Saturday 24 June 2023

Judge No More

He takes us by the hand and leads us through the toughest times ahead with a huge helping of grace, love and forgiveness. 

I think sometimes as a Christian you can fall into a trap of being judgemental. I know that I have been that way sometimes. Not intentionally, but when you hear something that seems to not fit with the bible, I feel like an inner voice is tutting and thinking 'but aren't they a Christian' it's not a conscious thing, kind of involuntary, but definitely something to keep in check. Who are we to judge anyone? Especially as we are human and subject to making ridiculous mistakes ourselves.  “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. (Luke 6:37NIV)

This brings me to the guilt and fear that I have found myself in. Making terrible mistakes and knowing that I absolutely can't tell anyone because what would they think of me. But the guilt of my mistakes and fear of being judged and shunned have actually led to further mistakes. 

After years of being haunted by my own stupidity and inability to feel like I was worth forgiving or loving and many other thoughts that came from my actions, I told someone everything fully expecting them to be shocked and ashamed of me. Instead, they told me they weren't ashamed, that they were in no position to judge, especially as they weren’t perfect and were subject to making mistakes themselves, and they loved me!! For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. (Matthew 6:14 NIV) It bought a sense of peace and clarity that while I condemned myself, God could still love and forgive me. 

Devoted To you
I now find myself in a horrible position where I am getting a divorce, something I never thought would happen and completely against God's word right? So, people will judge me and think less of me. But I have been overwhelmed by experiencing the exact opposite, I have had love, support, prayers and a real sense of peace and God being with me through it, despite the circumstances. Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:7-8 NIV).

Because God is good all the time, ALL the time in all situations, He doesn't abandon us or stop loving us because we mess up. He takes us by the hand and leads us through the toughest times ahead with a huge helping of grace, love and forgiveness. 

Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are Mine. 2 When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. 3 For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour. (Isaiah 43:1-3 NLT).

Author: Rebekah Cronk

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Saturday 17 June 2023

Enduring love

Every day of our lives no matter how hard the struggle we can thank God for His goodness and kindness.                                                                

The Steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.   Lamentations 3:22-23.

The prophet Jeremiah considered by scholars to be the most likely author of Lamentations pours out his despair and misery on behalf of exiled Judea when they feel forsaken by God and all seems lost. And then, with faith and hope …he writes these very well known and oft repeated verses we know today from many a hymn, worship song, tract, bookmark or card of encouragement. (In fact it was the gift of a coaster with this verse on it that led me to this study.)

“Steadfast “ a rather old fashioned word meaning firmly fixed, not subject to change, firm in belief and determination, loyal and faithful.

These are just a few of many translations of the Hebrew word “hesed” used 242 times in the Old Testament alone. My humble blog can do no justice to such a word that Bible scholars have expounded on for centuries and for which there is no exact equivalent English word. 

         But try we must to apply these wonderful Bible truths to our everyday lives.

We see this played out constantly, in fact, “steadfastly” through countless lives in the Old and New testaments. Ruth, the prophet Hosea, the father of the prodigal son, David and Jonathan, to name but a few. You can quickly add your own “favourites “to the list. 

                                     God will never give up on us. Psalm 138:8

Before the time of Jeremiah and the Jewish exile, David declares throughout the Psalms that God’s steadfast love never ceases, it endures. He too knew times of despair, loneliness and fear along with every other emotion known to man. Times of great sorrow and joy.  In Psalm 136 alone “His steadfast love endures forever” is repeated 26 times. I challenge any believer to read this Psalm (aloud if possible) without feeling uplifted and certain of God’s enduring love for us. By faith these verses are an incredibly wonderful safety net around us.

His mercies are new every morning. Every day of our lives no matter how hard the struggle we can thank God for His goodness and kindness. Because His love is never ending so then are His mercies, the outworking of His love.  As we confess our sins we can humbly draw near to Him every day with a clean sheet and a fresh start. He keeps no record. 

In Psalm 107 David again relates and celebrates God’s daily mercies beginning and ending with the same exhortation to always be thankful. 

The mercy of God is worthy of a study all of its own. Taken from the Hebrew “rachum” for which like “hesed” there is no English word. The root of “rachum” means “womb” showing us the nature of this love, as intimate as a mother for her child even before birth, carrying her child, literally close to her heart, before the real challenges of parenting start. As God first loved us. 

The nearest we get in various Bible translations is …

strength, protection, assurance, guidance, loving kindness, consolation, support, spiritual gifts, gift of faith, confidence, persistence and added cheerfulness.
All of this wrapped up in a new package labelled Mercy sent to us everyday ready to open and apply by faith into our lives in every situation. No matter how mundane and ordinary that day may be if we consider it with a thankful and open heart to God we see it is saturated with His mercies.   

And so back to the word “ endure” which means to continue to exist for a long time, to suffer something difficult, unpleasant or even painful. To never give up, to always believe the best whilst accepting second best.

These words describe yet another facet of God’s character. It is perhaps hard to think of our omnipotent God feeling pain and we can’t define Him by our human understanding but we know by his Word that He is full of compassion and so it follows that He feels for us, He cares, He knows. He endures with us in all our trials and sufferings. 

He shows us this through the life, death and resurrection of His son Jesus, our Great High Priest, who takes all our anger, doubts, fears and weaknesses and bears with us in every trial and suffering we know.   Hebrews 2:16 

The very dramatic and challenging life of Paul in the New Testament is, like David before him, another testimony to God’s enduring love through all circumstances. Simply and clearly put in Philippians 1:6, Paul reminds us that “God will fulfil His purposes for our lives.”

He has to because His love is steadfast, His mercies are new every day and He is faithful to endure for us and with us. 

                                             There are no greater promises. 

Author: Margaret Riordan

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Saturday 10 June 2023

Hope for the Earth

At the right time He will make all things new. He is going to create a new heaven and a new earth where evil cannot prevail any more
The earth is the Lord's, with all that is in it, the world and those who live there. (Psalm 24:1)

Today it is clear that all is not well with the earth. Rising global temperatures, more frequent extreme weather events, droughts, floods, soil erosion, desertification, tornadoes, tsunamis and earthquakes; all are on the increase. Most would agree that 'climate change' is scientifically proven, but opinions vary over the reasons, and even more so over the solutions. The Christian voice is also divided between those who point to the biblical passages that predict the planet's inevitable doom, and those with eco-credentials who aim to fix the issues.

The first verse of Psalm 24 points to a dynamic three-way relationship - 

God : the earth/land (eretz) : people/dwellers


Man Land

It was always God's intention for the humans he created to occupy the land he created. When this triangular relationship functions all is well:

'Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken.' (Micah 4:4)

But when it breaks down the consequences are catastrophic to both land and to its dwellers. Leviticus chapter 26 and Deuteronomy chapter 28 make it clear that if the people obey God's rules they will dwell and prosper in the land given to them, but if they do not obey they will be cast out:
'Therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against this land, bringing upon it all the curses written in this book,  and the Lord uprooted them from their land in anger and fury and great wrath, and cast them into another land, as they are this day.’ (Deuteronomy 29:27-28)

The principle is the same today. Man in his arrogance thinks he owns the land, to do as his greed leads, exploiting and abusing it. Soil becomes impoverished while factory-farmed food results in hunger in one place and obesity in another. Our rivers run brown with the soil that should be growing healthy, nutrient-dense food, and wildlife cycles get broken to the point of extinction.

'There is no faithfulness or steadfast love,
and no knowledge of God in the land...
Therefore the land mourns,
and all who dwell in it languish,
and also the beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens,
and even the fish of the sea are taken away.' (Hosea 4:2-3)

According to the Bible the principal reason for the upset of nature, as well as the malfunction of food production, is the lack of knowledge of the Creator. Without this primary relationship all attempts to fix the environment and restore productive soils will be just a sticking plaster on a deep wound.  

The Old Testament gives us clear reasons for the state we are in, while the New Testament gives us the way back through our Messaiah Jesus, the Architect of the universe and Saviour of both people and planet. He is Lord of all; everything is from Him, to Him and for Him. (Romans 11:36) We care for the earth, not because it is ours but because it belongs to Jesus. One day He will return to that which he made and owns, to rule and reign whether humanity approves or not.

The good news for the cosmos is that one day Jesus will return. At the right time He will make all things new. He is going to create a new heaven and a new earth where evil cannot prevail any more. (Rev 21-22) There will be a restored relationship between the Lord, the land and the laity. There will be peace even amongst the animals, and plants will grow as they should. (Isaiah 65). As a farmer I look forward to one day cultivating the unspoiled soil in a creation uncontaminated by today's sinfulness.

Author: John Plumb

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Saturday 3 June 2023

Seek and know the will of God our Father in all we do

Rejoicing, praying and giving thanks, puts us in the active hub of God's perfect will
Nothing matters more than seeking, recognising and walking in God's will, for when we don't know His will, it will be a real source of insecurity, whereas knowing we're walking in 'His will' enables us to overcome/rise above the challenges life throws at us.

The question is, is it God's intention for us to know 'His will'? Yes or no? If no - why bother searching?

Let his word settle the issue once and for all. Seek His will in all we do, (...your will be done...Matthew 6:10). and He will show you which path to take (Proverbs 3:6), there is no vagueness there. The Lord directs the steps of the godly, He delights in every detail of their lives, (Psalm 37:23-24). God's will addresses even our smallest concerns.

Let's consider some practical bible principles. There's no room for '2 will's. If we want God's will, we must be prepared to surrender our own will.

Jesus said in 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."

Will's frequently clash so there are choices we must make and maintain, if we truly desire to walk in obedience to God.

Going a little further, He fell with his face to the ground and prayed "my father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." (Matthew 26:39)

Begin our search by surrendering our will then focus our heart and mind on God and His enlightening word. Once we accept that He is the leader and we are the follower, it's a lot easier to say, what Psalm 40:8 I delight to do your will oh my God and your law is within my heart.
Pray that you may know God's will and to live in an attitude of prayer, be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Rejoicing, praying and giving thanks, puts us in the active hub of God's perfect will, regular communication with God sharpens our senses and fine tunes our ability to distinquish/hear his voice from all other voices. (Psalm 29:3,4,5,7,8,9).

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good spirit lead me on level ground. (Psalm 143:10)

I believe we need to be in God's presence more than ever before and to hear/recognise his voice daily. I want to conclude with a conversation between God and Moses in Exodus 33:12-15&19.

Moses said to the lord, "you have been telling me, 'lead these people,' but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, 'I know you by name and you have found favor with me.' If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people."  The lord replied, "my presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." Then Moses said to him, "if your presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here..." and the lord said, "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence.  I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion..."

May the Lord bless you with his perfect peace, understanding, and will as you read this blog in Jesus name, Amen.

Author: Herbert Jean

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