The Rationale

A space to explore and reflect on the whole of the bible. We (the contributors) met while studying at London School of Theology and since have gone on to further study and into various different ministries: church leaders (Free church and Anglican) and charity workers. Different ministries, one kingdom, and a desire to learn and grow through reflecting on the scriptures. Read, reflect and don't be afraid to comment - this is a safe place of discussion and reflection where we want to be like iron sharpening iron (Prov. 27:17) in our relationship with Jesus.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

New Site!!

We have moved to a new blog!!

Here we will continue to do reflections on the Bible but also some other exciting posts including 'theology in 100 words'  check it out :)

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Psalm 51-53

Click here to read the previous post on Psalm 48-50.

Psalm 51 is possibly the Psalm that I have read most, because it is such a raw and complete prayer of repentance. I have written quite a lot of poetry on this psalm and the following are links to three poems which take the reader through the psalm as a process of conviction, repentance, accepting forgiveness and response
Response/More than Me.
I have also written a poem which focusses on one verse of the Psalm: 51.12: 'Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.' The poem came out of a time of prayer and reflection about having a 'willing spirit' and the 'joy of salvation' and how one cannot be divorced from the other. Please read and listen to the spoken word and musical interpretation of the poem on my soundcloud:

'Sustain in me a willing spirit' 
I've asked for the joy
so many times,

But it's only gone when
the spirit is unwilling
and I exit salvation to
my own shame,
and pain.

What is this indulgence
in degradation?
Why must I not delight
in the fruits of cleanliness,
honest study of truth and
its symbiotic counterpart;
love, from which it will not be prised?

So for the sake of the joy
of walking in salvific truth
and with the endless reserves
of the love with which
I was bought and freed,
grant in me a willing
and generous spirit
that my steps may bring you joy.

Monday, 8 April 2013

2 Samuel 5-9

Click here to read the previous post on 2 Samuel 1-4.

These few chapters contain some very significant events for the nation of Israel, for the narrative of the Old Testament and the rest of creation! David is appointed as Israel's second king, Jerusalem is established as the capital of the nation, the Arc of the Covenant is returned to Jerusalem, God makes a covenant with David concerning the (not) yet-to-be-built temple and David responds with humility. There is so much to look at here but I want to focus on David's response.

It is in a prayer like this that David reveals characteristics of someone who is attempting to live in submission to God, demonstrating why he is called a man after God's own heart.

  • He recognises that it is only by God's hand that he is in his position as King, and that he was able to bring the Arc back.
  • He conclude's therefore that God is great and gives praise for his actions.
  • He looks back throughout the history of the nation, continuing in praise. 
  • He looks forward and petitions God to keep his promises and keep the nation for ever.
  • He locates hope for the future in God's continued favour and in the promises already made.
  • He commits the future of his house and nation to the gory of God.
This really is the best way to respond to success! Locating all good things in the Lord, seeking his blessing for the future and committing the future to his glory!

Friday, 5 April 2013

Exodus 17-20

The next day Moses sat as judge for the people, while the people stood around him from morning until evening.  When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, ‘What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, while all the people stand around you from morning until evening?’ Moses said to his father-in-law, ‘Because the people come to me to inquire of God.  When they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another, and I make known to them the statutes and instructions of God.’  Moses” father-in-law said to him, ‘What you are doing is not good. You will surely wear yourself out, both you and these people with you. For the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone. (18:13-18)

The clear and obvious point to be made, and the one I’m going to make is that you can work to hard in ministry!  We see Moses was doing everything himself seeing people morning to night, what this meant is that he was ‘in the red zone’ basically meaning that he was burning out.  So the quality of his work would suffer.  What’s more he cant actually do the work anyway its just to much which means the community is suffering because he trying to do it all himself.  For me the key thing in leadership is the ability to delegate and let go off things to others and to raise them up as leaders, just as Moses’ father in law suggests:

You should also look for able men among all the people, men who fear God, are trustworthy, and hate dishonest gain; set such men over them as officers over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens.  Let them sit as judges for the people at all times; let them bring every important case to you, but decide every minor case themselves.  (18:21-22).

Really for the sign of a good leader is someone who does themselves out of job by raising up those around them.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

2 Corinthians 4-5

‘But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture – ‘I believed, and so I spoke’ – we also believe, and so we speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence.  Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.’  (2Cor 4-5).

‘It was his confidence in God who raises the dead that enabled Paul to keep on preaching, knowing that it would bring benefit to his hearers and thanksgiving to God.’ (Kruse).  What a challenge, if you believe you should therefore speak and spread the word of the risen Lord.  The phrase sees this as a given, I believed, and so I spoke, mission is not something that some should do if called but rather goes hand in hand with belief.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Mark 13-14

Mark 13 I have found is quite confusing about what Jesus is saying about the end of the world and what will happen in the end times.  In this chapter Jesus is talking about two different times, the first is the near future (to him!) AD 70 and the second is the end times.

At the beginning of Chapter 13 we see some of the disciples asking Jesus when the end of the world will come, Verses 5-23 is Jesus talking about the destruction of the temple and the persecution that will happen, everything Jesus predicted can be fitted into the time around ad 70, when the Roman armies were ravaging Palestine and emperors were fighting for the throne.  

Verse 24 is a change in what Jesus is talking about, the verse starts with the Greek word  “AL-HAH” which means ‘But’, here Jesus is changing direction onto a new topic, “But in those days”, “in those days” is a common phrase used throughout the Old Testament when talking about the end of the world.  So Jesus has switch to talking about what will happen at the end of the World.  

Friday, 29 March 2013

Jeremiah 22-26

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.  In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety.  And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’  (23:5-6)

Wesley says of these verses:

Judah - During the reign and kingdom of the Messiah the people of God typified by Judah and Israel shall be saved with a spiritual salvation, and God will be a special protection to them. And this - The name wherewith this branch shall be called, shall be, The Lord our righteousness. This place is an eminent proof of the Godhead of Christ, he is here called Jehovah, and what is proper to God alone, namely to justify, is here applied to Christ. He who knew no sin, was made sin, (that is, a sacrifice for sin) for us, that we might be made, the righteousness of God in him.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Job 33-34

Elihu sets out a new argument, different from his friends.  His line of thought is that Job is not right, but neither are the others who say he is a sinner (33:12).  He thinks that God might send suffering for other purposes such as a warning to humans from committing sins in the future (v18-22), with this logic Elihu thinks he can keep God’s justice while accepting Job’s innocence.  Chapter 34 sees Elihu thinking now in more general terms.  He says God must be just because he is the almighty creator (34:13-14) therefore logically Job in rebellion because he says that God is being unjust (v37).  We will see Elihu continue his speeches in the next two chapters and then we have the Lord’s speeches. 

Monday, 25 March 2013

Psalm 48-50

Psalm 49

5 Why should I fear in times of trouble,
     when the iniquity of my persecutors surrounds me,
6 those who trust in their wealth
     and boast of the abundance of their riches?
7 Truly, no ransom avails for one’s life,
     there is no price one can give to God for it.
8 For the ransom of life is costly,
     and can never suffice,

9 that one should live on for ever
     and never see the grave.
16 Do not be afraid when some become rich,
     when the wealth of their houses increases.
17 For when they die they will carry nothing away;
     their wealth will not go down after them.
18 Though in their lifetime they count themselves happy

There is so much powerful stuff in this Psalm.  It tells that those who are rich may be happy in their life, but when we die we can take nothing with us.  All the money in the world will not change this, we all will die, rich and poor alike.  We cannot pay God off!  So then we die and all wealth is wiped away and we come before God, what do we say? 

But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol,     for he will receive me. (v15)

God has ransomed us through His Son Jesus, and through this ransom we will not perish but have eternal life.  Wealth will not get us there but turning to Christ and repenting of the wrongs we have done will give us the gift of eternal life.  Jesus tells us the same message when He says:

‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’ (Matt 6:19-21).

How do we store up treasure in heaven?  We follow Jesus!  And when we follow we also listen, we listen to what God is calling us to do.  That might be specific to our lives, a call to a certain type of ministry or job or place.  There is also that which God calls all of us to, to bring His Kingdom on earth and to spread the good news that Jesus is the way to eternal life!

Saturday, 23 March 2013

2 Samuel 1-4

We see in these opening chapters the fulfilment of David’s destiny to become King of Israel.  There were two things that could stop David becoming King of Israel, the first was that not all Saul’s sons died, we are told that Ish-Bosheth survived and was recognized as king by most of the tribes (2:9).  The second obstacle was the Philistines.  They had just beaten Israel and killed the king and wanted Israel to stay weak and be subject to them.  They made what turns out to be a tactical error, they allowed David to be crowned King of Judah and must have decided that allowing Israel to fight a civil war would continue to weaken them.  But in actual fact it allowed David to deal with his enemies one at a time, first the civil war and as we will see later he could then turn to the Philistines and defeat them to.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Exodus 13-16

‘Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day.  In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not ... But they did not listen to Moses; some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul ...  The Israelites ate manna for forty years, until they came to a habitable land.’ (16:4, 20, 35a)

Although the Israelites had been delivered from the Egyptians by remarkable displays of God’s power, some still lacked total commitment and loyalty to him. (Alexander).  For me this a question of trust, and a very hard one to.  Trusting in another person is one of the most difficult things to do and trusting in God is very difficult to.  We must in essence give up control and that is something that we don’t like to do, we don’t like to rely on anything or anyone else if we can help it.  I think in this situation I would have been right there with the people trying to save a bit for the next day!  Giving up control and trusting God is key to the Christian life and something that I think we all struggle with (I know I do).
‘In the NT Jesus compares himself with the manna divinely provided in the wilderness: ‘I am the living bread that came down from heaven.  If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.  This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world’ (John 6:51)’ (Alexander).
Jesus is the bread of life, we must remember to receive from him daily and live trusting in him.  We must remember the Lord’s prayer does not say ‘give us today our bread for the next week!’ it says ‘give us today our daily bread’.  Trust in the Lord daily.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

2 Corinthians 1-3

'But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.  Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.’ (3:16-18).

Paul makes the most astonishing claim in the whole chapter in verse 18 (above) and Wright makes the following comments:

‘When he looks at a congregation, and when they look at him, and when they look at one another, everybody is looking at somebody else in whose heart and life the spirit, the Lord, has been at work, to heal, to soften, to change, to give life – in other words, to give glory.  Paul isn't talking about the way we gaze, by faith, on the face of the Lord.  He isn't referring to the way we look at God, or Jesus.  He is talking – this, after all, is the point of the whole chapter – about the way we gaze at the life-giving spirit in the faces of our fellow-Christians.’

What Paul is saying is that we should be able to see in the faces of our brothers and sister in Christ the shinning glory of the Spirit transforming us from ‘one degree of glory to another’.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Mark 11-12

Chapter 12 has the parables of the vineyard and the tenants  where the owner sends his servants one by one who each get killed until:
‘He had still one other, a beloved son.  Finally he sent to them, saying, “They will respect my son.”  But those tenant said to one another, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.”  So they sized him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.’ (12:6-8)
Jesus goes on to quote scripture:
‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’ (12:10b quoting Psalm 118:22)
The Son in the first parable and the stone in the second Jesus quite clearly identifies as himself.  The Son is rejected by the farmers and thrown out of the vineyard and killed.  But he is vindicated because the owner will come bring judgement on the farmers who in this parable are the religious leaders the priests and the Pharisees.  In the same way the stone that has been rejected is vindicated and placed in the highest honour as the cornerstone.  Jesus is talking of his death and resurrection here as we enter in these chapters into the passion narrative.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Jeremiah 17-21

‘Now the priest Pashhur son of Immer, who was chief officer in the house of the Lord, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things.  Then Pashur struck the prophet Jeremiah, and put him in the stocks that were in the upper Benjamin Gate of the house of the Lord ... I have become a laughing-stock all day long’ everyone mocks me.’ (20:1-2, 7b).

Here we see God’s prophet getting beaten up and put in the stocks. We saw in 1:19:
‘They will fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, says the Lord, to deliver you.’
The Lord had promised that he would not be overcome by his enemies – but not that he would not suffer.  Similarly, the Christian is assured of final victory because of the resurrection of Christ – but not of immunity from suffering or opposition. (McConville).