Saturday, March 25, 2017

Devotional Thought : 1 Chronicles 5:1-2

The sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel (he was the firstborn, but when he defiled his father's marriage bed, his rights as firstborn were given to the sons of Joseph son of Israel; so he could not be listed in the genealogical record in accordance with his birthright, and though Judah was the strongest of his brothers and a ruler came from him, the rights of the firstborn belonged to Joseph). 1 Chronicles 5:1-2

In Biblical times, the firstborn son received double the inheritance of other sons. Reuben, forfeited his entitlement when he slept with father's concubine, Bilhah (Genesis 35:22). One sinful action had long-term repercussions. Reuben's double blessing passes to Joseph. His sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, become tribes in Israel, alongside Jacob's other sons: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin (Genesis 48:5-6).

Reuben also lost the position of leadership in the family, and this passes to Judah. When Judah and his brothers go to Egypt for food, it is Judah who takes the lead (Genesis 43-44). Later Jacob's prophesy of continuing leadership for Judah, predicts the coming of Jesus (Genesis 49:10).

We don't receive God's favour or leadership by natural order. It is easy to appreciate why God chose Joseph, who was faithful in challenging circumstances. The choice of Judah is more difficult to understand. We see him behaving badly in Genesis 38, choosing a wife from the Canaanites, not honouring his obligation to his daughter-in-law, and visiting a prostitute. However, in Genesis 38:26, he acknowledges his daughter-in-law's righteousness, and the lack of his own. There was an honesty of heart. God is looking for those who are faithful and honest of heart.

As Samuel learnt, "People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7).

Technorati StumbleUpon Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Quotes on Writing

Carl Rogers wrote,
"That which is most personal is most general."
This quote is very applicable to writers and agrees with the much quoted Ernest Hemingway's quote:
"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."
Writing to engage others, is challenging because it requires high levels of self-awareness and honesty.

Technorati StumbleUpon Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Hearing God's Voice

"...and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name... and his sheep follow him because they know his voice" John 10:3-4.

Recently I have been pondering the statement, "he who has ears to hear, let him hear" which Jesus says many times. For me this speaks about tuning in to what God is saying. Often times I find myself reading the Bible, yet my mind is thinking about something else. Even in church I can be singing and yet my mind is far away. So I have been challenged to really tune in to what God is saying to me.

I think tuning in to God involves having an expectation that God wants to say something to us. As parents we always have something to say to our children and I believe the same is true of God. We also need to give God the opportunity to speak to us through reading the Bible, praying and through taking the time to listen.

God speaks in many ways. We might be reading the Bible, when it's as if the words leap up off the page, or we may get an idea, an impression, or a desire that comes to us after prayer. We then need to learn whether it's of God or of ourselves and this takes practice. It takes time to "know his voice".

Sometimes we don't listen to God because we are afraid of what he might say. But we need have no fear of Someone who loves us perfectly.

Technorati StumbleUpon Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Devotional Thought : 1 Chronicles 4:9-10

Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, "I gave birth to him in pain." Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, "Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." And God granted his request. 1 Chronicles 4:9-10

Such a brief account of Jabez's life and so much we don't know. In what way was Jabez more honourable? What was the particular pain he wanted to be free from?

However, there is also much we do know. He cried out to God, which tells he was humble and poor in spirit, since he acknowledged his need of God. He asked God for what he had already promised his people. God had allotted each of the Israelite tribes an area, but it was up to each tribe to actually spread out and possess the land. By asking God to bless him and enlarge his territory, Jabez was asking to be enabled to do what God had planned. He also stated his dependency on God by saying, "Let your hand be with me," and asked for his protection.

Similarly we can respond to God in the same way. We can acknowledge our need of God and have a humble attitude. We know God's promise to his New Covenant believers is to impact the world, by being salt and light to our communities (Matthew 5:13-16). We can ask God to enable us to do this. We can affirm our dependency on God and ask for protection.

God was able to bless Jabez because he had a good attitude and believed God's promises. Likewise, this can be true of us, if we have the same attitude.

Technorati StumbleUpon Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Quote from Warren Wiersbe

Quote from Be Encouraged by Warren Wiersbe.

Wiersbe shares this thought from 2 Corinthians 11:19-21:
“Their gospel of legalism was very popular, since human nature enjoys achieving religious goals instead of simply trusting Christ – allowing the Holy Spirit to work. It is much easier to measure religion than true righteousness.”

Technorati StumbleUpon Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

No deserving people

In Matthew 20 Jesus tells the parable of the workers in the vineyard who were all paid the same, though some worked much longer than others. He concludes with these questions "Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?" (v.15).

Perhaps similar questions today would be, if a mass murderer repented on his deathbed would you be upset if God forgave him? Would you be upset to learn that Hitler, Pol Potts, or Saddam Hassan repented?

There are those who feel called to minister to those awaiting execution for severe crimes in the hope of leading them to Christ before they die. Sometimes they are criticised by Christians who say they should spend their time with more 'deserving' people. But the fact is none of us are 'deserving' people and if God is so generous as to show mercy to us how can we complain when he shows mercy to others. When we mistakenly underestimate the seriousness of our sin we don’t realise the greatness of God’s forgiveness. But when we view sin the way God does, we are overwhelmed by the greatness of his mercy.

Technorati StumbleUpon Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Devotional Thought : Numbers 36:10-11

So Zelophehad’s daughters did as the LORD commanded Moses. Zelophehad’s daughters—Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milkah and Noah—married their cousins on their father’s side. Numbers 36:10-11

This is an encouraging note to conclude the book of Numbers. This new generation were prepared to do as the Lord commanded, even when it required a sacrifice on their part.

As Israelites, God had commanded them not to marry anyone from the seven Canaanites nations who occupied the land prior to their arrival (Exodus 34:15 and Deuteronomy 7:3-4). This further prohibition was not to marry someone from another Israelite tribe. This wasn't binding on everyone, but on daughters with an inheritance. It limited their choice to 1/12 of Israel. However, this may not have been as restrictive as it appears. Generally speaking, people didn't travel very far in that day, so young women may not have been in the habit of meeting young men from other tribes.

Nevertheless, these girls made a decision, that even if the opportunity presented itself, they would not marry outside their tribe, and thus preserved the land for their own tribe.

These days we don't have these kind of issues, yet the passage teaches us to be wise and thoughtful about who we form an alliance with. Relationships can be difficult between people who value from different things and believe different things. We may feel we aren't influenced by the belief systems of others, yet if the arrangement becomes a marriage and children are involved, then our decision will have ongoing repercussions.

There are other situations where we would be wise to voluntarily restrict our choices, such as the movies we watch, the books we read, and the internet sites we visit.

May it be said of us, that we honoured the Lord in the choices we made.

Technorati StumbleUpon Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo