Beyond the Sparrow: The Depth of God’s Compassion

In verse 5 of Matthew 10, “Jesus sent out the twelve apostles
with these instructions…

But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.”
Matthew 10:29b-31

I am a frequent viewer of Safari Live on Youtube which is pure educational, conservation-based safari drives in Kenya and South Africa. – It has sad parts, but everywhere I look, I can see how the Lord has built many defences into animal biology so that animals can take care of themselves, even amidst savage competition for food. I can see His loving, providing Hand everywhere.

Screen shot of Silver Clusterleaf

Screen shot of Silver Cluster Leaf under a microscope, from Safari Live Youtube Channel.

It goes way deeper than the animals too; for example: in Africa they have a tree called a Silver Cluster Leaf, and all the leaves are covered with fine hairs. They way the leaves taste puts off a lot of insects that would like to chow down on the plant – so even the trees have defences!

The function of the hairs is to stop the leaves from losing moisture. The thought and detail The Lord has put into designing this gorgeous world is so beautiful. I see love everywhere. God cares for all the plants and animals just as He cares for us, because He adores all of His creation.

This new revelation has profoundly impacted me a few times over the last year, and has expanded my view of the depth and detail in God’s passion for His creation.  We frequently quote the Scripture above and sing, “His Eye is on the sparrow and His Hand it comforts me…,” but less often do we stop to mediate on how much love He has put into the design and care of these creatures: all creatures, all plants, even down to mosquitos and leeches.

God… loves… leeches…

Well, that proves beyond doubt that He loves the unlovable. My new view of God’s devotion and protection has been a valuable, faith-strengthening revelation for me. It is helpful to see that everything natural we are surrounded by is so full of His love and care, and nothing goes defenceless, even in the harshest environment. It’s a message of hope for us all.


kdpcpyrght

Creative Commons License
The King David Project by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://cateartios.wixsite.com/kingdavidproject.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. While some images are made by me, Creative Commons or Public Domain, many are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.If you need to check the origin of an image, please use the free service at Tineye.com

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Book Review: Worship in Ancient Israel: An Essential Guide

705424Jacket Blurb – don’t let the heavy wording put you off, see what I have to say about it below! : In an engaging style–characteristic of the author, Walter Brueggemann–this Essential Guide describes the leading motifs of ancient Israel’s worship traditions in the Old Testament. The author guides the reader through the themes, central texts, prayers, festivals, and practices of that worship. He sees throughout the Old Testament a central emphasis on worship as a covenantal gesture and utterance by the community in the presence of God. In addition to being an essential guide to this subject, this book is intended to be in the service of current theological and practical issues concerning worship of the church in its ecumenical character.

As this month contains a number of significant festivals in the Jewish calendar, (which I have blogged about), this book fits right in. The festivals were based around celebrating the provision and faithfulness of God towards Isra’el, and of course, that is done through worship.

I will start by saying that I learnt masses through this great little book. I picked it up to learn about David, then found myself spending more time thinking about how I worship. While not every reviewer has agreed with Professor Brueggemann, he inspired me to take a look at whether I fit in with the current church trend and praise God their way, or whether I worship genuinely, using my own initiative as my heart leads me. This is both a book to help you understand the past, and to make you take a good look at where you’re at with God now.

Professor Brueggemann’s chapter which spoke of the Israelites honest communication with God, was challenging and comforting to me, as I am pretty much a straight talker in the prayer department too. If I feel hard done by, the Lord knows about it and has a sore ear. David was the same, as were quite a few people I had never thought of. I was relieved to know that this is acceptable, as long as I am respectful of Who God is and don’t stoop to abuse or blame; (that last part was my reasoning, not Professor Brueggemann’s content.) A blog post on this topic will be coming out shortly, as it inspired me so much.

The way God’s relationship with Isra’el was interpreted in terms of His covenant with His people and their response, was absolutely correct and added a beautiful rich texture to the book. The focus on worship building a relationship, and adding constant new depth to it was just awesome.

loyaltyHonestly, I think David would really like this book and how he and his nation are represented. It’s not a theological tome on what people did, it’s a key hole view into how God built His nation, and how Isra’el was able to freely embrace and benefit from that in a loving way. Worship is the key response and still is. Some things have never changed.

The Psalms are mentioned in quite a few places and some of Professor Brueggemann’s breakdown of their structure was the least dry assessment I have read yet: and I have slogged through many cracked, mouldy dissections which bled the life out of David’s beautiful responses to God.

There is one problem, sadly… while the jacket blurb refers to an engaging style, the heavy theological language that this book started out with, was anything but engaging and easy to read. I had picked this book up a year ago, tried to read it and failed. This time, I knew I needed the content, so I hung in there, and thankfully, that perseverance paid off exceptionally well. If you cannot handle theological language, big words, or academic, formal writing styles, you won’t appreciate the book, which is a shame as it has so much to offer. My only other criticism is I wish I knew what Professor Brueggemann meant by “thick.” I can take a guess, but a definition would have been beneficial.

I do recommend this work. It doesn’t take too long to read, and has left me more aware of the depth of God’s love for me.

 

amazon-logo_transparentGet it on Amazon
Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2005 ISBN: 0-687-34336-4.(This post has been neither sponsored or requested.)

Read a second opinion / review from a theologian. ~


Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.

My Favorite Christian Resources

This is a great post by Christina Rosa, clarity chaser, which lists some great online resources for studying the Word of God. Enjoy her post and have fun checking out her suggestions.

Chasing Clarity

Hey y’all! I know how confusing it can be to navigate faith sometimes; I’ve been there and there’s no doubt that I’ll be back there again. Life is gonna life. Of course, God is my ultimate recommendation for a resource, buuuut, what if you don’t even know how to reach God? What if you know how to reach Him, but you feel kinda lost anyway? What if you need help praying or reading the Bible? What if you just need some encouragement real quick?

Toy Story GIF - ToyStory Woody YoullBeFine GIFs

Never fear.

Here are some of my favorite resources for the person at any level in their journey into or through faith.

THE(PHYSICAL)BIBLE

Why: Surprise! My 1st resource is the physical Bible itself. At its core, the Bible is about God and His plan for salvation through Jesus. Reading the Bible is the most direct way I’ve been able to get to know, love, and understand…

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Boldly Approaching God: The Example of David

baldhonestfaithWe are familiar with Hebrews 4:16: “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most;” and Ephesians 3:12: “Because of Christ and our faith in Him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence;” but what you may not know, is that boldness before God isn’t a New Testament privilege that arrived with Jesus.

This confident attitude in approaching God is evident in how David communicates with the Lord, and was also seen in Moses, Job and other Psalmists. It may look a little disrespectful sometimes, but it is a hallmark of a dynamic, covenant relationship with God.

“I cried out to you, O LORD.
I begged the Lord for mercy, saying,
“What will You gain if I die,
if I sink into the grave?
Can my dust praise You?
Can it tell of Your faithfulness?
Hear me, LORD, and have mercy on me.
Help me, O LORD.” Psalm 30:8-10 (See also Psalm 44 by the Sons of Korah)

I didn’t know about these ancient roots of boldness, until I read “Worship in Ancient Israel,” by Walter Brueggemann. On page 46-47 he writes: “Isra’el also engaged in truth telling about its life with YHWH in confession, lament and protest… Isra’el was not a submissive, second-rate player, but was a full, vigorous partner to YHWH with an unapologetic presence and an unembarrassed voice that refused to be silenced or cowed… Isra’el refuses to submit too readily to YHWH’s sovereignty when that sovereignty was seen to be unfaithful; in such circumstances, Isra’el instead of submitting, made a claim for itself against YHWH.”

Page 49: “Such speech, in its rawness, is in fact an expression of great faith; it expresses deep conviction that when YHWH is mobilised in order to honour YHWH’s covenantal commitments to Isra’el, YHWH has full capacity and power to right any situation or wrong. Thus the voice of protest and rage is characteristically in the service of plea and partition to YHWH.”

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I agree with Professor Brueggemann that calling God to action like this can seem irreverent. However, David is never rebuked by God for being too direct. God could destroy him for speaking out, but as David’s boldness is coupled with praise and dependence on God for help, He doesn’t. It seems that those without the faith to get in God’s face and speak their mind lose, and those with the faith to be bold, win. Honesty with God obviously pays off.

“Protect me! Rescue my life from them!
Do not let me be disgraced, for in You I take refuge.
May integrity and honesty protect me,
for I put my hope in You.” Psalm 25:20-21

Calling on God is submissive, rather than subversive. David could have taken his problems into his own hands and dealt with his enemies by the sword. Instead, he persisted in knocking on God’s door, and his perseverance got him a better answer.

If you study the Psalms, you will find that his entreaties to God are also tempered by praise and a promise to make an offering to God when deliverance has been granted. God gets His due recognition, gratitude and with David, the testimony of what God had done is also shared among the people via a Psalm, to encourage them as well. David’s brave, bold faith benefitted many people, including us today.

“Declare me innocent, O God!
Defend me against these ungodly people.
Rescue me from these unjust liars…”
verse 4: “Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God—the source of all my joy.
I will praise You with my harp,
O God, my God!
Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise Him again—
my Saviour and my God!” Psalm 43:1 and 4-5 (Also see Psalm 66:13-15)

So are there limits to how bold we can be? Yes; the limits begin if we abuse the Lord, blame Him for our problems, or in short, cease to address Him with any attitude that doesn’t demonstrate the *fruit of the Spirit. He is merciful and patient, but He is neither a scapegoat, nor a punching bag. Respect is absolutely always called for, in every situation and praise absolutely must accompany these kinds of prayers. Submission is always a requirement.

There are times when like David, regardless of the trouble we are in and how urgent it is, we just have to wait patiently for an answer and keep hoping in the Lord. There are other times when due to complications, such as the effect of other’s free will on our circumstances, God can’t do as we ask, and we have to submit to His authority and wisdom, like it or not. Plus there are times when we’re wrong. Our ‘fix it’ answer was a poor one. In all these conditions we need to adopt the humble attitude Job had when he said:
“I know that You can do anything,
and no one can stop You.
You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’
It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about,
things far too wonderful for me.” Job 42:2-3
Despite how humbled he is, Job still has the courage to front up and reply to the Lord.

So the next time you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to be honest with God. He already knows every detail of your circumstances and feelings. so hiding what is really going on is impossible. The Lord has promised to **bless us with every spiritual blessing. We are ***beloved, treasured heirs with Christ, and He will always ****be on our side to help us through every trial and battle. Tell Him how you feel and ask for help… And don’t stop asking and seeking Him. You’re not crossing a line, you’re building your faith and a better, active relationship with Him.

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References:
Worship in Ancient Israel: An Essential Guide,” by Walter Brueggemann, Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2005.  ISBN: 0-687-34336-4. (Academically, theologically worded and not easy to read for the average person, but if you can get through the wording it is a massive blessing. I learned so much which reflected on my relationship with the Lord and encouraged me.)

*The fruit of the Spirit: Galatians 5:22-23
**Every spiritual blessing: Ephesians 1:3
***Beloved joint heirs: Romans 8:15-17
****By our side: Deuteronomy 31:8 and Hebrews 13:5

Re: Psalm 43:4: “Then I will go to the altar of God…” This may refer to David planning to go to the tabernacle to give a peace offering as thanks, as per Leviticus 7:11-15.

Moses’ honesty with God can be seen here: “Moses heard all the families standing in the doorways of their tents whining, and the LORD became extremely angry. Moses was also very aggravated. And Moses said to the LORD, “Why are you treating me, your servant, so harshly? Have mercy on me! What did I do to deserve the burden of all these people? Did I give birth to them? Did I bring them into the world? Why did you tell me to carry them in my arms like a mother carries a nursing baby? How can I carry them to the land you swore to give their ancestors? Where am I supposed to get meat for all these people? They keep whining to me, saying, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ I can’t carry all these people by myself! The load is far too heavy! If this is how you intend to treat me, just go ahead and kill me. Do me a favour and spare me this misery!” Numbers 11:10-15


Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.

Praise and Worship: Keith Green Sings About Dealing With Sin ~ Psalm 51

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The second song is based on 1 Samuel 15, however, David’s Psalm covers the message that both of them give. I have loved Create in Me A Clean Heart for many years and it’s beautiful to know that now David and Keith are in Heaven singing for the Lord. One day I’d like to join them and do that, to.

Psalm 51:10-19
“A psalm of David, regarding the time Nathan the prophet came to him after David had committed adultery with BathSheba.
Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me.
Do not banish me from your presence,
and don’t take your Holy Spiritd from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you.
Then I will teach your ways to rebels,
and they will return to you.
Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves;
then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness.
Unseal my lips, O Lord,
that my mouth may praise you.
You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one.
You do not want a burnt offering.
The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.
You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.
Look with favor on Zion and help her;
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit—
with burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings.
Then bulls will again be sacrificed on your altar.”

I am aware that this form of video is pirating, even though the channel means to encourage and share with others; please take the time to purchase these tracks if you like them.

 

 

Bible Geek: Does the Book of Chronicles Whitewash David’s Life?

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The book of Chronicles was known as “Events of Past Times” or “Acts of the Days” and was written around 520 or 530 BC, post exile by a Chronicler (perhaps Ezra or Nehemiah,) to remind the Israelites of the period of God’s favour and to encourage them to return to Jerusalem to rebuild a godly life. That is why the book can appear politically white washed, focussing less on sin, (except to warn of the deadly danger of idols and turning away from God again,) and focussing more on the good old days of David’ reign when everything was grand. It doesn’t dodge the issues of David’s sin, as these stories were already well known. Instead, the writer *gathers up “the threads of the old national life broken by the Captivity,” and shows the people that they can have their God and their nation back.

Major themes the book are centred around is Godly dominion over the people, righteous worship and obedience to the Covenant set out in the legal book of Deuteronomy. For that reason you will read a lot of detail about how the temple functioned and was set up. The books act as an instruction manual. Faith and hope and how the people of Isra’el belong to God (shown through the genealogies) are also main themes. The books were written using multiple historical documents and are considered accurate, solid historical Biblical canon without challenge, unlike the Song of Solomon, whose usefulness as Scripture has been hotly debated by both Judaism and Christianity throughout Church history.

Chronicles only talks about the the Kings of Judah as it is the Judean remnant that is being addressed. At this stage in history, the northern Kingdoms of Isra’el had long since been taken captive by the now overthrown Assyria, and there was a strong temptation for the people to retain their familiar lives in Babylon rather than step into the scary unknown. The land of milk and honey still waited for Israel to return, the people simply needed to be motivated to take it. [Ref: read the books of Ezra and Nehemiah for more on that period of Jewish history. It’s an amazing era which profoundly illustrates God’s undying mercy and love for His people, against the odds.]

A great deal of the book reiterates the content of 1 and 2 Kings, however there are chapters and verses which add to the picture we already see. It has a specific historical role and is loved by Bible scholars who like to focus on Godly leadership as it applies to our time. It has a lot to give, even without the books of Kings in the background to fill out the complete history.

I thoroughly recommend reading “Parallel Passages of the Historical Books” from the Companion Bible http://www.therain.org/appendixes/app56.html to help piece all the verses together. It takes in more than just Kings and Chronicles.

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From: *Easton Illustrated Dictionary:
The writer gathers up “the threads of the old national life broken by the Captivity.” The sources whence the chronicler compiled his work were public records, registers, and genealogical tables belonging to the Jews. These are referred to in the course of the book (1 Chr. 27:24; 29:29; 2 Chr. 9:29; 12:15; 13:22; 20:34; 24:27; 26:22; 32:32; 33:18, 19; 27:7; 35:25).

As compared with Samuel and Kings, the Book of Chronicles omits many particulars there recorded (2 Sam. 6:20-23; 9; 11; 14-19, etc.), and includes many things peculiar to itself (1 Chr. 12; 22; 23-26; 27; 28; 29, etc.). Twenty whole chapters, and twenty-four parts of chapters, are occupied with matter not found elsewhere. It also records many things in fuller detail, as (e.g.) the list of David’s heroes (1 Chr. 12:1-37), the removal of the ark from Kirjath-jearim to Mount Zion (1 Chr. 13; 15:2-24; 16:4-43; comp. 2 Sam. 6), Uzziah’s leprosy and its cause (2 Chr. 26:16-21; comp. 2 Kings 15:5), etc.

It has also been observed that another peculiarity of the book is that it substitutes modern and more common expressions for those that had then become unusual or obsolete. This is seen particularly in the substitution of modern names of places, such as were in use in the writer’s day, for the old names; thus Gezer (1 Chr. 20:4) is used instead of Gob (2 Sam. 21:18), etc. The Books of Chronicles are ranked among the khethubim or hagiographa. They are alluded to, though not directly quoted, in the New Testament (Heb. 5:4; Matt. 12:42; 23:35; Luke 1:5; 11:31, 51).

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Further Helpful Reading


kdpcpyrght

Creative Commons License
The King David Project by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://cateartios.wixsite.com/kingdavidproject.

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.

Study Light.org : One Stop Bible Study and Encouragement Web Site

slorglogoEven though I usually visit Bible Hub to access Scriptures quickly, I still keep an eye out for other sites which have great online Bible resources. Study Light recently grabbed my attention for the amazing range of resources they have on offer.

Study Light has more than a range of Bibles and commentaries, they have:

  • Bible reading plans and progress charts
  • Devotionals from popular authors such as Charles Spurgeon, Selwyn Huges, A.W. Tozer and Oswald Chambers
  • Bible Maps
  • Historical Resources from many points in history including BC (including Edersheim and Josephus – by the way, I refuse to compromise by using BCE, sorry, not sorry); A.D. including the Early Church Fathers, Foxe’s Book or Martyrs and more; plus many books on church history, including the history of various denominations.
  • There are pastoral resources ranging from quotes and illustrations to use in church bulletins, to sermon illustrations.
  • Original language tools in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic.
  • News from the Christian post.
  • Audio teachings.
  • Articles and daily reflections on the Word.
  • Lots of commentaries, concordances, dictionaries and encyclopaedias… plus the odd Bible or two, actually, a giant drop-down list of them!
  • And you can even choose which colour you want the site to appear in.
  • Plus a cartoon!

Needless to say, I bookmarked it pretty fast.

Please, go and help yourself, then pass the word on.

REBLOGS WELCOMED