Psalm 103.

Today’s (Sun 04/02/2018) FDR is Psalm 103.

Writing for this blog is a joy, whether blogger or incidental commentator.  But more so the readings of Scripture and the growth in understanding that is opened to us all as we study in God’s name and under the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

Today, this psalm says all I want to say.  Enjoy.

Psalm 103

Of David.

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits –
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
    and justice for all the oppressed.

He made known his ways to Moses,
    his deeds to the people of Israel:
the Lord is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
    nor will he harbour his anger for ever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children –
18 with those who keep his covenant
    and remember to obey his precepts.

19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
    and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Praise the Lord, you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his bidding,
    who obey his word.
21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
    you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the Lord, all his works
    everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the Lord, my soul.

 

Singing as we live our lives before us.

Ten Thousand Reasons (Bless the Lord oh my soul.)

Thanks to biblegateway for this Psalm.
Thanks to youtube for this beautiful hymn written by Matt Redman.
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Fear of Missing out (FoMO)

Today’s (Th 05/01/2017) FDRs are taken from Deuteronomy 26:1-15 and 3 John and can be read by clicking on this composite link.

Deuteronomy 26:1-15

We are challenged to think about our own FoMo’s through the sermon at our 8am and 10am Figtree services this last Sunday.  This passage challenges us in this area and  specifically directs and encourages us to make regular provision by tithe to our place of worship.  In this specific Hebrew context it is to be done in the Temple of God in Jerusalem each year from their first fruits of their labours.  Additionally for the strangers, fatherless and widows as noted in the recited thanksgiving prayer, each three years.

So for the Hebrews specifically and now to us by the New Covenant, we are to make provision for our church and also for the less fortunate.  This applies to us today because of the love showered on us by God through His gift of our Lord Jesus Christ and Jesus’ teachings about our concern and provision for others.

You may have observed a short ceremony in some of our services after the offertory is collected. The offertory is brought forward to the service leader and a short, often not broadcast ceremony, is completed in which the service leader dedicates the offertory to the Glory of God and His work and acknowledges that these gifts represent blessings of God showered on His people.

As with the liturgy prescribed here, it is important for us to be reminded of our blessings that are showered on us by our Almighty God and that these blessings are not just for ourselves but also for others that we can assist.

 

3 John

This short letter is firstly intended as a personal letter, carried by the messenger Demetrius, and appeared to have limited usage in seeking Gaius’s hospitality that was apparently refused by Diotrephes to some Christian missionaries sent to his city.

This letter provides us with a sketch of the early Christian churches in action and their expected assistance to passing church workers or missionaries.

So can I leave you with this two-part conundrum;

What do these two passages say to us about how we respond to calls to support God’s work and the work of the Church, the “strangers, fatherless and widows” and our fellow missionaries?

Does this passing-forward of our blessings to others, extend to a wider group of those who need support in our lives today?

 

Here too is a short hymn (1:27mins) concerning the blessing we receive through Jesus:

Whatever you own circumstances, may your 2017 under God,
be a blessing and an encouragement to you.

Glenn M

I am Christ’s.

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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Love and Hate – Life and Death

Today’s Reading 1 John 3:11-24

What the world needs now is love, sweet love” (1965 popular song with lyrics by Hal David and music by Burt Bacharach). How true! Hal David didn’t need to tell the Lord, though – the Lord had already told us! I wonder whether the love of the lyrics (and in society around us) is the love described in today’s reading. I suspect Hal and Burt saw love as “warm affection, attachment, liking or fondness, paternal benevolence, affectionate devotion” (COD 5th ed. 1964). Those who trust in Jesus know what love is” (v. 16). What’s more, we have heard from the beginning: we should love one another” (v.11). There is no need to check a dictionary – here it is in plain view. Yes, it includes those dictionary aspects … but it goes a lot further. Christians have love perfectly modelled in Jesus and his sacrifice as he “laid down his life for us” (v 16). Jesus was “leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21). That example showed us how to “not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (v. 18). There’s the possibility that when our society sees this love in action it will hate us (v. 13), perhaps even to the extreme of slaughter as seen in the Cain / Abel history and in parts of our world today.  In our culture it’s more likely that we will be ignored or scoffed at. We will certainly be sidelined, maybe even have discrimination against Christians enshrined in law if the current trends continue.

For the follower of Jesus, when we put love into action we “know that we have passed from death to life” (v. 14). We “practise” love firstly with our brothers and sisters in Christ. If we can’t show love here, how will we show it to the persons we rub shoulders with day by day?  How many times in childhood have our parents told us, “What you do speaks louder than what you say!”  It turns out they were echoing the Scriptures.  John goes further, saying that a person who “has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need and refuses to help” (v. 17, NLT) is demonstrating he is not of God. Ouch!

Have I loved enough in actions and truth?  In answering this question some of us have a sensitive conscience that would lead us to doubt our acceptance by Christ.  These doubts cause us to condemn ourselves.  The good news is that God knows our intentions, however poorly we apply them. Our love might be deeply flawed and seem inadequate, but God’s forgiveness is bottomless and He discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4: 12). So He assures us and gives us confidence. The outcome of this confidence is to “receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him” (v. 22). But note that this is a conditional clause: we receive because we “believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and (to) love one another as he commanded us” (v. 23). So we come full circle; we keep God’s commands by believing in the name and loving in deed, and God confirms that He lives in us by the internal witness of His Spirit.

May these verses encourage us to put love into action every day.  Be assured, God our Father will give ample opportunities for us to practise.

Be on your guard. Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord.

Today’s readings are Ezekiel 41 and 1 Peter 3.

While Ezekiel continues his detailed tour of the temple Peter closes his letter with a number of encouragements and behavioural standards refreshed or given to us by Jesus.

Yet it is not these that often perplex us.  We know of falling away, of scoffers and those who twist the word of the Bible to meet their own purposes.  We may not always see them for what they are.

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.

What?

When I am sensitive to my God and watching how God cares for me and those I love and those I don’t know but whom I have been told about, I am aware of the great love God showers on all of us including those who do not yet know him as Lord and Saviour.  I am particularly amazed at the efforts He goes to in providing opportunities for non-believers to become believers. Its not just for non-believers for He loves you and I so much that He not only wishes to provide us with mercy but to restore us to His chosen people.

To provide every opportunity for many to be saved and to grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus.  Yet at a time of God’s choosing to bring judgement on all when Jesus returns as Lord and the heavens and earth are cleaned and changed forever.

14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.

May we continue patiently to seek to be ambassadors for Christ encouraging and witnessing to those who do not know Him to come into the Kingdom of God, walking with and supporting and challenging our Christian brothers and sisters, and growing in grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Glenn

 

 

 

 

 

Psalm 106:1

Psalm 106


Psalm 106:1 (New International Version)

Praise the Lord.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures for ever.


Today’s headline: Praise the Lord!

The lead paragraph fills out this imperative with the words: Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures for ever. Through balanced, poetic phrases, this theme is systematically developed. Finally, the bottom line echoes the head line: Praise the Lord!

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures for ever. At the outset, two fundamental characteristics of God are set out: God is good and God is love. No words can adequately describe God, but if we were to try to sum up his profound character in a couple of words, these might be those.

The body of the text unfolds further the themes of the goodness and love of God by piling example on example in a survey of the history of his people. Time after time they got into trouble; time after time he pulled them out.

So we can read the text in several ways. As literature, a fine poem. As theology, illuminating the character of God. As history, unpacking the past of Israel. Yet when we encounter God’s word we are not simply to read it but to respond to it. Sometimes it is not clear how we should respond to a given scripture, but here the response required is obvious: Praise the Lord!

 

Deeper than the ocean

Job 1
The opening of the book of Job confronts me immediately with Job’s intense all-surrounding loss. Questions such as: “Why did it happen to Job?” “Who is responsible?” and “Why did God allow it?” are addressed but the answers are not easy. Job is innocent. Satan instigated it and God allowed it for reasons I don’t fully understand. Leaving aside the purpose of Job’s suffering and whether this is a true story or an allegory, the extremes it portrays are immediately illustrative. The question Satan posed to God is about whether Job’s faith was merely dependent on his prosperous blessed circumstance. The upheaval he then faced exposed the bare bones of his righteous faith – so what did he do? He expressed his grief (tore his clothes) and promptly confessed his proper position before God. He is simply a creature at the mercy of The Creator and worships Him as such. Amazingly he didn’t blame God, which I know would be nearly impossible for me to avoid especially if fire and wind destroyed my family! Job’s faith is so much deeper than his circumstances (infinitely deeper?). It is independent of prosperity and protection. It is obvious that God values that kind of faith. I’m also aware that Job worshipped the Lord without song at that point and Romans 12 comes to mind “Present your bodies as living sacrifices for this is your spiritual act of worship.” Still questions remain…

1 Corinthians 13:8-13
The Corinthian church might have looked similar to ours – modern, cosmopolitan, a first-world economy and singing a Christian tune. But Paul has several issues to raise with them, mostly dimensions of man’s pride and selfishness that continue to permeate their Christian expressions of faith. Paul highlights that even “spiritual” activities can be corrupted if our heart is not right. By firstly making a thoughtful choice in your heart to put the best interests of other people first (ie. love them), all the spiritual activities mentioned will result in godly outcomes instead of meaningless hurt or obsessive self-pitying (which I believe is still an indication of being self-focussed). This passage v8-13 is a conclusion to the preceding ones (including the nice one we read out at weddings) This one paints quite a few random contrasts of love against “imperfect” things. Why are they imperfect? Because they are temporary! At the end of the age there will be no need for more revelation or special communication because we will be in God’s presence – knowing Him for who He really is. No more need for faith and hope because they both exist only in absence of something. All will be seen and nothing will be left to wait for. The only thing that will remain is love – forever – because after all ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:8) and with His presence it breaks forth into the present age. I think Paul is pointing out that spiritual gifts are only required to bridge the gap this side of the tribulation. After that we will understand how to worship in spirit and truth. In the meantime if we choose to let go of any worldly status, comforts, knowledge and callous independence I expect that we too will be more able to comprehend how Job, in the fiercest of calamities, could fix his eyes on God and truly worship Him.

Matthew

Reference: Macarthur, John, 1977, “The Permanence of Love, Part 1”