Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Death of King David's child

King David's reaction to the death of his first child to Bathsheba is amazing. God had told David the child would die as the result of his sin (2 Samuel 12:14). Nevertheless David prayed and fasted for the child's life. After the child died David stopped praying, washed and went to the house of the Lord to worship. Then he ate. Later he explained his actions by saying, "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, 'Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live'" (2 Samuel 12:22).

Even though God had told him that the child would die, David still thought there was a chance God would be gracious and allow the child to live. David had a lot of faith in the compassion and grace of God. However on this occasion God did not relent.

David accepted God's decision without a word of complaint. David understood God was Sovereign and worthy of worship, even when God disappointed him.

These two things: David's strong belief in the compassion and grace of God and David's understanding of the Sovereignty of God, help us to understand why God called him "a man after my own heart" (Act 13:22).

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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Devotional Thought : Numbers 16:3

They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, "You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the Lord's assembly?" Numbers 16:3

Leadership in Christian communities has always been difficult!

There is some truth in what these people were saying, "the whole community is holy"–set apart for God. We also find this in the New Testament. "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession" (1 Peter 2:9).

God has made us all holy and able to hear from him ourselves, but this does not eliminate the need for leadership. We tend to think because we are in relationship with God that we know his plans. and don't have to submit to others, or be tolerant of other ideas. The reality is that we don't like others being in leadership over us, so we wonder about their motives and question their integrity.

The rest of 1 Peter 2:9 tell us God's purposes in making us a holy nation is, "that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light". We aren't a holy nation in order to eliminate leadership but rather to be witnesses to God's character and carry out his mission in the world. It's about God's purposes not ours.

It was actually the Levites who went too far (v. 7). The Lord had already made it clear that he had chosen Moses and Aaron for leadership responsibilities. In the rest of this chapter and the next God again clearly confirmed Moses' and Aaron's special roles but these Levites wouldn't accept it and sadly experienced the consequences of their rebellion.

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Quotes from Philip Yancey

Some quotes from The Bible That Jesus Read by Philip Yancey, focussing chapter 2, Job: Seeing in the Dark:
"Satan's accusation . . . implies that God is not worthy of love in Himself, that people follow God only because they get something out of it."

"Will a man cling to faith when every self-interested reason for doing so is yanked away? 'He will curse you to your face,' Satan gambled. And he loses. Job's character holds up."

"When tragedy strikes, we too will be trapped in a limited point of view. Like Job, we will be tempted to blame God and see him as the enemy."

"Job convinces me that God cares more about our faith than our pleasure."

"Somehow, in a way the book only suggests and does not explain, one person's faith made a difference."

"How we respond matters." "By hanging onto the thinnest thread of faith, Job won a crucial victory in God's grand plan to redeem the earth."
The Bible That Jesus Read by Philip Yancey, p.45-72.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

God's perspective on time

God is beyond time and able to see past, present, and future events simultaneously. He is able to take in the full panorama of human existence yet he is also able to focus on a moment in our time and celebrate its significance.

It is something we need to do to. There is much suffering and difficulty not only in our world but in our own communities. Despite this, there are times to stop for celebration, when we put aside the difficulties and rejoice in what we have—our physical blessings, our relationship with God, our spiritual inheritance. Times of thankfulness and appreciation help us to gain a better perspective and encourage us to be more generous, as we realize how blessed we are.

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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Devotional Thought : Numbers 14:13

Moses said to the Lord, "Then the Egyptians will hear about it! By your power you brought these people up from among them." Numbers 14:13

When the people rebelled against their God-appointed leaders and refused to enter the Promised Land, God wanted to destroy the whole nation and start again with Moses. However notice Moses' first response, "the Egyptians will hear about it". His first concern was the Lord's reputation. He was worried that the Egyptians would conclude, "The LORD was not able to bring these people into the land he promised them on oath, so he slaughtered them in the wilderness" (v. 16).

Moses was more disturbed about God's integrity amongst a pagan nation, then excited about the possibility of becoming a great nation (v. 12). I wonder do we consider the Lord's reputation, especially when tempted to behave poorly?

People who know we are Christians rightly connect our actions to our relationship with God. When Nathan confronts David over his adulterous affair and murder of Uriah, he tells him that his child will die because "… you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme" (2 Samuel 12:14 NKJV). Our actions are more far-reaching than we realize.

Moses' second request is for the Lord to display his strength in terms of patience, love and forgiveness, not in terms of destruction. "Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: 'The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. … In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people'" (v. 17-19).

When we have experienced the depth of the Lord's patience, love and forgiveness in our lives, we want to honour the Lord, and make his character known. His reputation will become our concern.

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Book Review : Captain Sneer the Buccaneer

Captain Sneer the Buccaneer is a great story written by Penny Morrison and Illustrated by Gabriel Evans. It is a fun book about a pirate trying to be brave while looking for gold. It is well-written, rhymes and uses anticipation very well.

However I felt the book was spoiled by the dark illustrations which didn't reflect the light-hearted nature of the writing. The illustrations were well-drawn but the colouring was gloomy. At the critical moment of the story the details in the picture are almost obscured by the dull hues. Many young children may miss the point in regard to Captain Sneer's mother. However for older children this might not be such a problem, as they are better equipped to realize the humour of the situation.

Overall this is still a good book, but could have been improved with lighter, brighter illustrations.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Walking in the Spirit

It our choice, whether we walk by the Spirit or walk by the flesh, and Paul exhorts us to walk by the Spirit. "So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want" (Galatians 5:15-17).

As I was reflecting on why walking by the flesh is not what God wants for me, I realized that my flesh is never satisfied, it always craves more—more food, more possessions, more attention. Yet even when I succeed in getting more, I am still not satisfied. This is the nature of all addictions, and also the source of much of our dissatisfaction.

Walking in the Spirit frees us from the perpetual cycle of constantly striving for more and instead we learn contentment for what we already have. It means we learn how to say "no", not out of duty, compulsion, or our strong self-will, but from the grace of God. "For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives ..." (Titus 2:11-12).

In the work place it is commonly thought, that if you "give people an inch they will take a mile" meaning if you show grace, they will expect to be shown more leniency in the future. From a worldly perspective, grace teaches people to continue in their wrong behaviour. But God's grace operates in the exact opposite way. The more we understand and receive his grace, the more we want to behave differently.

It took most of us well over a year before we could physically walk any distance. It may take much longer to learn to walk in the spirit. However, despite the cost and discomfort, it brings a freedom that is worth the effort.

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