Wednesday, 30 July 2008
Tuesday, 29 July 2008
''None of this is contained within the Platonists' books. Their pages have not the mien of the true love of God. They make no mention of the tears of confession or the sacrifice you will never disdain, or a broken spirit, a heart that is humbled and contrite, nor do they speak of the Salvation of your people, a city adorned like a bride, the foretaste of your spirit, or the chalice of our redemption. In them no one sings No rest has my soul but in God's hands. To him I look for deliverance; I have no other stronghold; no other delievring that him, safe in his protection, I fear no deadly fall. In them no one listens to the voice which says come to me all you that labour. They disdain his teaching because he is gentle and humble of heart. For you have hidden all this from the wise and revealed it to the children.''
I found this such a refreshing and marvellous truth. Augustine was an incredibly learned and scholarly man who dedicated his life to love of knowledge, but here he proclaims whole heartedly that the wisdom of men is but foolishness to God. Indeed to understand spiritual things we must put on the Spirit of Christ, for who can know the mind of God without the Spirit of God. 1 Corinthians 2:12 says 'We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.' Let us clothe ourselves with the Spirit of Christ Jesus and become like little children, we may be ridiculed by men but we are living from something gerater than the praise of men, we are living for the words 'well done my good and faithful servant' (Matthew 25:21).
Monday, 28 July 2008
1/ This cedar wood porch porch is Total Depraved. There is nothing this porch can do to improve itself...
2/ Out of my mercy (and love for power tools) I have unconditionally elected to transform the cedar wood porch into something new and beautiful once again. By my own judgement and choice I have predestined the porch for transformation...
3/ The sanding process it limited (atonement) by my prior choice and sovereign judgement; the redemptive nature of my power sander is extended to no other part of the house unless I so choose to do so....
4/ If I so choose to redeem my porch by sanding it, and transforming it, there is nothing the porch can do to resist my effort. It cannot overcome in anyway the irresistible grace of my black and decker power sander...
5/ No matter how dirty or weathered the porch becomes after I transformed, there is nothing the porch can do to reverse the transformation process. The porch will perservere in it's transformation.
All joking aside...praise God for his unconditional election and his sovereign grace in allowing me to be adopted into his family. As Spurgeon says...'I thank God everyday for choosing me, for if he hadn't I am certain I would not have chosen him.'
Monday, 21 July 2008
Sojourner it is important you set your gaze on heaven, this is where your true spiritual home is, you are seated here already with your Father. Sojourner do not waste your time acquiring earthly treasure, it is far too fickle and fleeting for you. Sojourner do you not realise that when your Father chose you, when he set you apart and plucked you out, he set aside a glorious inheritance far greater than any earthly prize. Sojourner set your eyes and your heart on heaven because this is where your God is. Sojourner, one day will serve him, praise him, enjoy him and commune with him, live every waking moment in confidence of this wonderful truth and certainty.
Never forget the 'Memories of the future' (Anotine Dufour).
Friday, 18 July 2008
The call of Jesus on our lives is radically different to the person described above. We are called to be radically counter cultural, to swim against the common agenda, to be a disciple in the fullest sense of the word. In Luke 9:23 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.' A disciple is therefore characterised by 'self denial' and 'following'.
Some people may think that denying yourself and following Jesus are two separate activities, as if they could follow Jesus without denying themself; however this is not the case. If we carry out the former 'denial process' will we find success in the latter 'following process.' If you lose sight yourself, you will gain sight of Jesus. If you disown yourself, you will gain an inheritance in the heavenely places. If you give up yourself, you will gain Jesus Christ in your heart. If you forget yourself, Jesus will never forget you on the final day.
I hope you enjoy this song by Matthew West...is Jesus Christ everything you live for?
Thursday, 17 July 2008
The Bible teaches something very different from this, we are called as regenerated Christians to be 'living stones' part of the living Temple of God. 1 Peter 2 gives us a good insight into this idea...Peter exhorts us in the first three verses to grow spiritually, that we might 'crave spiritual milk.' Similarly that we may 'rid ourselves malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander or every kind.'
How do we do this? Peter immediately goes onto say in verse 5...'you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.' To grow spiritually and to rid ourselves of slander, malice and hypocrisy, is to realise you are part of a royal priesthood, a Holy Temple...and that Holy Temple is our lives as the body of Christ.
1 John proves says...'but if we are living in the light, as God's in the light, the we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all Sin.' (1 John 1:7). Furthermore John reminds us of Jesus' commandment to love one another (1 John 2:7 - 8) and goes onto say, 'Anyone who loves another brother or sister is living in the light and does not causes other to stumble. But anyone who hates another brother or sister is still living in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness' (1 John 2:10 - 11). As a body of Christ let us live in the light of Jesus Christ, not causing one another to stumble but building one another up and encouraging one another in the faith. Let us learn to love the church and the body of believers, that we may grow spiritually, and that we may grow in love for one another also. To love one another is to love God, not to do so is to live unrighteously and to deny God ( 1 John 3:10).
We must learn to love the body, build up the body, encourage the body, protect the body and serve the body.
Wednesday, 16 July 2008
Humility is the antithesis to pride, Jesus teaches that 'everyone who exalts themselves will be humbled, but he who humbles themself will be exalted' (Luke 18:14). Humilty comes upon us whilst we are unaware, it is only visible for others to see; humility does not seek itself, furthermore it remains invisible to itself. Richard Foster says 'the more you seek humility, the more distant it will seem.'
Humility can be attained through service...service smashest pride in two. Peter instructs us to 'offer hospitality to one another, without grumbling' (1 Peter 4:9). Jesus Christ, the epicentre of all redemptive history, gives us the greatest example of humility...he came not to be served but to serve himself (Mark 10:45). Through service we die to ourselves and our own desires a little more each time, we experience 'many little deaths.' Those in the service industry are those in society who are despised and treated with the most contempt, the cashiers on the check out, the people who collect your trash each week or the people who serve you dinner. To serve others without reward or personal gain is to be therefore, radically counter cultural.
Humility is something to be practised each and every day. Peter Reid comments 'the surest road to spiritual greatness is that of humility, but it the road least taken.' Which road are you going to take?
Tuesday, 15 July 2008
Time spent alone with God is not often easy to obtain, but it is an essential practise. We must learn to organise our time and not let ourselves become overwhelmed and over ruled by our busy schedules. Something of great value is not acheived without great effort and diligence, thus we must work diligently to forge this time spent with God. Jesus clearly instructs us as to the importance of this activity...'when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen' (Matthew 6:6). Jesus assumes that you ARE going to pray, and you ARE going to spend time with your Father.
There are many different ways as to go about conducting your own private time with God, however I would recommend that it be a combination of reading the word, time spent in prayer and a time of praise and thankfulness. Don't let your distractions beat you, let them fuel your time with God. The things you are most preoccupied about should become stepping stones into prayer, which can then lead you onto broader horizons of prayer.
You may be a very busy person or a person who leads a relatively steady, easy going life. It really doesn't matter...when was the last time you spent some time with Jesus.
Monday, 14 July 2008
The first pot hole therefore, is that of giftedness. This is where we rely on our own strength more than we rely on God. The person who has fallen into this pot hole is the one who has increased the position of man, and decreased the position of God, in their lives. They have lost the sense of 'bigness' which God commands at all times. We must remember that God gives us all things, everything we have comes from God. Oswald Chambers boldly states 'Not enough people are aware of the knowledge of the own destitution and need of God.'Indeed Psalm 105:4 usefully comments 'Search for the Lord and his strength; continually seek him.' We should seek his strength and not rely on our own. The writer of Psalm 121:1 has captured this idea, he says 'I look up to mountains - does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth.'
Psalm 130:5 - 6 goes on to say...'I am counting on the Lord, yes I am counting on Him. I have put my hope in his Word. I long for the Lord more than the sentries long for the dawn.' What an amazing statement we have here; the Psalmist declares his utter dependance and reliance on God; he is counting on Him. He recognises that if God does not show up and follow through on what he has promised, surely he will fail. Without God he is nothing. For this reason he relies on the promises in his Word and seeks him with all his heart.
Take a moment to identify that areas in your life where God has gifted you... Are you truly counting on God? Do you thank God for the gifts he has given you, recognising that without his continued blessing and life giving sustenance, surely everything we have will fall away and crumble?
Monday, 7 July 2008
A young one, in just tears
Lying in my own fears
Lying, choking in a puddle
Drowning down in my own tears
Left you for the simple spread
Taking the steps it ends in
Lie down in a self-dug grave,
Cloud formed over my head as I laid myself down to rest
The enemy camped upon my chest
With blinded eyes and lies
Till cries he did profess
With rain and thundering storms
And clouds that fogged my intellect
With guilt and shame he built his house
And doubts in the form of self respect
With lightning that was frightening
Taking my eyes up off the Lord
Trying to discredit and edit
The words of truth he found in sword
He harmed me and disarmed me
And he charmed me with his army
But I stand before you right now
Cause the Lord came upon me
With the morning sun that pierced the cloud
And made the moisture dissipate
With a northern wind, the fog will clear
And the rays touched my face
Holy Spirit, warmed me, swarmed me
Touching me with a sweet taste
He picked me up, and kicked my butt
And placed me back in the right race
Lord, you brought me out of shackles
Divided seas all along
It’s in you that I still stand
It’s in you that I have song
Memorial stones in the middle of the Jordan
Lord you brought me along
I had a change through the desert
In you Lord that I’m strong
Raining bread from the heavens
Giving me a new song
Memorial stones in the middle of the Jordan
I’m pressing on
From the day to day, the miry clay
Through the wilderness astray
You brought me to the river Jordan
Bow my head down low and pray
And thank a faithful God
Who’s brought his water to my lip
Grabbed my hand and led me to the promised land where the honey drips
And the vines filled with fruit of all kinds
For the spirit, soul, and mind
Around the sound of chimes
The water stopped and came in line
And clattered feet sound
Israel crossed the dry ground
Memorial stones were laid down
In awe of your love that’s so profound
You brought the old into a new face
With a new place and a new grace
Your love, provision shown as you gave your child a new taste
The manna stocks of milk and honey
of a camel found at my feet
Then I dropped to my knees
For the God, he’s so complete
About face, he sees me
From the grips, the enemy
In the midst, my blunder through the thunder
You’re under me in victory
By no means is this journey finished, over, or complete
There are many Jericho’s walls
That’ll fall at Allah’s feet
Saturday, 5 July 2008
Friday, 4 July 2008
The dictionary goes on to give a few more meanings to the word rest...
5...to be based or founded (usually fol. by on or upon
6...to be fixed or directed on something, as the eyes, a gaze, etc.
I really liked definitions 5 and 6 which the dictionary gave...it says rest is to founded in something or to direct or fix your gaze on something. This is the essence of rest in Psalm 23. To founded completely in King Jesus, that indeed you can sleep at night and find rest from the world's troubles because you are to be found in something infinitely greater than yourself. Indeed, if you fix your gaze on the God above and relentless pursue him with everything you have, you will gradually lose focus of all the anxieties and worries which cloud your vision; only as you learn to completely focus your complete gaze upon King Jesus alone; nothing else.
I find the whole Psalm 23 thing a bit sweet and 'nice' for my liking...it's the kind of thing you would find written on a card with a picture of loads of sheep and give to someone in your church who is perhaps feeling a bit under the weather. I prefer to think of my God as a mighty warrior, a fortress, a high tower, a rock (generally the cooler attributes of God) rather than him as my shepherd. But, nevertheless, despite what I think about God he indeed is my shepherd. He does 'lead me beside still waters,' he does 'lead me on paths of righteouesness' his rod and staff will 'comfort me,' my cup will 'overflow'...'surely the goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.'
There's lots of stsuff to say about rest, maybe I shouldn't have said it all in one go as I have done here...Who knows perhaps all this blogging will afford me a good night rest after all, or perhaps not :-)
I'll leave you with a cool (but kinda strange at the same time) video of some guy walking through the streets praising Jesus....I'm not sure if this is a good example of what it means to 'keep your gaze on Jesus,' he sure seems to being having a good time though.
What does it mean to rest? The dictionary says many things (as it tends to do often), here are but a selection of what it says...
1...the refreshing quiet or repose of sleep: a good night's rest.
2...the refreshing ease or inactivity after exertion or labor: to allow an hour for rest
3...relief or freedom, esp. from anything that wearies, troubles, or disturbs
4...to refresh oneself, as by sleeping, lying down, or relaxing
In Matthew 11:28 is says, 'come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.' Indeed rest is so much more than just sleeping at around 11pm after a hard days work (or whatever takes your fancy during the day), it is place free from worry, anxiety...free from burden. Rest is a place where you can throw all your fears on King Jesus, so you can freely run with him without inhabitions and without being weighed down.
These first four things are rather straight forward in how we understand the word 'rest' and how we give meaning to it...in fact I probably didn't need to a dictionary search altogether to find that out. But nevertheless these first four things all appear in the Bible in different places and in different ways. God in fact rested in this way after he created... 'By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.' (Genesis 2:2). Why exactly God rested I am not sure, I like to think after creating such a magnificance piece of art, that is the universe in all it's beauty and perfection, perhaps he rested for a moment just to take in the sheer awesomeness of what he had made.
Thursday, 3 July 2008
I have been struck by the story of Abraham this least few days as I have gradually been making my way through the middle few chapters of Genesis. The story of Abraham is truly an amazing one...his life is the perfect example of a man who has heard God's call on his life, responded in faith and acted out every moment in obedience to his God.
The story of Abraham offering up his son Isaac I consider to be the greatest display of these three attributes. After waiting many years, and traversing many trials and struggles, the Lord blesses Abraham with his promised Son, despite the fact that both Abraham and Sarah are too old to have children. The Lord calls upon his servant to offer up his son as a sacrifice on the altar to God...he faithfully obeys and does exactly as the Lord instructs. The Lord graciously provides a ram, which they find stuck in a bush as a substitution for his Son. What a display of faith that Abraham would offer up his son on an altar of wood to his God with out reservation or protest.
Even though I myself am not a father (although one day certainly hope to be!), I recognise the amazing struggle it is for a parent to give up 'owndership' of their child, and faithfully place them into the hands of God. That indeed although having a child is possibly the most precious thing you could possibly call 'your own,' in fact that child above anything else, infact belongs to God. And this God is one who is infintely more capable to protect and provide than any earthly faher is capable of. This same God - the God of Abraham and Isaac - is infintely more capable to nurture and love than any human mother could do so.
Parents...have you fully abandoned your children to God, recognising that in fact God is so much more important than even your own children? If called upon could you do as Abraham did and place them on a altar of wood and stone in obedience to God? Those are certainly tough questions to deal with. Those who aren't parents...recognise firstly, that is more than likely you one day will be and indeed will have to enocunter this same decision in the near future. But now...are you provoked by the faith and obedience of Abraham? Is there an area in your life which you need to lay at the alter to God? Perhaps for women it is the overwhelming desire to be a mother, in spite of all that God might call you to prior to that occasion. Or men, the desire to pursue a career and profession that you end up completely missing God leading you into a different direction in life. These are just two examples, there are many many more...
I leave with a song which puts all this in perspective.... Andrew Petersen singing 'Holy is the Lord'.