Thursday, October 31, 2013

CP 225 OK then, how was he able to do it?

CP 225 OK then, how was he able to do it?

Hi people, Fred here, getting back into the swing of things after a hectic few weeks. On the 3rd weekend of October here in NSW we had what we termed “The Gathering” at Warrambui. Maybe a bit like an indigenous corroboree, to take stock, listen for His voice, and rethink and re-own what we know from scripture. In the back of it all there was a constant searching about how the Holy Spirit empowers those he calls to do his work. Our Bishop here, Mark Lieschke, has nominated that search / question as high priority for us. I agree. But it won’t be easy. It is never easy when deeply-held assumptions are challenged. Today I’m going to mull over the presence, and impact, of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ own ministry.
At the age of 30 Jesus came to John the Baptizer at the Jordan. John was baptizing all who repented. He was deeply troubled when Jesus presented himself as well. Here is the record in Matthew chapter 3:
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfil all righteousness.” Then John consented.
16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
Why was Jesus baptized? Did he have sin which needed forgiveness? Manifestly not. So why was it necessary to ‘fulfil all righteousness’? And why does the Holy Spirit suddenly drop into/onto his life in such a special way?
First question first. Jesus came to be the Messiah and Redeemer. That required a perfectly pure and holy life – a fulfil-all-righteousness life. Messiah also necessitated full ‘payment’ to enable forgiveness of sins. So he came to live and he came to die. Complete holiness would be followed by Calvary horror. Perfection in life followed by perfect sacrifice, an atonement for the sin of all others. There in the Jordan the sinless one, the representative Son of Man (sum of Man) stepped into the water and identified himself with humanity in all its sin and brokenness. And if he would faithfully stick with that identification his crucifixion was inevitable. He would make a perfect-without-defect Passover Lamb.
So where does the Holy Spirit come into this? Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit so did he not he have the Holy Spirit anyway from birth? The angel told Mary his mother, “The holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 2:35) There’s a clue in his age…
Jesus was 30 years old (Luke 3:23) when he came to John that day. That was the age at which a man could become a priest and serve in the Temple. (See Numbers 4:3, 23) To be a priest he would need to be anointed, and that anointing needed to be performed by a priest. And John was from a priestly family, (and declared to be a prophet of the Most High!) Jesus came to be more than a priest. Again words from the angel: “The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign… (Luke 2:32-33) The King was to be anointed as well. John the B was on the spot as a fully qualified, authorised anointer! So read Peter's words when he rose to speak at Cornelius’ house:
You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37 You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.” Acts 10:36-38
Have a good look at the words I’ve put in italics! Anointed! With the Holy Spirit and power! He did what he did, and was able to do it, only because God was with him! It’s fascinating to read what happened when Samuel the prophet anointed youthful David as King of Israel: “…and from that day the Spirit of the Lord came on David in power.” 1 Samuel 16:3 Both Jesus and David had the Spirit of God in them before that anointing. They both had faith in the God of Israel. The anointing was to empower them with the Holy Spirit for their coming work. God was with them…
A passage to finish the day:

Luke 4:16-21

16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”
20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
I hope I’ve started to answer that question / search. Where are you and I in this picture? More next time! Also have a look at Philippians 2:6-8 and tell me if you think it’s relevant to our processing.

Monday, October 14, 2013

CP 224 When you're stuck...

CP 224 When you’re stuck…
Friends, this week’s CrossPurposes is something that came via email. I’m copying it back to you with some of my own amendments. Take courage… Be encouraged!
Many times the Lord will allow a painful situation or a painful circumstance in our life to "swallow us up." This season in our spiritual growth is a holding pattern. We can't move to the left or the right. All we can do is sit, like Jonah sat in the belly of that great fish, so the Spirit of the Lord can have our undivided attention and speak to us. The Lord put Jonah in a holding pattern because He needed to speak to his heart. Jonah was all alone. There were no friends to call, no colleagues to drop by, no books to read, no food to eat, no interference, and no interruptions. (Can you begin to imagine? Not even his mobile phone, so no text, twitter or facebook. And no googling. OMG! lol!) He had plenty of time to sit, think, meditate, and pray. As the Anglican prayer has it, he had time to inwardly digest…
When we're ‘deep down’ in the midst of a difficult situation, the Lord can talk to us. When He has our undivided attention, He can show us things about ourselves that we might not otherwise have seen.
A few of the Lord's Holding Patterns:
1. When you are sick in your physical body and you have prayed but have not yet been healed, you are in a holding pattern.
2. When you are having problems with your children and you have put them on the altar, but the Lord has not yet delivered them, you are in a holding pattern.
3. When you have been praying for the salvation of a loved one and they have not been saved yet, you are in a holding pattern.
4. When you are in a broken relationship and you have given it over to your Lord, but it has not been restored yet, you are in a holding pattern.
5. When the doors slam shut before you can even knock on them, you are in a holding pattern.
I’ll say it again. When we are deep in the belly of a difficult situation, there are no interruptions. The Lord God has our undivided attention. All we can do is sit, think, meditate, digest and pray. We cannot run from the Holy One because there are no mountains that are high enough, valleys low enough, rooms that are dark enough, or places that are hidden enough from Him. It’s a good time to live by the Apostles Paul’s call to, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, Rejoice.” It’s just the right time to praise him. And while we're waiting let’s remember three things:
1. The pattern has a purpose.
2. The pattern has a plan.
3. The pattern has a process.
The challenge is to stop struggling, to 'be still before the Lord', to pay ‘listening-attention’, praying and trusting as we wait. He'll keep us right where we are until we can clearly hear Him say, "I love you, I’ll never desert you… I’m with you always."
Prayer:  Father, I believe, forgive my unbelief. I know you are for me and will work all things to your good, my good, and your glory. Whatever you have in store for me I am ready to receive regardless of how difficult the path.  Have mercy for the sake of Jesus the Messiah… your eternal Son, and my eternal Lord. Amen.
 Author Unknown
PS If you’d like a copy of this via attachment I’ll gladly send it to you. In Him. Fred

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

CP 223 Undone by the 'specific'.

CP 223 Undone by the ‘specific’.

King David was a faithful King in the Lord’s eyes, and, we might add, in his own eyes. Still, along with the rest of Israel, he knew he was beholden to the Lord’s mercy. Then he committed adultery with Bathsheba. At that point, after the Lord God used Nathan the prophet to ‘nail him’ over the adultery, his cover up, and his murder of Uriah, for the first time he understood the full, pervasively ugly truth about himself. All those smug thoughts of self-righteousness were now gone. Consider some of his words from Psalm 51:
“…blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
Against you, you only have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight…
Surely I have been a sinner from birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”
David had seen the unwelcome truth about himself and his heart with shocked clarity. No wonder he cried out, “Have mercy on me, O God… Create in me a clean heart, O God...”
Bottom line? David’s comprehension of his Lord’s forgiving, grace-filled heart grew in direct proportion to the depth of his knowledge of the evil in his own ‘Adam’s-heart’! What David had done wasn’t good. The matter of his behaviour was one thing. The foul heart exposed was another altogether. That one sin had completely undone him. I’m sure he didn’t enjoy the exposure. However, in the bigger scheme of things his Lord had done him an eternal favour with his ruthless and searching confrontation. Forgiveness and grace was never a trivial matter for David after Nathan wielded the Lord’s sword. He became a greater King.
In the New Testament, Peter’s encounters with Jesus have a similar lesson to teach us. A genuine good Galilean bloke, albeit known to be a little impulsive, Peter responded to Jesus’ disciple-call. Early on, Jesus convinced him, against his ‘professional’ judgement, to have one more go with the fishing net. It was soon stretched to breaking, pulsating with large fish. Peter went to his knees. “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” (Luke 5:8) So, close to the start of knowing Jesus he knew there was a chasm between him and the Lord’s holiness.
Now, fast-forward to the night of Jesus’ trial. Peter had confidently boasted of his unshakeable loyalty. Jesus called his bluster. “Before the cock crows twice you will deny me three times.” Peter’s response? “I never would.” Move on maybe 5-6 hours. The cock crowed as predicted. Peter had denied his Lord, as predicted. “The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered… And he went outside and wept bitterly.” (Luke 22:61-62) The fickle disciple knew he needed a Saviour. But the repulsive truth of this exposure undid him completely. However, the Lord had brought him to a very good place. The depth of his specific undoing opened him to the true extent of his Lord’s love and grace. It showed him his need of Good Friday as he’d never seen it before. I believe it made his Apostleship possible.
Both King David and Apostle Peter were ‘undone by the specific’. Found naked, stripped bare and bankrupt. General awareness became utterly personal conviction. A ‘micro-matter’ led to a macro understanding of self without Christ. Blessed men! Blessed? Yes, they looked to the Lord… and lived.
So to us. No need to despise the Lord’s discipline. Welcome it. Be blessed in it. Christ Jesus is everything.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

CP 222 Shattered beyond response

CP 222 Shattered beyond response?
Sometimes things happen that are heartbreaking. The following story, which appeared on the ABC website earlier this morning, is as bad as it gets.
The death of a baby boy found inside a car parked near a Perth childcare centre yesterday is a tragic mistake, police say. The boy, believed to be 11 months old, was found inside the back of his father's car outside the Ladybugs Early Learning and Care Centre in Helena Valley yesterday afternoon.
His father arrived at the centre to pick up his son, but was told by staff he had not dropped him off that morning. The boy was then found still strapped inside a capsule in the car. Paramedics tried to revive the boy but were unsuccessful. The incident happened on Perth's hottest day in the past month.
So sad. Impossibly sad. I can’t begin to imagine what must be in the heart and spirit of that dad and mum. Shock for sure. Distress beyond words. Deadened beyond consoling. Shattered beyond response.
No doubt more details will be released about this. Police don’t consider it suspicious. I have not the foggiest idea what comfort might look like in this situation. Perhaps a friend sitting beside them in their dust and ashes. As the article says, a tragic mistake. This story really got to me. I wondered why. I suspect it’s because I could see myself making a similar mistake. No malice, just an assumption that you have things in hand and then discovering, to your horror, that it was not so.
It’s had me thinking about sadness from other sources. For example there was an accident at the bottom of a steep hill in Sydney two days ago. A petrol tanker got out of control, tipped on its side, slid into another vehicle, ruptured its fuel tank, and burst into flames. Two died and six were injured. Mechanical failure seems to have been the cause. Tragic, and very sad for many. But what if it transpires that the Company concerned had cut corners on maintaining their vehicles? There is no suggestion of that at all in this case but sometimes laziness, carelessness or wilful negligence is behind some of the grief and sadness which whelms our lives. Sometimes anger is an appropriate response.
Another type of sadness, definitely accompanied by anger, was there in this week’s news reports about politicians claiming expenses for attending a private wedding. They were not the first to indulge themselves at public expense, will not be the last, and some of them appear unable to stop themselves helping themselves. It’s dishonest. It’s greed. It’s stealing. The same news cycles are carrying stories about other businesses and politicians who are corrupt. Will it ever end? No, never, while ever the heart of Adam is the only heart beating in human beings. (Do you share my desperate longing that our leaders lead with integrity? I so much want them to do well. ‘Please do well’, is the cry of my heart. Sadly, we hardly expect such leadership any more.)
In our church circles here there has been grief and sadness due to illness and death. Do you and I understand the purposes of our Lord in these life-altering scenarios? We do know about the fragility of the physical body. We do know about the prevalence of disease and accident. Often there is healing. “Why some, not others?” We have no idea. Others in our circles have been deeply wounded by those who are supposed to protect them. Arrgghhh! And then there is that heart-sadness when loved ones surrender to their doubts and desert their faith and their Lord.

How do we cope? It is tempting to say, “Blowed if I know!” It is true that there is so much we do not know. But there are promises HE will not break. Let me give you just one: “A bruised reed he will not break; a smouldering wick he will not quench.” (Matt 12:20) I trust this word. I offer it to you. I trust it because it is undergirded by another truth. Christ Jesus, whose sacrifice bought our freedom, was the reed which was broken, and His smouldering wick was quenched. Because of Him, our Father will never break us or extinguish the fire of life in us. He will not let us rot, never forget us, or push us away. Ever!
So here is something most of you know… and if you don’t, enjoy it anyway.
What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Jesus is our only refuge,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you?
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
In His arms He’ll take and shield you;
You will find a solace there.
Joseph Scriven 1820-1886

Be comforted in Him… Fred