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— Daniel 11:32
Acts 17 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.
I recently had to submit a 1500 word assignment entitled “Reflecting on your own journey of faith, how has the mission of the church impacted on your own faith journey?” The assignment was an attempt to make me think through the various paradigms of church mission and their influence on my christianity. However the concept that I came out of my study most appreciating is that of God on mission or “missio Dei”.
Missio Dei flips the idea of asking God to help us in our mission and instead forces us to ask the question “what are you doing God”? I find it wonderfully helpful to think of God as being on mission, he is in the world working in peoples lives drawing them to him. And we need to live our lives with eyes open looking for what he is doing so that we can get stuck in.
This passage from Acts demonstrates it beautifully. Paul, speaking to the men of Athens points out the alter to the unknown god and links this to the God who made the heavens and the earth. Who built that alter? How long had it been there? We don’t know. Could it be that God had been up to something and the men of Athens had no idea, could it be that God had arranged for that alter to be in that place knowing that one day his servant would follow up on what he was doing, and use it to bring people to himself.
Father: help me see the unnoticed things in peoples lives and in my world that is actually you at work. Help we me to get onboard with what you are doing. Amen
p.s. I got 74% for that assignment :-]
And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. Mark 9
Whenever I read the story of the transfiguration it makes me think about the second coming. It was as if Peter, James and John got a glimpse of the true glory of Jesus. This was the Jesus that one day all will see, the Jesus that Paul describes in his letter to the Philippians.
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
It is this Jesus that will put all things right, he will fix all that is broken, and mend every injustice. All of creation is waiting for that to happen and Peter, James and John got a small glimpse of that future day.
Father: help me live my life in a way that is always pointing towards that future day. Help me to be prepared and to prepare the world around me for the moment when all you have been doing will be completed, renewed and restored. Help me live in the now but declare the not yet.
Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
I wonder if
people in my church I would live differently if I felt the calling and setting apart for God that is shown to us here. I think we see this kind of commissioning as something very alien and for other more “spiritual” people. Perhaps those who are about to plant a church or move abroad as a missionary.
Hmm I wonder if here again I am missing the point. Perhaps it would be helpful if to understand this type of setting apart for God as the very nature of being a Christian.
Perhaps it is time to reclaim some of the concepts around the idea of a missionary and being on mission. Am I any less of a servant of God for following his call on me to serve him in my town and church. Is my mission field any less valid, goodness knows it needs a move of God.
The truth is I am on mission, I have been called, set apart and sent into my world by the same Holy Spirit that sent Paul and Barnabas.
And so have you.
Perhaps it’s time we began our days with a reminder of our “sentness” (yes, that’s now a word). Who knows what God has waiting for us?
The girls have been having intensive swimming lessons this week. That’s to say that the council’s swimming staff are having extra training, so need children to teach in these supervised and assessed lessons. The girls are loving having different teachers and a myriad of new games and activities to play during their lessons.
A year ago, none of them could swim independently as we had not prioritised swimming lessons as a financial need. They’ve been having lessons now for 11 months. Two of three can swim independently, all of them love their lessons and their teachers and adore being in the water.
As children, Helen and I swam regularly from being tiny babies and well into our teens. I think my first badge was gained at 18 months! Mum and Dad were faithful in driving us to our twice weekly (sometimes three times a week) training sessions at Reddish Vale School. We sit watching our children swimming now and reminisce about Mum and Dad doing the same for us!
I still love swimming and the feeling of being in water. I have never understood the way some people talk passionately about running or gym sessions or team sports. I loved hockey as a teenager, but it was always swimming for me. This morning was my first swim without children in a long time and it was heavenly! The feeling of moving through the water unimpeded by anything is by far the best way to start a day. And while I may….hmmm!….do not have the fitness I had as a teenager, hours of stroke work is laid down in my motor memory and comes back with such ease that it feels effortless…..until my aching shoulders remind me that I am not still 15 ;-) Looks like I’ll be seeing a bit more of the pool this summer….
One of today’s bible readings is Mark 7 and it jumped out at me as carrying a similar message to yesterday’s reading from Acts. It reads as almost a prequel to the"circumcision party" and could be called the "law party".
The story is one of the encounters that Jesus had with the Pharisees. This time the issue concerned their traditions which Jesus seemed to be dismissing. Jesus’ answer to them seems to be “you are missing the point”.
The Pharisees seemed to miss the point on everything. They missed it regarding God, missed it regarding the law and definitely missed it when it came to Jesus.
It’s no wonder that Jesus in his response to their questions moves the conversation on to the condition of the heart.
v21-22 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality,envy, slander, pride, foolishness.
I think that God is challenging me to keep my heart passionate for Him. I’m reminded of Solomon’s wisdom in telling us to-
Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life. (Prov4:23)
The Pharisees would have done well to think on these ancient words of wisdom. I can think of many words to describe the Pharisees but life is not one of them and you can’t help but wonder at the condition of their hearts.
Jesus echoing the proverbs reminds me that the condition of my heart is crucial. Jesus makes it clear that humankind has a heart problem. But how wonderful that Jesus became the very solution to the problem.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me. (Ps 51:10)