God redeems the despised things

At church we’re coming to the end of a 14 week sermon series in Levitcus and Numbers. I’ll admit that I was not particularly looking forward to 3 months in these Old Testament books but I’ve loved the way we have been constantly pointed to Jesus. I have been (once again) amazed at what Jesus achieved for us on the cross.

Today’s sermon was from Numbers 21

They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”

Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.

The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.

I was especially struck by this thought from the sermon:

A few chapters earlier (Num 11:6) the people had complained about the manna God gave them to eat. They took what should have been hope of life (food in the middle of the desert) and made it detestable. In chapter 21 God takes what is detestable (a snake) and turns it into hope of life.

Then this from John 3:

14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.

Once again, God takes what looks detestable and turns it into the ultimate hope for life everlasting.

Death is not the worst thing

Today was kind of a strange day for me. Instead of spending it hanging out with my fellow MTC 4th year buddies I spent it with my sisters, trying to work out what contribution we wanted to make to our grandmother’s funeral on Tuesday. We were very close to my grandparents on mum’s side, and the 4 of us were their only grandchildren. When Grandad died I felt like I had tonnes of memories I wanted to share with people – so many good times to look back on. The memories were so fresh then. But not so with Grandma.

I feel like I’ve actually had two grandmothers in one. The first – the one I love so much, is the Grandma whose house we spent every school holidays at because mum & dad both worked. The Grandma whose house my older sister and I were quarantined to when we had the chicken pox. The Grandma who, along with my Grandad, turned up at our house 6 weeks into their 6 months camper van trip around the country, because they missed us too much. Instead they packed up me and my sisters (I was 10, my sisters 13, 7 & 5) and took us on a 4 week trip to Cairns. Probably the greatest holiday of my life and only 1 of many they took us on over the years.

The other Grandma only appeared 6 years ago. The Alzheimer’s started long before that, but 6 years ago Grandma became an old woman who didn’t know who I was anymore. By the time she died there wasn’t a single person in this world that she recognised.

I’ve heard it said that death is not the worst thing that can happen to a person. For Grandma this is certainly true. She was a woman who loved Jesus and served him with her whole life. Death was the best thing for her.

On Thursday she had surgery to pin a broken femur, and on Tuesday she died from post operative multi-system organ failure. Alzheimer’s may not have killed her, but it took her life from her years ago. It was back then I grieved the loss of my wonderful grandmother. For that reason I don’t feel sad that she died. We lost her 6 years ago and we have grieved for all those years. I do feel sad that the last 6 years are the freshest memories right now. I hope they fade and I start to remember the 24 amazing years before that. But I also don’t want to forget the last 6 years completely, because they remind me of this truth

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” [1 Corinthians 15:51-54]

When I think about that I feel indescribable joy – because God is good and faithful to his promise. Death is defeated and my Grandma lives! She is raised imperishable with a body and mind that work. Praise Jesus that she is home with him. I look forward to joining them one day.

“tomorrow will worry about itself”

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. [Matthew 6:25-34]

 

Counting down…

There’s a few things I’m counting down till at the moment.

25 days – till BON JOVI!!! can’t wait! Last time I saw them I was 15. This time it’s a 30th birthday present from my sisters. Me, 2 of my sisters, their husbands, my oldest nephew (he’s 12 – gonna LOVE it!), Jon, Richie, David and my favourite drummer in the world – Tico. There may be some other people there. For the next 25 days I’m dedicating all of my facebook status updates to lyrics from my fav Bon Jovi songs. Here’s some classic Bon Jovi for you to enjoy! (I wouldn’t mind if he sang this at the concert but I’m glad that those pants won’t be making an appearance)

35 days – till I hit 30. I’m counting this down by planning a party and trying hard to NOT freak out about being 30 and single.

1 year (ish) – till I finish college for good. Much excitement. Very much looking forward to 4th year. And even more looking forward to what comes after that. Of course I wish I knew what that was ;-)

These are exciting things to be counting down till. Knowing that they are coming affects things I do now – I’m getting ready and preparing for exciting days.

I was reminded last night of something much bigger and more exciting that I should be counting down till.

This will take place at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his powerful angels …  (2 Thessalonians 1:7)

It will be exciting but there is a harsh truth that comes with it

… taking vengeance with flaming fire on those who don’t know God and on those who don’t obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of everlasting destruction, away from the Lord’s presence and from his glorious strength, in that day when he comes to be glorified by his saints and to be admired by those who have believed. (2 Thessalonians 1:9-10)

We don’t know when the day we are counting down to will happen. But we know it will. So I pray that while we wait we will be getting ready for it and counting down by telling as many people as we can.

Want to know how to be on the good side? Find out here.

Rest in Peace

Don’t worry, no-one died. Actually Andy Irons did but this is not about him. Well, its a little bit about him, because the phrase ‘rest in peace’ appeared on my Facebook homepage several times today. Not unexpected really – happens every time someone dies. Rest in peace. What I do find slightly unexpected is when my Christian friends use it. Maybe its a deficiency in my understanding but I’m not really sure what it means when Christians say it. That is, I don’t know what they are trying to express when they say it.

As Christians we know this

27 People are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment. Hebrews 9:27

We also know this

36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them. John 3:36

Some will rest. They’ll rest in peace because they rest in Jesus. And for the others – this pithy expression of sympathy seems disingenuous at best.

The only way to rest in peace is to rest in Jesus. Want to know more?

Barth on Christian suffering

Came across this quote in my exam prep. Food for thought –

“If, then, a man is not oppressed by his environment, if he has nothing serious to fear or to suffer at its hands, he has reason carefully to ask at least whether and how far he is genuinely a Christian at all and not fundamentally self-deceived in this respect.” – Karl Barth

 

Jesus sought me when a stranger

This morning in chapel we sang the beautiful hymn Come Thou Font

Despite having sung it many times this morning the words hit me in a different way than they every have – particularly these 2 verses

Here I raise my Ebenezer,
Hither by Thy help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

Oh, to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be;
Let that grace now like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee:
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it;
Prone to leave the God I love.
Here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

It’s like singing my life story. Amazing.