Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.
(30 Nov 2022)
A year ago today, after the elders determined not to segregate and seeing the division and stigmatisation and suffering of many in our community, I determined to let it be known that for the church here at Woori, jabs would not be a thing, that Jesus would be everything.
This went viral: it was widely shared and 18000+ people saw it. Under God, we had new visitors (included unchurched and unconverted people) every week for the next six months and many have stayed to worship with us and have greatly added to the life and community here.
Though there were challenges, this was a no brainer with little downside. I only wish that at the time it hadn’t seemed so radical.
Thank you for all who have encouraged us along the way to be a place that is eager and open to bring the truth of the gospel and the love of the Lord Jesus to everyone.
John 6:37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.
Serious faith comes when even the things we want are for the purpose of something else…something greater. We can talk about using things and loving people instead of loving things and using people. Here the Psalmists reveals his motives for his praying with the hinge turning word “so” This is no longer just using God to get something else but God himself becomes the goal. Coming to God to get more of him, see more of him and see him known. Glory be to God.
Psa. 67:1 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us—
SO that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.
Psa. 67:7 May God bless us still, SO that all the ends of the earth will fear him.
Matt. 21:24 But Jesus responded and said to them, “I will also ask you one question, which, if you tell Me, I will also tell you by what authority I do these things.
Jesus does what we often fail to do when someone comes at us with an accusation. How many of us go on the defensive and answer immediately. Jesus did something different, he stopped and thought, and answered their question with a question of his own. We would do well to learn from his example.
And where the question is more genuine you can ask more genuine questions…
You get the idea…
When the Philistines captured the ark of God they thought they could confine and domesticate the true God in their idol temple amongst other gods.
1Sam. 5:2 Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon.
They though that the God of Israel was trapped and powerless. In an instance God rearranged their thinking with a unique display of his power.
1Sam. 5:4 But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained.
Many people today assume they can ignore God and just bring him out when it suits them. Some times when they cry out to him in desperation, he is merciful and will aid and rescue them.
Other times his mercy is to break into their pride and secure lives with catastrophe as he does here to the Philistines.
1Sam. 5:6 The LORD’S hand was heavy on the people of Ashdod and its vicinity; he brought devastation on them and afflicted them with tumours.
God has allowed this pandemic we are presently in and this has seen almost every country go through despair and pride and then back again. Nations have been humbled but by and large they have not cried out to God. People too have seen their plans disrupted and their freedoms steadily taken away and fears, real and imagined have taken hold.
1Sam. 5:7 When the people of Ashdod saw what was happening, they said, “The ark of the god of Israel must not stay here with us, because his hand is heavy on us and on Dagon our god.”
After the terrorist attacks of September 11th a number of churches saw people turn up in response to what was happening. This has not happened this time because governments have sadly consider churches non-essential. Although some have tuned in and turned to online services.
The response of the Philistines was to do anything but deal with God. Instead they symbolically sent him away. Hoping they would never have to come face to face with him.
1Sam. 5:11 So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and said, “Send the ark of the god of Israel away; let it go back to its own place, or it will kill us and our people.” For death had filled the city with panic; God’s hand was very heavy on it.
People today continue to exclude God from their lives as if they could shut him out when he inhabits every square centimetre with his sovereignty. They can no more turn him down as a toothpick could obstruct a fire hose. He is the most important reality for all people as well as the only true help and hope in troubled times.
We as God’s people have refused to let go of God in this pandemic and the attempts, intentional or otherwise, to cripple the church have failed. You have continued to tune in to give generously and to keep in contact with one another. As things open up again let us be eager now to return to meeting together in Bible discussion and fellowship and worship. Let us invite and pray that many others will have been so impacted that they realise now their desperate need of their Creator God and true Christian fellowship.
The Israelites were suffering under the yoke of extreme slavery and instead of getting better it only seemed to be getting worse with new harsher mandates and demands. Now they had to make the same amount of bricks but find their own straw to make them. In the midst of that God made some great promises to the Israelites through Moses.
Ex. 6:6-8 “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.’ ”
But unfortunately the Israelites couldn’t or wouldn’t hear from the mouth of God because of all the turmoil happening around them.
Ex. 6:9 Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labour.
When we are going through trying times and these days offer lots of opportunities don’t let these things so overwhelm you that you shut out the word of the Lord. This same Lord is moved to act on behalf of his people and gives tremendous promises of hope that cannot fail.
There was a better response from the elders of the Israelites in a previous chapter and we should imitate them.
Ex. 4:29-31 Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders of the Israelites, and Aaron told them everything the LORD had said to Moses… and they believed. And when they heard that the LORD was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.