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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 

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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