Charles’s quotes


"It is surely ours to combine these elements of mourning for sin and joy in our salvation in one complex and composite experience which keeps us perpetually humble and yet perpetually joyful too."— Rev William Still

Thursday, 21 May 2015

What People Want To Hear? or What They Need To Hear?

Jeremiah was not a popular prophet. He didn’t tell the people what they wanted to hear. He wasn’t concerned with gaining their approval. He was determined to keep on speaking God’s Word – whatever the people thought about him, said about him or did to him. The first priority is faithfulness. We must not make relevance the be-all and end-all. Relevance must be built on faithfulness. The two are to be held together – faithfulness and relevance. If we do not remain faithful to God’s Word, our words will be irrelevant. They will not be God’s Word for the people. “Your Word is truth” (John 17:17) – This must be at the heart of both our preaching and our living.

Conviction Of Sin, Conversion To The Saviour

Jeremiah was fearless in his preaching of God’s Word. He spoke the truth. He spoke the Word which had been given to him by the Lord. When God speaks the Word of His holiness, the Word which exposes sin for what it really is, there is no place to hide. When we read Jeremiah’s words about Israel’s enemies, we must recognize that the Word of God concerning sin must be spoken clearly. It is only when there is conviction of sin that there can be conversion to the Saviour.

How are we to approach the Lord's Table (Part One)? - "Lord... who may live on your holy hill?... " (Psalm 15:1-2).

"Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless" (Psalm 15:1-2).
These are words which could - and should - leave us utterly despondent. There's no way we can live a blameless life. There's no hope for us.
--
There is, however, the hope which comes to us when  we look away from ourselves to our Saviour, Jesus Christ. We are invited to the Lord's Table. He welcomes us to His Table.
 - This is not about what we do for Christ. It's about what He has done for us.
 - This is not about being rewarded for our righteousness. It's about receiving Christ's salvation.
 * We approach the Lord's Supper on the basis of the love of Christ for sinners.
 * We approach the Lord's Supper with faith in Christ, the Saviour of sinners.
Our faith is always a response to His love. It is His love that creates our faith. We hear the Word of the Lord. It is the Good News of God's love. We come to the Lord's Table. We eat bread. We drink wine. The Spirit of the Lord is among the people of God. He is working in our hearts. He is leading us to the Saviour. We are drawn to the Saviour. We are drawn by His love for us. His love is greater than all our sin. His love reaches us. We receive His forgiveness. His love changes us. In Him, we become a new creation.

The spiritual dimension must never be forgotten.

Deuteronomy 18:1-19:21
“The land the Lord you God is giving you” (Deuteronomy 18:9; Deuteronomy 19:1,8,10,14): In all the practical instructions given to the people of Israel, there is always this reminder of the spiritual dimension. They are the people of God. They have been blessed by the Lord. They are to live as people who appreciate God’s blessing. The spiritual dimension must never be forgotten. We are not talking only about social matters. We are talking about the life of God’s people, “the redeemed of the Lord.”

Lord, You are the God of love. You are also the God of holiness.

Deuteronomy 13:1-14:21
Lord, You are the God of love. You are also the God of holiness. We like to hear about Your love. It makes us feel good. We're not so keen on hearing about Your holiness. You are the holy God. You are the God who calls us to be holy. Help us, Lord, not to be content with the half-truth, contained in the words, "All you need is love." We do need love - but we also need holiness. Help us to "strive ... for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14).

Build Your Life On The Word Of The Lord.

As we seek to build our Church and our lives on Jesus Christ, we turn to the book of Deuteronomy. Here, we are following our Lord Jesus Christ. When He was being tempted by Satan, Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 8:3 - "Man does not live by bread alone ... Man lives by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord."
This is the lesson which comes through, again and again, in Deuteronomy: We need to hear the Word of the Lord, We need to build our lives on the Word of the Lord.
The teaching of Deuteronomy has been summed up in this way: (i) Looking back; (ii) Looking up; (iii) Looking forward.
  (i) Looking back - God's people were to look back to the past. They were to remember what the Lord had done for them. This is what we must do. Look back and remember. Why are we to look back to the past? We look back to the past so that we might learn to look up to the Lord and look out into the future with faith (Deuteronomy 4:32, 40).
  (ii) Looking up - The people of God were called to love the Lord with all their heart, soul and might (Deuteronomy 6:5). Love for the Lord is not to be a half-hearted thing. The Lord stands before us with a call to decision. He calls us to choose. Jesus says to us, "You cannot serve two masters." He says to us, 'There are two alternative ways of living. You can love the Lord, or you can love the world.' He asks us, 'Which will it be - the Lord or the world?' Think about how much the Lord has loved you, and let your response be the love for the Lord. Look back and remember what the Lord has done for you. Look up to Lord and let him be the centre of your life.
  (iii) Looking forward - Life in Christ, life as the redeemed people of God, is always life with a future. As God's people, Israel looked out. They saw "a land flowing with milk and honey" (Deuteronomy 6:3). This is, for us, a picture of the life into which the Lord is calling us. It is a life "sustained by God and helpful to men" (Hans Kung, On Being a Christian, p. 602). Israel looked out to the land God was giving to them. We look forward to all that He has planned for us, as we learn to walk with Him. Let us move forward with faith. Let us pray, 'Lord, bless me, and make me a blessing.' We must not keep the blessing of the Lord to ourselves. We, who receive  blessing from the Lord, must share his blessing with others. We, who have heard the Word of the Lord, must share His Word with others (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). Look out from where you are. Look forward to what God is going to do. Say to God, "Here I am, wholly available" - and let Him work in you and through you. Israel advanced, with God, into the promised land. Let us step forward, in faith, with God and for God/ Let us step forward into the blessing He's going to give to us - the blessing that reaches out to us, the blessing that reaches out, through us, to others.
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After I had posted these notes on Deuteronomy, I came across this quotation - "I avoid looking forward or backward, and try to keep looking upward" (Charlotte Bronte). This made me think about what I had written. We cannot live our life without looking back and looking forward. There are, however, dangers in both looking back and looking forward.
When we look back, we may see only our sin and fail to see the grace of God. This will fill us with guilt and regret. This can overwhelm us. What we need to do is this - look upward. On the other hand, we may look back and see only our own achievements. this will fill us with pride in ourselves. There will be no giving glory to God. What are we to do when we look back? We must look up to the Lord. This will take our attention away from our sin and failure. This will fix our attention on our Saviour and His His salvation. We will learn to say, "To God be the glory! Great things He has done ... "
When we look forward, we will filled with fear. This can fill us with dread, constantly wondering what bad thing is going to happen next. We may think about the future in a very different way, "I'm going to achieve this, that and the next thing." Really?! What's this all about? It's not about God. It's about me - This is what I'm going to achieve. What are we to do when we start thinking like this? We must look up to the Lord - and ask Him to help to keep on looking up to Him.
Life includes the backward look and the forward look - but it must also include the upward look. Without the upward look, our life is in a mess. We may be painfully aware of the mess we're in. We may be blissfully unaware of the mess we're getting ourselves into. Whatever kind of mess we're in, we need to look up to the Lord. We need to say, "Lord, we need you every day and every hour - all the time." We need to say, "Everything good comes from You, Lord - especially our Saviour, Jesus. Thank You, Lord, that you keep on loving us - even when we've forgotten You. When we forget to look up to You, show us Your love - and teach us to love You."

The Lord’s work is moving on.

Deuteronomy 33:1-34:12
The Lord’s work is moving on. the Lord’s servant – Moses – is looking towards the future. He is pronouncing God’s blessing on the people of Israel. He pays special attention to each tribe. There is a Word from the Lord for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. The people of Israel had been “blessed” – “a nation saved by the Lord” (Deuteronomy 33:29). The future lay with the whole people of God, as they moved forward together. There was, however, to be one man who was called to special leadership among the people – Joshua. For this work, Joshua was “filled with the Spirit” (Deuteronomy 34:9). The people of God were moving forward, but they would not forget where they had come from – how the Lord had led them. They remembered Moses (Deuteronomy 34:10-12) – and they gave thanks to God.

God Is Faithful. Let's Be Faithful To Him.

Deuteronomy 31:1-32:52
Moses’ time of leadership was coming to an end. Joshua would replace him as the leader of God’s people. With God’s command – “Be strong and courageous” – and promise – “you will bring the Israelites into the land that I swore to give them, and I will be with you” (Deuteronomy 31:23), Joshua set out into the work of the Lord. Moses still had a Word to bring to the people from the Lord – a Word which proclaimed the Lord as “a faithful God” (Deuteronomy 32:4) and called the people to be faithful to Him (Deuteronomy 32:5-6).

Continue in the way of the Lord.

Deuteronomy 4:1-6:25
There is a real challenge here – Continue in the way of the Lord. Don’t turn back from following Him. This is important – not only for ourselves but for generations to come. The Word of the Lord must never be dismissed as something which is to be left in the past. Love for the Lord is not to be set aside as a thing of the past. We are to preserve the Word of the Lord for the next generation. The call to love God must be passed on those who come after us.

We need the Word of the Lord.

Deuteronomy 7:1-8:20
The contrast between God’s people and those who worship false gods is so strong. It would be easy for God’s people to feel superior. God’s Word gives us no encouragement to have a superiority complex (Deuteronomy 7:7-8). How are God’s people to remain true to Him when there are so many pressures to conform to the world? – We must remember that we need the Word of the Lord (Deuteronomy 8:3). Without His Word, we will be easy victims for Satan. The Lord warns His people – We must remember to obey Him, or we will, by our disobedience, bring ourselves under His judgment (Deuteronomy 8:19-20).

Opening Up God's Word: Deuteronomy 7:7-8 and 8:17-19

Deuteronomy emphasizes the importance of responding to the Lord right now.
 - We are reminded of the past, but we must not live in the past.
 - We are pointed to the future, but we must not daydream about the future.
  (1) One of Deuteronomy's main themes is the love of God.
God's love points us back to the past, to the death of Christ for our sins (Romans 5:8). It also points us forward, to the heavenly place that the Lord is preparing for His people (John 14:1-3).
God's love is not, however, something that belongs to the past - and it is not something that is kept for the future.
God loves us now. He loved us in the past - and He loves us now. God has not forgotten us - and He will not forget us. 
We can face the future with the assurance that God loves us. He loves us with a love that will not let us go. He loves us with a love that will not let us down. He loves us with a purpose. He plans to bless us. His purpose of blessing is a purpose of love. He says to us, "I have loved you with an everlasting love" (Jeremiah 31:3).
  (2) Another major theme of Deuteronomy is the land of promise.
In John 3:16, we learn that God's promise is given in love - and His "land" is "everlasting life."
For those who are trusting in Christ, "the land of promise" is not something in the distant future. We are in "the land of promise." Eternal life has begun It has begun - and now, we press on toward its fulfilment.
  (3) Deuteronomy stresses that the love of God and the land of promise are not to be taken for granted.
In Deuteronomy 7:7-8 and Deuteronomy 8:17-18, there are very clear warnings against the sin of spiritual pride.
 - How easy it is to forget how much God has loved us!
 - How easy it to forget the promises that God has given to us!
When we are tempted to forget the Lord - His love and His promises, we need to hear God's Word - "You shall remember the Lord your God" (Deuteronomy 8:18).
When we are tempted to forget the Lord and become preoccupied with ourselves, the Word of God comes to us with this warning: "if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you this day that you shall surely perish" (Deuteronomy 8:19).
The Gospel is a message of joy and gladness - but not to those who have forgotten the Saviour, not to those who think only of their own good works. 
The Good News of salvation does not begin with the word, "I" - 'I have done this. I have done that. I have done the other - therefore I will be saved.' 
The Gospel cuts right across our human pride, and says, "Jesus saves." 
This message brings joy and gladness - but only when truly believe it, only when we receive its truth into our hearts and minds, saying, with the hymnwriter, "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness; No merit of my own, I claim, But wholly trust in Jesus' Name. On Christ, the solid rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand." 

A Promise Of Blessing And A Warning Against Disobedience

God wants “to heal Israel” (Hosea 7:1). Sadly, there is so much “sin” in the hearts of Israel - “I trained them and made them strong. Yet, they plan evil against Me” (Hosea 7:15). God wants to send His blessing. Sadly, “they don’t return to the Most High” (Hosea 7:16). This is Israel’s story. It’s also our story. God is calling us to return to Him, to be trained by Him, to live in His presence, to enjoy His blessing, to give praise and glory to Him.
In Hosea 8, we read about God’s judgment on the sinful nation of Israel. His standard is perfect holiness. Every one of us falls short. None of us can stand before God’s righteous judgment. There is, one Man who has not fallen short. God’s Son, Jesus, our Saviour, has taken our sin upon Himself so that we might receive His salvation. This is the Gospel. It is Good News for sinners.
“The prophet, along with my God, is the watchman over Ephraim” (Hosea 9:8). Being a watchman will involve speaking strong words of warning. It’s not easy to speak God’s Word. It’s not easy to hear His Word. His Word calls for change. It calls us to come out of our sin and into His holiness. The watchman must speak of “days of punishment” and “days of reckoning.” He must speak about “sins” and “hostility” (Hosea 9:7). Why must he speak of such things? Before people can turn to the Lord, they must be shown that they need the Lord. The watchman does not do this work on His own. It is “the prophet, along with my God” who “is the watchman.” We must never forget the Lord our God. Without Him, we can never be real and true watchman. With Him by our side, we will listen to what men will say, “The prophet is considered a fool, the inspired man a maniac” (Hosea 9:7). We still say, “Being a fool for God is very different from being a fool.” “The fool says in his heart, There is no God” (Psalm 14:1). A fool for God is only a fool in the eyes of men. He’s not a fool in the eyes of the One who really matters - the Lord.
God speaks to His people with a promise of blessing and a warning against disobedience. The blessing is there, waiting for us. We lose out on the blessing when we continue to walk on the pathway of disobedience. God says to us, “Plough new ground for yourselves, plant righteousness, and reap the blessings that your devotion to Me will produce.” This is the promise of blessing, with its call to return to the Lord. Alongside this promise of blessing, with its call to turn to the Lord - “It is time for you will come and pour out blessings upon you” (Hosea 10:12), there is God’s warning against following a way of life upon which His judgment rests: “But instead you planted evil and reaped its harvest. You have eaten the fruit produced by your lies” (Hosea 10:13).

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Lord, help us not to get too big for our boots.

Lord, help us not to get too big for our boots.
Sometimes, we get down in the dumps. When this happens, we need to get lifted up - by You!
Sometimes, we have a very different problem. We get too big for our boots – and we need to be brought back down to earth!
Brought down with a bump: How often this has happened to us – and it was just what we needed!
Bringing us down – We thank You, Lord, that this is only the beginning of Your work in us.
You never bring us down – to leave us there. You bring us down to build us up again!
Building us up – That’s what You do for us.
We’re broken down – and You put us together again!
Lord, this is so encouraging.
When we forget You, You never forget us.
When we feel like giving up, You say to us, “I haven’t finished with you yet. I’ll never be finished with You: What I have planned for you is nothing less than this - eternal life.”

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

The true God and the false gods

Deuteronomy 20:1-21:23
The conflict between the Israelites and the other nations was really a conflict between the true God and the false gods (Deuteronomy 20:17-18). Everything in life must be seen in connection with our relationship to God: Are we being true to Him? Or, are we being false? We must seek to do what “the Lord considers right”, what is “clean” in His eyes (Deuteronomy 21:9,23).

Lord, we celebrate Your love.

Deuteronomy 16:1-17:13
Lord, we celebrate Your love. We rejoice in Your salvation. Your love is a dying love. We see Your love in the death of Jesus, our Saviour. It's also an undying love. It's the only love that never dies. It never comes to an end. It's eternal love, shown to us in the sacrificial death of "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).


Victory Comes From The Lord.

Deuteronomy 3:1-29 

The promised land was near. For Moses, it was ‘so near and yet so far’. He was excluded. Together with the sadness of Moses’ exclusion, there was the joy of the people’s entrance (27-28). When we consider Moses’ sadness and the people’s joy, we must remember this: Nobody deserved to go into the land! The land was God’s gift. Without His strength, the people of Israel would fail. With Him, they would be victorious: ‘You shall not fear them; for it is the Lord your God who fights for you’(22). There is here a basic principle of Christian living: ‘not by might , nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts’(Zechariah 4:6). ‘In heavenly armour we’ll enter the land. The battle belongs to the Lord. No weapon that’s fashioned against us will stand. The battle belongs to the Lord’(Mission Praise, 639).

Live Each Day - With The Attitude Of Gratitude.

Deuteronomy 4:1-43
The people of Israel were involved in the work of the Lord. The work was based on God – not Moses. Moses would not be in the promised land. God would be there. Moses would ‘not go over the Jordan’. As God’s man. he was to prepare the people for their task: ‘you shall go over and take possession of that good land’(22). Privilege involves responsibility. Israel was a privileged people, redeemed by the Lord, delivered from bondage ‘by a mighty hand and outstretched arm’(34). Israel was a responsible people, called to obey the Lord: ‘Obey His laws and commands’(40). The Lord our God is ‘a merciful God’(31). He has saved us. We are to serve Him. Let Him reign in your heart. Let there be ‘no other besides Him’(35). Flee to Christ for refuge (42-43), and live each day with ‘the attitude of gratitude’.

Rest Secure In God's Love.

“Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in Him, for He shields him all day long, and the one that the Lord loves rests between His shoulders” (Deuteronomy 33:12).
The Lord loves us. His love casts out our fear. His love gives us security. His love shields us. We rest in His love. There’s a place in His heart for us. The love of God – This is the message which reaches out “to the ends of the earth” (Deuteronomy 33:17).
“The great love of God is revealed in the Son, who came to this earth to redeem every one. That love, like a stream flowing clear to the sea, makes clean every heart that from sin would be free. It binds the whole world, every barrier it breaks, the hills it lays low, and the mountains it shakes. It’s yours, it is ours, O how lavishly given! The pearl of great price, and the treasure of heaven!” (Daniel Thambyrajah Niles). “All for your sake, all for my sake; yes, for all, I say: Now for the world comes news of salvation: ‘Christ is born today!” ‘Christ is born today!'” (From the Gujarati of Kahanji Madhavji Ranagrahi).

More Than A Prophet!

 “The Lord your God  will raise up for you a Prophet … to Him you shall listen” (Deuteronomy 18:15).
We read these words, and we think of the words spoken by God on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:5). There is a difference. Jesus is more than a Prophet. He’s God’s Son. He’s greater than Moses. He’s greater than Elijah. They were God’s servants. He’s God’s Son. When we realize that we have a Saviour – more than a prophet!, we will listen to Him, we will give ourselves to Him, and we will thank Him for giving Himself for us.
Why do we listen to Jesus? It’s because He speaks the Word of the Lord – “I … will put My words in His mouth; and He shall speak to them all that I shall command Him” (Deuteronomy 18:18).  It’s more than that! He is the Word of the Lord (John 1:1,14).
We give ourselves to Him because He has given Himself to us. We do not think much of our great devotion to him. We think much of His great love for us.
 As I was reading about “the Prophet”, I found my attention drawn to these words – “you shall not be afraid of him” (Deuteronomy 18:22). As I read this verse, I noticed that it’s telling us that we do not need to be afraid of the false prophet. Satan has no authority over the Lord’s people – “No weapon that is formed against you will prosper … ” (Isaiah 54:17). “you shall not be afraid of him” – I thought a bit more about this verse. I found my thoughts turning to Jesus, our Saviour. We don’t need to be afraid of Him. He loves us. In fear, we come to Him. We know that He is holy. In love, He comes to us. He shows us that He is our Saviour. “His perfect love casts out our fear” (1 John 4:18).

God's Giving To Us, Our Giving To Him

“You shall give to the Lord your God, as the Lord your God has blessed you” (Deuteronomy 16:10).
Our giving to the Lord can never be any more than a response to His giving to us. His giving to us is always greater than our giving to Him. There can be no comparison between His giving to us and our giving to Him. When we focus our attention on His giving to us, our giving to him will be transformed. It will not be legalism. It will be thanksgiving. No longer grudge-giving – “I have to”, or duty-giving – “I ought to”, it will be thanksgiving – “I want to.

What are we to do, Lord, when we think that You're against us?

Job 9:20-10:22 What are we to do, Lord, when, like Job, we think that You are “against” us (Job 10:2)? Where do such negative thoughts ...