Monday, 7 July 2014

God speaks!

Today's REAP Readings: Hosea 10-12, Psalm 73, Matt 7

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock..." {Matt 7:24} 

Everyone wants to hear from God don't they? When our lives are falling a part, when jobs disappear and the way ahead is cloudy. Wouldn't we like God to be our crystal ball to tell us clearly what to do next? I mean don't we deep down want to dream BIG and have those plans succeed. Better yet, have God nod his head in approval as we throw all our resources into the next big thing in our lives. Deep down don't we want to trust in a God who continues to shower blessings upon us, especially the financial ones, the ones that make us just a little more comfortable?

Perhaps you've joined us for REAP this year because you wanted to know what God's plan is for you personally? Perhaps you want to live a more fulfilling life? Or perhaps you just want to know the Bible better? Whatever the reason perhaps our expectations are misplaced?

As I first started out Reaping this year  I perhaps expected that making time each day to read His word and pray that somehow God would speak to me personally, that I would have some amazing experience and hear his audible voice. Sometimes I would wait patiently after the morning readings  for some lightening bolt revelation from God...nope...nothing.

Mostly nothing extraordinary happened while REAPing. Mostly my morning readings went alongside a large strong cuppa, and the coffee was the most rewarding thing.

But then the extraordinary always today

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I was facebooking (again ) today and found myself sighing while watching the lives of all these "carefree" "friends" living it up on holidays, buying cool things, cooking incredible cakes, raising perfect children...and taking their kids to all kinds of cool, educational school holiday activities....

Today we left the house once, to take the bins out...and we made Jelly, it was red.

But then the Lord reminded me ever so quietly of that morning's REAP readings, particularly Psalm 73.

It's a psalm so heartfelt as he struggles with the same struggles that many of us do. Listen to this;

"Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong...always free of care, they go on amassing wealth" {Psalm 73:1-12}

He suffers from envy too! I love his honesty. He even says "When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply" {v16}. And doesn't it ever trouble us when our own worlds are falling a part while we watch other's lives that appear seemingly perfect.

Oh but then the Psalmist reminds us

"When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds" {vv21-28}

Yes Lord! Thank you, thank you, thank you for stopping me from thinking that they have a life more worthy than mine, more fulfilling. Thanking for reminding me of my sinful heart and need for you. Thank you for reminding me that I am yours, and no earthly thing will ever satisfy that need within me to be near you. Thank you Lord for allowing me to continually return to you, thank you for forgiving me when my heart turns away momentarily. I will tell of your great deeds Lord, for you have saved me from this wretched life and given me eternal life in you!

Did something extraordinary happen in your day?

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

When we're tempted to turn back...

Today's REAP readings: 2 Kings 11-12, 2 Chro 24, Heb 9

For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own.Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. {Heb 9:24-28}

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I've been eager to share my thoughts on the REAP readings so many times recently but whenever I have come to sit and write, a child needs me, the computer seems to freeze unexpectedly or my thoughts are simply confused and I don't know where to begin.

But after getting home after an encouraging time at Bible study and our REAP group at Warrawong today I was faced with a choice.
As I gazed at my ever growing pile of clothes to fold, beds to make, and a kitchen to clean, I knew time was ticking before my older two arrived home from school and any chance of some quiet time would quickly erode. So I decided to turn my gaze away from my failures as a housewife and turn my gaze to the lure of a crackling fire, a pot of tea and my Bible.

What would you choose?

So for the next hour I set my gaze upon the book of Hebrews to try and grasp some of what the author is saying here.

It really does seem like he is taking us on a journey, from the opening words  in chapter 1;

"In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe" {Heb1:1}

This is how God spoke to his people in the past, but now he speaks to us through Jesus. And we're told to fix our thoughts on him (3:1)

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When we were travelling in England, I remember standing in awe of church's that were hundreds of years old and simply marvelling at the architecture and beauty, "what a beautiful church" we would think and yet not once did we consider the builder, the one who laboured so faithfully in building it.
They deserved so much more honour than the building itself.

Often we can get caught up in praising creation and forget about the Creator. The writer says

"For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything" {Heb 3:4}

Yes indeed! May we never boast in our own works and yet time and time again we're so tempted just like the Jewish Christians were to lean back on the law, for a means of justifying ourselves, for a way to somehow try and meet the laws expectations and therefore God's.

And so then the writer moves on to urge us to cling to the truth and help each other to cling as well... 

"See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end" {Heb 3:12-14}

Oh yes please Lord, encourage us daily so that we may never give up trusting you! And may we not try and be builders by adding to your word our own wisdom or taking parts away because it makes us uncomfortable.

May we live and breath your every word and make you an anchor for our soul, firm and secure.


P.S Many more thoughts I could share but alas I really should go and fold that washing now xx