have not expected.  Yet we go on in faith and hope. I learn again the lesson of our God who loves us beyond description.

These are the lasting things; God’s love for me as a sinner before HIm and yet I believe the account of Jesus’ crucifixion and  resurrection for our sins.  From this gift of Jesus to atone for my sinning behaviour comes my faith and hope in everlasting life.

I remain amazed.

Glenn

 

 

 

 

 

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God always provides a way

Jeremiah 21

There’s a positive outcome to this glum passage. Did you notice it as you read?

As we have learned already in this book, Jeremiah was an exceedingly courageous prophet. He was called to do a very difficult task – proclaiming God’s justice upon an unrepentant and apostate Judah. Over 40 years he was popularly resented and sometimes the subject of violence. He was seen as a pro-Babylon traitor: in fact he was a true patriot.

On the other hand Zedekiah was a weak and indecisive king who was dominated by his nobles. Their pro-Egypt policy resulted in this siege.

Displaying little confidence the king sends junior representatives to the prophet. He’s looking for a miracle to help him out of his predicament. But Jeremiah made it plain that God’s wrath was coming upon them since every aspect of their society was corrupt (v 12, cp. 22:1-9). Not only the Babylonians but God himself was fighting against them.

God did not need to send a plague – an ancient besieged city had public health problems that made this a natural outcome. Even those not succumbing to the plague will be killed by the besiegers. God’s awful retribution for disobedience appears to show no mercy or pity or compassion.

Yet in all this prophesied carnage God does set a way of escape. In this God reveals his mercy and pity and compassion. But it appears to be an act of treason – abandoning the rest of the city to its fate. And yet this cannot be treason as the people fleeing are obeying the direct command of God. It is the rebellious people who refuse to take God’s “way of escape” (1 Cor 10:13).

There is always a choice. Here it is simply life or death. Death if they remain, life if the leave the city and surrender to the Babylonians. Those who left would become slaves. But the core realisation is that those who surrendered lived to take God’s purposes into exile.

Romans 3

This is one of the pivotal chapters of the Bible. It is a reality check. We humans are in a world of trouble. In its bluntest form, all humankind is separated from God by personal rebellion. But in his love God has forged the way to fix the shattered connection.

Here Paul continues the discussion with his imaginary objector.

The Jews did have an advantage. They were privileged to have revealed to them the commandments of God. They were God’s special people. So they could not do as they like: they must do what God likes! Yet time and time again we read that they neglected or ignored these special duties. In fact by neglecting God’s revelation they were worse than their neighbours to whom God had not revealed himself.

But God remains faithful even in spite of their unfaithfulness.

The objector tries again: “So my sin then is really glorifying God!” It’s like saying than an unfaithful husband is proving how much he loves his wife. That insensitive husband is merely covering his desire to do what he likes.

Whatever way it’s looked at, we humans are rebelling against the standard set by our Creator. We deserve God’s wrath – his pure, perfect antagonism to evil.

What a dark picture! There is no way we can be good enough to approach the holy God. As Paul expresses it, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (v 23). We imagine an archer aiming at his target … and missing! Even if we aimed at perfection we have all wandered from the law of God.

God’s way of reconciliation is shown in the next verse: “all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood – to be received by faith” (vs 23, 24).

God’s law remains; it is not pushed to one side. The difference now is that he who accepts Christ by faith willingly seeks to apply God’s standard of living. Yes, he will still fail. But repentance and forgiveness through that faith repairs his relationship with God.

Thank you Lord for providing Jesus as the way out of my predicament.

[Originally posted on 20/10/2015 by Nev]

On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand

In this passage Jesus ends his sermon on the mount. His final message is probably very well known to many people, even those who don’t know its context or origin.

For us reading this familiar passage it is good to be reminded of the truths behind this proverb. One important aspect is that it is useless to call ourselves Christians unless we put into practice what he has taught us as well as what we are to believe.

It is good to take a look at ourselves and check the foundations our lives are built on. Will we be able to weather the storms, the vicissitudes of our life or will we be washed away? We know the distractions of life, the stresses, the chaos or just plain bad decisions, all lead us away from Jesus. These are all part of our life at some time or another. How we react to these situations or to our own sinful decisions depends on the strength of our foundation.

Our life built on Jesus as our Rock secures us a firm foundation, as long as we take our beliefs and knowledge of who Jesus is and put them into practice. Our own motivation is who we are in Jesus. As I write this, I’m thinking about my own foundations: they sometimes wobble, or small fissures or cracks undermine the strength or even pieces break off and form little mounds of sand. It’s not that I don’t have faith in a loving God, a mighty Creator, a redeeming Saviour but instead of seeking His wise counsel…… well you know the rest.

To be able to weather the storms of life, to please our Lord and glorify Him, we must encourage each other to be real and authentic Christians remembering our lives are transformed and solidly built on His foundations.

For your enjoyment today and to help focus on our Saviour:

My hope is built on nothing less

Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness

I dare not trust the sweetest frame

But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ the solid rock I stand

All other ground is sinking sand.

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

Diverging responses to Gods calling. How do we respond?

Today’s (Sa 06/05/2017) FDRs are Jonah 4 and Acts 26.

It is easy to be a Jonah and act as he has.  Just find an easy or a lazy way to avoid God’s calling in whatever form it comes!

It is pretty tough, from a human perspective, to do as Paul did?  It takes faith, hope, love, . .

Ah, excuse me?  But aren’t these fruits of the Spirit? (see Galatians 5:22)

But why is Jonah included in the Bible. I can only speculate with some commentators, that it has both an original Hebrew purpose and its current Christian purpose is to teach and compare. For Israel; it is to provide a device to show what would happen to Israel if it did not respond to God’s call to obedience. For Christians; to remind us of our need for obedience and to demonstrate God’s ongoing grace in forgiving us our sinning.

Today’s Acts chapter is Paul’s own summary of how he became a Christian and what he has done, as God’s servant.   While trying to dissemble the Jewish Leaders arguments against Paul, he is working to make the gospel clear   But also his words and purpose aim to do exactly what Agrippa accuses him of (see v28).

Another comparison can be made between Jonah and Paul.  Jonah, disputes God’s grace that is extended to himself and Nineveh.  He gets into an inactive sulk still wanting to see Nineveh destroyed from his safe vantage point.  In fact this last chapter leaves the final discussion between God and Jonah unresolved.

So too the close of the hearing before Agrippa and Festus does not resolve Paul’s circumstances.  (We will read in the next few days about Paul’s next trip.)

While you could assume that in both circumstances God’s purposes have been completed, I’d rather you looked at the two human personalities and their responses to being called and the markedly different personal outcome.  Jonah finally does as God wants and more than 120,000 persons are saved from destruction with their animals.  But Jonah definitely went the long way around to saving Nineveh.

Paul is healed of his blindness and straight away he commences learning and preaching about His Lord even while he is in Damascus. We know from other accounts that Paul commenced a ministry that, through the Holy Spirit’s actions, saved many from eternal damnation.

Perhaps it would be more correct to add that Paul’s ministry goes on through passages like Acts 26 and the Bible that shows us today what is possible with faith.

A prayer – Heavenly Father and Loving God I thank you for who you are in my life and relationships.  I thank you that you bless me with knowledge and understanding of you and forgive me for my sins.   Lord I ask that as I live my life I might do so in faith in you and through your son, Jesus and Holy Spirit.  Lord guide me that I might faithfully and carefully seek to bring others to know you so that your name is glorified.   I ask this in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.

Glenn

 

Psalms 53 and 14 – God in third person.

Today’s (Su 05/02/2017) FDR is Psalm 53 and can be read by clicking on this link.

This short Psalm and the earlier appearing Psalm 14 mimic each other in that they largely have the same content.  Unlike many other psalms in this book God is not addressed here in first person but in the third person.

Some commentaries only make reference to Psalm 14 and treat 53 as the same.

So what are we to make of these almost twin images?

The claim in v1 that “ God does not care” is not only expressed here but in Ps 10:4.   Yet that is what we hear from those who appear unable to stand in the weight of evil around us who are ‘benighted’, or put in the deepest dark of night.

In these two psalms, this phrase challenges two basic tenets of the books of psalms; (a) the ability of God to hear prayers, and (b) the ability of God to punish the human wrongs that are lamented in the Psalms.  Also for us, since Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, this phrase challenges Jesus’ promise to forgive our sins and restore us into a relationship with His Father, our Lord Almighty God.

We often hear these views expressed  today.  Through their own personal experience of trouble and hardship some see God as not caring about them or other people’s situations.  So too, we can become trapped by our unfounded guilt, and express or act as if our God does not care.

God’s gift of His Son to us does in fact show God Cares for us.

Verse 53:5 speaks in the leader’s voice of their people and asks an important question for us all as God’s ambassadors:  “Are these who devour and destroy God’s people so witless as to not call on, or pray to God?”  (Here the words are used to convey a regard for the Almighty God, even to just realise there is a God who cares and will bring judgement.)

So at v6, we see the inevitable sentence imposed on those who don’t acknowledge God.  “for God has rejected them.”

Both psalms close with v7, that deliverance will come and God’s people will be restored.

1 Peter 4:10 & 11 puts it like this:

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

May God’s name be praised in all the earth.

Glenn M.

 

 

Destruction and death surrounded by faith and hope.

Today’s (Mo 05/12/2016) FDRs are from Deuteronomy 7 and Mark 14:53-65

The reading continues in Deuteronomy with Moses address to the Israel nation.  Although this section takes a more prospective look and defines the required obliteration of the existing inhabitants of the lands set aside for the People of God.  An obliteration that is intended to be a cleansing of the land of milk and honey.  An obliteration that is to carried out by God’s chosen people, Israel.  A people whom God has supported and guided with His love and grace as they variably lived in different degrees of faith and hope of a land to come.  As His people since their forefather Abraham’s time..

As we look at this aspect of the intended occupation of this area, already occupied by others, if we are not careful, in our own small human thinking we see the loss of human life and culture. We can not see God’s dealing with people who should have been worshipping Him and in a relationship with the only true almighty God.

 

Mark’s report of Jesus’ hearing before the Sanhedrin is another picture of desolation and desertion in the face of human (read evil) action.

The Messiah has been arrested.  All but one of his followers has fled and he, Peter, mingles with the guards and servants.  We have already read of the attempts by the rulers of Israel society to trap Jesus into a place where there was a legal reason, even a hated Roman Empire legal reason, to be charged and arrested.

These readings supply us with examples to come that ensure we understand the message is about faith and hope in both situations.  God’s own son demonstrates His faith and hope in his Father when he prays that God’s will might be done, and not that the crucifixion pass from His path.  Jesus walks the evil path of death at the hands of the rulers in the full understanding that God’s will works for good.

Our good.

So as we face our own challenges as Christians along the narrow path of obedience and faith walking this path sometimes seems to be too much for us.  Yet we hold out our hope in faith that we too will see our risen Christ. Yet we hold out against evil because God provides His love and grace to see us through whatever impinges on our lives.

To see us through.

The sermon series that we studied in Revelation earlier this year has some pictures of what awaits God’s children after Christ’s return.

The hymn we often call “On Christ the solid rock I stand” begins with “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus  blood and righteousness”.  (Edward Mote, 1834)

Thanks to hymnary.org here’s the words, you might like to sing it today.

1 My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

Refrain:
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand,
all other ground is sinking sand.

2 When darkness veils his lovely face,
I rest on his unchanging grace;
in every high and stormy gale,
my anchor holds within the veil. [Refrain]

3 His oath, his covenant, his blood
support me in the whelming flood;
when all around my soul gives way,
he then is all my hope and stay. [Refrain]

4 When he shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in him be found,
dressed in his righteousness alone,
faultless to stand before the throne. [Refrain]

 

May this be your core musical theme and prayer of worship in this week.

Singing as I work,

Glenn M
1. Music and other forms of this hymn can be found here;
http://www.hymnary.org/text/my_hope_is_built_on_nothing_less