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

Monday, 15 June 2015

God's Word Of Grace - And His Word Of Warning

Exodus 34:1-35
Moses received the Word from the Lord. He brought God’s Word to the people. With God’s Word of grace – “the Lord, a compassionate and merciful God …”, there is also His Word of warning – “He never lets the guilty go unpunished … ” (Exodus 34:6-7). Hearing God’s Word of warning, together with His Word of grace, Moses pleads with God for mercy – “Lord, please go with us … ” (Exodus 34:9). The Lord promises to give His blessing – “I’m making My promise again.” This promise of His blessing is accompanied by His call to obedience – “Do everything that I command today” (Exodus 34:11). When Moses came, from God’s presence, to the people, his “face was shining” (Exodus 34:30,35). This was a sign of the power of the Spirit – filling Him, giving Him strength, equipping Him for the work of ministry,

Compassion And Worship

Exodus 21:1-23:33
Our obedience to God is to take shape within the varied circumstances of everyday life. At the heart of our obedience, there is to be compassion, an expression of God’s compassion (Exodus 22:21,28; Exodus 23:9). At the heart of our obedience, there is to be worship (Exodus 23:14). taking compassion and worship together, we come to the very heart of our obedience to God. It is not compassion without worship. It is not worship without compassion. The spiritual and the social belong together. We need spiritual foundations, leading to social changes. The social does not stand on its own. There needs to be spiritual depth. The ‘spiritual’ does not stand on its own. It is empty formality, if it does not lead to a change in our way of living from day-to-day.

The Great Power Of The Lord

Exodus 14:1-15:27 
Here, we see “the great power of the Lord” (Exodus 14:31). This leads to worship – “I will sing to the Lord. He has won a glorious victory … The Lord is my strength and my song. He is my Saviour. This is my God and I will praise Him … ” (Exodus 15:1-2). In the work of God’s redemption, we see His love and power – “Lovingly You will lead the people You have saved. Powerfully, You will guide them to Your holy dwelling” (Exodus 15:13). This is the greatness of God’s power – it is power which serves the purpose of His love. The Lord is King – “The Lord will rule as King forever and ever” (Exodus 15:18). He is not a tyrant. He is not a dictator. He is the King of love. He loves us. we are to love Him, living for Him and looking to Him to fulfil His promises in our lives.

It's All So Strange!

Exodus 38:1-40:38
All of this may seem so strange to us. Among all the many details, there is one thing which we must not miss. They “made everything that the Lord commanded.” They “followed the Lord’s instructions” (Exodus 38:22; Exodus 39:1,5,7,21,26,29,31-32,42-43). God’s people are called to be obedient to Him. We are not to do what we want We are to what He commands. We are to follow His instructions. There can be no “anointing” (Exodus 40:9-15), if there is no obedience. The two go together – obedience and anointing. We are to do everything the Lord commands us. We are to follow His instructions (Exodus 40:16,19). Such obedience to God will involve putting His Word at the centre of our lives. His Word is not so much a Word of demand as a Word of “promise.” It is not so much a Word of law as a Word of “mercy” (Exodus 40:20). Our obedience to God is grounded in our experience of God’s “promise” of “mercy.” Having received this “mercy” of God, promised to us in Jesus Christ, we follow the Lord’s instructions (Exodus 40:21,23,27,29,32). When we have “finished the work” God has given us to do, we must look to Him to send the blessing – “the glory of the Lord filled the tent” (Exodus 40:34-35). In all the strangeness of the world of Old Testament worship, there are deep spiritual lessons for us, lessons which enable us to go on with the Lord – receiving His mercy, obeying His Word, experiencing His glory. God is good to us. He shows His mercy to us. He puts a new Spirit within us – the Spirit of obedience. He sends His glory so that we might rejoice in His presence and be strengthened by His presence.

Knowing The Difference

Leviticus 10:1-11:47
It is vital that we know “the difference between what is holy and what is unholy” (Leviticus 10:10). God calls us to “be holy”, to “live holy lives” (Leviticus 11:44). This is the central point we must see in all the many unfamiliar details of ancient Jewish worship. This is the “permanent law” (Leviticus 10:9,15). This is the teaching which must be passed on to “generations to come.”

Our Sin? or God's Blessing?

Numbers  5:1-6:27
We must take sin seriously. It can lead to a withdrawal of God’s blessing. This is the important and challenging message of Numbers 5. We must not lose sight of God’s purpose for our lives. We are to be “dedicated to the Lord” (Numbers 6:6). It is God’s intention to bless. In His love for us, He continues to speak to us His Word. His promise of blessing is still His Word to us. It is a Word which never ceases to be relevant to His people: “The Lord will bless you and watch over you. The Lord will smile on you and be kind to you. The Lord will look on you with favour and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).

Ready To Do The Lord's Work

Numbers 7:1-8:26 
From each tribe, the gifts came. The Levites had a special ministry. For this ministry, they needed to be made “clean” (Numbers 8:5). Through cleansing, they were made “ready to do the Lord’s work” (Numbers 8:11). In a very special sense, God said of them, “the Levites will be Mine” (Numbers 8:14). Between the gifts from the tribes (Numbers 7) and the preparation of the Levites (Numbers 8:5-26), there are the seven lamps on the lampstand, giving “light in front of the lampstand” (Numbers 8:1-4). The lamp stand was made of “gold.”  This is the precious light of God’s Word, shining like gold, which is greater than all the other metals. God’s Word is the light which inspires the giving of the tribes and the ministry of the Levites. Without God’s Word at the centre, everything else means nothing.

Trust in God's Mercy.

We must trust in God’s “mercy”, which “lasts all day long” (Psalm 51:1; Psalm 52:1). We need God’s mercy, because we are sinners - “Everyone has fallen away. Together, they have become rotten to the core. No one, not even one person, does good things” (Psalm 53:3). When we come, as sinners, to the Lord, we find that He is our Saviour. We pray to Him, “O God, save me by Your Name” (Psalm 54:1). He hears ans answers this prayer for salvation. We say, “God is my helper! The Lord is the provider for my life... Your Name rescues me from trouble” (Psalm 54:4,7). Knowing the Lord as our Saviour, we are filled with a spirit of praise to Him. We say, from the heart, “I will give thanks to Your good Name, O Lord” (Psalm 54:6).

Friday, 5 June 2015

Come, Holy Spirit. Make Us New.

"We know ... " (John 3:2).
Nicodemus claimed to know a great deal about Jesus.
  • Jesus had done great miracles.
  • These miracles signified that God was with Jesus.
  • Jesus was a teacher, sent by God.
He acknowledged that Jesus was a teacher, sent by God, but did he receive Jesus' teaching? This is an important question for us!
Jesus was unimpressed by Nicodemus' claim to knowledge. Nicodemus could know nothing without a new birth (John 3:3).. The new birth was a "must" (John 3:7).
It is possible to know a great deal, and yet know nothing that really matters.
This is true of our society. We have more knowledge than at any other time in human history, yet there's a strange absence of the kind of knowledge which brings meaning to life.
From Nicodemus, we learn that reason can take us on a journey towards faith, but it will not take us all the way to faith (John 3:4:John 3:9).
We may be impressed by the arguments, used to support the Christian Faith, but there comes a point where we must make a decision. The arguments will not compel anyone to become a believer. They may point us in the direction of faith, but they they still leave us with a decision to make.
We may be influenced by the arguments, but the arguments will not make the decision for us. The arguments provide us with information concerning the Christian Faith. We must decide what we will do with this information.
Nicodemus regarded Jesus as "a teacher of Israel", yet he didn't understand Jesus' teaching. Such understanding comes by faith.
It is possible to know very little, and yet know all that you really need to know. Through faith in Christ, we know the true meaning of our life.
It was an emotional response which brought Nicodemus to Jesus. The real problem came when he was faced with Jesus' testimony (John 3:11). He was intrigued by Jesus, attracted to Him. Jesus was calling for more than that, but Nicodemus wasn't ready to take things on to the next stage. He remained an enquirer. Did he ever become a believer? We don't know. What we can say is this: there's a huge difference between being interested in Jesus and being committed to Him. Faith begins with interest, but it doesn't stop there.
How are we to move beyond an emotional pull towards Jesus? How are we to move on to a real faith? We need to use our minds. We need to read the Bible. We need to ask the big questions - Is Jesus more than a good man? Is He more than a great teacher? Is He the Son of God? Is He our Saviour? Our answers to such questions must be more than intellectual assent. There must be more than that. There must be commitment - the giving of our whole life to Jesus.
The new birth is more than being attracted to Jesus. It's more than paying lip-service to Him. It's turning around to face Him. It's making a new beginning with Him, This is no superficial change. It's a complete change in the direction of our life.
Jesus speaks of the wind of the Spirit (John 3:8). We are to stop going against the wind. We are to start going with the wind - moving in the direction of the love of God, moving in the direction of the Saviour, moving in the direction of faith in Christ, moving in the direction of eternal life (John 3:16).
If you go against the wind of the Spirit, you will be blown along by another wind - "tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine" (Ephesians 4:14).
It is the wind of the Spirit that will carry us beyond an emotional pull towards Jesus.
It is the wind of the Spirit that will lead us to "receive the testimony of Jesus" (John 3:11). It is the wind of the Spirit that will take us further than Nicodemus who "came to Jesus by night" (John 3:2). The Spirit does not create secret disciples, people who are ashamed of their Saviour. The Spirit leads us to say, with Paul, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for the salvation of every one who believes" (Romans 1:16).
Come, Holy Spirit. Make us new - new in our heart, new in every part of our life.

Lord, when the service of worship comes to an end, may our service of living begin - and never end!

Psalm 132:1-18 
‘Let us go to the Lord’s House; let us worship before His throne’ (Psalm 132:7). Lord, You're calling us to worship You. We are to gather together as Your worshipping people. As we gather for worship, may we remember that You, Lord, are ‘King’. May we give You more than the praise of our lips. May we give You the praise of our lives. We do not only sing to You. We live for You. We come ‘before Your throne’ with this prayer, ‘Take my heart - it is Thine own; It shall be Thy royal throne’. You hear and answer our prayer. You give us Your strength. We rise to Your challenge: ‘Rise up, O Church of God! Have done with lesser things; Give heart and soul and mind and strength to serve the King of kings.’ Lord, when the service of worship comes to an end, may our service of living begin - and never end!

A Faithful Love, An Everlasting Love

Psalm 115:1-18
‘Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to Your Name be the glory because of Your love and faithfulness’(Psalm 115:1). We thank You, Lord, that You love us. You love us with a faithful love, ‘an everlasting love’, a ‘love that will not let us go’. Your love ‘never comes to an end’. Nothing can separate us from Your love (Jeremiah 31:3; Lamentations 3:22-23; Romans 8:38-39). What have we done to deserve such love? Absolutely nothing! We are ‘sinners’. We do not deserve to be loved by You. We have done nothing to earn Your love. Love begins with You, Lord. It comes from You. How do we know that You love us? Have we proved ourselves worthy of Your love? No! - ‘God shows His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us’(Romans 5:8). ‘To God be the glory!’

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Comforters? or Critics?

In Job 15, we have another speech from Eliphaz. He charges in with all the subtlety of an elephant on the rampage: “you destroy the fear of God, and diminish devotion to God” (Job 15:4). He continues in the same vein, getting bolder and brasher in his word of accusation: “Your sin teaches you what to say. You choose to talk with a sly tongue. Your own mouth condemns you, not I. Your lips testify against you” (Job 15:5-6). Eliphaz did not listen to Job, but he insisted on Job listening to him: “I’ll tell you; listen to me! I’ll relate what I’ve seen, I’ll tell you what wise people have declared” (Job 15:17-18). Eliphaz gives a vivid description of the tortured life of the wicked person (Job 15:20-35). He begins with the words, “The wicked person is tortured all his days” (Job 15:20). This part of his speech is in the third person. While he doesn’t explicitly say, “I’m describing you, Job”, it is perfectly clear that this is what Eliphaz is doing. “This is what you are like, Job” - This is the message that Eliphaz wants Job to take out of his description of “the wicked person.”
Job stands up to his ‘comforters’, who are really his critics: “You are all pathetic at comforting me” (Job 16:2). He is, however, at ‘the end of his tether’, as he tries to understand what is going on in his life: “now, God has worn me out” (Job 16:7). The extent to which Job has been overcome by despair becomes clear in the final verses of Job 17. Again, he stands up to his critics: “I won’t find one wise man among you” (Job 17:10). Again, he feels that his situation is hopeless (Job 17:14-16). As we read of Job’s deep distress, we should remember also the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, as he hung on the Cross: “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). Christ suffered for us - but He also rose again for us. Job catches a glimpse of this when he says, “I know that my Redeemer lives” (Job 19:25).

Known By Name ...

In 1 Chronicles 1 - 9, there are lots of names. Each one of us is known, by name, to the Lord. This is a very precious truth. It is summed up, for us, in the wonderful words of love, spoken by the Good Shepherd, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
“So Saul died because of his unfaithfulness to the Lord. He did not obey the Word of the Lord” (1 Chronicles 10:13). Here, we read of Saul’s sin, shame and sadness. This was more than a personal thing. It had a profound effect on the whole nation. God looked at the effect Saul was having on His people. The Lord decided that it was time for a change, a new beginning:“So the Lord killed him, and turned the kingship over to David, Jesse’s son” (1 Chronicles 10:14).
David becomes king (1 Chronicles 11:3). David is helped by his supporters. He has more than the help of other people. His help comes from the Lord (1 Chronicles 12:18). The work, done by David, was, first and foremost, the work of God - the restoration of God to His proper place among His people (1 Chronicles 13:3): “The Lord is enthroned on the praises of His people ... David and all Israel were celebrating in God’s presence with all their might ... “ (1 Chronicles 13:6,8).
The defeat of the Philistines was God’s doing: “God has gone ahead of you to defeat the Philistine army” (1 Chronicles 14:15). Along with this victory over the Philistines, there was the bringing to Jerusalem of “the ark of the Lord’s promise.” This was an occasion of joyful worship (1 Chronicles 15:28). In worship, there is “singing songs of thanks to the Lord” (1 Chronicles 16:7) - “Give thanks to the Lord” (1 Chronicles 16:8,34).
“I will place him in My royal House forever, and his throne will be established forever” (1 Chronicles 17:14). This is a word of prophecy concerning Jesus Christ, the King of kings. It is a prophecy, which highlights the eternal purpose of God - the eternal Kingdom of the eternal God. “You made the people of Israel to be Your people forever. And You, Lord, became their God ... Your Name will endure and be respected forever ... Almighty Lord ... You were please to bless my house, so that it may continue in Your presence forever. Indeed, You, Lord, have blessed it. It will be blessed forever” (1 Chronicles 17:22,24,26-27). This is the eternal perspective within which we must read these Old Testament stories. God is the eternal God. His Kingdom is eternal. It will stand forever.
As we read of David and his many exploits, we must remember that this is part of the great story of the mighty works of the Lord. To God’s people, there is the command, “Be strong.” From God’s people, there is the commitment: “Let’s prove ourselves strong for our people and the cities of our God” (1 Chronicles 19:13). This commitment is not only a commitment to the people. It’s a commitment to the Lord. From the Lord, there is His promise: “The Lord will do what He considers right” (1 Chronicles 19:13). This is something we must never forget. God is in control. Without Him, there can be no salvation and no victory. These blessings come from Him.
“Satan stood up against Israel” (1 Chronicles 21:1). This is ominous. Satan spells trouble - trouble for God’s people. Later on, we read of God’s judgment upon Israel (1 Chronicles 21:14). Beyond God’s judgment, there is God’s mercy (1 Chronicles 21:15). In 21:30-22:1, we read about the fear of the Lord - “David was afraid because of the sword of the angel of the Lord” (1 Chronicles 21:30) - and the grace of God - “this is the altar of the burnt offering for Israel” (1 Chronicles 22:1). Here, we learn that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 1:7). The burnt offering points us forward to to Jesus Christ, laying down His life as a sacrifice for our sins. When we are afraid to come into God’s presence, because of our sin, God speaks to us of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, crucified and risen for us, and we sing, from the heart, “’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved.”
The name, “Solomon” means “peace” - “in his time I will give Israel peace and quiet” (1 Chronicles 22:9). The peace came from the Lord. It came from the presence of the Lord with Solomon (1 Chronicles 22:18). When we think of all that the Lord has done for us and all that He has given to us, we must give our hearts and lives to Him, to live as His faithful people - “So dedicate your hearts and lives to serving the Lord your God. Start building the holy place of the Lord your God” (1 Chronicles 22:19).
The work of God is to be carried out by many people, working together as a team - God’s team. The importance of teamwork must be recognized if God’s work is to be moved forward in God’s way. Reading over the many names and numbers in 1 Chronicles 23 - 27, we are reminded of Paul’s words concerning the body of Christ: “the body is one unit and yet has many parts. As all the parts form one body, so it is with Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:12).
The Lord’s work requires the generous and wholehearted support of God’s people (1 Chronicles 29:9). It needs more than human enthusiasm. We need the presence of the Lord. This is what the Lord promises to us: “The Lord God, my God, will be with you. He will not abandon you before all the work on the Lord’s temple is finished.” This promise of God gives God’s courage to God’s servants: “Be strong and courageous, and do the work.” God’s promise gives us victory over fear: “Don’t be afraid or terrified” (1 Chronicles 28:20). In the service of the Lord, we need both hard work and worship. Without worship, hard work amounts to nothing. It will be service that is offered to God in the flesh - and it will accomplish nothing which brings glory to God. God is glorified only when His servants do all things in the Spirit of worship. This is the lesson that we learn from the song of praise in 1 Chronicles 29:10-15. Everything comes from God. He gives us what we need to do His work. He equips us for His service. He enables us to carry His work forward. At the heart of the life of God’s people, we have the continuation of the scene, described in 1 Chronicles 29:20 - “Then David said to the whole assembly, ‘Praise the Lord your God!’” The worship of God is to be a joyful celebration (1 Chronicles 29:22).

Faithful To God ...

Near to the end of his life on earth, Elijah remained faithful to God. He stands up for God against “Baalzebub, the god of Ekron” (2 Kings 1:6,16). He spoke the Word that had been given to him by God (2 Kings 1:3-4). When Elijah was taken by God “to heaven in a windstorm” (2 Kings 2:11), the question was asked by Elisha, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” (2 Kings 2:14). The answer to this question is given in 2 Kings 2:15: “Elijah’s spirit rests on Elisha.” The names of the prophets change from generation to the next. The Name of the Lord remains constant. It is in the Name of the Lord that God’s servants speak and act.
The power of God was upon Elisha. God was at work in mighty power. When we red about Elisha, we say, in our hearts, ‘This is not about Elisha. This is about God - - God working through Elisha.’ We must always remember to give all the glory to the Lord. The praise does not belong to the servant. It belongs to the Lord. He alone is worthy of praise.
The ministry of Elisha was filled with the power of God. Elisha was “the prophet”, “the man of God” (2 Kings 5:3,8). Before we can speak and work for God, we must belong to Him. We must be the people of God before we can be prophets for God. The power of God changes us. We become “a new creation in Christ Jesus” (2 Corinthians 5:17). The power of God equips us for service - “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you shall be My witnesses” (Acts 1:8).
“Don’t be afraid. We have more forces on our side than they have on theirs.” We need our eyes opened to see “the mountain ... Full of fiery horses and chariots” (2 Kings 6:16-17), The victory comes from “the Lord” (2 Kings 7:6). “This is a day of good news” (2 Kings 7:9). In the Lord, we have the victory, Strengthened by Him, we triumph over our enemies.
Reading about those who do what the Lord considers evil is not happy reading. Reading about God’s judgment upon such people is serious reading. It brings the challenge of God’s Word - “Be not deceived. God is not mocked. What a man sows, he shall also reap” (Galatians 6:7). This challenge is stated clearly in the words, “Sow a thought, reap an action. Sow an action, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a destiny.”
Royalty and loyalty - The two things are different. Jehu was regarded as royalty, but he wasn’t fully loyal to the Lord. Jehu did some good things, with which the Lord was pleased - “Jehu got rid of Baal worship throughout Israel ... The Lord said to Jehu, ‘You did what I consider right’” (2 Kings 10:28,30). Jehu’s good actions were not the full story of his life. There was also much that was displeasing to the Lord - “Jehu did not turn away from the sins that Jeroboam led Israel to commit - the worship of the golden calves that were at Bethel and Dan ... Jehu didn’t wholeheartedly obey the teachings of the Lord God of Israel” (2 Kings 10:29,31).
The history of God’s people, under their various kings, is like a rollercoaster. There are high-points - “They would be the Lord’s people” (2 Kings 11:17). These high-points are often followed by low-points - “Joash did what the Lord considered right ...but the illegal places of worship weren’t torn down” (2 Kings 12:2-3). The reign of Jehoahaz was one of decline - “He did what the Lord considered evil” (2 Kings 13:2). The decline continued under the reign of Jehoash - “He did what the Lord considered evil” (2 Kings 13:11). Despite all the sins of the kings, there was still hope. This hope did not come from the kings. It came from the Lord: “The Lord was kind and merciful to the Israelites because of His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” (2 Kings 13:23).
There were so many kings, and so little submission to the real King, the Lord. Over many generations, the Lord’s purpose for His people seemed to be at a low ebb. Behind all the depressing details of so many disobedient kings, we must learn to see God’s determination to fulfil His promise of blessing. Even in the hard times, God is there. He is ready to revive His work. He waits for His people to call upon in his Name in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).
The great decision is always the same. Who will you serve - God or the gods? God’s Word is clear - “Never  worship other gods. Instead, worship the Lord your God” (2 Kings 17:38-39). Our response is not always so clear - “The people of Israel had refused to listen and made up their own rules ... These other nations worshipped the Lord, but also served their own idols” (2 Kings 17:40-41).
“Hezekiah trusted the Lord God of Israel. No king among all the kings of Judah was like Hezekiah. He was loyal to the Lord and never turned away from Him. He obeyed the commands the Lord had given through Moses, so the Lord was with him. He succeeded in everything he tried” (2 Kings 18:5-7). This description of Hezekiah is so encouraging. It’s an oasis in the middle of a desert of so many godless kings.

A New Beginning!

Following the triple tragedy of the deaths of Elimelech, Mahlon and Chilion (Ruth 1:3-5) and the departure of Orpah (Ruth 1:14), there was a new beginning for Naomi and Ruth.This new beginning came to them when "they came to Bethlehem" (Ruth 1:19). The town of Bethlehem marked a new beginning for them. It marks a new beginning for us - Bethlehem was the place where our Saviour was born. "They happened to enter Bethlehem just when the barley harvest began - The timing of their arrival turns our thoughts towards fruitfulness. We come to our Saviour - born at Bethlehem, and He makes us fruitful in His service. Without His help, we cannot even begin to see a harvest gathered in for Him. We must look to Him, putting our trust in Him, if we are to see His blessing in the work that we do for Him.
The story of Ruth and Boaz leads us on to David (Ruth 4:22). It leads us beyond David to Christ. In this love story, we have the fulfilment of Naomi's words: "May the Lord bless him" (Ruth 2:20). It's a story which prompts the response: "Praise the Lord" (Ruth 4:14). It's a story which points beyond itself to the Story of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ - the Story of the greatest blessing of all: salvation, the Story which inspires our worship, causing us to say, with heart and voice, "Praise the Lord." From this short story of  Ruth and Boaz, we learn an important lesson: As we read the many stories that we find in Scripture, we must learn to see, in each of them, the Story of our Saviour.

Out Of Our Failure - And Into The Lord's Victory ...

The end of Saul’s reign, the beginning of David’s reign
For Saul, the end was tragic - “See how the mighty have fallen” (2 Samuel 1:19,25,27).
David’s reign marked a new beginning. God is gracious. He gives a new beginning when we have made a mess of things. He is the God of hope. He leads us out of our failure and into His victory.
David became the king of Judah (2 Samuel 2:1-7) and the king of Israel (2 Samuel 5:1-5). Behind the story of David, there is the story of God at work: “The Lord was with David”,     “The Lord had established him as king of Israel and made his kingdom famous for the sake of Israel, the Lord’s people” (2 Samuel 5:10-12).
“David worships the Lord” - “I will celebrate in the Lord’s presence”, “You are great, Lord God. There is no one like You, and there is no other god except you” (2 Samuel 6:21; 2 Samuel 7:22).
David trusts God - “Almighty Lord, You are God, and Your words are trustworthy” (2 Samuel 7:28).
David obeys God - “David ruled all Israel. He did what was fair and right for all his people” (2 Samuel 8:15).
“God’s kindness” (2 Samuel 9:3)
God has shown His kindness to us. We are to show His kindness to others.
“Be strong!” (2 Samuel 10:12) - We are to be strong in the strength of the Lord.
Strength and kindness - God will give us the strength to be less self-centred, and more other-centred and God-centred.
“The Lord considered David’s actions evil” (2 Samuel 11:27) - This is a summary of the sinful and shameful events that are recorded in 2 Samuel 11. For most of 2 Samuel 12, we have a record of the consequences of David’s sin. At the end of the chapter, there is a ray of hope - the birth of a son, Jedidiah. His name means “The Lord’s Beloved”. God’s love is greater than our sin!
In 2 Samuel 13 - 14, we read about sin - rape, murder and deception. This realistic account of human behaviour highlights the sin which separates us from God. This shows us very clearly our need of salvation. We need the Lord’s saving grace in our lives, if we are to be kept from going further along the road of sinful living. By His grace, He saves us. He forgives our sin. He calls us to walk with Him on the pathway of holiness.
In 2 Samuel 15 - 16, we have a very human story. It’s just like our life today. We read it, and we think about our own life. We ask, “Where is the Lord in all of this?” We need to maintain the Lord’s priorities. We need to keep “God’s ark” - His Word - among us. We need to seek His favour and honour His servants (2 Samuel 15:25; 2 Samuel 16:18). Maintaining the Lord’s priorities is so important if we are to keep sight of Him. If we fail to maintain our focus on the Lord, we will be swept along by events that do not seem to be filled with any real sense of the purpose of God being fulfilled in our lives. When God seems far away, and we can’t see Him at work, we must keep on believing in His presence and power, We walk by faith - not by sight.
In 2 Samuel 17 - 19, we read of Absalom pursuing David (chapter 17), David defeating Absalom (chapter 18), and David being restored to the throne (chapter 19). At the heart of these very human events concerning conflict within the nation, we must see the outworking of God’s purpose.
“May the Lord your God be praised. He has handed over the men who rebelled against your Majesty” (2 Samuel 18:28). The king is called “your Majesty”. We must never forget that there is an even greater King, an even greater Majesty. The Lord is King. We “worship His Majesty”.
In 2 Samuel 20 - 21, there are so many names. As we read about the various incidents that are described in these chapters, we must not overlook the spiritual dimension. We must respect the Lord and His servants (2 Samuel 20:19). We must seek the Lord’s blessing. “God answered the prayers for the land” (2 Samuel 21:14) - We must look to the Lord to do this in our generation.
David sings his song to the Lord (2 Samuel 22:1-51). It’s a song of praise. It’s a song which exalts the Lord. It’s a song which gives glory to the Lord. At the heart of David’s song of praise, there’s a particularly rich section, which is full of precious statements concerning the Lord.
* God’s way is perfect (2 Samuel 22:31).
* Who is God but the Lord? (2 Samuel 22:32).
* God arms me with strength (2 Samuel 22:33).
* He makes my feet like those of a deer (2 Samuel 22:34).
* He trains my hands for battle (2 Samuel 22:35).
* You have given me the shield of Your salvation (2 Samuel 22:36).
* You make a wide path for me to walk on so my feet do not slip (2 Samuel 22:37).
These great verses jump out from the particular historical circumstances out of which David speaks.
They speak to us as words which jump across the centuries.
These words begin as David’s confession of faith. They become our confession of faith.
David’s work was intended by God to bring blessing to the people.
He was “raised up” by God (2 Samuel 23:1). “The Spirit of the Lord spoke through him" (2 Samuel 23:2).
David’s influence on the people was not always a good influence.
He “sinned” against the Lord, bringing judgment upon the nation (2 Samuel 24:10,15).
Sin and judgment are not, however, the last word concerning God’s dealings with His people.
“So the Lord heard the prayers for the country, and the plague in Israel stopped” (2 Samuel 24:25).
The Lord’s servants are not perfect. There is sin in us. This affects our usefulness in God’s service.
God is greater than His servants.
His grace reaches out to men and women through His very inadequate servants. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels”.
Why? - “To show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to ourselves” (2 Corinthians 4:7).

Is There Light At The End Of The Tunnel?

In Job 3, we see Job in a state of deep depression. At this stage, there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. He is in desperate need of the Lord’s sustaining strength. Where will the Lord’s help come from? When will his time of suffering come to an end? Job has many questions. He doesn’t have any answers. This “the dark night of the soul.”
In Job 4 - 5, we have the first speech of Eliphaz. On the pretext of bringing comfort to Job, Eliphaz brings a message of accusation. However much Eliphaz claims to be bringing God’s Word to Job, we can be sure that he is not God’s messenger. Why? - It’s because his message conflicts with God’s understanding of Job’s situation (Job 1:8).
In Job 6 - 7, Job replies. There is real pain in Job’s words. He speaks of his “grief” and “misery” (Job 6:2). There is a real longing for God to answer his prayer. Sadly, his prayer has become a cry of despair: “that God would finally be willing to crush me, that He would reach out to cut me off” (Job 6:9). Even though he is in great distress, Job retains sufficient clarity of thought to know that his so-called ‘friends’ have got it wrong - “Please change your mind ... Change your mind because I am still right about this! ...or is my mouth unable to tell the difference between right and wrong?” (Job 6:29-30). There is sadness here - “As a cloud fades away and disappears, so a person goes into the grave and doesn’t come back again” (Job 7:9). Job hasn’t broken through this sense of hopelessness to the triumphant faith, expressed in his confession of confidence in God: “I know that my Redeemer lives ...” (Job 19:25-26), a tremendous declaration of Christ’s resurrection and our resurrection in Him. It’s so wonderful that in a book, filled with so much suffering, there is this marvellous glimpse of an eternal glory, in which all suffering will be banished forever.

Help us to be like Jesus – walking in the ways of our Heavenly Father.

1 Kings 22:15-53
We read, Lord, about Ahaziah – “He …provoked the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger in every way that his father (Ahab) had done” (1 Kings 22:51-53). We read about Jesus– “I do as the Father commanded Me” (John 14:31). Help us, Lord, not to be like Ahaziah – he walked in the ways of his father … the ways of sin” (1 Kings 22:52). Help us to be like Jesus – walking in the ways of our Heavenly Father.

Praying Through God's Word: Colossians

Colossians 1:1-2:7
Lord, You’re calling us to move forward with You – “Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him” (Colossians 2:6). As we think of Jesus, our great Saviour, may “our faith grow strong and may our hearts overflow with thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:17).
Colossians 2:8-3:17
Help us, Lord, to be what we already are, to be what You have made us in Christ: “You have been raised with Christ … You died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1,3). We thank You that Christ has made His home in us. New life has begun. Now that Christ lives in us, help us to “set our hearts and minds on things above” (Colossians 3:1-2). May Christ reign in us – and may our lives be enriched by Him (Colossians 3:15-16). In Him, there is so much blessing. Help us to enjoy it!

Some live to a ripe old age. Others die young.

Psalm 39:1-13
Some live to a ripe old age. Others die young. What are we to make of this? What, Lord, are You saying to us about this? We read what the Psalmist says, “My life span is nothing compared with Yours” (Psalm 39:5). Help us, Lord, to think about the quality of our living – “How am I living?” as well as the quantity of our years. “How long have I lived?” Teach us that life is not only about survival – living for a long time. It’s also about revival – living in the light of eternity. Help us to put “our hope in You” (Psalm 39:7), and to live as “citizens of heaven,” who are looking forward to the return of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).

A Call For Conversion, A Promise of Salvation (Zechariah 1:1-6)

 * The Faithful Ministry of God's Prophets
God’s work does not always move forward smoothly. We face determined opposition. Where there is opportunity, there will be opposition (1 Corinthians 16:9). The servants of Satan rise up to oppose the servants of the Lord. The Lord’s enemies had some success: ‘the work on the House of God in Jerusalem came to a standstill’ (Ezra 4:24). This was only a temporary setback. God gave new strength to His servants. He sent His ‘prophets, Haggai and Zechariah’ (Ezra 5:1). They brought His Word to the people. Strengthened by their ministry of God’s Word, ‘Zerubbabel... arose and began to rebuild the House of God in Jerusalem’ (Ezra 5:2). God’s work was back on track. His people were moving forward - again. When your head goes down, let the Lord come to you. He will lift you up!
God’s work makes good progress when God’s people receive strength from God’s Word. Haggai and Zechariah were faithful in preaching God’s Word to the people. Their preaching ministry was very important. It was just what the builders needed. It inspired them to keep working. God’s House was rebuilt and God’s people rejoiced (Ezra 6:14-16). The rebuilding of  God’s House was followed by the ministry of God’s servant, Ezra. ‘The hand of the Lord was upon Ezra’ (Ezra 7:6,28). His ministry was blessed by the Lord. In Ezra’s ministry of the Word, there are three vital elements - studying, doing and teaching (Ezra 7:10). Ezra did not only study and teach God’s Word. He did God’s Word. Obedience lies at the heart of true ministry. This is the kind of ministry that God blesses - an obedient ministry.
* "Therefore tell the people: This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'Return to Me,' declares the Lord Almighty, 'and I will return to you,' says the Lord Almighty" (Zechariah 1:3).
What is the message that God's faithful servants bring to today's world?
(a) They bring the Lord's message. They say, "This is what the Lord Almighty says."
(b) They "tell the people" what they  need to hear. They don't ask them what they want to hear!
(c)  It is a call for conversion - "Return to Me."
(d) It is a promise of salvation - "I will return to you."

“God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ …” (Galatians 6:14).

At the cross, we see Jesus Christ, “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” ( John 1:29). In the cross, we see the fulfilment of God’s eternal plan of salvation – “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). In the cross, we catch a glimpse of the eternal glory of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb … For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘He will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes’” (Revelation 7:10,17).
As we consider the glory of our Saviour sent to us from eternal love, crucified for us, leading us on to eternal glory, let us join with Paul in saying “I will glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We rejoice in our Saviour. We give all the glory to Him. He's "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). What a great salvation He has given to us! It begins with the forgiveness of our sins. It continues with the Holy Spirit, living in us and leading us out of a life that is centred on ourselves and into a life that is becoming more centred on Christ. Beyond the blessings that we receive while we are here on earth, there is the glory of being with the Lord forevermore - the full glory of eternal life. This final glory will surpass every blessing that we have enjoyed during our earthly journey of faith and obedience. All of these blessings come to us from our Saviour - "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).

Bring Your Questions To The Lord.

In Psalms 73 - 75, there is inner turmoil, as the Psalmist wonders what to make of the success of the wicked who oppose the Lord and His people. There are times of great confusion - “But when I tried to understand this, it was too difficult for me” (Psalm 73:16). There are times when the Psalmist is on the edge of despair - “Why, O God, have You rejected us forever? Why does Your anger smoulder against the sheep in Your care? ... How long, O God, will the enemy insult us? Will the enemy despise You forever?” (Psalm 74:1,10). Despite all that runs counter to God, the Psalmist remains strong in faith. He triumphs over all that opposes the purpose of God in his life - “God remains the foundation of my life and my inheritance forever ... From long ago, God has been my King, the One who has been victorious throughout the earth ... We give thanks to You, O God; we give thanks. You are present, and Your miracles confirm that ... I will speak about Your miracles forever. I will make music to praise the God of Jacob” (Psalm 73:26; Psalm 74:12; Psalm 75:1,9).

There are times, Lord, when we need to start all over again.

2 Samuel 2:1-32
There are times, Lord, when we need to start all over again. We need to make a new beginning with You. We've wandered away from You - and we wonder if You'll have us back again. Help us, Lord, to know, in our hearts, that You never lose patience with us. Your love for us remains constant, even when we're "in the far country" of our sin (Luke 15:13). You're always waiting for us to return to You. Our returning to You is not insignificant. It is important. How can we enter into Your blessing if we refuse to return to You? When we think about our returning to You, help us never to forget that it is never any more than a response to Your coming to us - "to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10).

Lord, You're calling us to make our choice - What kind of life will we live?

2 Chronicles 12:1-13:22 
Lord, You're calling us to make our choice - What kind of life will we live? Will it be "He did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord" (2 Chronicles 12:14)? or Will it be "As for us, the Lord is our God and we have not forsaken Him" (2 Chronicles 13:10)? When, Lord, unbelief and disobedience are threatening to take over our lives, help us to hear Your Word of warning: "Do not fight against the Lord ... you will not succeed" - and help us to speak the words of faith: "God is with us; He is our Leader" (2 Chronicles 13:12).

Our whole life is to be a song of praise to You, Lord.

1 Chronicles 16:7-36 
Our whole life is to be a song of praise to You, Lord - "O give thanks to the Lord ... Sing praises to Him ... Glory in His holy Name ... Seek His presence continually" (1 Chronicles 16:8-11). "Continually" - Lord, this is more than gathering together with others for worship. "Fill Thou our life, O Lord our God, in every part with praise ... "

Praying Through God’s Word: Zephaniah


‘The great Day of the Lord is near – near and coming quickly… That Day will be a Day of wrath… I will bring distress upon the people… because they have sinned against the Lord’ (Zephaniah 1:14-17). This, Lord, is Your Word of warning. You’re calling us back to Yourself: ‘Seek the Lord – before the fierce anger of the Lord comes upon you, before the Day of the Lord’s wrath comes upon you.’ Help us, Lord, to seek You in ‘righteousness’ and ‘humility.’ This is the way of being ‘sheltered on the Day of Your anger’ (Zephaniah 2:2-3). You’re calling us to ‘worship You in Spirit and in truth’: ‘Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to His service and pleasing to Him. This is the true worship that you should offer’ (John 4:24; Romans 12:1).
We read, Lord, a story of sin – ‘Woe to the city of oppressors, rebellious and defiled! She has not obeyed His voice. She has not accepted correction. She has not trusted in the Lord. She has not drawn near to her God’ – and a story of salvation – ‘Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away your punishment. He has turned back your enemy… The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will renew you in His love. He will rejoice over you with singing’ (Zephaniah 3:1-2,14-17). The story of our sin is full of sadness. The story of Your salvation fills us with gladness – ‘Rejoice and be glad! The Redeemer has come’ (Mission Praise, 573).

Strong In The Lord

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).

Our strength comes from the Lord. In ourselves, we are weak. In Him, we are strong.

Praying Through God's Word: Joshua

Joshua 1:1-18
We thank You, Lord, that we have Your wonderful promise - "The Lord your God is with you" - well as Your clear command - "Be strong" (Joshua 1:9). Without Your promise, the command is no use. Again and again, we fail to keep Your commands. Again and again, we need to be reassured. You are still with us.This is what we need to hear. This is where our strength comes from. It comes from Your promise. It comes from knowing that You never fail us. You have never failed us. You never will fail us.

Joshua 2:1-24
Help us, Lord, to "give a friendly welcome" (Hebrews 11:31). What a difference the friendly welcome makes! It's the word of encouragement that makes us feel loved. It's the act of kindness that lets us know that love is more than words. Lord, You are our Father. Help us to be like You - "when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him" (Luke 15:20). What amazing grace! Before the confession of sin - "Father, I have sinned... " (Luke 15:21), there is the friendly welcome. It's Your grace that inspires our confession of sin. It's Your grace that leads us into the joy of Your forgiveness. It's not only joy for us. It's joy for You - "my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to celebrate" (Luke 15:24).

Joshua 3:1-17
Help us, Lord, to be active for You - "the people who know their God will be strong and take action" (Daniel 11:32) -  and to wait upon You - "those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength" (Isaiah 40:31). We need both - prayer and action, seeking Your will and doing Your will. Give us wisdom to know Your will, and courage to do Your will.

Joshua 4:1-24
Lord, You have blessed us so much. Help us never to forget this. We look at the world You have made for us - and we say, "Thank You, Lord." We look at the Saviour You have sent to us - and we say, "Thank You, Lord." Why must we keep on remembering You? - We "remember" so that we might learn to fear You (Joshua 4:23-24). We remember so that we may have hope for the future - "times of refreshing" (Acts 3:19).

Joshua 5:1-15
Lord, we thank You that Your Son, Jesus, comes to us as more than our personal Saviour. He comes to us as the "commander of the army of the Lord" (Joshua 5:14). We thank You that "Christ, the Royal Master, leads against the foe." We thank You that He leads us "on to victory." Help us to be His faithful followers on His pathway of victory.

Joshua 6:1-27
We thank You, Lord, that victory comes from You - "I have handed Jericho over to you" (Joshua 6:2). Help us to receive Your victory by faith - "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down" (Hebrews 11:30). We don't achieve this victory in our own strength. You give us Your promise of victory. Help us to believe Your promise - to receive the victory as Your gift, to stand upon Your promise and claim the victory that You give to us.

Joshua 7:1-26
Help us, Lord, to take sin seriously. The world tells us that it doesn't matter how we live. Your Word tells us that it does matter how we live. Help us to think about our way of living. Help us to be honest with ourselves - to be honest with You: Are we living to please ourselves - or to bring glory to You?

Joshua 8:1-35
Help us, Lord, to do Your work in Your way - believing Your promise and obeying Your command (Joshua 8:7-8). How are we to do Your work in Your way? We must read "all that is written in Your book" - the strong warnings that call us back from the way of sin, and the precious promises that lead us on in the way of holiness.

Joshua 9:1-10:15
When we're following You, Lord, Satan is never very far away. He's always looking for ways of tripping us up and leading us away from You. Help us, Lord, to remember that You are stronger than Satan. Here-and-now, Satan has his successes - but he will not win the final victory. He will be defeated (Revelation 20:10) - and it will be clear to all that You are "King of kings and Lord of lords" (Revelation 19:16).

Joshua 10:16-11:15
We thank You, Lord, that we do not fight against Satan in our own strength. You fight for us (Joshua 10:42). Victory is never our own achievement. It is always Your gift: "Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Joshua 11:16-12:24
Where does victory come from? Does it come from ourselves? No! It comes from You, Lord. You give us the victory. We give You the glory: "To God be the glory! Great things He has done. So loved He the world that He gave us His Son ... Praise the Lord!"

Joshua 13:1-14:25
You call us, Lord, to "lead a life worthy of Your calling" (Ephesians 4:1). We say, 'I can't.' You say to us, "I have blessed you, in Christ, with every spiritual blessing" (Ephesians 1:3). Why we do allow our lives to be controlled by our own weakness when we can be transformed by Your strength? Help us, Lord, to think of all that You have given to us, in Christ, and to rise up, with new strength - Your strength - to live for You day-by-day.

Joshua 15:1-63
We thank You, Lord, for Your gift of the Holy Spirit. In Him, You give to us "rivers of living water" (John 7:37-39). How are these "rivers of living water" to flow in us and through us? - We need less of this world - "Do not be conformed to this world" - and more of Your Word - "Be transformed by the renewal of your mind" (Romans 12:2). 

Joshua 16:1-17:18 
When, Lord, we settle for anything less than Your very best, we miss out on Your blessing - and we have no blessing to pass on to other people. Help us, Lord, to move out of complacency and into commitment, out of the 'No' attitude - 'no time for You, Lord' - and into the 'Yes' actions - "Yes, Lord, I will follow You, I will serve You."

Joshua 18:1-19:51
Lord, we like to take it easy. We like to have a comfortable life. we don't want to be too committed. We've become half-hearted. Where does this apathy come from? Does it come from You? Are You not calling us to be whole-hearted? Lord, lift us out of a life pf paying lip-service to You and into a life of being changed by Your love and Your power.

Joshua 20:1-21:45 
We thank You, Lord, that Your love goes on and on. We may stop loving You - but You will never stop loving us. What a wonderful love You have for us. There is no love like Your love. Thank You, Lord, for Your love.

Joshua 22:1-34
Help us, Lord, to hear Your Word, to speak Your Word, and to live Your Word. You speak to us. Are we listening? There are people who need to hear Your Word. Do we fail them? Do we keep Your Word to ourselves? the world is watching us. Are we living for You? In our hearing, speaking and living, help us, Lord, to be, more truly and more fully, all that You want us to be.

Joshua 23:1-16 
Lord, You have done great things for us. You are still doing great things for us. You will continue to do great things for us. When we say, "Thank You, Lord, for Your many blessings", help us never to take Your blessing for granted. Help us to keep on living in obedience to Your Word. Help us to see, more clearly, the vital connection between obedience and blessing: Keep the obedience going, and the blessing will keep on coming.

Joshua 24:1-33
Help us, Lord, to mean what we say, and say what we mean. May our words of faith by backed up by a life of faith. In our life of faith, may we be unashamed to say, "I'm living this way because I love Jesus. It's not about me. It's about Jesus. He's changing me - "It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me" (Galatians 2:20).

We are not alone in our battle against Satan. You, Lord, are with us – and You are stronger than Satan!

Nehemiah 4:10-5:13
“Our God will fight for us” (Nehemiah 4:20). What tremendous encouragement there is in these wonderful words! We are not alone in our battle against Satan. You are with us – and You are stronger than Satan! When Satan attacks us, teach us, Lord, to take our stand on Your Word: “The Lord your God will go with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory” (Deuteronomy 20:4).

The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God' (Psalm 14:1).

There are some people who say, “There is no God.” Do we become wise the moment we say, “There is a God?” Let’s think about what we mean when we say, “There is a God.” We need to learn to move beyond the foolishness which says, “There is a God” without really listening to what God has to say to us. We need to learn to listen to God if we are to be led out of the way of foolishness and into the way of wisdom.
There are many people who do not dismiss the idea of God, but they rarely turn to the Word of God to learn more about Him. They like to draw some comfort from the words, “He’s got the whole world in His hands”, but they feel very uncomfortable when they’re reminded that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). When they’re asked if they believe in God, they tell us that “there must be something, somewhere.” When they’re asked what they believe about God, they have nothing else to tell us about Him. Their ‘god’ is not the God of salvation. Their ‘god’ is “an unknown god” (Acts 17:23).
There are also some people who have much to say about “God.” When, however, we look closely at what they say about God, we find that their ‘god’ is very different from the God of the Bible. They use the word “God”, but they do not listen to what God’s Word has to say to them.
Some people hold on to the idea that “there is a God” but they refuse to let God get too close to them. They like the idea of God. It makes sense of their life. There is, however, something about God that they don’t like. They don’t like the idea that God might have something to say to them about the way they live their life. They don’t say , “There is no God”, but there is very little about their way of life which suggests that they really believe that “there is a God.”
Concerning such people, God’s Word says this: “God is not in all their thoughts” (Psalm 10:4). We could express this in another way: “God is in very few of their thoughts.” When thoughts of “God” do come into their minds, they are rarely thoughts which bring glory to God. When our minds are not being fed with the truth of God’s Word, we are wide open to thoughts of God which do not bring glory to Him. Such thoughts do not come from God’s holy Word. They come from “the god of this world” who “blinds the minds of the unbelieving” so “that they might not see the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4).
What are we to say about those who say that “there is a God”, yet refuse to take seriously what He says to them through His Word? They may not actually say, “There is no God”, but their whole way of living is self-centred rather than God-centred. At the heart of their life, there is “a God-shaped blank.”
The real God is more than just an idea which makes sense of our life. He is not only the God who loves us. He is also the God who changes us. Many people like the idea that God is love, but they don’t like the idea that God calls for a change in their way of living.
We read the words, “The fool has said in his heart to say, ‘There is no God.’” Let’s not be too quick to say, “We are wise. We believe in God.” True wisdom doesn’t stop with saying, “There is a God.” True wisdom knows that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:17).
If we are to be really different from those who say that “there is no God”, we must commit ourselves to both listening to the Word of God and doing the Word of God (James 1:22).
When the Psalmist speaks of unbelief – “There is no God”, he speaks also of sin – “All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one” (Psalm 14:3). We say, “There is no God” when we do not “seek God” (Psalm 14:2). We do not seek God when we do not take time to listen to what He is saying to us through His Word.
We must note what God is saying to us in the first three verses of this Psalm 14 – “all have turned aside … there is no one who does good, not even one.” We are all sinners – every single one of us! None of us can look down on others and say, “We’re not like them” – “you are without excuse, every man of you, who passed judgment, for in that you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things” (Romans 2:1). To every single one of us, the Word of God says, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one … all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10-12, 23).
 * Is there any hope for any of us? There is no way of salvation that begins with “I” – “no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by observing the law” (Romans 3:20). From the human point of view, our situation is hopeless.
 * Is there a way of salvation which comes to us from God? The final words of this Psalm are words of hope: “Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!” (Psalm 14:7). These words teach us that salvation comes from God – “When the Lord restores … ” They teach us that His salvation comes to those who come to Him with a deep longing to be saved by Him – “Oh, that salvation … would come … “ The human situation can be changed. Jesus Christ changes everything. He changes people.
Don’t be like the fool who tries to run away from God.
 - This can be done by saying, “There is no God.”
 - It can also be done by trying to keep God at a distance, “If there is a God, I’m not going to let Him tell me how I should live my life.”
Stop running away from God, and start running to the Lord Jesus Christ. Run to Him before it’s too late. Make sure that you can say, “I know whom I have believed” (2 Timothy 1:12). Jesus Christ is the True and Living Way to God the Father (John 14:6).
When you come to God the Father through His Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ,you will move beyond an empty faith which doesn’t make much real difference to your life. You will move into a living knowledge of Christ, who makes you “a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Your faith will be more than, “There is a God.” It will be “Christ lives in me. For me, to live is Christ” (Galatians 2:20; Philippians 1:21).

Saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8)

Sinners become singers. We never cease to be sinners. We are not superior to those who do not sing the song of the Lord. We have been saved by His grace. All the glory belongs to Him. May our whole life be a song of praise to Him (Ephesians 2:8-10). In our battle against Satan, we must never forget that our victory is grounded in His salvation: “At the Name of Jesus, Satan’s legions flee; on then, Christian soldiers, on to victory.” “The Church of God” is called to move forward as “a mighty army.”  The Lord has loved us so much. He has saved us. May we always give to others a friendly invitation and a warm welcome: “Onward then, you people, join our happy throng, blend with ours your voices in the triumph song.” Sinners will become singers – when we, who have begun to sing the Lord’s song, always remember that we are never any more than this: sinners who have been saved by God’s grace.

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 ...