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Titus 3: 14

Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives.


The second reason [to pray] is that prayer bends our wills to God’s will, which is what [submission] is all about. “If I throw out a boathook from the boat and catch hold of the shore and pull, do I pull the shore to me, or do I pull myself to the shore? Prayer is…aligning my will to the will of God”.

Disciplines of a Godly Woman by Barbara Hughes.

John 14:2 (this is the view from my earthly room)

1 Th 1:1  Paul, Silas and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ…

2 Th 1:1  Paul, Silas and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ…

Identical verses (written perhaps only weeks apart) stating the position of the Thessalonian Christians. Yes, of course, they are in Thessalonica; that’s why it says ‘to the church of the Thessalonians’ but it also says that they are ‘in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ’. Paul wasn’t just using up ink!

I can tell by looking out the window that I am in Armidale but I need faith eyes to see my position ‘in Christ’. Sometimes I struggle to remind myself of that which I cannot see…with my natural eyes. Yet, sometimes I ‘see’ what I can’t explain; the insignificance of possessions, striving, control, money, ambition, reputation, things. I cannot put it into words, though my heart pounds louder as that view gains strength.

What do we strive for daily? Isn’t it to put good food on the table, be well dressed, have a lovely secure home and a happy family, to abound in the material things we enjoy, to leave an inheritance?

Charles Spurgeon used these words in response to this (and I’m thankful for him for the words):

The Christian is well fed—he feeds upon the flesh and blood of Jesus; he is well clothed—he wears the imputed righteousness of Christ; he is well housed—he dwells in God; he is well married—his soul is knit in bonds of marriage to Christ; he is well provided for—for the Lord is his Shepherd; he is well endowed—for heaven is his inheritance. It is well with the righteous—well upon divine authority; the mouth of God speaks the comforting assurance.

May our spiritual sight gain strength. Amen.

I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me. Sir Isaac Newton

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became as dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see hinm.’ Now I have told you.” Matthew 28: 1-7

Prompted by something I read this morning, I searched and found this one page about prayer from a book by John Wesley .

One line: O God, fill my soul with so entire a love of thee that I may love nothing but for thy sake and in subordination to thy love.

Oh my.

John Wesley

Lord, please teach us to pray like this.

My honey sent this quote (below) to me. We are apart for a few days, but it’s nice to know I’m not far from his thoughts <heart al> Psalm 23 would have to be the best known psalm of all time. These thoughts ponder where it fits in the context of the bible and causes me to question why I’ve never thought of it like this before…and of how applicable/unapplicable it is as a highly quoted funeral psalm. Is this where non-believers get the idea that their loved one has gone “to a better place”, and what do we do to counter this deceit?

From: J Douglas MacMillan, The ‘Shepherd’ Theme, in The Lord our Shepherd, Bryntirion, 2004, Pp 46-49

We have been asking the question, Who is the Shepherd of Psalm 23? The Old Testament tells us that it was Jehovah, and the New Testament tells us that it was Jehovah-Jesus, the Good Shepherd, the Great Shepherd, the Chief Shepherd of the flock of God. In answering that question we have been setting Psalm 23 against a wider background, and specifically against the clear teaching of the New Testament. And I think we need that background.

What is the setting of Psalm 23?

But now I want to come closer still to the psalm and ask another question: What is the setting of Psalm 23? What do I mean by that? Well, where in your Bible do you find Psalm 23? You say, ‘Well, preacher, that’s very easy. Psalm 23 comes after Psalm 22.’ That is absolutely right. But now I want to ask you another question: What is Psalm 22? Well, listen to it! Listen to its opening words: ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ Where are we when we enter into Psalm 22? We are at a place called Calvary.

Go through this psalm, and you are closer to Calvary than any of the Gospels can take you, because you are not merely looking at the one who is offering his life, but you are in his mind and you are in his heart. You are sharing and seeing his suffering, in a way that the history of the Gospels cannot allow you to see and share his suffering. You are listening to his heartbeat as he says, they … laugh me to scorn . . . saying, He trusted on the lord … let him deliver him … strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round [Bashan was famous for its breeding bulls – strong, terrifying animals] … I am poured out like water … they pierced my hands and my feet.

Where are we? We are at a place called Calvary, and we are seeing the Good Shepherd laying down his life for the sheep. We are seeing what it cost for Jesus to suffer and to offer. We are see­ing what it cost this Shepherd (if I can put it like that) to get into Psalm 23. There was only one gateway for the Son of God to become the Shepherd of the sheep, and that was by the gateway of Psalm 22 and his suffering on the cross.

Let me say this – I say it with all reverence, but I make absolutely no apology for saying it. Even God could never have written Psalm 23 and its opening words, until there had first of all been the divine purpose to bring about the events of which Psalm 22 speaks. He will deal with sinners only on the basis of blood and only on the basis of sacrifice. We have to say this, you see, that even for God to get into Psalm 23 there had to come Psalm 22 in the experience of the Son of God.

The cross

Much more so, my friend, before you and I can get into Psalm 23, we have to go by the pathway of Psalm 22. There is only one gateway into the flock of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that gateway stands by the cross. That is why this psalm does not belong to any but those who come by way of the cross. It is only when you have been broken and humbled at the feet of Jesus the Good Shepherd, who has laid down his life for you, that you really become one of his sheep. There is no other way.

Knowing your Bible, that is good, but it will not save your soul. Going to church or chapel, that is good, but it is not salvation. Saying “The lord is my shepherd”, that is good too, but it can be nothing but a lie unless you come through Psalm 22 and have seen your God in Christ crucified for your sin.

The throne

Let me ask you the question again: Where is Psalm 23? You say, ‘Well, it’s after Psalm 22, and it’s just before Psalm 24.’ And you are absolutely right. What is Psalm 24? Well, just listen to it: ‘Who shall ascend into the hill of the lord? … He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart’.

There was only one pair of clean hands in this world, and men took them and drove nails through their palms. ‘He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart’—he shall ascend. And has he? Yes! Just listen!

Ye gates, lift up your heads on high,

Ye doors that last for aye,

Be lifted up . . .

Why? Because the Shepherd who laid down his life and who took it again is entering into a throne. Where is the Shepherd of God and the Shepherd of God’s people today? He has ascended on high, and he has led captivity captive, says the psalmist (Psalm 68). He has made a mockery of the triumph of his enemies, and he is exalted in the midst of the throne.

You see, the three psalms are linked together. In Psalm 22 you find a depiction of the Good Shepherd laying down his life for the sheep. In Psalm 23 you find the Great Shepherd who has taken his life again, and who lovingly will shepherd and pasture every one of his sheep and lead them from a knowledge of him­self, or in a knowledge of himself, to the Father’s house for ever­more. And then in Psalm 24 you have the glory of the Chief Shepherd, the one who is ascended into glory in order to give glory to his sheep, to make them like himself.

I once heard Professor Finlayson preaching on Psalm 23, and he linked Psalms 22 to 24 like this: ‘One is the psalm of the cross, the next is the psalm of the crook, and the third is the psalm of the crown.’ They stand together, and each of them sheds its own particular light upon the Shepherd who is our Shepherd, our Lord Jesus Christ. And these lights blend, and they light up his glory, and they show him to be a Great Shepherd.

‘The lord is my shepherd.’ Is this Lord your Shepherd? My friend, let me say this. If this Lord is your Shepherd, you have not yet begun to know how blessed you are, how God has blessed you. And if this Lord is not your Shepherd, you have not yet begun to know how poor and how miserable and how blind and how naked you really are before your God and your Creator.

Once again, blowing the dust off my blog. Maybe it will stay off this time…

You need to find a copy of this book.

Theology is a word that can frighten people. It may sound highbrow and out of reach for the ordinary everyday christian; something you study if you go off to bible college. But really it just means thinking and speaking about God (Packer’s own simple description). This book Concise Theology; A Guide to HIstroic Christian Beliefs by JI Packer is a pithy little book which explains in just a few paragraphs, great, big, whole, concepts about our Creator and God.

There’s a storm brewing outside my little room and I need to bury my head in some German grammar but not before I insert an excerpt from this morning’s reading. Enjoy:

Self-existence: God has always been. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. Psalm 90:2

Children sometimes ask, “Who  made God?” The clearest answer is that God never needed to be made, because he was always there. He exists in a different way from us: we, his creatures, exist in a dependent, derived, finite, fragile way, but our Maker exists in an eternal, self-sustaining, necessary way – necessary, that is, in the sense that God does not have it in him to go out of existence, just as we do not have it in us to live forever. We necessarily age and die, because it is our present nature to do that; God necessarily continues forever unchanged, because it is his eternal nature to do that. This is one of many contrasts between creature and Creator.

God’s self-existence is a basic truth. At the outset of his presentation of the unknown God to the Athenian idolaters, Paul explained that this God, the world’s Creator, “is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else” (Acts 17:23-25). Sacrifices offered to idols, in today’s tribal religions as in ancient Athens, are thought of as somehow keeping the god going, but the Creator needs no such support system. The word aseity, meaning that he has life in himself and draws his unending energy from himself (a se in Latin means “from himself”), was coined by theologians to express this truth, which the bible make clear (Pss. 90:1-4; 102:25-27; Isa. 40:28-31; John 5:26; Rev. 4:10).

In theology, endless mistakes result from supposing that the conditions, bounds, and limits of our own finite existence apply to God. The doctrine of his aseity stands as a bulwark against such mistakes. In our life of faith, we easily impoverish ourselves by embracing an idea of God that is too limited and small, and again the doctrine of God’s aseity stand as a bulwark to stop this happening. It is vital for spiritual health to believe that God is great (cf. Ps. 95:1-7), and grasping the truth of his aseity is the first step on the road to doing this.

Here is an excerpt: This letter is truly the most important piece in the New Testament. It is purest Gospel. It is well worth a Christian’s while not only to memorize it word for word but also to occupy himself with it daily, as though it were the daily bread of the soul. It is impossible to read or to meditate on this letter too much or too well. The more one deals with it, the more precious it becomes and the better it tastes.

When you love the book of Romans already and you read something like this, it almost makes your heart miss a beat. Imagine if we took it this seriously!

This thought from Catherine spoke to me this morning: If I want God to be glorified in my life…pressure must come if God is to be seen. Grapes don’t produce juice unless trampled…

Sigh…a little less whine, and a little more wine please Father.

(I had to blow plenty of dust off my blog this morning before I could post this. lol)