Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Psalm 119 According to Your Word

Psalm 119: 25 I am laid low in the dust;preserve my life according to your word.

We lived in the Sierra Nevada Foothills, CA and we had just received our Green cards and returned to West Point. Because of delays in getting our INS appointment and the impending exit date on our Visa we made decisions to let others live in our home. Now we were back in the US and homeless.We began to establish our business in the one stop crossroad town of WestPoint, CA.

As they say it was the best of times and the worst of times. But my desperation and frustrations of those months brought me to a nailing my feet to the floor on what was truth and what wasn't. I needed to separate the wheat from the chaff of life and didn't know where to begin. Now I can smile at how in my anger and stubbornness at what was happening to us. "Spitting feathers" was a phrase I used to a few people! But the desperation I felt, led me on a journey that has preserved my life according to HIS word.

My discipleship journey began in earnest. I remembered conversations and sermons from John our pastor, he talked about the 'all or nothing approach' to being a believer. If following Jesus is true then He deserves our whole lives and attention. He preached on the Good Shepherd and I began to trust in that truth.

Also at that time that I was working out what the Kingdom of God was all about, reading only the Gospels. It wasn't long before I read about First things First!I needed to know what it meant to me in the here and now, as we camped out on Gene's (another pastor) floor and as we began fueling our IT consultancy and the many ad hoc businesses we had in the pipeline.

Duh : Seek first the kingdom and his righteouness".. I have sung these words from when I went to folk mass in the 70's but 30 years later - the reality and power of those words struck home.
Matthew 6:32-34 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Here was a wheat and chaff distinction I could easily make.

From there the second principle of Mammon or Manna became a reality in short order that I continue to be reminded of nearly 9 years later!

Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money".

As I read about how God provided for his people in the wilderness and how He calls us to open our mouths so that He can fill it. Psalm 81:10 sums it up with "I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it".

That's a level of dependency that I was embarking on and it rankled. Surely being independent and responsible was the grown up way of living? Now I understand that as I was provided for in infancy and grew to maturity that I needed to learn to depend and trust spiritually. I would need to know my heavenly Father's provision in ways not encountered before. Sure enough, lessons were learnt from that time that has increased my sense of God's Fatherhood and provision. He never fails.

That time of dogged desperation to know God better and how He wants me to operate in His kingdom has given me the sanity of being able to walk according to His word. The knowledge that Jesus is the Good Shepherd has deepened over the years through His presence and peace. The challenges have been many and varied and will continue as they may. But I know that the Good Shepherd will lead me and guide me, I will fear no evil because He is with me. That is enough. That is all I need to know.

Those two principles, have guided me and given me strength over the years, for which I am eternally grateful.

What begins in humility and desperation will end in grace and peace.
25 I am laid low in the dust; preserve my life according to your word.
32 I run in the path of your commands,for you have set my heart free.

If life brings you low today, you are in a good place. In due time the Father will extend his hand to you and help you to your feet.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

God and natural disastors

"We are too prone to error to make unequivocal statements about someone else’s damnation". This was a statement in a friends blog, it think it so true.

I was reading an article yesterday about how natural disasters are to be seen as God's condemnation. I think when God decides to do use nature to punish evil, we will all know about it. We are exhorted in the NT to "overcome evil with good", and that its "his kindness that leads us to repentance". I think that is where God is this side of eternity.

In the OT as physical blessing was seen as being in Gods favor, calamity and disaster were viewed as God taking vengeance on evil people and actions. This gave people the "heads up" to repent. Even then God relented from sending calamity. It was fairly cut and dried.
Nowadays, we are far removed from "appeasing the gods", we even medicate ourselves when we can't cope with the evil within and without.

I don't know whether God has moved on in his punishments, like a parent who tries to figure what works/what doesn't to get our attention, but natural disasters as messages of condemnation account for as much as Chicken Little saying "the sky is falling". Personally, I think God has moved on...unfortunately we haven't.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The road to a Nazarite's proclamation - Luke 4

Judges 13 and Samson - No Razor, No Raisin, No Carrion. Let your hair grow, no grape juice in any form and don't touch dead stuff! That really sums up the Nazarite vow. What can we learn from a vow such as this for today. It gives focus for life.

Samson was obliged to live a life under a vow, one that was thrust upon him. God did indeed use him by killing the philistines on various occasions. We may not like how he conducted himself with women but he was God's guy for 20 years and God accomplished what he wanted through his life and death.

Lets look at Jesus, a Nazarite with a mission in Luke 4. Before Jesus proclaimed his life's work he went through the three temptations.

Lesson 1 Man does not live on bread alone.
Luke 4:4 Deut. 8:3 "He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD". His obedience was crystallized in knowing His sustenance came from the Father.

Lesson 2 There can only be ONE!
Luke 4:8 "Worship the Lord your God and serve him only"
Deut 6:13 "Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name.
No explanation needed here, I trust ;)

Lesson 3 Putting God to the test?
Luke 4:12 "Do not put the Lord your God to the test".
Deut 6:16 "Do not test the LORD your God as you did at Massah".
At Massah and Meribah, they questioned the presence of God with them and they quarreled among themselves. Exodus 17:7 "And he called the place Massah [means testing] and Meribah [means quarreling] because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the LORD saying, "Is the LORD among us or not?"

After the temptation Jesus proclaimed:
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. (The focus is on Gods word)
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, (God who created can recreate and heal)to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."(God does not send a message of condemnation).

Being resolved on these three aspects of our relationship with YHWH i.e. will give us a backdrop to our mission in ministry.
God is First
His word is Fulfilling
His presence is Faithful

Coming out a time of temptation is meant to make us stronger, give us acuity of sight and begins a life of separation within the ordinary daily routines. We can more clearly see our Savior through the pots n pans of daily life and speak of His faithfulness to others, in a relationship that is fulfilling which communicates that HE is the one we are to adore.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Joy in everyday life - - sources that satisfy

Proverbs 19:3 "One's own folly leads to ruin,yet the heart rages against the LORD".

It was only last night that I heard a heart that "rages against the Lord". She was really disappointed in God. She felt that she had done all that was expected of her and now God owed her "joy" at the very least.

So what is the source of joy?
Deuteronomy 16:14 Be joyful at your Feast—you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites, the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. For seven days celebrate the Feast to the LORD your God at the place the LORD will choose. For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.

We all enjoy a well executed plan, an accomplishment, the work of our hands. In Deut. we see that God aids our efforts by blessing the harvest, and the work of our hands. Both Heaven and Earth working together makes our joy complete.
Gratitude to God for his work, gets us out of ourselves. Knowing that God has blessed our best efforts is a great source of strength. (We get an appreciation of that when we look at events surrounding the rejection of Cain's offering - he became sullen and angry which eventually gave way to murder)

Fulfilling your mission in life

John the Baptist had his joy completed by hearing the voice of the Bridegroom - Jesus. The work he was sent to do was accomplished and that was the source of his joy. John 3:29 The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. Remember, John's lot in life was not "happy go lucky". He was born to elderly parents, lived on locusts and honey in the desert, an agitator to the comfortable religious leaders, a thorn in the side to the king of the land and was eventually beheaded as a party favor! We wouldn't have recognized the joy he was speaking of.


Jesus tells us what works for Him - obedience to the Father and tells us to do likewise. John 15:10-12 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love.I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

John 16:24 Jesus tells us to pray and our joy will be complete. Again it's inviting God to be part of the day events and efforts. "Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete".

Being in a Community of Faith
When those around us are amicable with each other, add to our joy, like Paul experienced in the Philippian church. Philippians 2:2 "then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose".

A little R&R....God style

1 John 1:4 "We write this to make our ("your" in some manuscripts) joy complete".
Reading and ruminating on the word of God and what he has done for us and how he expects us to behave towards others gives joy.

Simple friendship and conversation produces joy.

2 John 1:12 "I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete'.

Psalm 90:17 "May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands". Amen

Friday, June 12, 2009

Grace in everyday life, How do we do it?

James 4:6 "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."This is the foundation to being able to receive grace.

As far as treating people, are they simple, foolish or evil? Applying wisdom i.e the book of proverbs to figure out what you are dealing with is a good start. If people meet the conditions of being able to receive grace, i.e humility then we have a conversation and we can "faithfully administer God's grace in its various forms." I peter 4:10. Then God's wisdom through prayer and hard work follows.

Here is a brief overview of how I see God implementing his grace.

When we think of Law and Grace we can easily drop into just the Pauline views on the subject rather than take a whole bible view. If we take a broader approach, we can learn more about how God applied law and grace to the whole human race.

God's process was to begin with a relationship in the Garden. God was with them, God was near. That got disrupted to say the least, now we were on the trail of choices and consequences, then structure with ten commandments and Levitical laws. All of these ordinances were to visibly show that God wanted to live among them. We still didn't get the meaning of God's grace and we see that "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. (Jonah 2:8) This sums up the experience of the Israelite/Struggle and walk with God.

Now, we move to a situation that God has to send Jesus in person to walk and dwell among us. That still wasn't enough - we crucified him! Thankfully, God raised him from the dead so that Jesus continues to live, and that favor of God gets extended to us through his mercy and compassion. God sealed us with His Holy Spirit and now we can administer the grace we have received.

I think that we do people an injustice when we require them to act differently than what they show themselves to understand. Rules and laws are there for our/their protection when we don't have that knowledge or forethought within ourselves. When we learn the basic rules, its only then we progress to applying the principles those rules were based on.

Isaiah 28:9-11 "Who is it he is trying to teach? To whom is he explaining his message? To children weaned from their milk,to those just taken from the breast? For it is: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule;a little here, a little there." Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people"

"Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. Jonah 2:8
God will teach us, the question is will we learn?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

On Being Too God centered: are you sitting comfortably?

This a thought provoked by another blogger imonk on the subject of being too God centered.

Sometimes it seems we are like children trying to get the Fathers attention with our religious antics, or chasing 'heavenly butterflies' rather than sitting with Jesus in heavenly places looking with "compassion on all He has made".

The question I ask, what are the Religious antics in my life? Maybe the answer is not to ask the question and get side tracked but rather love Him with all our heart soul mind and strength. After all our positing this is what really counts. The depth of our love for God will be reflected in how we do the second part of the great commandment, "and love your neighbour as yourself".

Here is an old Testament discipleship style..
1 Chronicles 28:8-10 "So now I charge you in the sight of all Israel and of the assembly of the LORD, and in the hearing of our God: Be careful to follow all the commands of the LORD your God, that you may possess this good land and pass it on as an inheritance to your descendants forever.

"And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. Consider now, for the LORD has chosen you to build a temple as a sanctuary. Be strong and do the work."

Unfortunately the wisest man on earth got somewhat distracted and summed up life as Everything Is Meaningless. But having said that, there is a redemptive insight to his wanderings in Ecc 2:24-26 "A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God".

So what do we say to being too God-centered? It's how we define what is being God-centered. What was God's centered approach toward us ie the world? Wasn't it to "dwell among us" by sending Jesus. Shouldn't we do likewise and dwell among people like us who don't know their way to the Father and show them the treasure of forgiveness and share the "ministry of reconciliation" we have found?

The Father's focus was on a fallen world and we bring glory to him by administering his grace however we may, by music, art, culture or simple conversation.

Now to do some holy housework!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Gideon & Weapons of Warfare

1. Worship See Gideon judges 6&7 He encountered the "Lord of Peace" and made an acceptable sacrifice to him. That was his inspiration for the battle ahead.

2. Know your enemy. Judges 7&8 Listen to battle intelligence. Be what the enemy fears....
faith that has knelt at the altar of sacrifice can stand firm against the wiles of the devil.
"Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good" Romans 12:21

3. Strategies that surprise are more effective than a show of power or physical strength. Gideon used light and broken vessels! (torches and pieces of pottery)

4. Deals with the side battles within the camp, the "sour grapes" of others not invited to the
fight, and combats the "strongholds" of conceit and provoking to envy.

5. Have a healthy disregard for popularity and the opinion of the crowd. "Don't believe what you hear, and half of what you see" as Frodo from Lord of the Rings would say. Consider this.... Gideon's oldest son was afraid to kill the captured enemy because he was so young, yet the people wanted Gideon's family this young son and his son - not yet born, to rule over them! It seems absurd, but there again, when we look at the treatment of Jesus, the crowd
calls for a crown for Jesus one minute but by the end of the week crying for his cruxification.

6. Imitate the hallmark of Christ. His Humility. We see the end result of conceit at the end of the Story of Gideon. Conceit is an interesting word meaning in this context exaggerated sense of self-importance. While Gideon refused to rule over the Isrealites, he did nevertheless, want to make a lasting name for himself. Isn't it interesting that Gideon's ephod became a snare for his family?
Philippians 2:2-4 :2-4 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Gal 5: 26
Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

1 Timothy 3:5-7 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) He must not be a recent convert,
or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap.
2 Tim2:25-26Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

Worship begins our warfare, humility in battle wins the war.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Masquerades of Light and Righteousness

2Cor 11 14&15 ...... for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.
What a shocker this morning, this was the sermon verses. I had never given thought to Satan's servants masquerading as servants of righteousness.

How do we detect the Angel of light and these masquerading servants of righteousness?

Anything that hints of kill, steal or destroy has the devils mucky prints all over it! What we need to do is, be aware of our actions. How our actions portray or encourage these three traits are the "Tells" of Hell. As we search for wisdom in how we live, God will reveal the deeper issues of our lives on that He wants to clean up.

Other preventative measures we can take are:
Gal 5:22-26 By inspecting the fruit of the Spirit...
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control......Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other".

2 Corinthians 11:3 Being led away from sincere and pure devotion to Christ

"But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ".

Romans 5:21 The work of grace reigning in righteousness

"just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord". Are our thoughts filled with Christ like anger at the wrong in the world and filled with compassion toward those who have no idea that hell is on their tail and moulding them accordingly? Do we tell them of God's forgiveness and mercy?

We are directed in Eph4 :27 "do not give the devil a foothold" Are we striving to figure what this means on a daily interaction basis for us?

Rev 12 "For the accuser of our brothers,who accuses them before our God day and night,has been hurled down. They overcame him
by the blood of the Lamb and
by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death". (i.e. devotion)

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us and lead us not into temptation.... Jesus knew what we needed to be praying on a daily basis!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Confessions of Faith 2

Peter and Martha were asked these two questions and both responded with the same confession of faith "You are the Christ of God"
Luke 9:20 Peter & Jn 11:27 Martha
These two questions are worth remembering:
"Who do you say that I am?"
"Do you believe this?"

What is our confession of faith today?
Jehovah - The Self-Existent One; The I AM
Exodus 3:14, Isaiah 43:13, John 8:58, Revelation 1:8
El Elyon - God Most High Sovereign;
Psalm 91:1, Isaiah 14:14, Daniel 4:34-35; Genesis 14:18-22
Immanuel - God is With Us;
Isaiah 7:14 8:8-10, Matthew 1:23, Romans 8:31
Jehovah Mekaddishken - The Lord Who Sanctifies You; Leviticus 20:7-8, Psalm 119:1, Matthew 5:8, 2 Timothy 2:19-22, 1 John 1:7
El Roi - The God Who Sees;
Ezekiel 11:5, Hebrews 4:13, Genesis 16:13, Psalm 139:1-12
Jehovah Nissi - The Lord My Banner;
Exodus 17:8-16, Psalm 60:12, Isaiah 25:8, 1 Corinthians 15:54-57
EL - The Strong One;
Exodus 15:1-18, Numbers 23:22, Deuteronomy 7:9, Mark 15:34
Kanna - Jealous God;
Exodus 20:5, 34:14, Isaiah 9:7, Zechariah 1:14, 8:2, John 2:13-17
Jehovah Shammah - The Lord is There;
Genesis 28:15, Psalm 121, Ezekiel 48:35, Hebrews 13:5
Jehovah Jireh - The Lord will Provide;
Genesis 22:1-14, Matthew 6:11, Philippians 4:19, 2 Corinthians 9:8
El Shaddai - God Almighty, The All Sufficient; Genesis 17:1, 2 Corinthians 12:9, Ephesians 3:20, Jude 1:24
Adonai - Lord and Master;
Isaiah 6:1-8, Genesis 12:1-2, John 13:13-14, Philippians 2:10-11
Jehovah Rohi - The Lord My Shepherd;
Psalm 23, Isaiah 40:11, John 10:11, 1 Peter 2:25
Abba - Daddy, Loving Heavenly Father;
Jeremiah 31:3, Romans 8:15, 1 John 3:1, Matthew 6:9-13, Hebrews 12:5-9, Luke 11:11-13
Jehovah Sabaoth - Lord of Hosts;
1 John 4:4, Colossians 2:14-15, Luke 10:19, 2 Chronicles 20, Psalm 46:7, 91:13
Jehovah Rapha - The Lord Your Healer;
Exodus 15:22-27, Psalm 103:3-4, 147:3, Isaiah 53:5, Hosea 14:4-9, Matthew 9:35
Melekh - King;
1 Samuel 12:12, Malachi 1:14, John 18:37, 1 Timothy 1:17, Revelation 19:16
Yahweh - YHWH - Jehovah
El Olam - The Everlasting God;
Genesis 21:33, Psalm 90:2, Daniel 7:14
Elohim - God the Creator;
Genesis 1:1, Isaiah 40:28, Psalm 139:14, Colossians 1:16-17, Hebrews 11:10
Jehovah Tsidkenu - The Lord Our Righteousness; Jeremiah 23:1-6, Isaiah 61:10, 63:1-5, Zechariah 3:1-5, Romans 9:14
Jehovah Shalom - The Lord is Peace; Judges 6:1-24, Isaiah 26:3-4, John 14:27, Philippians 4:7
El Elohe Yisrael - God, the God of Israel;
Genesis 33:20, Exodus 5:1, Psalm 68:8, Luke 1:68

Monday, April 13, 2009

Confessions of Faith 1

Peter and Martha made the same Confession of Faith "You are the Christ of God".Luke 9:20 & Jn 11:27.In Peters confession,Jesus asks Peter "Who do you say I am?" and Jesus uses his answer to tell his disciples about his death and says "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?"
8 days later we are told of the transfiguration of Jesus with Elijah and Moses with the onlooker disciples Peter, James and John.

Jn 11:25- 27 With Martha, Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"
"Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ,[b] the Son of God, who was to come into the world."

Jesus told the disciples of his impending death with Peter and shows them the resurrection with rising Lazarus from the dead.

Two questions to remember:
"Who do you say that I am?"
"Do you believe this?"
What is our confession of faith today?

Side Note: Being dead for four days was significant for the Jewish people. They believed that the dead persons spirit remains until the third day. So Lazarus needed to stay dead for four days for superstition sake, so that they could believe in a resurrection! I wonder how many times God uses our superstitious beliefs to help us get onto the road of faith?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Wayward Wisdom!

When I read Ecclesiastes this morning, it dawned on me that Solomon although the wisest guy on the planet did invite grief as well into his life and maybe when he reached the end of his life he was "reaping what he sowed". He accumulated great possessions and wives and concubines. He drove the kingdom hard, and demanded much. YHWH foreseen this in 1 Sam 8 :10-18.

He seems to have spiraled downwards, from being wise to being foolish. Most of us claw our way upwards to gain wisdom!

It is sad when we come to the end of our lives and our memories are summed up like Solomon's "Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher."Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless." Isn't that the very thing we work hard at to avoid, and endeavor to live meaningful and purposeful lives?

Solomon should have stayed with his insight at the beginning of recording of books of wisdom. 'The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom", maybe he would have found greater fulfillment.

2:26 "To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God"

Let us be people who God can bless fully today..Amen

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

All I need to Know!

A Sunday School teacher decided to have her young class memorize one of the most quoted passages in the Bible - Psalm 23. She gave the youngsters a month to learn the chapter.Little Rick was excited about the task - but he just couldn't remember the Psalm. After much practice, he could barely get past the first line.On the day that the kids were scheduled to recite Psalm 23 in front of the congregation, Ricky was so nervous. When it was his turn, he stepped up to the microphone and said proudly, 'The Lord is my Shepherd, and that's all I need to know.'

Profound in its simplicity!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Prophets, Priests and People.

There seems to be three different ways of relating to YHWH. Prophets, Priests and People. Here is an online resource to help in studying the book of Proverbs.

"Old Testament theologians usually identify three major approaches to spirituality in the Old Testament. The prophets brought a direct word from God that often conflicted with the institutional form of worship. The priests ordered the services of the temple and administered the sacrificial system. As part of the larger Levitical family they corresponded to what we now call the professional clergy. The third way of relating to God was through wisdom. This approach dealt more with the matters of everyday life and how to survive and be successful in the business of living. The key person was the sage or wise man or wise woman. These were lay leaders whose insight and perspective were valued resources for people in need of counsel and direction".

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What 's in your wallet?

We have seen the ad. about credit cards (What have you in your wallet? and for everything else there's MasterCard) as we head into recession faster than any Disney roller coaster. As we see personal, national/federal/international debt rising what response can we choose to have?

In Mark 8, we have the the feeding of the 4,000.
People had come to the end of their supplies and collectively had 7 loaves and a few small fish. Jesus, had compassion for the need of the people, he accepted what was available and given to him, he gave thanks, and began meeting the need by breaking the bread.

How often do we think we don't have sufficient because what is required is more than we have.

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

When we have the Daily Bread of the Presence of YHWH we have all we need.

When I only see my reality/my lack of what ever, I often have to ask for the sight to see His provision and resources for my need. Then to move slowly out of the personal darkness and into His Light that provides for all my needs.

I have seen YHWH meet my needs as only a Creator and Father can. Here are four examples that I attribute to God's hand in my life.
Two work positions that were created when I needed to be employed outside the home.
Two vehicles given to me FREE to meet transport needs when I began each new job.
Great educational schools for the boys when homeschooling ceased to be an option for us. Financial ability and freedom to have one or the other parent at home as the children grow up.

Seeing the Hand of God in those aspects of my life gives me hope for the future.

What "stimulus package" are we putting together in the areas of life we influence?

What do we want to stimulate? more faith, more pennies? What would happen if we responded to those around us as Jesus did, with compassion for the multitude and thanks for the resources already at hand?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Seeking to understand ....dreams 3

I truly believe God does give us dreams to prepare us, warn us and show us our propensity for sin. I have had many over the years that prepared me to show courage in tough situations, that left me in awe of the nature of God and also that showed me a depth of sin I could easily fall into.
Numbers 12:6 "Listen to my words: "When a prophet of the LORD is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams....

Job 33:14-18
For God does speak—now one way, now another—though man may not perceive it.
In a dream, in a vision of the night,when deep sleep falls on men as they slumber in their beds, he may speak in their ears and terrify them with warnings, to turn man from wrongdoing and keep him from pride,to preserve his soul from the pit, his life from perishing by the sword.

I also know that Dreams can terrify and then I have to ask, who is it that would want me afraid? If a warning in a whisper can get the same results why the drama of terror. Would the Good Shepherd and Prince of Peace lead me to walk by quiet waters in peace or over hot coals? The answer may lie in what does it take to get my attention?
Was it our brain making sense of random pieces of information " As a dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words".Ecclesiastes 5:2-4
Or was it YHWH speaking to correct and inform us as in the Job verses;
Did the dream prompt us to have a sense of Awe of the almighty and to love God or his word more deeply?

Next time you have a dream, think!
T was the dream in keeping with biblical truth?
H was the dream helpful, giving clarity to an issue?
I did the overall message inspire you to read a passage of scripture?
N was it a necessary means of communication, without it you would have no context for an preparation for a future life event?
K overall who emerged as "King" in the situation/drama?

Remember Proverbs 25:2"It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings". Some things in life are worth the trouble to consider and take to heart.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

seeking to understand...dreams 2

In the quest to understand the "unusual" and how dreams help inform our insights, here is a time when a friend of Job, who is bereft of family, fortune and covered with weeping sores, comes to help Job 'come to his senses'.
Job 4:12ff Eliphaz recalls a whisper, a dream, a vision, a form that had physical effects on him to make his hair stand on end. The form spoke to him to crystallize an important question "Can a mortal man be more righteous than God?, Can a man be more pure than his maker?. If God places no trust in his servants, if he charges his angels with error, how much more those who live in houses of clay, whose foundations are in the dust, who are crushed more readily than a moth"!

Job is not charged with wrongdoing to bring about the distress he is undergoing, but his three friends are determined that the righteous don't suffer and that Job has hidden sin and guilt; something worthy of God's negative attention.

There must be a perception that right standing before the Holy One is reflected in unblemished living as proof of God's favor. It is obvious that its not necessarily the case but its interesting the lengths we can go to, to validate our perceptions with visions and dreams. The book of Job, known to be the oldest book in the Bible, begins with a friends discourse looking to the paranormal to explain the 'normal'.

(Psalm 8:5/Heb2:8-10)If we examine the questions raised by the "form" we can see that as man is a little lower than the angels, we are lower in rank and as the "vision" infers, high in the risk of wrongdoing.
Jude 5-6 "And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day".

It would seem that the "form" had inside knowledge of the fallen status of angels. The "form" may have originated from the pit of Hell itself, calling into question the human form who readily attracts destruction.
Can a "form" give the insight we look for? Do we look to the paranormal to give us light for our path, and help us make sense of our world.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Job, so, just what was his test?

1. To charge God with wrong doing.
"In all this Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing
2. To control his speech, "In all this Job did not sin in what he said"

1. In the epilogue, ch 42v 7 God says to the three friends "I am angry with you and your two friends because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has".

Not truthfully representing God, in other words, taking God's name in vain. Counting God as empty. We know how upset we get, when someone misrepresents us in front of others, surely YHWH feels it more.

When I look at the whole picture of the drama in terms of the beginning and the end, I am reminded of the scriptures where the Israelites thought YHWH forgot them, didn't see their pain and misery,
Isa 49:14-17 But Zion said, "The LORD has forsaken me,the Lord has forgotten me."
Psalm 44:24 Why do you hide your face and forget our misery and oppression?

It is very natural for us to believe that our lack of attention to another's suffering is mirrored by God.

2. 'Job did not sin in all he said" James 3v2 We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check. That's the standard! Job's body may have been falling apart, his flesh falling off like flakes of ashes, but he kept his whole body in check.

When we come along side friends facing many trials, what do we say to encourage them? Do we whip out scriptures or feel the complexity of the nature of suffering?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Motto 2009

'I am too Blessed to be Stressed and too Anointed, to be Disappointed!'
I got this as part of a poem today. I want to remember this at least for this month. 21days and it should be habit forming - that's the hope.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Dejected Disciples get new Direction

Luke 24 Two disciples, just been to the empty tomb and they leave Jerusalem to on the way Emmaus. The text tells us that they "were kept from" recognizing Jesus. The phrase means they were "forcefully restrained" from recognizing Jesus. When Jesus spoke to them their faces were downcast. That tells me that our emotional well being has alot to do with what we can see spiritually.

Also, their ongoing capacity to catch on to the reality of the scriptures was low as Jesus told them they were foolish, that they neglected the intellectual activity of thinking what the scriptures spoke about the Messiah. Jesus then explains the prophetic scriptures to them. This gives me hope that when we don't get the full import of a scripture Jesus will take the time to tell us. He is our Rabbi.

It is interesting that once Jesus is revealed to them he disappears! It is my expereince that when we get the clarity of understanding/direction we prefer to hang onto the experience rather than put it to work in our lives.

The two disciples, having been at the tomb at dawn, just completed 7 miles and were settling down for the night, get up and return to Jerusalem, another 7 miles. They must have got back to the other disciples in the middle of the night. As they shared what Jesus had explained to them, he also turned up. What a day, that first day that Easter.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day - a dream come true!

Now as president Obama takes the oath of office. MLK had a dream and we see it's beginnings today. The whole dream may not necessarily come about in a 4 year term, but its the dawning of the new day of hope for a nation.

Gen 40 has examples of personal and national dreams.
The cupbearer and baker to the king were concerned about their own well being and God met them in their desire for an outcome to their situation.
Pharaoh had the dreams of a ruler, dreams that would impact and determine the future of the nation.

Are we concerned about our personal or national fate, faith or future?
As the 1969 song says
But where do you go to my lovely
When you're alone in your bed
Tell me the thoughts that surround you
I want to look inside your head, yes i do.

Remember God does look inside our heads and... our hearts. Siobhan

Monday, January 19, 2009

seeking to understand...dreams 1

Have you wondered about the meaning of dreams? I have and do.
It is an interesting topic to study at the beginning of the year and as I read the bible in a year, I hope to have a better understanding of what dreams meant to various people in the bible.
We have seen encounters between God & Abraham, to a lesser extent Isaac and then Jacob has both personal encounters and dreams. Now we have Joseph who will have more dreams than encounters. His first set of dreams is to do with food as he helps his brothers bring in the sheaves, and the next about fealty as brotherly jealously rises to an all time high and they sell their brother to merchants.
The Pharoah has a warning dream about food, is there a connection with the fact that Joseph took care of all the duties of managing the kingdom and Pharaoh only had concern himself with the food he ate.
I get a sense that "God dreams" will take the shape of what we are concerned about. If we are looking for direction and guidance God will give it.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Lust and covetousness fuels fires that Hell would be proud off.

The rape of Dinah, Jacob's daughter shows us a drama of acquisition and greed. The story is found in Gen 34. Jacob comes home in peace to the land of Shechem and buys a piece of land to settle on. This is the same piece of land that YHWH has promised to give Abraham and Isaac, so why did he have to buy it?
Now, Shechem a local prince of the land from whom Jacob has bought land, seizes Dinah and rapes her. Getting what he wants, when he wants without paying for it! but now he realizes that he loves her and is willing to pay the bridal price for her. The father, Hamor wants an alliance with Jacob and his family. They have just taken by force what was not theirs to take and now want to "be friends" with the family. Amazing arrogance!

Jacobs sons have their own idea of retribution and give them what they want...initially but with a condition...get circumcised. They must have had a great need or should I say greed for more livestock to agree to such a thing.

Ch34:23 Won't their livestock, their property and all their other animals become ours? So let us agree to their terms, and they will settle among us."

Their glazed look on Jacobs livestock deluded them into thinking that they were safe and they underestimated the negotiating skills of the Jacob household. Dinah's full brothers slaughter the men of Shechem and rescue Dinah.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Buyer Beware

In Gen 30 &31 we see Jacob and Laban struggle with each other, eventually Laban realizes that he is blessed because of Jacob and uses this as a means to get him to stay and earn more wages. Jacob uses Laban's insight of YHWH's blessing and thereby increases the publicity that YHWH is blessing Jacob not Laban by managing Labans animal stocks.
After 20 years of getting the upper hand, Laban is not paying sufficient attention to Jacob's success and soon realizes that Jacob is not the underdog any longer. Laban shows us that he seen his daughters as goods to be traded Ch31:15, they were not happy to see their bridal price squandered. His animals were few before Jacob turned up, though he had more than Jacob had at the time. The two part with a covenant, a line in the desert sand of their relationship. Laban swears by the God of Abraham and God of Nahor his grandfather, Jacob swears by the Fear lit "terror" of Isaac. I wonder what is Laban's attitude as he goes home. He is now left with no daughters,or grandchildren and a feeble flock.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Jacob and Laban the bargain hunters.

Jacob's first interaction with his mothers family was to cast "sheep's eyes" at Rachael and her sheep Gen 29:10! (And of course he does the macho thing of rolling the stone away from the mouth of the well for Rachael).

He knew a good bargain when he seen it in Rachael... and the sheep but so did Laban. The wheeling and dealing went on in the household must have been very stressful for all concerned.

An interesting thing about sheep eyesight is that they don't see in color only black and white. I wonder whether that will have any bearing on the breading practices in the story? Siobhan

Friday, January 9, 2009

Two prophets preconceptions.

Within the week I have come across two prophets who had less than best view of the people they were called to preach to or the people the lived among.

Gen 20 v 11Abraham, deceived Abimelech by saying that Sarah was his sister, because he felt that "there is surely no fear of God in this place"
Yet God/YHWH met with Abimelech to prevent calaminity coming to his family bcause of Abraham's deception.

Jonah 4:1Jonah, felt that the people of Nineveh were beyond redemption or should be, as he was very angry when they repented of their evil and wicked ways. At best Jonah shows himself as Jonah the grumpy! because they believed YHWH.
Yet, it was the pagans who prayed, greatly feared God, made sacrifices and vows to God when Jonah tried to flee to Tarshish.

YHWH's heart towards his creation is seen in the last verse V11. "Ninevah has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who don't know their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city"?

I wonder what preconceptions I have as I consider my neighbour today? Do I believe that they wouldn't be interested to talk about YHWH or get to know him better.

Remember we "be livin what we belive in'