Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Luke 2:4

Luke 2:4 - Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David (NIV)

Christmas is on Monday, and New Year follows soon after that. It's a time of reflection, a time to look back at the year. When a project finishes we have a Lessons Learned phase, and we need to have this in life as well. John Lennon asks "So this is Christmas, what have we done?", and Sting says "History will teach us nothing".

When I consider that Jesus was born during a census, and that he was born in Bethlehem because Joseph was from the house of David, I think God wants us to consider that heritage is important. We shouldn't be looking backwards all the time, to wonder how things could be different with a different past, but we should acknowledge what has happened before, and where we come from.

So I want to look back and learn. Learn from the past project, learn from the past year (or month, week, five minutes), learn from my heritage. I want to value the heritage that time gives me, because it's a gift from above.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Romans 4:20-21

Romans 4:20-21 - Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. (NLT)

I want to be like Abraham. I want to have complete trust in the fact that God's promises hold true. I do believe in God's faithfulness, but I know that when I look at my life, I don't always act as if they are true. Stepping out is one thing. Stepping out where my only safety net is God's word... well, that's where I want to be. But so often I have doubts about what God is telling me to do. I am fully convinced that God loves me, cares for me, is on my side, all those things... but when it comes to being fully convinced that the direction he wants for my life is one thing or another... that's harder. Lord - help me in this!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

1 John 4:16

1 John 4:16 - And so we know and rely on the love God has for us... (NIV)

I haven't put anything on here for about three weeks. I got sick soon after my last post, and I've come back to work this week to find myself extraordinarily busy in all kinds of ways.

The frustration of being sick is horrible. I know that God heals. I really do. But I also know that I often have a hard time seeing myself get healing. God is good though, and I know for absolute certain that he loves me. The fact that he does means that I can actually be much more effective in prayer too. When I pray for someone, I know that God loves them, and me as well, and that means that I confidently ask for them to receive the healing, or release from a situation, or whatever it is that I'm praying for them about. For some reason though, when I'm in a situation myself, I just don't have the same kind of confidence.

I really do rely on the love that God has for me. Without it, things would be very different. Because I know that God loves me, I have a lot more confidence about all kinds of things. It doesn't necessarily make me brave enough to step out and take some of the risks that I would like to, but it does mean that when things hit the fan, I can always fall back on the fact that I am his.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Luke 15:7

Luke 15:7 - "I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance." (NASB)

This gets me. Who doesn't need repentance? Presumably he's talking here about people who are already saved, because otherwise surely they're not righteous, and they do need repentance. But perhaps he's talking about people who consider themselves to be in that bracket, where they really are or not. People who aren't saved, and don't even consider they need to be.

I think the thing that makes heaven rejoice is repentance full-stop. We are all sinners, so whenever someone repents (that is, turn from a life without Christ to a life with Christ), that's cause for celebration. And I agree - that's a great thing. I encourage you, if you don't know Christ - get to know him!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

1 John 4:16

1 John 4:16 - ...and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. (NASB)

I used to have a bit of trouble with this scripture, and the ones just before it, where John writes that if we love each other, we must clearly be Christians, because God is love. I thought "But that can't be right. There are people who love each other who aren't Christians..." But these days I consider that it's so much more involved than that.

I think the question really comes down to "What do you mean by 'abides in love'?". After all, there's a difference between just loving someone who loves you back, and actually abiding in love. Abiding suggests you spend every minute of your day there. It's not just living there, treating the place like a hotel (to quote my mum), but abiding, more like a state of being if you like. And I think if you consider people that abide in love, then you're actually a lot closer to what John means by this.

And of course, whether other people are doing (being?) this or not is their business. There's a nice quote in the Narnia books, where someone asks Aslan about another person, and he says something like "No-one is told any story but their own". The kind of challenge that John gives me here is not about what qualifies someone else, but for me. I need to consider whether I am abiding in love, not whether anyone else is.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Proverbs 2:11

Proverbs 2:11 - Discretion will guard you, understanding will watch over you (NASB).

It's 6:22pm on a Friday night and I'm still at work. I've just reinstalled my PocketPC, because it was refusing to connect to the new Exchange server at work. I wished a friend who has been in Australia for the last fortnight a good trip back to Israel, and I'm keen to go home soon.

Discretion will guard me. Other translations say Wise Choices or Good Sense. I think this comes down to the way we handle ourselves with others. When I get home, I will try to find ways to make sure the house is ready for when my wife gets home at about 9pm (the kids are at a birthday party that finishes late). But I also need to finish off a document or two. I guess this is one of those situations where wise choices can come into play. I can be at work late because I have nothing to pull me home. But I need to make the choice to go home earlier more often. That's the kind of discretion that will help guard my marriage.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

1 Peter 3:9

1 Peter 3:9 - Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

So when someone throws an insult your way, or treats you badly - don't just turn the other cheek, but go out of your way to do something good for them. And this is something we're called to do. It's not just something that is a good thing to do, we're actually called to it. Like a vocation. Some people are called to being amazingly technical. Some people are called to being amazingly diplomatic, or to sell. But as Christians, we're called to bless those people who treat us badly. Interesting thought, and one that drives me crazy sometimes. Parts of me want to snap back at people, get revenge, that type of thing. But when it comes down to it, I know that on the inside, I do actually want to bless them. I guess that's part of having your mind renewed. The world might look at it as being a sucker, but God can use this trait to bring blessing to us.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Ecclesiastes 5:11

Ecclesiastes 5:11 - The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what good is wealth - except perhaps to watch it slip through your fingers!

I think there's a difference between the kind of wealth that is enabling and the kind of wealth that is just for wealth's sake. I don't want to accumulate stuff, but I would like to be free to do what I want to do. To not have to work to pay the bills - that would be good.

However, working is good. It's good for the soul, or something. I have to remind myself this on days when I don't want to be there. It's easier to write this in the evening than during the day, of course. In the evenings, I can look up and see my family. I can easily remind myself that I don't work for myself, but for God and for my family. One day I'm sure God will work out a way for me to be financially independent, at which point I will do a lot more for him - working for the church or something. But for now, each day at the IT firm that is my employer is for him.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Lamentations 3:25

Lamentations 3:25 - The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. (NLT)

This works for me. I really depend on God. I can't even imagine life without him. I can't imagine life without my wife either, but I know I'd survive somehow. Without God, I really don't think I'd survive at all. The fact that he is good to those who depend him (like me!) works. I want the supreme being in the universe on my team. I consider him my friend, and I know he cares for me. That prompts me to love him, and search for him. Even if he wasn't good to me, I'd do these things - but it's a fantastic promise that he makes here.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

James 3:13

James 3:13 - Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. (NIV)

I got awarded a Microsoft MVP award last week. It's a flattering gesture by them, and it's supposed to suggest that I know about my area of expertise, which is SQL Server. I feel honoured, especially considering some of the other people who have been awarded it too. But then today I came across this scripture. There's a difference between knowledge and wisdom. I know a chunk of stuff about writing SQL queries, but I'm wise enough to know that I'd be stupid to be proud of knowledge or wisdom.

The other aspect to this scripture is that it suggests our good lives are seen by other people. That's tough. We actually have to live as if we're being watched. I don't think this is really the mindset to have, but rather, to do our best to honour God in everything. If we honour God in every part of our lives, then that will be seen as a 'good life' by anyone watching. But the focus is God, not the watcher.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Psalm 23:1

Psalm 23:1 - The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. (NLT)

It's true, I do have all that I need. Other versions say "I'll not want". Except that it doesn't typically feel like I have all that I need, and I do want for stuff. I don't chase money or fame, that kind of thing, but there are lots of things that I feel like I want. Even worldly things, like a smaller mortgage, or a stronger back. But when I read scriptures like this one today, I find it really good to reflect that actually, I do have all that I need. If I were to die with things the way they are right now, then I will be with God, and be happy forever. That doesn't stop me wanting change, wanting to be more effective, wanting to achieve... but my needs are most definitely met. Thanks, Lord.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Colossians 3:2

Colossians 3:2 - Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (ESV)

I love this scripture. It's one of those ones that I often come back to. The amount of control we have over stuff that goes on in our lives is really small, but this is just a brief period before we spend eternity with God. It's a shame that we (okay, I) get so caught up in the day-to-day activities of life that we need reminding to come back to God. The fact is, I wasn't created for this world. God designed me for fellowship with him, and everything that I learn here is preparing me for my role in the next life. I think that's pretty good.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Galatians 3:11

Galatians 3:11 - is clear that no one can ever be right with God by trying to keep the law... (NLT)

This translation makes it really clear. You can't get right by God by being a good person. It just doesn't work that way. We need to have a relationship with God, which we can only have because Jesus died on the cross to pay for it.

I'm sure there's some benefit in being a good person. But it's not going to get me into heaven. What will is my relationship with God. Just like in careers, it's not what you do, it's who you know.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

I Samuel 23:15-29

When Saul gets word as to David's location he sets out with a bunch of men to find and track down David.

David figures this out and starts the escape process, however, Saul and his men are closing in on David (v26).

Things aren't going well. for David. His enemy wants to hunt him down and kill him (1 Samuel 20:31), and it looks like the noose is tightening.

This would be a desperate time for David, it would have been tines like this that he wrote psalms like Psalm 17, which is a cry Lo God for help.

Because David had a habit of pouring out his heart and earnestly pleading his case with the Lord, he could see the Lord working.

So when a messenger arrived with news about a Philistine invasion that required the kings attention, David knew at once that the Lord had heard his prayer and had delivered him.
In this situation, David would probably write a Psalm of praise such as Psalm 18.

What is our prayer testimony like? Do we pour out our heart to the Lord and thank and praise Him when He graciously acts on our behalf?

Acts 3:19

Acts 3:19 - Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away... (NASB)

I love this about God. It doesn't matter where what our background is, or what our sins are. We repent, and our sins are wiped away. Not just the sins in the past, but in the future too. That's an incredible situation. I love reading Romans, because it talks about the fact that we are so free from sin that it doesn't matter what we do. Of course, "repenting and returning" means that we actually change our behaviour, so that we don't go around sinning on purpose, but when I stuff up and do something stupid - that sin doesn't count against me. The cross is just amazing. God is amazing. That he would send Jesus to die to cancel out all my sin... wow.

Monday, October 02, 2006

2 Corinthians 5:16

2 Corinthians 5:16 - So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. (NIV)

It's interesting. When you become a Christian, you really do look at people differently. Actually, I'm not sure about that, because I don't remember ever not being a Christian. But I know that some non-Christian friends of mine really consider someone people a waste of space. I honestly don't feel that way about people. Everyone is worthwhile. Christ didn't just die for the valuable people, but for the 'wastes of space' too.

For developers, there's an interesting connection. We have to consider that everyone is a potential user of the systems we put together. This should make us much more interested in them than if we weren't developers. I'm not saying we should code for the lowest denominator, but we should consider everyone a client, and treat them accordingly.

1 Samuel 23:1-14

David hears that the Philistines have attacked the city of Keilah and enquires of the Lord to see if he should go and fight them.

When the lord tells him he should David goes up and fights the philistines at Keilah and saved the citizens of that city.

Where was Saul? Why didn't he come and help Keilah? He was the king land it was his responsibility to save his people.

We find that word reaches Saul that David is in Keilah, so presumably he hears about the attack and does nothing. This may be because he is so preoccupied with finding and killing David that he puts other things aside to focus on the pursuit. Meanwhile David, his enemy, is actually doing the work of the king.

It is easy to focus on the wrong things and forfeit our responsibilities. for Saul it meant his mortal enemy was actually doing Sauls job, even before David was king.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

John 6:35

John 6:35 - Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life..." (NASB)

What point is it if you have a bunch of great things, but the thing that sustains you is missing? Like winning the lottery the day before your terminal cancer finally has its way.

Yesterday I wrote about Jesus being like a building foundation, but when he says he's the bread of life, it suggests something different. We need food every day. We can't just make do eating once a week. We can hear/read something and act on that for a long period of time - but we still need to eat regularly. The idea of this blog is to get myself (and the others who start posting to it) writing down our thoughts when we read the Bible. If you don't write when you read the Bible, I encourage you start. It really helps it get into your system more. And if you can make yourself accountable to others, then even better. We do need to eat regular meals, after all.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Matthew 7:24

Matthew 7:24 - Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.

This is Jesus talking, but Jesus and God are the same, so that's cool. Comparing his words like a concrete foundation is an interestingly analogy. We all build our lives on something. Sometimes it's on the search for wealth or happiness. Sometimes it's on our heritage and traditions. But if we build our lives with a foundation of God's word, then have a strong foundation, and won't suffer when an earthquake comes.

And of course, it's important that you don't just hear his words, but that you act on them too. No point in reading the Bible if you ignore everything that's there. It would be like stopping by the pub on the way home from an AA meeting. If you're going to have God as your foundation, you really ought to be acting on his word, not just hearing/reading it.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Romans 3:23

Romans 3:23 - ...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (NASB)

I was reading Scott Adams' blog (he writes the Dilbert comic) recently, and he talked about whose fault it would be if a kid got killed by a bear he was prodding. Scott's point was that it's no-one's fault really. The kid could be seen as being responsible for his actions, but he's just a kid, right? The bear is responding out of his natural instincts, so you wouldn't say it's his fault. Whatever your views are on this matter, it raises an interesting point.

All have sinned. Including that non-Christian over there. I'm not saying it's his fault he's sinned, just like it's not someone's fault if they get cancer. He might be a really good person, but without Christ, he can't make it into heaven. I guess that's harsh, but God is holy and we're not. So to be able to have life with God, we need Christ first. He died so that our sin could be cancelled out. It doesn't matter whose fault it is that we've sinned. That's not the point. The point is that our state of sinfulness can be cured (just like a disease) when we get Christ. Then we can be friends with God. Easy, huh!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Proverbs 1:7

Proverbs 1:7 - The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge... (NIV)

The fear of the Lord, not knowledge of God or divine inspiration. Not holiness or time spent in worship. Fear of the Lord. I figure this is the kind of fear that I had of teachers when I was in school. If I did my homework, paid attention in class and respected them, then everything would be fine. But if I didn't do this, then I'd be in strife.

It's different with God of course. The teacher was doing a job, but God has made us his children. So it's more like the fear of Dad. I know lots of kids have really valid reasons to be terrified of their fathers, so for them maybe the favourite teacher analogy works better.

So how is this the beginning of wisdom? I think about my own kids here, and I know that if they don't have a healthy respect for when I need to correct them, then they're going to get into all sorts of trouble. I guess Lesson #1 is to understand that the creator of the universe probably knows best (even better than Dad!).

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Luke 21:34

Luke 21:34: Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. (NIV)

There are many days when it feels like the day is heavy. I really understand what it is to be weighed down by the anxieties of life. I know that my non-Christian friends will happily give over to drink and/or dissipation (that means wasteful expenditure, diversions). If they want to distract themselves from real life, then they do exactly that - they distract themselves, getting away from reality. I find it much better to get close to God. If I consider His perspective, remembering that my frustrations are really insignificant in the bigger picture, then I can get through much better. I just wish that my own frustrations didn't feel heavy. I know certainly know that when a bad day hits, it's likely to catch me unaware. I need to focus on God so that days don't catch me like that.

The verse before this one says "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. (NIV)" So when I'm feeling down, I'm going to focus on God's words.