Reflection on Amos 8:1-14

Scripture

You can’t wait for the Sabbath day to be over, and for religious festivals to end, so that you can get back to cheating the helpless.

Observation

The Lord shows Amos a basket of ripe fruit. The Lord says, “Israel is ripe for punishment.” The Lord will not delay.

The prophecy goes on to words of judgement against those who despise the poor and cheat the helpless.

Judgement will come against Israel that will shock the earth. There will be famine in Israel – a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.

Application

The people of Israel, like christians today, were meant to honour the Lord in all of their dealings, in every aspect of their lives.

Amos condemns people for being desperate for the Sabbaths and festivals to be over so they could get back to the business of ripping off the poor and helpless,

We must ensure that we honour God with our actions on Monday as much as we do with our lips on Sunday.

The problem with the people of Israel was that so many of them lived in a culture of holiness without letting their hearts be touched by God. Everything in the culture and daily life was meant to point people to their unique calling of living for God’s glory.

The trouble is that you can live in a godly culture and see it as a burden, as the way things are. You follow the rules and expectations without seeing the reason for the rules or the giver of the rules.

There are christians who worship God, who go through the outward appearance of christianity without having their hearts transformed by the Holy Spirit. Therefore their work life and family life can be a denial of what they claim to believe.

We all need to be changed from the inside out, not from the outside in.

Prayer

Holy Spirit, help me to yield heart to you. Come and dwell in every part of my life, teaching me how to glorify your name in every minute of every day. Amen.

Ephesians 1:1-2

Ephesians 1:1-2

I start this journey with trepidation and anxiety. I find myself fluffing around for the right pen and the right Bible- even though the Lord sad very clearly to me that this does not matter. I need to get this right and I am afraid of falling short. “Forgive me Father for my lack of trust in you.”

1:1

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.”

What an awesome title that is, a testimony of a life transformed by the grace of God. Paul used to be Saul; the persecutor is now an apostle.

An apostle is someone who has trans-local authority. Unlike a pastor, his authority extends over many regions, many congregations. In the Old Testament such a person would have been called a “Man of God.”

The authority of an apostle is not determined by the appointment of the church or a denomination. This is a charisma, a gift of the Holy Spirit. In Ephesians 4:11, Paul talks about the five-fold ministry gifts, that is people– apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers– who are themselves a gift to the church for the equipping of the saints.

Not all who are appointed to a position in the church are done so by God. Not every person called an apostle or pastor is there by the will of God.

Paul is an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God. It is God who called him to faith. It is God who saved him. It is God who gave him the authority and the desire to be an apostle.

Paul is an apostle of Christ Jesus- an apostle of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. An apostle in the secular sense was a representative of Rome carrying military and governmental authority.

This apostle carried the authority of Christ. All true ministers of Christ carry this authority in their realm of ministry. Paul carried the governmental authority, not of Rome, but of the kingdom of God. This is a seemingly weak and puny kingdom, yet it carries all the power and might of God the Creator of all things, and of His Son our Redeemer.

“To the saints who are the faithful in Christ Jesus.” Some manuscripts have “To the saints in Ephesus”, but that may or may not have been added later. Paul was writing immediately to Ephesus, but he was also writing to all the saints everywhere,

A “saint” is a holy one, and Paul uses it to refer to all the believers. To be holy is to be set part for God’s purposes.

A christian is someone who has made Jesus the Lord, or Ruler, of his or her life. I am not my own any more for I have been set apart for God’s use.

Here is a mystery. God takes these broken, soiled, totally contaminated human beings and He sets them apart for His purposes.

We talk glibly about “giving your heart or your life to Jesus,” making it just a prayer and a hope for a better life. But from God’s side it is a change of use from common or earthly use to “holy, holy, holy” use.

We have our will and the capacity to sin, but God calls us holy.

We are the “faithful in Christ Jesus”. The “saints” are those who refuse to let go of Christ, despite set backs, suffering, persecution or disappointments. We are faithful to the end, because He is faithful to the end.

The apostle Paul who is an “apostle of Christ Jesus” speaks to those who are “faithful in Christ Jesus. To understand Paul, and indeed the whole of the Scriptures, we have to be “in Christ Jesus.” You can understand the words and gain knowledge without Jesus, but to get the full meaning, the great sense of Scriptures, we have to be “in Christ Jesus.”

What does It mean to be in Christ Jesus

  • you must be born again first of all
  • you must be faithful to Him, walking in His ways as far as possible
  • you must pursue intimacy with Him, going deeper, deeper into His presence.

1:2

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Paul bestows grace and peace. This is a blessing or an impartation of grace and peace. He doesn’t pray for peace and grace, He imparts them. The speaking of the word of blessing conveys the blessing. In Biblical culture “sending love and prayers” is a reality. To speak a blessing or a curse carries the power of blessing or curing through the words that are spoken.

When we are “in Christ Jesus” we can bestow grace and peace upon our brethren.

The word for grace is charis in Greek, meaning the gift of the Holy Spirit. Grace brings us to salvation and grace equips us for the journey of faith. The power gifts or “charismata” are given to enable us to serve Christ in our daily walk. We need this grace to stand firm, to remain faithful to Christ. We learn to depend on Holy Spirit rather than human wisdom, and then grace multiplies in us and out to other people.

Peace is eirene in Greek or shalom in Hebrew. It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. It transforms the soul in the knowledge that God is with us (Emmanuel) and so we have nothing to fear. This peace enables us to sleep in the boat as it battles through the storm. We relax in the face of adversity knowing that we are in His hands, the place of perfect safety.

So Paul blesses us with this grace and peace, imparting both gift and fruit, power and character, to equip us for every good deed in Christ.

Key points from these verses

  • We need to be in Christ Jesus
  • We need to receive grace and peace daily
  • We need to pursue intimacy with God

Jo Nova: NIMBY Bob Brown Says Wind Farms Are Ugly

The hypocrisy of environmentalists in general, and Greens politicians in particular, is always a source of bemusement. Bob Brown is a great proponent of wind farms in other places.

Jo Nova writes

Former Greens leader Bob Brown campaigns against wind farm

Do we need wind farms to save the world or not? Not, says Bob Brown.

People can have sleep and health and their views destroyed, but that didn’t matter til a farmer on a remote island off Tasmania made a deal to build one of the largest wind “farms” in the world.

Graham Lloyd, The Australian

Former Greens leader and veteran activist Bob Brown is campaigning to stop a $1.6 billion wind farm development in Tasmania because it will spoil the view and kill birds.

The proposed Robbins Island wind farm in Tasmania’s northwest will be one of the world’s biggest, with up to 200 towers measuring 270m high from ground to blade tip.

He’s written a letter protesting about the view:

Despite the criticisms levelled at former prime minister Tony Abbott and treasurer Joe Hockey for describing wind turbines as “ugly”, Dr Brown said the Robbins Island plan was, visually, a step too far. “Mariners will see this hairbrush of tall towers from 50km out to sea and elevated landlubbers will see it, like it or not, from greater distances on land,” Dr Brown said. “Its eye-catchiness will divert from every coastal scene on the western Bass Strait coastline.”

So Tony Abbott was right. It will be good to hear that apology.

After millions of birds bats and who-knows-what-else has been killed, now he cares:

In his letter on the wind farm, Dr Brown wrote: “Besides the impact on the coastal scenery, wind turbines kill birds. Wedge-tailed eagle and white-bellied sea eagles nest and hunt on the island. Swift parrots and orange-bellied parrots traverse the island on their migrations.”

The birds are just a “beside”.

Reap what you sow — a belief based on superstition with no underlying principles means sooner or later Greens reveal their inner hypocrite.

The ABC reported on this project in Dec 2017. The industrial wind plant was only going ahead if they could also build a second interconnector across the Bass Strait, something the company said it would pay for if it got approval. For some strange reason the Tasmanian Government was spending $20m investigating the business case first…

Why are taxpayers worried about a business case if the company was the one risking the money?

The Hammond family farm high quality Wagyu beef.

 Robbins Island farmer John Hammond sees the wind farm as a way to keep the Island in the family.

For his sake, we hope cows do better than people do when assailed by infrasound from giant machines. John Hammonds kids may inherit a farm where no animal thrives. Some “farm”.

The ABC also report that the same company, UPC Renewables, raised the ire of Tasmanians two weeks ago regarding a 170km proposed transmission line. The company said they’d consulted and most people were “on board”. But people were not and just three days later the boss changed his tune saying he “misread the people”.

The ABC have not mentioned Bob Brown yet.

Reading Ephesians

Over a year ago now, I started reading the Book of Ephesians in depth. I believed at the time that there are new understandings to come out of this relatively short book of the Bible.

I thought at the time that it would take maybe a year to go through this. It took me a year just to get through the first chapter. Already I have found so much that I had previously overlooked or not seen, and I am excited about the revelations yet to come.

I intend to publish a section each week on this blog, but if you want to catch up with me you can do so at our web site

This week we go to my prologue.

Prologue

On the evening of Sunday March 11th, 2018 I was the preacher for our small night service. The passage I was preaching from was Ephesians 2:1-10. After I read the passage, I said, completely unexpectedly, “I believe there is a greater depth to the Book of Ephesians than anyone has yet seen, but the Lord is going to open this letter up over the next decade, and it will change the church.”

I believe that this was a prophetic word from the Holy Spirit for the whole world-wide church.

Over the next few days, these words kept coming to me over and over with the prompting, “Why don’t you start?” Feeling I had nothing to lose, I sat down with my trusty Greek-English New Testament. I prayed, asking God to reveal His insights to me, and started reading and writing the thoughts that came into my head.

Wow! The thoughts and insights just came flooding into my head as I read each word in verses 1 and 2- and that’s the “skip over to get to the meat” part! It was as if I received a “download” of revelation from the Lord, it came almost instantly and steadily.

I don’t pretend this is in any way God’s word for the church, but I believe it is God’s word for me. Perhaps it is God’s word for others also. Regardless, I pray that there will be a blessing in reading this.

This is meant to be read as a devotional piece not an academic or expository piece. That is, I am not trying to analyse the text from a literary-critical perspective. This is meant to be filtered through the heart as much as through the brain.

Prayer


Lord, I believe that you have new and deeper revelations to bring to us from this part of your word. This part, perhaps more than many parts of your word is a “Holy Spirit book”, It defies the plain understanding of the words, at least to my rational mind.

So Father, Son and Holy Spirit, precious Trinity, I ask you to bring the revelations that I seek. Speak to me, Spirit to spirit. Let me see you and hear your voice as never before. Amen.

Reflection on Luke 10:25-37

Scripture

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbour?”

Observation

An expert in the Jewish law asks Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus asks him what the law says, and he replies that it is to love God and to love our neighbour.

To justify himself, the man asks Jesus, “Who is my neighbour?” In response, Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan.

Application

We always want to justify ourselves. We always want to look good to others and to God.

The law is too hard to keep. God’s standard of righteousness is too hard to match. To cover our guilt we make excuses that seem to justify our actions.

We can never make ourselves right under the law.

Even if we could fulfil every letter of God’s law and live a perfect life, it would still not be enough.

A religious approach to life will always disappoint us and God. We can never be good enough for Him by our own efforts alone.

In Christ we do not have to live up to expectations that are too high.

In Christ we are already accepted by God. The sin is washed away in His blood. Better still, He gives us the grace to be “good.” And when we fail, He keeps on forgiving.

Acceptance comes first, and then the ability to live a life that is acceptable. God does not want performance form us. He wants love.

When I was saved, the love of God flooded into my heart. My response was, “God loves me so much; how can I love Him in return?”

I don’t worry about sin or about being good enough. No, I seek to serve my Father and to let Him correct my actions and attitudes. Much better to have a loving coach than to just read the rule book!

In Jesus there is no need to feel guilty abut our sins. There is no need to justify ourselves when we fall.

God’s love covers it all.

Prayer

Thank you Jesus for paying the price for my sin. Thank you for showing me what love looks like. Help me to walk in fellowship with you every day, letting your grace transform my heart. Amen.

Ann Voskamp: How To Be Okay When Things Are Not Okay

Great words of encouragement from Ann Voskamp for when things are not okay in your life. Read the whole article here

So you can look up at the calendar today and exhale: “It’s okay to feel bone tired — you have One who gives His bone and His body for you and beckoned:  Come Rest.”“It’s okay to feel bone tired — you have One who gives His bone and His body for you and beckoned:  Come Rest.”

It’s okay to feel bone tired — you have One who gives His bone and His body for you and beckoned:  Come Rest. 

It’s okay to feel disillusioned — you have One who destroys cheap illusions of perfection and offers you His. 

It’s okay to feel done — you have One who listens to the last nail be driven in and proclaims all the hellish things finished. 

It’s okay to feel battered and bruised — you have One who storms your battles, takes back everything that needs a comeback, and proves His side won. 

It’s okay to feel a bit like a fool — you have One who proves that real love always makes anyone the wisest fool who gives more, lives more, forgives more, because love defies logic, because love is the self-giving, cruciform foolishness that is the ultimate wisdom of the universe.

It’s okay to feel behind — you have One who is the Head and the Author and the Maker and the Finisher and the Carrier and the Warrior and nothing is over until He carries you over the finish line.