Tag Archives: forgiveness

mmmm ecclesiastes 3 mmmm

mmmm Turkish Gozleme in Sydney mmmm

#Love to #eat multicultural #Aussie #food from #Asia!

Have you tried #Gozleme from Turkey?

Over the last decade in Sydney, this Turkish flat-bread has increased in popularity.

It is cooked in front of you with a choice of meat or vegetarian fillings.

These lovely Aussie-Muslim ladies from Turkey always serve me graciously.

Like most peaceful Aussies, they contribute greatly to multicultural Australian society.

But sadly peaceful Muslims face racial discrimination and xenophobia all over the world.

They are unfairly blamed for the Syrian War and extremist Islamic Terrorism.

Now the peaceful Muslim community in New Zealand has been attacked.

The world has been shocked by the Christchurch terror attack in March 2019.

2 mosques in Christchurch were attacked and 50 Muslims shot dead during Friday prayers [1].

This is easily the largest mass-shooting in New Zealand’s history.

Even peaceful New Zealand (far away from the Middle East) is not immune to terrorism.

This follows a terrorist attack in my home city of Sydney just over 4 years ago [2].

The visibly-shaken NZ Prime Minister condemned this unprecedented act of violence [3].

Regrettably the arrested gunman was a NZ resident originally from Australia [4].

This White-Australian (Anglo Saxon) is from rural Australia where there’s less cultural diversity.

However this is no excuse for his premeditated shooting of innocent victims.

Aged 28, this radicalised man posted a White Supremacist manifesto online.

This deluded man’s right-wing ravings have been linked to racist neo-Nazi groups [5].

I join with many globally in rejecting this racist ideology and condemning violence.

The time for killing, war and hate is over.

I hope and pray that this unfortunate event will not spark revenge attacks.

The time for healing, love and peace is now.

This week, I have been reading these verses from an Old Testament book:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes chapter 3 verses 1 to 8

From this book, this passage is probably what is most remembered by followers.

The author has the Hebrew pseudonym “Qoheleth”.

This may be translated into English as “Assembler” or “Teacher” or “Preacher” [6].

He suggests that human life consists of a series of major life events.

There appears to be a time and season for every human activity:
1. Birth
2. Death
3. Planting & Building
4. Laughter & Dancing
5. Weeping & Mourning
6. War & Hate
7. Love & Peace

In the context of the whole book, the author claims that life is “meaningless” [7].

The author despairs that all human activity is pointless because we all die anyway.

He observes that work is hard (toil) and we cannot take our money with us when we die [8].

Death is the same fate for everyone, no matter if you are rich or poor [9].

But death is not the end, there is a glimmer of hope:

He [God] has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men…

Ecclesiastes chapter 3 verse 11A

This may mean that God has placed a desire in our hearts to search for eternity beyond death.

In the context of “life is meaningless”, our hearts may also desire to know the “meaning of life”.

Philosophers have pondered the “meaning of life” for thousands of years.

The New Testament offers us the answer to “meaning of life and death”.

Viewing Ecclesiastes with the lens of the New Testament reveals:
1. The promise of eternal life [10]
2. Life after death [11]
3. Peace with God through Jesus [12]
4. God demonstrating His love by sending Jesus [13]
5. A place with Jesus in heaven [14]
6. The undeserved gift of salvation [15]
7. Salvation by trusting in Jesus [16]

Despite all the war and terrorism in our world, we can find peace with God through Jesus.

Unfortunately we cannot predict where war and terrorism will strike next.

But we can find hope knowing that life and death are not meaningless.

In life and death, the only true meaning is “Jesus”.

Leading up to Easter, let us reflect on God’s forgiveness and mercy.

Another glimmer of hope: Christchurch shooting survivor forgives his wife’s killer [17].

Questions to consider this Easter:

Do you think life is meaningless and then you die?
Do you know the promise of eternal life?
Are you at peace with God?
For followers: how is Jesus the “meaning of your life” in your daily activities?

 

Footnotes:

[1] ABC News online (originally published Friday 15 March 2019, updated Sunday 17 March 2019): “Christchurch shootings: what we know”
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-15/christchurch-shootings-what-we-know/10904982

[2] ABC News online (16 December 2014): “Sydney siege: Two hostages and gunman dead after heavily armed police storm Lindt cafe in Martin Place”
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-12-16/sydney-siege-gunman-two-hostages-dead/5969162

[3] ABC News online (15 March 2019): “Christchurch shootings mark ‘unprecedented act of violence’, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says“ including the Full Transcript of NZ Prime Minister’s press conference statement
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-15/christchurch-shootings-unprecedented-pm-jacinda-ardern-says/10904950

[4] ABC News online (18 March 2019): “Christchurch shooting investigation reaches NSW, police raid Brenton Tarrant’s sister’s house“
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-18/christchurch-terror-attack-investigation-prompts-nsw-raids/10910798

[5] ABC News online (17 March 2019, updated 18 March 2019): “Accused Christchurch mosque shooter Brenton Tarrant used same radicalisation tactics as Islamic State, expert says“
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-17/christchurch-shootings-brenton-tarrant-social-media-strategies/10908692

[6] Longman & Dillard (1994, updated 2011) An Introduction to the Old Testament: Ecclesiastes (IVP) p279

[7] Ecclesiastes chapter 1

[8] Ecclesiastes chapters 2 & 5

[9] Ecclesiastes chapter 7

[10] John chapter 3 verse 16

[11] 1 Corinthians chapter 15

[12] Romans chapter 5 verse 1

[13] Romans chapter 5 verse 8

[14] Ephesians chapter 2 verse 6

[15] Ephesians chapter 2 verse 8

[16] Romans chapter 10 verse 13

[17] BBC World News online (17 March 2019) Video: “Christchurch shooting survivor says he forgives his wife’s killer“
https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-asia-47602781/christchurch-shooting-survivor-says-he-forgives-his-wife-s-killer

mmmm Bible mmmm

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mmmm Day of the LORD mmmm

mmmm Celebrating Christmas with Yumcha Dim Sum mmmm

Yumcha is my favourite food in the whole world!

Also known as Dim Sum: it originates from Cantonese-speaking China & Hong Kong.

This year I celebrated Christmas by sharing Yumcha with friends in Sydney.

Without prompting, my Dad organised another Yumcha Christmas Party with family.

I wish this Yumcha celebration would never end!

In contrast, did you know that our world will come to an end?

Last month, a visitor to my fellowship asked me an eschatological [1] question.

He volunteered his email to receive my answer and so he could ask more questions.

There is global fascination with the Second Coming of Christ and the “End Times”:

  • When will Jesus return?
  • When will the “Day of Judgement” occur?
  • What will the LORD God [2] do on “Judgement Day”?

Judgement Day is known as the “Day of the LORD” in the Bible.

For thousands of years many have speculated when the day of the LORD will occur.

Many have tried to calculate the date unsuccessfully with spectacular failure.

Some even speculate that Jesus will return directly to Jerusalem in the End Times [3].

Is this one reason behind the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by USA [4]?

Australia has also recognised Jerusalem 2 days ago (15 December 2018) [5].

If Jerusalem is in allied hands, will this hasten Jesus’ return & Judgement Day?

For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.

1 Thessalonians chapter 5 verse 2

No human political decision can speed up Judgement Day.

The New Testament verse reminds us that this date cannot be calculated.

The day of the LORD will arrive when we least expect it (like a thief in the night).

What else does the Bible say about the day of the LORD?

Behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the land a desolation and to destroy its sinners from it.

Isaiah chapter 13 verse 9

That day is the day of the LORD God of hosts, a day of vengeance, to avenge himself on his foes.

Jeremiah chapter 46 verse 10 part A

For the day is near, the day of the LORD is near; it will be a day of clouds, a time of doom for the nations.

Ezekiel chapter 30 verse 3

Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is near, and as destruction from the Almighty it comes.

Joel chapter 1 verse 15

Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD! Why would you have the day of the LORD? It is darkness, and not light…

Amos chapter 5 verse 18

For the day of the LORD is near upon all the nations. As you have done, it shall be done to you; your deeds shall return on your own head.

Obadiah chapter 1 verse 15

And on the day of the LORD‘s sacrifice— [Lord God declares] “I will punish the officials and the king’s sons and all who array themselves in foreign attire…

Zephaniah chapter 1 verse 8

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.

Malachi chapter 4 verse 5

The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.

Acts chapter 2 verse 20

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

2 Peter chapter 3 verse 10

From these eschatological verses [6] we can see the colourful imagery of the day of the LORD:

  • A day in the future when God will destroy the earth and sinners
  • A day in the not-too-distant-future when God will punish his enemies in all nations
  • A day in the near-future when our past deeds will return to haunt us
  • A day coming soon when God will judge the people of Israel and the whole world

But the Bible also promises salvation to those who trust in Jesus

This is the great hope we celebrate at Christmas:

God loved the world by sending his son Jesus [7] to save sinners in all nations.

Our Father God has graciously given the gift of forgiveness for the whole world.

So Jesus’ followers need not fear the Day of the LORD

But we are to be ready for this day: seek forgiveness for your sins now

One question remains:

Is Jerusalem important to Christians today?

Historically the Jewish people made an annual pilgrimage to the temple in Jerusalem.

The temple symbolised the LORD God dwelling with His people.

The Jewish temple was destroyed by the Romans soon after Jesus’ death & resurrection.

This temple was never rebuilt (in fact there is now a mosque in its place).

So Christians do not need to make an annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

Jesus’ followers can worship Father God anywhere on Earth.

Through Jesus we can speak to God in prayer at any time and any place.

Jesus is where we go to meet God (instead of the earthly Jerusalem).

God now dwells inside his followers: we are the new temple!

The joy of Christmas is knowing that we’re on the journey to our real home.

Our real home is with Jesus in the New Jerusalem – the heavenly city [8].

The earthly Jerusalem is currently divided and a flashpoint for conflict [9].

The REAL Jerusalem is in Heaven with Father God where there is eternal peace.

Questions to consider this Christmas:

Are you prepared for Judgement Day?

Have you sought forgiveness for your sins?

Have you discovered the Joy of Salvation available exclusively from Jesus?

For followers: does your family & friends know about the New Jerusalem?

Footnotes:

[1] Eschatology is the study of the “End Times” prophesied in the Bible: this includes the Second Coming of Christ and the Day of Judgement (also known as the Day of the LORD).

[2] In modern translations of the Bible: LORD (in capital letters) refers to the Hebrew name of God: Yahweh/Jehovah. In English, the name of God may be referred to as “The Lord God Almighty”.

[3] The author of this blog does not uphold the Premillenial view of Eschatology. After reading various news articles, the best descriptions of Premillenialism are listed here:
CNN News (14 May 2018): https://edition.cnn.com/2017/12/08/opinions/jerusalem-israel-evangelicals-end-times-butler-bass-opinion/index.html
BBC News (5 January 2018): https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-42402350

[4] Last Christmas in my Micah blog (see below with original news article links), I blogged about USA controversially recognising Jerusalem causing immediate global protests. Jerusalem remains an important city to the Israeli/Jewish people today. However Jerusalem is currently a divided city with the Eastern portion belonging to the Palestinian territories (as officially recognised by the United Nations). The Palestinians also claim that Jerusalem is the capital of their territory. So the status of Jerusalem is currently disputed.

[5] On 15 December 2018, Australia recognised both West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and East Jerusalem as the future capital of Palestine. News articles:
BBC News (15 December 2018): https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-46576716
SBS News (15 December 2018): https://www.sbs.com.au/news/australia-recognises-west-jerusalem-as-israeli-capital-but-embassy-move-on-hold

[6] This is not an exhaustive list. Other “Day of the LORD” references include: Isaiah chapter 13 verse 6; Isaiah chapter 58 verse 13; Ezekiel chapter 13 verse 5; Joel chapter 2 verses 1, 11, 31; Joel chapter 3 verse 14; Amos chapter 5 verse 20; Zephaniah chapter 1 verse 7, 1 Corinthians chapter 5 verse 5; 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 verse 2.

[7] John chapter 3 verse 16

[8] Revelation chapters 21-22 (final chapters in the last book of the Bible)

[9] Useful articles to read about the current divided status of Jerusalem:
Gospel Coalition (16 May 2018): https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/9-things-you-should-know-about-jerusalem/
Reuters News (21 January 2018): https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-israel-pence-jerusalem-idUSKBN1FA0JL

mmmm Bible mmmm

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I do not endorse or receive payment for the advertisements that you may see above, below or beside my blog. WordPress is the sole beneficiary and solely responsible for advertising on its own platform. If you see any inappropriate advertising, please report this to WordPress directly. Thanks & Merry Christmas!

mmmm 3 john mmmm

Mmmm Aussie Asian Food Mmmm

Australia has a great variety of food because we are so close to Asia.

But that’s not the only delicious food on offer.

There is food in world news and current affairs.

What is truth?

Journalists seek the truth when reporting the news.

But how do we know they are telling the truth?

The USA government has challenged traditional news channels.

An official spokeswoman presented her own “Alternative Facts”.

The USA President complained that traditional news channels spread “Fake News”.

He prefers that we only follow his Twitter account instead.

But he was caught out spreading his own Fake News about Sweden.

He claimed that a terrorist attack occurred in Sweden.

The Swedish government confirmed that there was no terrorist attack.

A senior USA senator claimed that the President was trying to control the News.

This is reminiscent of news channels being controlled by dictators like Hitler.

Democracies rely on free and independent news channels.

Traditional news channels are competing with Social Media for our attention.

We increasingly rely on our smartphones for information and news.

Journalists need to write sensational headlines to attract more click-throughs.

How trustworthy and reliable is your source of news?

Celebrity gossip pages have infiltrated traditional news channels.

News editors have discovered that gossip attracts attention and sells newspapers.

There is a fine line between the truth, embellished facts and celebrity gossip.

The following Bible passage tells of a different truth that is more important:

Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

3 John 2-4

The author of this letter wrote to a leader of congregation, possibly a small house-church.

He calls them his children and prays for good health for them.

He expresses joy that this church is continuing to walk in the truth.

He encourages hospitality to support the work of the truth.

He warns against troublemakers spreading malicious gossip.

He hoped to see them again face-to-face.

So what is this truth that is so important in the church?

This truth is a person.

This truth is Jesus.

God lovingly and mercifully gave us His son Jesus.

We deserved to die for our sins.

Jesus died in our place and took the punishment we deserved.

Through Jesus we can be at peace with God.

Jesus graciously offers us forgiveness and eternal life with him.

This is the eternal truth that shapes the lives of Jesus’ followers.

Ultimately celebrity gossip is meaningless.

Fake News and controversial governments will soon be forgotten.

They will all be replaced by eternal truth.

Can you differentiate between Fake News and the truth?

Do you know the truth that offers forgiveness and peace?

For followers, how does the eternal truth shape your daily lives?

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mmmm 2 john mmmm

Mmmm Sydney Desserts Mmmm

Sydney has great patisseries, bakeries and cafes with great desserts.

But that’s not the only delicious food on offer.

There is food in public thought and conversations.

2016 is a year of political elections.

Australia held its federal election earlier in July with a cliff-hanger result.

USA is currently in a long and bitter battle between Clinton & Trump.

There is endless news coverage of their verbal sparring & tweeting.

Both claim to be speaking the truth.

Both claim the other is speaking lies.

How do we know who is speaking the truth and who is lying?

Is the American public tired of their claims and counter-claims?

Ultimately their claims will be forgotten as the 24-hour news cycle reports wars & disasters.

The following Bible passage tells of a different truth that lasts forever:

The elder,

To the lady chosen by God and to her children, whom I love in the truth – and not I only, but also all who know the truth – because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us for ever:

Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.

2 John 1-3

The author of this letter wrote to another congregation, possibly a small house-church.

He expressed joy that this church was walking in the truth.

He warned against false teachers preaching lies.

He hoped to see them again so that his joy would be complete.

So what is this truth that lasts forever?

This truth is a person.

This truth is Jesus.

God lovingly and mercifully gave us His son Jesus.

We deserved to die for our sins.

Jesus died in our place and took the punishment we deserved.

Through Jesus we can be at peace with God.

Jesus graciously offers us forgiveness and eternal life with him.

Jesus lives in the lives of his followers giving them meaning and purpose.

His followers love one another because God first showed love to them.

Politicians come and go and their claims are soon forgotten.

Are you tired of political spin?

Do you know the truth that lasts forever?

For followers, can those around you see the truth that lives in you?

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mmmm 1 peter 1 mmmm

Mmmm Chocolate Hot Cross Buns Mmmm

Aussie supermarkets desperately try to boost their profit margins:

Hot cross buns & Easter eggs appear earlier and earlier each year.

This year in January, supermarket shelves were already full with Easter food.

Christmas had only just finished and Easter was a distant 3 months away.

Retailers don’t waste time when money and sales are involved.

Beyond the chocolate, what is the real meaning of Easter?

Is there a deeper meaning behind the commercialisation of this season?

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…

1 Peter 1:3

The bible verse above encapsulates Easter so brilliantly.

God the Father of Jesus showed his love to the whole world.

He mercifully sent Jesus to save us from the mess we were in.

We were powerless to save ourselves.

Jesus died on a cross – the cross in Hot cross buns.

He died in our place and took the punishment we deserved.

God raised Jesus to life again as King of the Universe.

The resurrection is proof that there is life after death.

Those who trust Jesus have new birth into a new life now and in the future.

The Easter egg symbolises new life and a new beginning.

The offer of new life is for everyone no matter how big a mess we have made.

We now have a real and living hope for eternity beyond the grave.

Death is not the end for followers of Jesus.

It is the gateway to life with Him in heaven.

At Easter we remember the sacrifice of Jesus dying to save us.

We also celebrate his resurrection and look forward to being raised to life in the future.

What will happen to you after you die?

Would you like to have a 2nd chance at life after the mess you’ve made?

For followers, can family, friends, neighbours & colleagues see Jesus in your life?

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mmmm philemon 6 mmmm

Mmmm Chinese Noodles Mmmm

In Australia, we have the best multicultural food from all around the world!

But that’s not the only food that is mouth-watering.

At Bible College last semester, I was eating big mouthfuls of the New Testament.

I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.

Philemon 6

I join with many other Chinese in celebrating Chinese New Year.

  • What do you hope for in a new year?
  • What new good things would you like to try?
  • How would you like to actively change your life?

The Bible passage above was written by Paul to a fellow brother.

Paul was asking this brother to change his attitude towards a friend.

He encouraged this brother to forgive his friend.

Paul hoped his friend would be given a new chance and beginning in life.

What is this “good thing” we have in Jesus?

Followers of Jesus have been given a 2nd chance and a new beginning in life.

Once we were condemned and facing eternal death.

We had no hope and no way of saving ourselves.

But at great cost, God saved us by sending Jesus to die in our place.

God demonstrated great love by giving us a 2nd chance that we did not deserve.

We can never earn salvation or pay God back for this gift.

Can we ever fully understand the enormity of God’s love for us?

How do we respond to God’s love?

  • By accepting His gift of love with humility and thanks
  • By trusting Jesus to save us and putting our lives in his hands

God’s love is such great news that we want to tell everyone.

By telling others, we are sharing God’s love and light in our dark world.

  • What do you hope for in the new year?
  • Do you know the love of God?
  • Would you like to be given a 2nd chance and new beginning in life?

For followers:

  • How often do you pray for others?
  • Can those around you see that you are different to the mainstream world?
  • Have you ever shared the source of your hope with others?
  • Can others see that this hope is at the centre of your life?
  • Have you experienced forgiveness?

How do we actively share?

  • By praying for others regularly
  • By loving others so that they may ask why we are different to the world
  • By telling others the source of our hope
  • By showing others that this hope is at the centre of our lives
  • By giving others a 2nd chance in life through forgiveness

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mmmm 1 john 4 mmmm

Mmmm French & Italian Patisserie Mmmm

In Australia, we have beautiful cakes & pastries made by Europeans!

But that’s not the only food that is mouth-watering.

At Bible College this semester, I’m eating big mouthfuls of the New Testament.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

1 John 4:7-10

Our world is constantly searching for love.

We are born into families and are loved by our parents.

Our parents love us selflessly and seek the best for us.

As children we depend on and love them in return.

Growing up, we love our friends at school, university & work.

We enjoy fun times laughing with our mates.

As we leave home, we seek love in finding the right partner.

We settle down in a new home and begin a family.

And the cycle of love starts again with the birth of children.

Our society bombards us with countless love songs & movies.

We are conditioned to believe that love = sex.

Society tries to convince us that erotic love is the ultimate goal in life.

But many of us don’t find a partner and remain single.

Many marriages end in divorce leaving people single again.

Some relationships end tragically with domestic violence.

The Bible passage above talks about love better than sex.

In fact, God is love.

God’s love is supremely higher than anything else in the universe.

God loved us humans even when we were his enemies.

He did not wait for us to love him before trying to save us.

God sent his only son Jesus to pay for our sins by dying on a cross.

Our sin is the barrier between us and God.

Now that Jesus has removed this barrier, we can experience true love with God.

We now have “real” life and a relationship with the Creator of the Universe.

This amazing love now motivates us to love & care for everyone else.

Because of God, Christians reach out beyond their immediate family & friends.

Christians also care for their neighbours & the disadvantaged in our community.

Christians share Jesus with everyone who needs physical & spiritual help.

Have you found the “true” love that is better than sex?

Do you have a loving relationship with God that is eternal?

For Christians, how are you helping your neighbours & sharing Jesus with them?

mmmm Bible mmmm

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