The call to return

The roll call of the faith-full:

  • Abel, in giving of his best
  • Enoch, in testifying about faith when it was not yet embodied in the form of Jesus
  • Noah, in preparing for a disaster foretold by God and taking a stand against popular opinion
  • Abraham, for leaving his comfort zone and journeying without clear knowledge of the destination, spending most of his life a nomad
  • Sarah, for accepting her conception at an advanced age as a gift from God

 

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country.Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. Heb 11:13-16

 

These obeyed without receiving the promises, but ‘saw them afar’ and ‘were assured’ and ’embraced them’.

saw them: horao (Greek), meaning metaphorically to see with the mind, to perceive with inward spiritual perception

embraced: aspazomai (Greek), meaning to joyfully greet/welcome

 

Their desires were plainly to be seen – and if given the chance, if they had ‘called to mind that country from which they had come out’, they would be keen to return.

Called to mind: mnemoneuo (Greek), meaning hold in remembrance, make mention of

 

But now they ‘desire’ a heavenly country.

Desire: oregontai (Greek) meaning stretch forth, long for, aspire to

 

Even the most faithful, if allowed to dwell on the past and on what was once comfortable, will want to return to it. But they would be missing out on what is ‘better’.

Better: kreitton (Greek), meaning stronger, more excellent (what is better because more fully developed)

 

I do find myself dwelling in the past intermittently, and maybe in order to break the cycle, I need to fix my mind on what could be better and not to make mention of, or hold in remembrance what has gone past.

Advertisements

What is love?

905405_451007341657457_727298078_o-1-e1404344296853

By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” I Jn 3:16

My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things” 1 Jn 3:18-20

 

God sees through our heart, which on occasions is given to waver. On our part, words and intentions are always to be accompanied by actions, and embodying what we say and mean, in real life (truth=aletheia in Greek, synonymous with reality)

It may seem that vs 21-22 indicate a measure of legalism in keeping all the commandments in order to be granted the right to ask and receive from God, but v23 lays down the commandment expected of us:

 

And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.” 1 Jn 3:23

 

So what is love? It’s not just about feelings, or words, but needs us to get down and dirty, living our love out by actions and above all, believing we were the recipients of a love far greater and more forgiving and far-reaching than we could ever comprehend.

 

 

Stephen Strange

You always excelled, not because you craved success, but because of your fear of failure.

Arrogance and fear still keep you from learning the greatest lesson of all.

It’s not about you.

 

Later that night, a dream in which I’m playing 4v4 basketball in which I’m being strangely competitive, but to my horror the basket is about 3 feet higher than I’m used to, where even layups are hit and miss. And for some reason, there’s no backboard to ricochet my shots off either! I try to reason with the umpire that the baskets are placed too high, that it’s against the rules. His reasoning: I’ve been practising all my life on baskets that are set too low.

 

 

Taking the plunge

These few weeks really seem like the start of something momentous. The buildup to this was rocky; my research topic being bounced back, my loan application failing, and my hunt for a place to stay in after June still not turning up any leads.  Not to mention the occasionally overwhelming sense of loneliness that still stops me in my tracks note and again. 

Looking forward to the next few weeks, I’ll be looking at a new place to stay, a refocus of my research topic, and a reallocation of my loan. Plus finally ‘finding out’ about how friends relationships are going, while certainly a great occasion for everyone involved, will hopefully give me some closure. 

Holding my breath and praying for grace. 

Fellowship

Listened to a message on Community, addressing the topic of Loneliness yesterday.

1 John was the passage quoted and studied.

‘That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life- the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us- that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.’

V 1-4

The themes of these verses seem to involve all our senses (sight, touch) and involves communication (bearing witness, declaring to others) between God the Father, Jesus the Son (and the Spirit) and the community to which John was writing to (not defined clearly).

The purpose was to reinforce that bond of fellowship, between John and this community, and in a larger sense, with God the Father and Jesus. The reason being that the community’s joy (in Greek, chara – joy because of grace) would be complete (pepleromene in Greek – filled to individual capacity) as a result.

The letter starts off by reminding this unnamed community (and by extension, us) that Jesus, the living Word, existed before time and thereby implying that God was desiring fellowship with us way before we had any inkling He existed.

This is interesting because often “a sense of community” is often defined by how I feel, or what support/role I get/perform in a larger group. Which can also explain my feelings about loneliness and lack of community – making it about myself is one sure-fire way of letting myself down!

 

The deep dark hours just before dawn

The Consoling Memory of God’s Redemptive Works

To the chief musician.

To Jeduthun

A Psalm of Asaph

 

I cried out to God with my voice –

To God with my voice;

And He gave ear to me.

In he day of my trouble I sought the Lord;

My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing;

My soul refused to be comforted.

I remembered God, and was troubled;

I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed

Selah

You hold my eyelids open;

I am so troubled that I cannot speak.

I have considered the days of old,

The years of ancient times.

I call to remembrance my song in the night;

I meditate within my heart,

And my spirit makes diligent search.

Will the Lord cast off forever?

And will He be favorable no more?

Has His mercy ceased forever?

Has His promise failed forevermore?

Has God forgotten to be gracious?

Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies?

Selah

And I said, “This is my anguish;

But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.”

I will remember the works of the Lord;

Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.

I will also meditate on all Your work,

And talk of Your deeds.

Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary;

Who is so great a God as our God?

You are the God who does wonders;

You have declared Your strength among the peoples.

You have with Your arm redeemed Your people,

The sons of Jacob and Joseph.

Selah

The waters say You, O God;

The waters saw You, they were afraid;

The depths also trembled.

The clouds poured out water;

The skies sent out a sound;

Your arrows also flashed about.

The voice of Your thunder was in the whirlwind;

The lightnings lit up the world;

The earth trembled and shook.

Your way was in the sea,

Your path in the great waters,

And Your footsteps were not known.

You led Your people like a flock

By the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Psalm 77

 

Perfect peace

You will keep him in perfect peace,

Whose mind is stayed on You,

Because he trusts in You.

Trust in the Lord forever,

For in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength.

Isa 26:3-4

 

perfect peace and everlasting strength.

not two things I would think automatically go together.

but then I read Matt 22:37

Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”

 

To have peace in an all-powerful God is key, but

To fully stay on God by thought, word and deed takes strength.

 

Learning from the past

“Then it came to pass, in the third year, that Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went down to visit the king of Israel. And the king of Israel said to his servants, “Do you know that Ramoth in Gilead is ours, but we hesitate to take it out of the hand of the king of Syria?” So he said to Jehoshaphat, “Will you go with me to fight at Ramoth Gilead?” Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “I am as you are, my people as your people, my hourses as your horses.” Also Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “Please inquire for the word of the Lord today.” 1 Kings 22:2-5

The story goes on to tell of how Ahab would not listen to the prophesy of Micaiah the prophet and went out to fight, ultimately being killed. Jehoshaphat meanwhile narrowly escaped after crying out to God.

“Jehoshaphat made merchant ships to go to Ophir for gold; but they never sailed, for the ships were wrecked at Ezion Geber. Then Ahaziah the son of Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, “Let my servants go with your servants in the ships.” But Jehoshaphat would not. 1 Kings 2:48-49

Learning from his mistakes, I’d like to think that Jehoshaphat preferred to steer clear of involvement with Israel who was given to ungodly practices.

What associations do I need to cut ties with?

 

Separation for my elevation

“Then Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, to the South.”

“Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold.

“And he went on his journey from the South as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place of the altar which he had made there at first.

“And there Abram called on the name of the Lord.”

Gen 13:1-4

Abram had left all that was comfortable to him, and journeyed with his family for some time going around Bethel – but things were not going well.

“And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock.”

Gen 13:7

Being comfortable and putting up with ‘strife’ or stretching out?

“Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other.”

Gen 13:11

“And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are- northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever.”

Gen 13:14-15

What do I need to separate from in order to see the extent of God’s intent for me?

A Saturday morning

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Cor 12:9

Infirmities/weakness: astheneia in Greek – refers to an ailment that deprives someone of enjoying or accomplishing what they would like to do, focuses on the handicaps that go with the weakness, expresses the weakening influences of the illness or a particular problem, especially as someone becomes wrongly or overly dependent.

Strength: dynamis in Greek – power through God’s ability, is needed in every scene of life to really grow in sanctification and prepare for heaven

perfect: teleo in Greek – to complete/consummate/qualitatively finish the necessary process, with the results ‘rolling over’ to the next level/phase of consummation, like a pirate’s telescope (unfolding one stage at a time to function at full-strength/capacity)

rest/dwell: episkenoo in Greek – power radiating from Christ as He comes upon someone, so that He dwells in the committed believer

Our perceived power is all God – not originating from us, but as Christ dwells within us via the Holy Spirit, we radiate that power outwards.

This God-based ability is fully functional and complete when we have allowed God to fully come into, and take over our unfinished business, our dependencies/addictions, and the source of our discomfort/unhappiness/discontent

 

grace: charis in Greek – favor from God, referring to God extending/inclining towards people