Thursday, January 7, 2016

2016 January BRD

We launch into the Bible reading plan:( adapted from Robert Murray M'Cheyne's)
OT, NT one or two chapters day
with accountability partner

January 1:
To me the most moving phrase in Ezra1 comes in verse1 
Ezra 1:1 NIV
[1] In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing:

To note: God moves the hearts of kings and other important decision makers!

From Acts1 it is the pre-eminence of the Holy Spirit that strikes me: The Gift that Jesus promises , empowering us for the Great Commission

January 2
(Got to work in weekly schedule for Esther!)
Ezra 2
Many names specifically recorded in detail
God know each of us in detail
God knows me by name
And in 68/69 They gave freewill offering, according to their ability...
So to our offering to God is freewill, not by force
and only according to our ability
(Not to forget the widows mite)
Last days (vs 17)
my Spirit (vs 17)
old men will dream dreams (vs 17)
both men and women prophesy (vs18)
And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (vs21)
  In summary the passage to me is an urgent call to spread the good news
and to do in guided and powered by God the Holy Spirit

Diary issued by church
Space too crammed to annotate full response but can capture key points.
Ezra 3: Loud shouts of joy, songs of praise and loud weeping in response as the foundation of the temple are laid.
Tension: same event but polar opposite response.
Some people very joyful some people very sad.

Sometimes we have the same tension at one event: happy and sad.
I can think of the passing  of a loved one: sad at early passing, happy for their immortal transition.
I think of the tension as I stand before God
Fearful, a worm such as I
Joyous, a child of God....

Acts 3
I see foundations NOT for health and wealth gospel
This is not a promise of instant physical healing for all
TURN to God....
Until the time comes for God to restore everything.
The DAY of the LORD will come.

This is part of the core of the good news.

Ezra et alia are working to do God's will: to rebuild the temple.
Others seek to destroy!

When a person/ team is in the right track, doing God's work, others may seek to oppose directly and indirectly.

What about me?
Do I seek to support and edifying?
Or do I seek to destroy?

Acts4 vs33
With great power they continued to testify
And much grace was upon them....

Where did that great power come from? 
From Holy Spirit.
And what is grace?

Grace and mercy are sisters.
Mercy is not being punished for the sins
Grace is unmerited favor.

With power of Holy Spirit and with Grace I am to testify ...

A slight digression as to my way of blogging this
I find the page on my daily reading plan
I read the relevant chapters
I pencil the key words on the calanders
I add a photo of that page to this blog
Then I expand on my pencilled key words.

So far I have managed to keep pace.
I imagine for busy days I will fall far behind (as I did for MJC and A2C)
So I will attempt to advance a few days to create a buffer.....

For 5 January: Ezra5
My eyes are caught on the word BUT?
More often than not a crucial word in bible text.
Phrase A..... BUT...Phrase B....
Phrase A refers to the opposition to building the temple and the cessation of building by royal decree and force of arms (Ezra4). Yet Zerubbabel et alia restarted rebuilding.
 Tattenai the governor of the Trans Euphrates challenges them, "By what authority....."

Then we see the BUT
But the eye of their God was watching over the elders of the Jews and they were not stopped until a report could go to Darous and his written reply recieved.

God is watching over you.
He knows every step you take. 
And when you face opposition when doing God's work,
 surrender that opposition to God.
He may allow opposition,
 he may block the opposition,
 or He may allow opposition to redirect your path.

Is a very scary reading for me today.
"You have not lied to men but to God"

Sometime I try to kid myself,
White lie does not matter.
it is only a small lie.
Or only a traffic "irregularity"
Euphamisms replace SIN, LIES, CHEATING.
But God knows.

Need to clean my heart and mouth.
learn to speak the truth in love.

"You have not lied to men but to God"
This is the word of God
Thanks be to God

Old records dug out and deeds done before are recalled.
Reminds me of what happened in Esther 6:1
Reminds me that what I do God knows 
Reminds me that I will get a stone with a name written on it. A new name..
The proposal allowed the spread of the word.
The proposal was delegation of work.
Do not try to do every thing your self
Do not attempt to be the saviour of the world.
In order to do "the best", you must say "No" to doing "the good".
Co-workers are there to help.
Maximize their potential.
We are the body of Christ.
If in a senario you are called to be the "bum"- backside, gluteus minimus, do so with grace!

Ezra7:1-5 Fourteen generation list between Aaron and Ezra: Averaging 30 years between each generation= 420 years
Matt 1:17 Genealogy of Jesus divided into three tranches of 14 generations.
Importance of lineage and family history.
Managed to visit tomb of Mr Tan Kin Hui, the first Tan  to get to Xiamen area from ZhangZhou  750 years ago. 17 generations between Tan Kin Hui and Tan Tock Seng: 6 generations on, Lim Su Min.
23 generations between Tan Kin Hui and Lim Su Min!

Acts 7:2-50 Good summary Abram-Abraham- Moses. We should know our bible history well enough to be able to tell spell binding accounts of God's love story to those who have not yet heard. Bible was crafted in the days where oral tradition was used to transmit culture and values. Gather people around you and chat, talk, tell stories. Sing songs...
I love to tell the story...

Preparation for journey
Praying for journey mercies
Something to be taken seriously
Before every journey 

Acts 8:31
"How can I unless someone explains it to me"
Be willing to be part of this chain
Ask if you do not know
Be available, askable to those around you

Ez9:5 Fell on my knees with my arms outstretched to the Lord
Posture of prayer
Have you ever beren moved to pray like this?
Why not?
What posture would you adopt for joyous praise?
What posture would you use for abject apology?

Saul is addressed in name by the Resurrected Christ
What about what about you?
Have you encountered the Risen Christ!
What is your response?

Ez10:2 We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign wives....
what way have we been unfaithful?
What wife, hobby, vice is causing us to be unfaithful?

Acts 10:1-2 Centurian
Family man, devout, God fearing, gave generously, prayed regularly.
Cornelius What a good role model

N1 Stimulus and response
Stimulus: Bad news
Response: Sit, weep, mourn, fast, 
Pray: adoration praise confession intercession: recall God's promise
Plan to take action.

How do you/ I respond to bad news?

A 11- 10,11
And this happened three times
Three men appeared

Note carefully when THREE appears in bible
I think of Holy Holy Holy
I think of Three Magi...
Three synoptic gospels
Three crosses....

N2:13-14 Nehemiah surveys the work to be done
When setting about a task examine the extent of work that needs to be done
Evaluate the human and physical resources required.

Acts 12:7
..the chains fell off...

My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

What a joy to be liberated from sin, from addictions, from darkness
From depression.

And what do we do with this new freedom?
Share with others the Good News
Jesus comes to save
Amazing love.

Wall, gates, beams, bars, doors, bolts
meticulous, precision, detailed repair

By priests, men, goldsmiths, Levites
All sectors of the community

A13:15 Brothers, if you have amessage of encouragements for the people, please speak...

We are called to build up, not to tear down.
To encourage, not to discourage.
Seek to speak a word of encouragement today...

Day 14 Two weeks completed!

N14 But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.
Trumpets are important.
in military use they sound the alarm or rally the soldiers, send instructions.
What is your trumpet call.
If there is just one message you would shout, what would it be?
Shout it loud
Shout it clear

Acts 14:23 Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church.

It is not enough to to lead people to new believers prayer
Need to encouragement to develop a cell group that multiples
A church planting movement based on power of Holy Spirit and biblical truths

Day 15: N5:15b 
But out of reverence for God I did not act like that (Lording over them)

Two takeaways
1) The action
2) The reason
Action: not lord over
Not act high and mighty
Not act like big boss
(Humility vs pride)
Earlier governors had, but Nehemiah did not.

The why:
Out of fear of the Lord.

out of fear of the Lord
We must not abuse our position of authority 
Eg as employer of domestic maid...

Acts 15:11
No we believe it is through the grace of our Lord we have been saved.

What works must we do to be saved?
None at all
No one can win salvation through works
But expression of love of God is by works.

Wall completed in 52 days
They realized this work had been done with the help of God.

Too often we assume that a mighty accomplishment of ours was done purely by human strength and ability. We forget or ignore that God has an integral part.

In every success and ends our we need to identify the central role of God.

Acts 16:4 Come over to Macedonia to help us....
What an honor it is to respond to the Macaedonean call.
If you are called to the mission field will you not respond?
Contrariwise, if you have not understood God's plan for you in the field and you are charging away in your own strength, is it not time to stop and ask God " why am I here?"

N7:1 After the wall had been rebuilt and I set the doors in place, the gatekeepers and the singers and the Levites were appointed.


Why are they mentioned in this order?
I believe the gatekeepers were of practical importance.
Militarily, for safety and security.
Gatekeepers important.
Levites, priesthood also very important.
And before the Levites are mentioned, the singers are singled out.
It is amazing to me
The very high level of importance of singers as referenced by this order of mentioning.
Singers important
And I sing in the choir!

Acts 17:11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character
Recieved the message with great eagerness and examined the scriptures...

Message for me/us
Recieve the message with great eagerness.
With anticipation
With excitement
Expect God to be telling you something
Even in your daily reading
And from the pulpit message on Sunday.
Look forwards to it.
And check out what you hear
Is it congruent with the word of God....

N8 Ezra reads aloud from daybreak to noon.
 People all stood up.
Listened attentively.
Lifted hands
and said Amen Amen.
Levites instructed the people making it clear.

The reading went on for 6 hours
The people stood in respect of God's word.
They listened attentively
They responded "so be it " , "amen"
And the elders explained the readings 

Good examples to follow

A18:11 So Paul stayed for a year and a half (in Corinth)
Mission word, transformation of community is not hit and run
It takes serious commitment and time.

Specific confession of sins, yet,
But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate slow to anger and abounding in love

When we come to God's throne of grace
We do confess our sins
And remember God's graciousness 

Acts 19:5,6
They were baptized in the name of the LORD Jesus.
When Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them.

Water baptism
An external act to reflect an inner decision
And accompanied by a spiritual Indwelling 

N10:29 Bind with curse/oath to follow Law of God
obey carefully all commands and regulations and decrees

Such was the passion to follow God's rules.
Alas we are frail and none of us can be righteous in our own strength.
We need to surrender control of our lives to God and submit to Holy Spirit.

Acts 20:9
Eutychus: sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on

We need to be mindful of or listeners/participants and not over tax their concentration.
Command their attention creatively.

N11:1 Leaders settled in Jerusalem, rest of the people cast lots.
Community development, with equitable plan for population distribution.

Acts 21:19 Reported in detail what God has done amongst the Gentiles through his ministry.

In ministry work, remember it is God's doing!
And don't forget to tell others abut what God is doing.

N12:27 Dedication of the wall
significant marker point of corporate life deserve celebration, thanksgiving, consecration

A22:25"Is it legal for you to flog a Roman Citizen who hasn't even been found guilty"
1) know the law of the land
2) what are your rights as a child of God?

Balsam and his talking donkey
Cf Numbers 22:28

Acts 23:6
I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead.
Know your doctrine!

Esther, as we review in church and small groups over the next three months...
E1:19 Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes
We are not told
But King had absolute power in those days...

What about the King of Kings: how much of your life does he rule?

Acts 24Felix & Tertullas
Flattery versus Respect.

E2 Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah: Myrtle tree: pleasing, fragrant, righteous, sweet smelling, bitter taste
Esther: hiddenness

Felix, Festus, Agrippa
Passing the buck

Do we take responsibity when others turn to us, or do we try to pass the buck? 

E5:3, in the King's courtyard
“What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you.”

E5:7 at Esther's first banquet 
the king again asked Esther, “Now what is your petition? It will be given you. And what is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted .”

E7:2 Repeated motif
and as they were drinking wine on the second day, the king again asked, “Queen Esther, what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted .”

Oral tradition
Good story telling
Main themes
Repeated motifs

A28: 16-30 
Paul preaches for two years in Rome
Imprisoned, on trial, awaiting death, yet continues to preach
1 Cor 9:16

E6:1 book of chronicles of the kingdom read. Mordecai exposes assassins Bigthana and Teresh.
What should be done to the man that the king delights  to honour.
Haman thinks he is the recipient but is instructed to honour Mordecai
All the more he hates Mirdecai.
Vengeance sought!

R1:34 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but....

BUT what about us!

Esther 7:2-4 NIV
[… “Queen Esther, what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted .”  Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life---this is my petition. And spare my people---this is my request. For I and my people have been sold to …

Esther has gained Kings attention: offered anything up to half his kingdoms request merely that he attends her banquet: and at that first banquet she asks that he attend her second banquet:
Now at the second banquet she poses her request: That her people be saved.

R2:7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory  honour and immorality he will give eternal life;
Judged by works but not saved by works
Salvation is by faith alone.

E8:2 The king took off his signet ring which he had reclaimed from Haman and presented it to Mordecai.
Esther exhaled from slave girl to Queen
Mordecai exalted from slave to Prime Minister.

R3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

ALL have sinned
not "many have sinned"
not "most have sinned"
not "nearly all have sinned"
But ALL. Including me.

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