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Friday, 14 June 2019

Citizenship


“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,” Philippians 3:20 NIV
Nearly everyone alive today can call themselves a citizen of somewhere. Citizenship is an important factor in identity. I was born in England and migrated to Australia as a child. Later as an adult I made the decision to become an Australian citizen. I not only live in Australia but I am Australian.
When we make the decision to follow Christ, we gain another citizenship. We become as it were, dual citizens, both of the country we are earthly citizens of, and of Heaven. We are not only living in Christ, but we are Christians.
Citizenship confers inalienable rights. We have the right to live in a country without fear of deportation. We have the protection of the laws and armed forces of our country to defend us from foes. We are under the protection of the rulers of our country, who should have the best interests of the citizens uppermost in their minds. Of course, in a broken, fallen world, there are nations where this is far from ideal in practice. Corruption has stained ideologies and the use of force and caused widespread disparity in living standards.
Not so in Heaven’s realm. Heaven is a kingdom, and a more righteous, benevolent King could never be found in all the nations of the Earth. Heaven is not only a place of migration after death, it is a kingdom for its earthly citizens as well. We have access to our King 24/7 through the power of prayer. We have His wise counsel and leading through His indwelling Holy Spirit, aka the Parakletos, translated as the “One who comes alongside”.
The Spirit of God also imbues His people with comfort in times of need. Jesus alone can comfort those who are suffering and grieving with the hope of Heaven and, in His words:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
As citizens of Heaven we have access to God’s protection. He has armies of angels at His disposal, ready to do His bidding. They fight in spiritual realms. They can be our guardians. God’s word tells us:
The Bible warns of apocalyptic times to come in human history, but also promises that evil will not prevail. Christ will return to claim His own people.
Citizenship confers great blessings, but it also involves responsibilities. Like an earthly kingdom, we are subject to laws. God’s laws were set in place for our own well-being and happiness. The ten commandments, as well as many other precepts found throughout the scriptures demonstrate God’s concern for us as individuals and in our relationships, both with Him and with each other. God created the world, not as a randomly chaotic realm but as one which operates on natural laws and processes. When we obey God’s laws we experience deep peace and joy. One cannot flout God’s laws and experience this.
We must be good citizens and ambassadors for Christ. Like a tourist overseas, our attitudes and behaviour reflect upon our country. Similarly, we must welcome the visitors to our own country by displaying what is attractive and unique, hospitable and inclusive about our homeland.
I would love you to visit Australia. It’s my homeland and a wonderful country. Even more, I would love to welcome you to the kingdom of Heaven, as brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. 

Jo and camels, Uluru, Central Australia. The ride was amazing.


Monday, 13 May 2019

History


I try to read the Bible every day and there are many different Bible reading plans available and resources to assist in study. I’ve read the Bible in many ways and studied some of the sixty-six books contained therein more than others. This year I decided to opt for reading the Bible straight through from Genesis to Revelation and signed into an online plan which paces you at about three chapters per day. At the moment I’m a few weeks ahead of schedule as I tend to want to keep reading.
It’s been a bit challenging compared to my normal routine of choosing a particular book and studying what I like. There are lots of familiar and exciting stories in the Old Testament – Noah and the ark, the exodus from Egypt, David slaying Goliath and Esther thwarting plans to destroy the Jewish race to give just a few examples. At the same time, one is faced with ploughing through long genealogies, extensive descriptions of building processes and sacrificial requirements, laws and more laws, rulers and more rulers and detailed accounts of battle after battle.
Yet all this is our history as Christians. God has given us accounts of what went before the time of Christ so that we understand the reason for His coming: and the changes that He brought to this Earth.
What is initiated in the Old Testament is fulfilled in the New Testament. In the Old we have the patriarchal families. In the New we have adoption into the family of Christ. In the Old we have repeated sacrifices to ask forgiveness for sin. In the New Christ is the Lamb of God who takes all the sin upon Himself, a once and for all time propitiation for our sins. In the Old Testament God’s presence on Earth was found in the Ark of the Covenant and later in the holy of holies, inside the temple in Jerusalem. In the New Testament God’s presence is found not in a building but in the person of Jesus Christ, and later in the presence of His Holy Spirit indwelling in His people, who are the church of God on Earth.
We all have a story and a history, and our history becomes our story. We look at our own genealogies, our personal family trees and see where we have come from, who our parents and grandparents and ancestors were, and see where we fit, and who we have married and the children we have borne. Likewise, God has determined our history, where and when our lives will occur and the impact our lives will have in this world.




Tuesday, 29 January 2019

2020 Vision

What needs to change?
As we come into a new year, this is a good time to take stock of what we are doing in our lives and what we would like to achieve or be doing this year. For some we will make resolutions, others may be content with the status quo.
I found it helpful to write down in my prayer diary a list of all the areas in my life which take up my time and attention. This way I can see where my time goes and whether I am spending too much time, money and effort in one area at the expense of others. Like most of us, I find life is busy and time is in short supply. Yet we all have the same amount of time - 24hours in a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks every year. Here is my list

God- reflections, prayer, Bible reading, connect group, church

Marriage

Family - husband, son at home, son and daughter-in-law, pets - running the household containing all these

Health - Diet, exercise and sleep

Work - God has given me three words for my paid employment this year and they are application, enthusiasm and learning.

Writing - blog, writing sites, poetry

Friends - keeping in touch

Extended family

Hobbies and interests - reading, craft, TV, gardening, puzzles, walking, day trips, piano, cooking

I'm sure there are things I've missed and this list is not necessarily in the order of priority, with the exception of the first 3 items. The piano has been sadly neglected for years and I would like to spend more time with some friends and extended family members. I've resurrected my prayer diary. Whilst I enjoy computer games, I realise how much time can be swallowed up at the keyboard, so I've learned to limit my activity.  Just by making a list enables me to at least think about what my priorities are and not waste what God has blessed me with.

Like the native bees in my garden- busy but happy.