He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A reminder

I was sent to this blog entry via another blog. It's worth reading and living.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

In response...

In response to a comment left on my What is the gospel? post, I hereby explain the meaning of the title of this blog, five8. The title is a rather (un)fortunate error. Isaiah 58 is a great chapter, one which I have spent hours pouring over, and coincidentally, one which in many ways exemplifies and expounds the verse after which this blog was actually named (in my head), Micah 6:8:
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
I suppose I could change the name and the address, but I won't!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

What is the gospel?

Romans 1:1-17

The Gospel of God:
  1. was promised in the holy Scriptures (v. 2)
  2. concerns Jesus (v. 3)
  3. is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (v. 16)
  4. is a revelation of the righteousness of God (v. 17)

1. The gospel is a realisation of what was promised.

2. The resurrection was proof of the authenticity of Jesus. (Compare Matthew 27:62-66)

3. Our persuasiveness does not save, rather we are called to declare the gospel (not defend it) for it has the power.

4. Compare Habakkuk 2:4.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


Now the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it to the house of Dagon and set it by Dagon. When the Ashdodites arose early the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon and set him in his place again. But when they arose early the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD. And the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off on the threshold; only the trunk of Dagon was left to him.
In Exodus 20, God says 'You shall have no other gods before Me.' In this passage (1 Samuel 5:1-4) the god of the Philistines couldn't even remain in his place before the ark! This is the same god to whom the Philistines offered a great sacrifice for giving Samson, their enemy, into their hands (Judges 16:23). Alas, only a few moments later Samson was to, quite literally, bring the house down on the Philistines, God listening to Samson's call.

I am reminded of Psalm 95:
O come, let us sing for joy to the LORD, let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation... for the LORD is a great God and a great King above all gods...

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Living with Jesus

Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Tonight, the youth group with which I am involved will meet to discuss this topic. These are my thoughts, pre-meeting, influenced in some measure by these articles.

Some ideas on the will of God. Is it:
  1. Individualistic, referring to you and to you only, unique, in that respect?
  2. A matter of fate, God doing His will regardless?
  3. An almost psychic phenomenon, a blue-print for your life, your mission being to uncover it and live it?

In some ways, yes to all three. But mostly, no.

  1. God's will is not just for you. Indeed, it is the same for me, as it is for Joe round the corner. '... of all things...' we are told in Ephesians 1. Further, it our privilege, a gift from God, to know this!
  2. God's will has been done; on the cross God won the victory. As with any question of fate or free will, God desires our free involment in His world, rather than robotic conformation.
  3. The Bible is relatively silent about the future. Indeed, Matthew 6:33-34 reads, '... seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.'

The will of God then, is about living today, in the day to day, the ordinary, mundane, banal, exciting, fulfilling, satisfying things of life, your next move either being in accordance with His will, or in conflict with it. As Jesus did, this is what we ought to live on. John 4:34:

My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.

The will is in our present, built on the love of God. The will is to redeem, renew and restore all creation in Christ, through the power of His Holy Spirit.

How do we live this will?
  1. Imitate Christ. (Ephesians 5.)
  2. Walk every day. (Colossians 1:9-10.)
  3. Be transformed by the renewing of our minds. (Romans 12:2.)

What are some ways of living this will?

  1. Be grateful for what you have. Cars, clothes, money, even fame - other people aren't as well off as you are.
  2. Be people of truth. No gossiping. Don't lie if you break the speed limit, don't evade tax, don't bend the truth. Keep your promises.
  3. Seek integrity. Don't steal. Don't burn CDs or download music illegally. Don't 'borrow' pens from the office, or make personal phone calls from work. Be honest at the till. Don't insult God's generosity.
  4. No adultery. Guard your minds.
  5. No murder. Show self-respect and humility. Forgive, and be in control of your anger.
  6. Accept and appreciate your parents.
  7. Use your time wisely. Show that God is Lord.
  8. Don't misuse God's name, it is our privilege to know it. Don't swear. Don't use the name of God to get your way. Be on God's side, don't say that He is on yours!
  9. God is not in New Age religion, money or the perfect body. Keep Him in focus and in the centre.
  10. Remember there is one God who made and keeps us, who revealed Himself to us through His Son, who rules over all, who redeems us, and so much more. Respond to Him: praise Him, read His word, confess to Him in prayer.

In doing all this, we will live for Jesus right here and right now. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22 sums it all up:

And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love!

Get along among yourselves, each of you doing your part. Our counsel is that you warn the freeloaders to get a move on. Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. And be careful that when you get on each other's nerves you don't snap at each other. Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.

Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.

Don't suppress the Spirit, and don't stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don't be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what's good. Throw out anything tainted with evil.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Tragic Vow

Judges 11:29-40
Jephthah made a vow to the LORD and said, 'If You will indeed give the sons of Ammon into my hand, then it shall be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the sons of Ammon, it shall be the LORD's, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.'

... When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, behold, his daughter was coming out to meet him with tambourines and with dancing. Now she was his one and only child; besides her he had no son or duaghter. When he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, 'Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low, and you are among those who trouble me; for I have given my word to the LORD, and I cannot take it back.' So she said to him, 'My father, you have given your word to the LORD; do to me as you have said, since the LORD has avenged you of your enemies, the sons of Ammon.'

... At the end of the two months she returned to her father, who did to her according to the vow which he had made...
I see many similarities in this passage to what the LORD has done for us, in offering his only Son as a sacrifice, in Jesus trusting in the will of God when in the Garden.

Yet, this passage also speaks of commitment to God. Even though Jephthah only had one child (and would be breaking the Law), he was willing to give her up, as promised. Just like Abraham. Too often, we renege on promises and commitments to each other and to God. And honestly, it isn't becoming of a Christian.

Psalm 15:4:
He swears to his own hurt and does not change...
Matthew 5:37:
Again, you have heard that the ancients were told.' You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.' But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your statement be, 'Yes, yes', or 'No, no'; anything beyond these is of evil.
So, stick to your word, before God and men. People understand if there are legitimate reasons why you cannot, but don't promise something with no intention of seeing it through. This is as bad a reflection of Christ (the ultimate promise) as any which Christians present, and in many cases perhaps the Christian is more guilty than someone of the world.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Are you one or the other?

Luke 23:33-43
When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. But Jesus was saying, 'Father, forgive them: for they do not know what they are doing.' And they cast losts, dividing up His garments among themselves. And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying 'He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.' The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine, and saying 'If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!' Now there was also an inscription above Him, 'THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.'

One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, 'Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!' But the other answered, and rebuking him said, 'Do you not even fear God, since we are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.' And he was saying, 'Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!' And He said to him, 'Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.'
Jesus was crucified with two thieves, One, and The Other, if you like. One was hanging on the right and was hurling abuse at Jesus. He thinks he should be saved, and he isn't. The Other was hanging on the left. He rebuked One. He didn't think he should be saved and he was.

Like so many, One was within shouting distance of his salvation, and he missed it.

The Other had done bad things, yet he was saved at the last minute - a bitter pill for many clean-living people to swallow. Yet he realised that Christ has a Kingdom, death is not the end, and that he could be with Him in paradise.

So how did The Other find his salvation?

  1. He acknowledged God. (v. 40)
  2. He recognised his sin. (v. 41)
  3. He asked! (v.42)

And that's all we have to do too. We can be One man, and become The Other in Christ.