Posted By Nan

28:14
The man who fears God is always blessed but the man who hardens his heart to God falls into trouble and difficulty. People reading this verse can have trouble with it. They see people who love God suffering and those who laugh at God having a great time. But life is rarely about the outward appearance. Life is the moment to moment experience. But it is also the long term. The unfolding of each moment that makes up a life and leads into eternity.
What is it to fear God? Many who faithfully attend church on Sunday and listen carefully to what is taught in the pulpit and carefully follow those teachings are convinced they fear God. And in their way they do. But is it God they fear? Or cultural observances that are presented to them as God? Maybe because my revelation of God happened at 15 as I questioned what I believed in. Maybe because my father, an elder in our church, professed to not believe in God but thought following Jesus was a good philosophy to follow in life. Or maybe because my grandfather’s rich Celtic heritage influenced my faith. And maybe it was enhanced by my hunger to read the Bible after my Paul like encounter with Jesus. I have always found it hard to listen to that teaching from the pulpit. Sometimes it speaks of the God I know. And sometimes it speaks of someone else I don’t know. It is so hard to know in this world. Everyone has their own idea. In Australia it is drawn into sharp contrast with the debate on same-sex marriage. I have heard some amazingly bizarre arguments presented as reasons to vote No and I itch to ask those people why they have to present lies and half truths instead of praying to God. Why they lack the faith to trust God to bring about what He wants. Why they don’t ask God. I did a long time ago and God was more than willing to give me an answer. The answer was Love and Compassion for all humans. It was not hatred, and prejudice and lies.
In life there are many disagreements about how we should live our lives. I don’t know the answer to those disagreements. All I know is God tells me to fear Him. To seek His direction in each situation. And most of all to love my neighbour and accept him. To be His love for my fellow man. To be His acceptance. To be His comfort.
Hatred and prejudice are not of God. Love and reverential fear, awe at His amazing power, a burning desire to submit to Him. Those things are of God. They may not bring the earthly perception of blessing but they are eternal.
 

 
Posted By Nan

28:2-13
There are three themes in this section.
The first is about our leaders.
Are you tired of your leaders? Do they change too often? You get the leaders you deserve and need. You avoid a personal relationship with God and seek instead easy doctrine, hate speech, cultural beliefs and worship them instead. You get frequent, unwise leaders. These leaders oppress the poor, the widow and the foreigner among you. Seek the verses in the Bible that tell you what happens to those who oppress these three groups. Get to know your Bible, find them. These leaders destroy, not bless.
The second theme is about the law.
Forsaking the law leads you away from God to side with the wicked. When I speak of the law, I do not mean the cultural doctrines preached from many pulpits. I mean the law as God reveals it to you when you read the Bible. There is a difference, one is from man and the other is from God. Resist God’s law and join the wicked. Resist the wicked and keep the law as revealed to you by God in personal relationship with Him. It is better to be poor and blameless than rich and wicked. The law keeper possesses discernment. The law breaker knows greed and brings discredit to his family. He leads the righteous astray. He may make a show of praying to God but God has no use for the prayer of those who will not listen to Him. So make sure you seek God and listen to Him.
The third theme is about justice.
Sadly this is a rare commodity in this world. So often justice belongs to the rich. The wicked do not understand or care about justice. Those who seek God understand justice and will fight for His justice wholeheartedly.
When you worship money and go through a show of belonging to a church don’t fool yourself, God sees right through you. You may feel you are wise and virtuous, but those who truly love God will see right through you. That is your justice. And there will be more.
Try to hide your sins and you will one day fall. Don’t think the passage of years will protect you. Your fall will come and it will break you. Confess and renounce your sins and God will show you mercy.
Be wary of harsh doctrines that focus on hatred of other people. That is not of God and it brings discredit to Him. He wants you to love the person of another faith, the person of another culture, the person with a different orientation. He loves them. Why won’t you? Love the sinner. Hate their sin. And hate your own sin too.
 

 
Posted By Nan

Same sex marriage is a hot topic in Australia at the moment. There is a ‘no’ campaign that is one of lies designed to misrepresent the truth and scare people into voting ‘no’. This is not acceptable to God. There is an attitude that we must be a Christian society.  But we aren’t. Christianity has never been a truly dominant religion. At the time of Jesus the Jews were a small proportion of the world and although in Judah they were the majority, they weren’t elsewhere. Many Jews lived outside that area. Jesus grew up in Nazareth, a gentile area. In Jesus’ time, the Jewish faith and later, the faith that followed Him, was small and insignificant.
The idea of Christianity taking over the world came about because of Western civilization and the dominance of the Catholic Church. Christianity was a cultural norm. But there were no more Christians in past times than there are now. There were plenty of people who went through the observances of faith but a lot of them never knew God because people didn’t have access to the Bible, they weren’t taught who God was, the priests didn’t necessarily know God either. It was about power and governments having control. The church hierarchy was very secular and this has never changed. Through all this there have never been more Christians than there are now.
I see people who are from generations of church attendees and they call themselves Christians and they think they are, but they have never actually met God. And if you ask how they came to know God there’s not really that sense of them being convicted by the Holy Spirit of the need to worship God, of the need to be with God, of the need for salvation. This cultural practice has sprung up to cover all those people, the generations who have never known God and never actually believed in Him. Because they didn’t ever meet God and they didn’t know they had to meet God. I feel so angry that people were never given the opportunity to know God. The need of the established church to have power and control was greater than the desire to share God around.
Then there were those who were sent into ministry by their parents. They didn’t enter ministry out of faith and they weren’t necessarily doing what God intended them to do. And if they didn’t know God and have a personal relationship with God how could they teach others? People go to churches and maybe at some stage in their lives they have known God and maybe they never have. They have never been taught to critically analyse, question, to challenge what they are doing. They just follow blindly and they think this is what you are supposed to do. They think this is what faith in God is and they don’t read the Bible to work it out for themselves. Or they read the Bible always with a study guide so they have been told “this is what you are supposed to believe”. Often they will just read it in church when the study guide is the sermon telling them what to believe.
People hold the idea that Christians have to have it all their own way and not have to live in a world with other people and other faiths. But what makes them think that Christians should live in this world as though there is nobody else? It didn’t happen in Jesus time, or the days of the early church. We should have a faith in God that is individual and not dependent on our neighbour having a faith in God. We should have a faith that exists because we have a personal relationship, commitment to and connection with God.
God is in control, and He will intervene where necessary. The ‘no’ campaigners don’t trust God enough to let go and ask God. Running a campaign to scare people into voting ‘no’ is the act of someone who does not have faith.
 

 
Posted By Nan

28:1
This verse speaks of two things.
First, it speaks of the wicked who flee although no one pursues them. The verses they link to are Leviticus 26:17, 36 and Psalm 53:5. In Leviticus, God speaks to the Israelites and tells them He will set his face against the wicked of Israel and they will be defeated and will flee when they are not pursued. God will send fear and dejection into their hearts. They will be terrified by a falling leaf and will flee even when there is no danger. Reading that made me think of people today with their extreme fears. People who wrap their children in cotton wool because they are afraid of so many unlikely things happening to them. People who hate others who are different because they are afraid of ‘terrorism’. People who are terrified of the media hype around being burgled, attacked. People whose minds are full of terror and dread because God has rejected them.
So much of the fear in the western world today is more about losing sight of God. Of rejecting God. Of preferring cultural practices ahead of God. This includes people who attend churches that place more emphasis on cultural observances and personal prejudices and do not individually and prayerfully read God’s word. Be careful when you walk away from God, when you oppose Him by overriding His message with your own. Beware, because He will reject you. Instead of being filled with the confidence and serenity of being in God, you will be filled with fear and confusion. And it will be seen in the fears that drive you and cause you to retreat from engagement with the world. In fears that cause you to follow unGodly causes, to support leaders who lack faith in God, to support prejudicial groups who speak hatred and intolerance.
The second thing it speaks of is the courage of the faithful. Instead seek to be the one who confesses and praises God with your whole heart. Who worships God and praises God for His truth and faithfulness. Who exalts and magnifies God. The one who calls on God and is given the inner strength to hold firm to God in faith. Seek to be the humble one God respects, not the haughty, proud one God rejects. Know that God will watch over you as you walk through times of trouble. Trust that He will strengthen you through the darkest storm and save you in His time. Trust that God is full of mercy and loving kindness. (Psalm 138).
Remember Romans 8:38 and be convinced that nothing in all creation, even angels or demons, can separate you from God’s love in Jesus Christ our Lord. When you have that conviction then you have the heart of God, the heart of a lion, and you can step forward into life with courage, knowing you are always in God’s love.
 

 
Posted By Nan

27:17-27
In life seek friendships because that is how God made us. Accept that your friends will teach you many things. Interacting with them and learning how to be around other people will cause you to grow in wisdom. The fool does not allow the refining action of friends. Instead he walks or seeks to control other people when growth opportunities arise.
Be diligent in your work. Seek to honour others and you will find honour will come to you. Make sure your motive in honouring others is to benefit them not you, or you will be disappointed when honour does not always come to you. Love others and behave according to what God lays on your heart. This will make you a person of good character. Good character is a mark of integrity and wisdom.
Learn to be satisfied with the things of God. The pleasures of this earth are seductive, but they do not necessarily lead you to a good place. Temptations will come in to your life that tempt you away from the path God has set you on. Stand firm. Resisting that temptation is refining you, proving your good character.
Do not waste much time on the foolish person. You cannot change them and your time will be wasted. Only the fool can change himself. Instead pray for the fool, that he may know God and learn wisdom.
Be careful with your possessions and know what is yours. Accept that possessions are transient, but must be cared for when they are yours. Work diligently and learn to reduce wastage. In this way you will be able to sustain yourself and your family.
All these things refine you, polish the rough bits and increase your wisdom. They are part of the narrow road you travel on following Jesus.
 

 

 

 
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Nan
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