Tuesday, February 16, 2016
For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling place:
14 “This is My resting place forever; Here I will dwell, for I have desired it.
15 I will abundantly bless her provision; I will satisfy her poor with bread.
16 I will also clothe her priests with salvation, And her saints shall shout aloud for joy.
17 There I will make the horn of David grow; I will prepare a lamp for My Anointed.
18 His enemies I will clothe with shame, But upon Himself His crown shall flourish.”
I want to lay down a few definitions before we go into this scripture. Many people are often confused as to what Zion in the bible truly represents.
Zion: The word Zion has a broad spectrum of meaning that is greater than any one single entity or identity because Zion was also known as the seat of power for the kingdom of Israel but also for the Kingdom of God. We know that it is a place that God loves and cares deeply about because the city is also associated with God’s chosen people, Israel.
Zion is used interchangeably with Jerusalem in many Scriptures so any time you see the word Zion used it is referring to Jerusalem, the City of God, the City of David, the people or nation of Israel or the people of God and sometimes typifies God’s place of rule or where His presence resides” [Jack Wellman, Patheos]
Essentially, this means Zion today, represents you and I (being God’s children)
Choose: The dictionary defines choose as: “to pick out or select (someone or something) as being the best or most appropriate of two or more alternatives”
Dwell: Other words for 'dwell' include reside, live, be settled, be housed, lodge, stay.
If we apply these definitions to verse 13, it gives it much greater meaning –
"The Lord has picked you out as the best or most appropriate. He has desired to live in you. He says you are His resting place forever and in you, He will be housed for He has desired you."
…and we all know that where God dwells, blessings exist [Recall the story of Obed-Edom and the Ark of the Covenant in 2 Samuel 6:10-11]
This scripture outlines the so-called ‘blessings’ that exist where God dwells. They include:
- Divine Ability
- His Name
I found the last blessing in this list a bit strange when I came across it during my study. However think about when you hear of a dodgy situation or an unpleasant story about a person, and you say “I don’t want my name associated with this thing or I don't want my name associated with that person”, it is the same thinking. Although in this case God is saying “I want My name associated with him or her!”
God desires to dwell in you and I. How do we know this?
First of all, from the passage in Psalm 132:13-18, His word says so.
Secondly, having accepted Christ as your Lord and Saviour, there is a sweet smelling aroma that comes from your ‘house’ to Him, thus He singles you and out makes living in you His objective and His desire.
We must also note that once God has chosen, He will never turn from it - so His choosing to dwell in you is not by virtue of your works, your being good or ticking ‘Christian’ boxes, it is as a result of grace, His covenant and love for you.
This should give you confidence then, that the aforelisted blessings (and more) are yours because you are God’s dwelling place. You are special to God. He self-selected you to rest in you forever; you should also rest in Him forever and favour should be your mantra.
God bless :)
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Matthew 14: 1-11
When Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee,[a] heard about Jesus, 2 he said to his advisers, “This must be John the Baptist raised from the dead! That is why he can do such miracles.” 3 For Herod had arrested and imprisoned John as a favor to his wife Herodias (the former wife of Herod’s brother Philip). 4 John had been telling Herod, “It is against God’s law for you to marry her.” 5 Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of a riot, because all the people believed John was a prophet. 6 But at a birthday party for Herod, Herodias’s daughter performed a dance that greatly pleased him, 7 so he promised with a vow to give her anything she wanted. 8 At her mother’s urging, the girl said, “I want the head of John the Baptist on a tray!” 9 Then the king regretted what he had said; but because of the vow he had made in front of his guests, he issued the necessary orders. 10 So John was beheaded in the prison, 11 and his head was brought on a tray and given to the girl, who took it to her mother.
I read Matthew 14:11 this morning - "and John the Baptist's head was brought on a platter to Herod" and I thought, but this man was a servant of God, a prophet, what a brutal way to die?!
It is one thing for God's child to be imprisoned, we say it is for the glory of God, then the person is killed and we say they are martyrs but when they are killed in such a brutal manner, it makes me wonder where God is.
Why did God allow this to happen?
It is a question we have asked several times. This took me back to a conversation I had recently with a friend - about why Christians die untimely deaths, are killed in accidents, etc.
· Why would God allow His daughter to be killed during a kidnap?
· Why would God allow a pastor to die in a plane crash?
· Why would God allow a little child to die from a surgical mistake?
There are these questions in the bible too....
· Why would He allow Stephen to be stoned to death?
· Why would He allow John who served Him fervently to be beheaded?
Why would He allow Job to lose every single thing and be afflicted so much?
The truth is we never will really be able to fathom everything like God does (His ways are not our ways). However in the absence of sin and spiritual attacks (i.e. we strike out as a possible option), when such things happen, the final deduction is that it happened for God's glory.
Even writing it still makes me shudder - it is hard to agree that God allowing my mum to die from a seemingly simple medical procedure back in 2012 is for His glory.
But then we forget....
Why would He allow Jesus Christ to be killed/murdered in a very degrading way for doing absolutely nothing wrong?
God has His reasons. I read somewhere:
"The entire affair of John`s martyrdom reeks of evil, yet God brought good out of this awful mess in that John`s faithful disciples joined Jesus Christ. " [Patty, JesusCentral]
Essentially this ‘for God's glory’ we keep referring to means God will always bring good out of a bad situation.
Sound's bizarre doesn't it? But if we think about it, when Christ died, He opened the gateway for us to access God unhindered [Matthew 27:51], all our sins are forgiven, we can go boldly to God now even when we fall and ask for forgiveness. This could never be done in the Moses days [Exodus 32:30 and Leviticus 4].
While we may not be able to translate this directly to our situation(s) on a case by case basis or we may not yet see the good (or immediate gain) in the loss of a loved one, we must allow our faith to trust that God has His reasons, a plan and will bring good out of every evil situation.
Romans 8:28, 'We know that ALL things work together for GOOD to them that love God, to them who are CALLED according to His PURPOSE for them
God does not cause calamity or misfortune to befall us; but He allows or permits tragedies, in order to prove His attributes. The reason is to train us to discern between the flesh, the spirit and the soul. Between the world and temporary things and reality. [Anthony, Bible Believers]
*God is eternal, this world is temporary
*The things of God are spiritual, the things of this world are flesh (bodies, etc)
*God has a kingdom agenda, the world has a vanity agenda (what's in it for me, instant gratification, who does society say I am or what does society say I should do?)
So, if we shift our focus to the things of God, we can begin to better accept His ways and though we may not understand every single iota, we become more farsighted regarding our final destination.
Reflection: Is there something you are struggling to understand concerning loss? Ask God for insight and boldly believe He will give this to you. If you have experienced a loss, try to shift your focus to "what is His plan regarding that situation" as opposed to "why did it happen"? Here, you are trusting that He has a much greater plan concerning the situation. God bless you