Ways of Heart


Chapter 38

Good Monday Morning to this week 38 of 2021

…. and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6.8

Last week I left out this very important part of the verse out.
Not sure why, probably because I was so focused on the selective justice part.
But, oh yes, how important these ways of heart that Micah writes of are!

…. to walk humbly with thy God!

Micah is a master poet filled with metaphors, similes, wordplay and symbolic imagery. Micah judiciously balances oracles of judgment and oracles of redemption, with a uniquely clear view of the sovereign grace of God, and of the origin and divine nature of the coming Messiah. On this occasion, Micah is looking over the hills of Judah from the city of Moresheth to the Philistine cities. He knows of the kings of Judah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah and was active until 728 BC. Micah’s message of judgment is interspersed with words of hope!
In the end, judgment would be replaced by the Lord’s grace, unfailing love, faithfulness, forgiveness, pardon, and compassion. Israel would be restored and renewed, and God would fulfill his promise! In a time of turmoil, dishonesty, division and imminent horror, he warned the people in ways of heart.

…. and to walk humbly with thy God!

The “walk” metaphor is used often in Scripture to describe the overall direction one’s life is heading. Walking in the way of the Lord or walking the light are two examples. This poetic picture envisions a comfortable relationship of presence with God and a life that fits into that path. For walking with God there must be communion, based in love, and resulting in imitation. And that communion must be constant and run through all of our lives.

another beautiful analogy:
“to live continually grasping the hand of God, and conscious of His overshadowing wing at all moments at every step of the walk.”

The Message is a little less poetic but very pragmatic:
.. and don’t take yourself too seriously— take God seriously!

The adverb “humbly” moves us away from arrogance and the egocentric need to always be better than others, to the simple acceptance of the gifts that God has placed within us. A famous hymn gets in a nutshell:

When we walk with Him, He abides with us!

Wishing you a good start to this week!

Philemon



Justice is not selective


Chapter 37

Good Monday Morning to this week 37 of 2021

Micah 6:8 “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness!

I think it’s important that people take this opportunity to really expound on things like equality, inclusion, diversity. These words need to become transformed into our lives in a relative way that they are applicable, that we are actually working it, that people can actually say well if this is what I believe, if I truly believe in equality, if I truly believe in justice for all, it is justice for all, not justice that is selective, because … a justice that is selective … is an oxymoron, that’s not justice at all. Rev. Mykal Slack, Congregational Life

A challenging quote in a time of much division and much injustice.

Wishing you peace and kindness and clarity to see God’s justice this week!

Philemon

We rise

Chapter 36

Good Monday Morning to this week 36 of 2021

Stood alone on a mountain top, starin’ down. I could go east, I could go west, it was all up to me to decide. Just then I saw a young hawk flyin’ and my soul began to rise. B Seger

This Saturday I got two messages from two friends. Both were within one hour from each other and contained their current observation of hawks. One was a video showing a hawk, circling wildly around a few trees that were in great motion because of the wind. The second was an observation of four, then three then two hawks coming from the bushes. The four birds rose, then one left, three returned, finally two remained and were engaged in a fight or struggle right above the observers head very near an open field where the person observed.

If it’s wild to your own heart, protect it, preserve it, love it and fight for it. Dedicate yourself to it, whether it’s a mountain range, an activity or a relationship. It doesn’t matter if it’s wild to anyone else: if it’s what makes your heart sing if it’s what makes your days soar like a hawk in the summertime, then focus on it. Because for sure, it’s wild, and if it’s wild, it’ll mean you’re still free. R. Bass

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40.31

In the Barnes Commentary, I quote: But they that wait upon the Lord – The word denotes properly to wait, in the sense of expecting. The phrase, ‘to wait on Yahweh,’ means to wait for his help; that is, to trust in him, to put our hope or confidence in him. Shall renew their strength or to change. The Hebrew word commonly means to change, to alter; and then to revive, to renew, to cause to flourish again. They shall mount up with wings as eagles – ‘They shall put forth fresh feathers like the moulting eagle;’ and in his note on the passage remarks, that ‘it has been a common and popular opinion that the eagle lives and retains his vigour to a great age; and that, beyond the common lot of other birds, he moults in his old age, and renews his feathers, and with them his youth. ’So that thy youth is renewed like the eagles,’ refers to this fact a common and popular opinion among the ancients. The opinion was, that at stated times the eagle plunged itself in the sea and cast off its old feathers, and that new feathers started forth, and that thus it lived often to the hundredth year, explaining the meaning of ‘They shall put forth fresh feathers like eagles.

Let us rise to the challenges of this week – with the rising wind of God and the fresh feathers of faith!

Philemon

Built by Angles

Chapter 35

Good Monday Morning to this week 35 of 2021

Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to myriads of angels, a festive gathering. Hebrews 12.22

In recent weeks, the TPLF forces have captured the town of Lalibela, in the northern Amhara region, the site of a cluster of some of Christianity’s oldest houses of worship. The Lalibela churches were carved by medieval Ethiopian Christians as an alternative pilgrimage site to Jerusalem. 

The Lalibela churches take their form, placement, and orientation from both geological features and structures within the complex. While precise dating for the complex and its components has yet to be determined, scholars generally agree that it was constructed in four or five phases between the seventh and thirteenth centuries. Ethiopian tradition ascribes the whole construction to the reign of King Gebre Mesqel Lalibela (r. ca. 1181–1221).

Each of the 11 monolithic structures is dramatically stamped into the mountainous landscape, plunging 40 to 50m into the Earth and pierced with cross-shaped chiselled openings to let sunlight into the hollowed-out interior.

According to the writings of the saints, they were carved over a period of twenty-four years with the assistance of angels.

It is true that each preserved monument ‘speaks for itself. But unfortunately, it speaks in a language that the average visitor cannot comprehend. Beauty and the majesty of natural forces need no interlocutor. Tilden

The mount Zion is frequently described as the dwelling-place of God. Likewise, the heavenly Jerusalem is called the city of the living God, not so much because he,  the living and acting God be the architect, but because He has His throne there. So is it’s no longer so far removed of a thought that he would send his angles from the court of heaven to assist the King of Lalibela to build these magnificent houses of worship.

Now, dear Lord, our prayer is, come with your assistance of angles, as so many things are in danger of being torn down, being destroyed and so many new things are being built. Come with this assistance to the continued building of your Church, a church that will represent you and worship you for many many years to come. 

Wishing you this assistance in this week ahead.

Philemon 

Sacred Space

Chapter 34

Good Monday Morning to this new week 34 of 202

Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. Matthew 6.6


Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the silent hours of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this fleeting world may rest in your eternal changelessness; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Much of the content of the sermon on the mount centres around the secret heart.

Jewish homes had a place for secret devotion. Over the porch, or entrance of the house, there was frequently a small room of the size of the porch, raised a story above the rest of the house, expressly appropriated for the place of retirement. To this place, to the “upper room”,  the disciples were guided to when they wished to hold communion with God.

Prayer in secret is an incredible privilege, we get the privilege of being with our Father in heaven. Only He completely knows what we will receive at his hand in those moments with him, while we gain peace from his presence, and from casting our cares upon him.

A closed room, a closet, a grove, a mountain, a garden, a hill …. The closed-door is more likely referring to the door of your heart. Pray your prayers between you and God, and isn’t it there where faith begins?

God the Father is a spirit he is also unseen, a secret mystery. Yet God is also omnipresent, He sees what is secret, and even knows the mysteries of a person’s heart. Through the mystery and quiet of opening and closing doors in the secret place, there is great reward in knowing God and coming to him by faith.

The New King James has a very special way of concluding the verse;
“and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly”.  If we take the metaphor of the door of the closet; it is part of our decision to go to him, to “close the door” while it is God’s presence and Gods grace to be there and “open the door”.

Wishing you a great start to this new week.

Philemon 

Acces to God

Chapter 33

Good Monday Morning to this week 33 of 2021

Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding.
Matthew 6.1

Some people misread the Sermon on the Mount by interpreting the whole thing as a sustained warning to those who would presume they can achieve the righteousness of the kingdom of heaven by their own effort. Not so. Read on its own terms, the Sermon resounds with words of promise, beginning with Jesus’ opening about the poor in spirit. Our passage repeatedly assures that God sees and blesses our genuine service and worship. Jesus promises that people enjoy magnificent access to God, even — or especially — through the most simple and understated expressions of devotion.

Does Jesus deconstruct the religion of the Pharisaism with the Sermon on the Mount? Interesting how Islam took on the three great duties of the religious life, almsgiving, fasting, and prayer, rather than the part of sacrifices and offerings.

Jesus changes the perspective of almsgiving and the righteousness of the time. He is introducing the ways of the Kingdom of Heaven. The two words righteousness and almsgiving were nearly synonymous with the Jews, partly because the poor had a right to share in the produce of the land; partly because almsgiving was the most natural and obvious external work of righteousness. In the same way agapé (love), a leading Christian virtue, has lost its original breadth of meaning and had been reduced to the modern and restricted sense of charity.

The design of the whole discourse was to teach true righteousness. It’s about how we give to the poor, acknowledging the expectation that we do have an obligation to care for the poor. The metaphor with the blowing of trumpets to add a very vivid picture with the warning he gives concerning the applause. The “blowing of the horn” is to illustrate to advertising your own piety, seeking the applause of man. The second part of this verse is saying if you crave public applause for your deeds, that applause is all the reward that you will get. To simply put it, seeking credit from others does not equal receiving credit from God, but the spontaneous giving to the poor reflects someone who is truly righteous in the eyes of the Lord.

This passage shows that we can never gain enough favor in the eyes of our peers for God to accept us. He is also an all-knowing and loving God who will reward us for your actions which stem from your love for God. This passage reveals that we will always feel the need to be noticed and that we want instant gratification for our actions, a reward we can see. This passage shows that we have a personal relationship with God. He is not just someone we know of, but someone who is with us and notices all that we do. God is aware of our actions and wants us to want to grow our discipleship and relationship with him.

Never futile is the work (for the poor) for it is a product not of the mind of man but of the sovereign grace of God. W. Hendriksen

Wishing you a good start to this week!

Philemon

Hot and Cold

Chapter 32

Good Monday Morning to this week 32 of 2021

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to vomit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3: 15-16 

The large population and extensive textile industry in Laodicea required an ample water supply. The three major cities around the valley, Laodicea, Colossae, and Hierapolis, all had distinct water sources. Laodicea piped water from the mountains to the south. After 6 miles in an aqueduct, the water arrived lukewarm with a gritty concentration of calcium carbonate.

Colossae was tucked into the foot of Mount Honaz where cold mountain run-off water poured down to supply the city with fresh water. Hierapolis was positioned on magnificent hot springs that emitted mineral rich waters attracting visitors from all over Asia to its therapeutic baths. Hierapolis had hot water beneficial for therapeutic purposes and Colossae had cold water for a refreshing drink, Laodicea’s piped water was best suited for the textile industry, or flushing the city’s plumbing system. If you ingested the water, it would function as an emetic an agent causing you to vomit.

Let’s look at the spiritual metaphor used by the author.

Do you think that it teaches that Jesus prefers people to hate him or love him, or just not to “sit on the fence.”?  Jesus doesn’t want anybody to hate him. That common teaching from this passage is not only crazy when you stop and think about it; it’s bad Bible interpretation.

Is the implication that Jesus is saying “any decision is better than indecision”? Isn’t it far more telling us to serve a purpose? Hot water could heal. Cold water could refresh. We should bring a similar blessing to people around us. In serving Him our actions were meant to embody his values and contribute to his redemptive mission. When we just live for ourselves like the lukewarm water that contributed to the wealth engine of the Laodicean textile industry, we are useless. We lose our purpose while serving ourselves.

I think this text is calling for us to embrace our redemptive role and purpose.

Wishing you a blessed start to this week!

Philemon 

Gates, Portals and Doors

Chapter 31

Good Monday Morning to this week 31 of 2021

Very seldom do I take a go at understanding Revelation with all it’s deapth and many metaphers to the coming Kingdom. It’s so full of wonderful promises and encouragement to our journey, I’ll give it a attempt nevertheless.

I see what you’ve done. Now see what I’ve done. I’ve opened a door before you that no one can slam shut. You don’t have much strength, I know that; you used what you had to keep my Word. You didn’t deny me when times were rough. Revelation 3.8, The Message

I the Lord see interiors and exteriors at once. I have opened a door, the admission is ready, you have done works of faith in word and deed, and now this door won’t be your own work, this you cannot open yourself, this is where I need to come to your rescue. You have been lead along the path, the way of truth and the life, there have been gates to open, there have been many tests and much truth to uphold and stand for along the way. Jesus said, Strive to enter in at the straight gate, for many will seek to enter in, and shall not be able (Luke 13:24). Gates, portals and doors are all part of the way and the plan. At many a gate were angels waiting and revealing the glory of the King encouraging you to continue the journey.

Gates may have been closed or shut, then reopened, but this coming door no one is able to shut. No other forces will prevail against it. When it is opened, the Lord alone opens. The ones with little power are not in regard to their journey, faith or strength, it’s in regard to the lacking ability or power to open this door themselves. Faith lead the journey along through the gates, past portals and finally to this door, this door that He the Almighty is waiting to open for you.

Wishing you a journey full of faith as you go from paths to gates, to another path to another gate, holding fast to the amazing promise of seeing what He has done and what He will do for you, as He opens again another door of His grace.

Philemon 

How great Thou art

Chapter 30

Good Monday Morning to this new week 30 of 2021

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Romans 1.20

This morning I read that in the last night a record amount of Lightning flashes (bolts) came down over the area of Switzerland, the amount of 25’000 bolted down.

The meteorological light shows that what we experience here on earth are one of God’s own ideas, and His Word mentions the phenomenon quite often – in historical accounts, in poetry, and as descriptive comparisons where no other thing was appropriate.

In fact, the Bible says that once man has seen the magnificence, the intricacies, and the beauties of what has been created, we then have no excuse for not knowing about God.

When Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, the Lord sent thunder and hail, and lightning flashed down to the ground. So the Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt. Moses

On the morning of the third day, there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Moses

See how he scatters his lightning about him, bathing the depths of the sea. Job

Do you know how God controls the clouds and makes his lightning flash? Job

Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’? Job

He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; he sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses. Psalms

When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar; he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth. He sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses. Jeremiah

I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal Ezekiel

Then the Lord will appear over them; his arrow will flash like lightning. The Sovereign Lord will sound the trumpet; he will march in the storms of the south. Zechariah

The Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. Luke

Seeing in the time of the scriptures, they trembled at the flashes of lighting and read much meaning into the dangerous light show in the heavens, over the day and night sky.
A few meanings … it was indicating the power of God, the power of God is shown in His command of the forces of nature, and He is the only one who knows the secrets of nature.

David sings figuratively and poetically of Yahweh: He sent …. lightning manifold, and discomfited them. He also used it to describe the speed and velocity of God: The chariots …. run like the lightning, His arrow shall go forth as the lightning. The living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning. Luke described the coming of the kingdom as described by Jesus as the shining of the lightning from one part of heaven to another, even “from the east unto the west”. Daniel used the meaning of lightning with the use of the adverbs bright and shining. In his vision he saw a man and his face was as the appearance of lightning.

We look to God as we experience these many storms, floods and troubling times.

Wishing you His protection and care and great awareness as the lyrics of the hymn remind us. How Great Thou Art, by Carrie Unterwood and Swedisch poem written by Carl Boberg.

Oh Lord, my God
When I, in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout the universe displayed
(with 9 more verses)

The inspiration for the poem came when Boberg was walking home from church near Kronobäck, Sweden, and listening to church bells.

Carl Boberg and some friends were returning home to Mönsterås from Kronobäck, where they had participated in an afternoon service. Presently a thundercloud appeared on the horizon, and soon lightning flashed across the sky. Strong winds swept over the meadows and billowing fields of grain. The thunder pealed in loud claps. Then rain came in cool fresh showers. In a little while the storm was over, and a rainbow appeared. When Boberg arrived home, he opened the window and saw the bay of Mönsterås like a mirror before him… From the woods on the other side of the bay, he heard the song of a thrush… the church bells were tolling in the quiet evening. It was this series of sights, sounds, and experiences that inspired the writing of the song.

Philemon

Solo gratia

Chapter 29

Good Monday Morning to this new week

A powerful and short quote with yet another awesome aspect to the topic of grace.

Grace is not something God creates to give you when needed. Grace is the very presence of God Himself. To ask to be granted grace, is to ask for Him who is grace itself to infuse you with a greater capacity to contain Him. M. Chironna

Wishing a week filled with His presence!

Philemon