Saturday, August 29, 2009

Day 241 Smelly Christians!

2 cor 2:15 "For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing".

People will be attracted to us because of the "pleasing aroma of Christ". I can understand being "an aroma that brings life"; that we are also" an aroma that brings death" what I don't understand is that its pleasing in both cases. Just got it, four little words and one big perspective "we are to God". It's His perspective that matters. Christ is the sacrifice and we are also sacrificed vicariously through him.

I am meeting someone for the second time later today for coffee. We both signed up for singing lessons with a group of ladies called Women of Note and she is really keen to get to know me. I am cautious when someone is that keen, so we will see if the aroma of Christ produces results.

"we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God".

Friday, August 28, 2009

Day 240 Forgiveness & being "battle ready'

2 Cor 1:11 ..."in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes".

Paul urged the church to forgive the guy who was under church discipline.
6 "The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. 7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him".

We may talk/sing/dance about spiritual warfare, get all hot and bothered about the needs in the world when forgiving a brother is a better measurement of being battle-ready.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

day 238 The ability to endure

2 Cor 1:8 "We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself". So what did Paul endure that was so stressful? Lets look at Acts 18-19 for the answers.

Paul was under conviction - a deep personal responsibility to bring the gospel to his fellow Jews.
In Acts 18, While in Corinth Paul had had enough with the Jewish rulers which led him to draw a line, it was clear it was time to move on...
Acts 18 verse6 "But when the Jews opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, "Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles." I would make an educated guess that as a Watchman of Israel he took his responsibility seriously. See Ezek 33:1-20 "6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes the life of one of them, that man will be taken away because of his sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for his blood."

God encourages Paul to keep going.
Acts 18: 9One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. 10For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city." 11So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.
After the time of a crises which was made up of endurance with his enemies, he makes a God honoring determination for the way forward and then God speaks comfort and encouragement.

His crises continues to Asia, but with it he now has the comfort of the Word of God.

Acts 19:8Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. 9But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.

The sons of Sceva get a beating and the area holds Jesus in high esteem.
13Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, "In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out." 14Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15(One day) the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" 16Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.

Then there were riots in Ephesus. Uproar and mayhem prevailed but Paul held onto the God of all Comfort.

I have a friend who is seeing life as far beyond her ability to endure. I was looking for a word for her today. This scripture has helped me speak to her.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Day 237 When the restraining hand is lifted....

2 chron 24: 1 Joash was seven years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem forty years. His mother's name was Zibiah; she was from Beersheba. 2 Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the years of Jehoiada the priest. 3 Jehoiada chose two wives for him, and he had sons and daughters.

Joash began well and continued well for 40+years to obey God and Jehoiada the chief priest.Together "they rebuilt the temple of God according to its original design and reinforced it. 14 When they had finished, they brought the rest of the money to the king and Jehoiada, and with it were made articles for the LORD's temple: articles for the service and for the burnt offerings, and also dishes and other objects of gold and silver. As long as Jehoiada lived, burnt offerings were presented continually in the temple of the LORD.15 Now Jehoiada was old and full of years, and he died at the age of a hundred and thirty. 16 He was buried with the kings in the City of David, because of the good he had done in Israel for God and his temple".

With Jehoiada the chief priest dead, Joash listens to the rulers of Judah and kills Jehoiada's son.

"Although the Aramean army had come with only a few men, the LORD delivered into their hands a much larger army. Because Judah had forsaken the LORD, the God of their ancestors, judgment was executed on Joash....So he died and was buried in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings".

What a shame, a life time of obedience and discipline counted as naught in the end.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Day 234 Our Afflictions and God's Atributes Psalm 102 & 103

Todays psalm is a picture of being afflicted. It describes in detail the bone crushing weight of disappointment, despair and disease. The suffering though, brings him closer to God. From the outset he cries to God and feels that He has "taken me up and thrown me aside". His personal tornado/hurricane has arrived and he feels it. He does not second guess if God is in this time of upheaval in his life. He knows God is speaking to him and he is not afraid to come closer. Here is someone who knows his God and runs deeper after Him.
Psalm 103 Shows us the benefits of forgiveness and reminds us of the goodness of God.
Using the two psalms together would be useful in helping people to acknowledge their pain and then come out of their own head by focusing on Gods attributes not necessarily their afflictions.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Day 233 House Work 101

Proverbs 24:3-4 "By wisdom a house is built,and through understanding it is established;through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures".

The Psalm for today shows us how to implement the lofty aspirations of wisdom, understanding and knowledge in our homes. Let's Unpack a few items from the Psalm.

Psalm 101 AKA House work 101!

A good outlook and determined attitude in life with a song in our heart is a good beginning. Watching what we sing about I find is crucial to me. There are many catchy tunes with gross sentiments of violence, unfaithfulness and injustice packaged as love relationships. I have a couple of songs that I have to turn of the radio when they come on! I am mindful of another proverb to "ABOVE ALL guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." Proverbs 4:23

These are the "I wills" that we live out today not the one we leave behind!
1 I will sing of your love and justice; to you, LORD, I will sing praise.
2 I will be careful to lead a blameless life—when will you come to me?
I will conduct the affairs of my house with a blameless heart.
3 I will not look with approval on anything that is vile.
I hate what faithless people do;I will have no part in it.
4 The perverse of heart shall be far from me;
I will have nothing to do with what is evil.

Standing up for the reputation of others.
5 Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret,I will put to silence;whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart,I will not endure.

Seek out good people as friends.
6 My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; those whose walk is blameless will minister to me.
7 No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence.

Silence Evil.
8 Every morning I will put to silence all the wicked in the land; I will cut off every evildoer from the city of the LORD.

A sad commentary on todays news. The Lockerbie bomber discharged from prison receives a hero's welcome in his homeland. That piece of "compassion" has backfired. It takes wisdom and skill to show compassion responsibly. It's not a matter of "letting someone off". A better way would have been to receive the freed prisoner with national humility and match the grace shown to him by other grieving nations.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

231 but when completeness comes.....

1 Cor 12:27-31 "but when completeness comes". I am amazed that the level of interpretation that these few words have rendered. The "completeness" is seen as the canon of scripture being completed and therefore all the gifts are seen to be either null and void or childish in major evangelical circles.
Shame the power of God is untapped in many parts of our "bodies". What would happen if we turned off the blood supply to any of our extremities or organs? surely the same is happening spiritually. Numb and Cold and white, then deep blue and gangrene sets in. Next step is to amputate the part for the sake of the whole! Not a pretty sight or a way to live.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Day 230 Gifts are for giving

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are given as He determines for the common good, so that we would have equal concern for each other.

1 Cor 12;7-25
"Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.....All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines".

"But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other".

Gifts are for giving for works of service

"There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.
There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.
There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work".

"To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom,
to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit,
to another faith by the same Spirit,
to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit,
to another miraculous powers,
to another prophecy,
to another distinguishing between spirits,
to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,
and to still another the interpretation of tongues".

2 Timothy 1:7For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

What's in our wallet?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

229 As the King so the Kingdom

2 Chronicles 5:2-14 & 2 Chron 7

Saying our prayers. Solomon began with recounting the mercies and favor of God and worked his way into asking protection with the expected areas of sin and degradation.
He doesn't appear to include himself in the waywardness that is anticipated.

2 Chron 7:14-16 The answer to Solomon's request is that when all the waywardness happens then "He will hear from heaven and forgive....My eyes and my heart will always be here".
Where Solomon focused on the people earlier, God focuses on Solomon in this passage verse 17 "As for you....if you.... then...." As the King so the Kingdom. God will turn his back on his temple, his dwelling if those that live there are unfaithful.We wouldn't expect a spouse to live in the same house as the unfaithful partner, why would God stay under such circumstances either!

May God's eyes and heart be always with you.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Day 222 Judging others

Judging situations"
"And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!"

Judging Others and personal integrity. We are called to take a personal inventory of our actions.
Matt 7:1-2 "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

Luke 6:37-38"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

John 5:30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me. Here is the criteria for judging situations and people.

Psalm 94 Puts judging in the place where it belongs
1 The LORD is a God who avenges. O God who avenges, shine forth.2 Rise up, Judge of the earth;pay back to the proud what they deserve.3 How long, LORD, will the wicked,how long will the wicked be jubilant?....7 They say, "The LORD does not see;the God of Jacob takes no notice."
8 Take notice, you senseless ones among the people;you fools, when will you become wise? 9 Does he who fashioned the ear not hear?Does he who formed the eye not see?
10 Does he who disciplines nations not punish?Does he who teaches human beings lack knowledge? 11 The LORD knows all human plans;he knows that they are futile.

Knowing that its The Lord who will ultimately, judge and avenge the wrong, what is our responsibility to protect ourselves and others from evil. The old addage comes to mind, "evil prevails because the good did nothing".
James6:16-20 is very clear. "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back,remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins".

Firstly, if we are judging others and doing the same things as the perpetrator of the evil then we will be judged the same as we have judged others. Its reciprocal judgment. Our integrity is on the line and we are judged accordingly.Romans chapter 1 explains this in detail.But fear of judgment on ourselves is often used to get out of the responsibility to address issues and concerns.

Secondly, judging is not personal, the actions are deemed wrong no matter who does them. So how do we encourage people to see what they are doing is against goodness and righteousness? Well God in Jere 31: 3 "The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love;I have drawn you with loving-kindness.." Hosea 11:3-5 It was I who taught Ephraim to walk,taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness,with ties of love;I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them.

Romans 2:3-5 So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?

Showing Kindness to the wrong doer is the first step and our motivation in dealing with any level of evil. How that translates into the various scenarios of life needs the wisdom of God to implement. Personally, this is a real challenge to get the language precise when communicating a mistreatment that needs correcting. Ducking and Diving through life is not the most noble way of living. Showing Kindness the way God does is a noble quest that will keep us on our spiritual toes!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Day 218 There is only one Path of Understanding.

1 Corinthians 2:6-10 "What no eye has seen,what no ear has heard,and what no human mind has conceived— these things God has prepared for those who love him" for God has revealed them to us by his Spirit.
This passage echos Isaiah 64:4-9.

4 Since ancient times no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who acts on behalf of those who wait for him

5 You come to the help of those who gladly do right,
who remember your ways.
But when we continued to sin against them,
you were angry.
How then can we be saved?

6 All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

7 No one calls on your name
or strives to lay hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us
and made us waste away because of our sins.

8 Yet, O LORD, you are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.

9 Do not be angry beyond measure, O LORD;
do not remember our sins forever.
Oh, look upon us, we pray,
for we are all your people.

I particularly like the phrase " who acts on behalf of those who wait for him". I think of Saul, who didn't wait for Samuel to make the sacrifice. He responded to the fears and flight of his soldiers in the face of the oncoming enemy. Though he thought he was doing right by forging ahead without Samuel to lead worship in the sacrifice, the mistake cost him his kingdom and the favour of YHWH.

Wisdom is knowing that God is alive and well on planet earth and that he is an intricate part of our lives as we let Him led and guide our steps not strides!

"Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ".
This is taken from Isiah 40:10ff
10 See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power,
and his arm rules for him.
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.

11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.

12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,
or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket,
or weighed the mountains on the scales
and the hills in a balance?

13 Who has understood the mind (or spirit)of the LORD,
or instructed him as his counselor?

14 Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him,
and who taught him the right way?
Who was it that taught him knowledge
or showed him the path of understanding?

15 Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket;
they are regarded as dust on the scales;
he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.

Paul is saying that we have the mind of Christ to begin to understand who God is and see what He does. We have the Holy Spirit to be our counselor and guide. It is He within us who will enlighten us, teach us the right way, provide the knowledge and show us the path of understanding. (Interesting path is singular!)

May our path be smooth and straight as we strive to lay hold of God. Amen

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

day 217 Resolved to know one thing

1cor 2:2 For "I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God's power".

There is wisdom in knowing what is the main point to get across to people when talking about God. Paul resolved to know nothing except, "Jesus Christ and him crucified". We can get distracted so easily from the main message of the Good News.

The Good News is that God became man and dwelt among us. YHWH wanted to be so close to his people - us that he became like one of us. "God with us" still brings a lump to my throat in gratitude to a Creator who loves us that much to die for us as well as giving up everything to become one of us. The theology of it all is too complex to ensure accuracy in explanation so I raise my hands, not in exasperation at the mysterious triune nautre of God but in thankfullness and He seen our plight and came for us.

May we keep the main thing the main thing! Amen

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Day 216 Complete Joy

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

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Day 214 Personal Preferences

Romans 14:19 "Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of.... food". Substitute any personal preference/activity for food and it acts as a good reminder to to focus on seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness and all the other stuff of life will be added ---- verse 17 "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit",...

Our personal style of "worship" or spirit filled/led living,often becomes the point of division and derision that is one of the 6 things God (Proverbs 6:19), and we do it because we "love" God!

I John 2:9-10 has it right, we can assess how much we love God by our love for our family of faith. "Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Day 213 Victim to Victory

Genesis 49:19 "Gad will be attacked by a band of raiders, but he will attack them at their heels.

Number 32:16 Then they (Gadites and Reubenites) came up to him (Moses) and said, "We would like to build pens here for our livestock and cities for our women and children. But we are ready to arm ourselves and go ahead of the Israelites until we have brought them to their place. Meanwhile our women and children will live in fortified cities, for protection from the inhabitants of the land.We will not return to our homes until every Israelite has received his inheritance.We will not receive any inheritance with them on the other side of the Jordan, because our inheritance has come to us on the east side of the Jordan."

1 Chronicles 12:8;14;18 Some Gadites defected to David at his stronghold in the desert. They were brave warriors, ready for battle and able to handle the shield and spear. Their faces were the faces of lions, and they were as swift as gazelles in the mountains......These Gadites were army commanders; the least was a match for a hundred, and the greatest for a thousand..... Then the Spirit came upon Amasai, chief of the Thirty, and he said:"We are yours, O David!We are with you, O son of Jesse!Success, success to you,and success to those who help you, for your God will help you." So David received them and made them leaders of his raiding bands.

The turns and twists of history, when Jacob gave his blessing back in Genesis, it was a one liner not much to speak about really. But they stand out among the warriors with David, faces like lions, the least was a match for a hundred and the greatest for a thousand, wow that's impressive.

They may have been "the victim" of a raiding party but they surely turned the tide and lived the destiny of responsibility, honor, loyalty and provided consistent leadership. BTW Gad was not the eldest of the sons,he was somewhere in the middle.

Indeed the eldest sons' tribe Reubenites aligned themselves with Gadites to possess the land east of the Jordan. Reuben was the initial commander of the army but Gad must have made the most of the training to achieve such an accolade in Scripture as in life.

What does our training look like? 1 John 2:13-15
I write to you, fathers,
because you have known him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one.
I write to you, dear children,
because you have known (recognize, conscious of and understand amp. bible) the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
because you have known him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you are strong,
and the word of God lives (always in your hearts amp bible) in you,
and you have overcome the evil one.

Knowing God as Creator, then Father, being strong with that knowledge, having the word of God in us and overcoming evil with good.

Lets recap the verbs that spell Victory:
to recognize,be aware of, be conscious of, understand, the Father and His Word
enables us to overcome the evil one and his entourage!

That's the good fight - Onward and Upward!