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Showing posts from March, 2016

Daily Devotional Readings: Year One - April

1st April: Genesis 25:19-34 Esau was a fool. He chose his own way rather than the Lord's way. Jacob was a 'heel'! 'Born with his hand holding on to Esau's heel..., he was named Jacob (Heel)' (26). A crafty twister, a manipulating cheat, there was nothing about him that merited God's blessing. He was not superior to Esau. Like Esau, Jacob was a sinner. Esau was not inferior to Jacob. Both were guilty before God. Why, then - in God's purpose - does 'the elder' (Esau) 'serve the younger' (Jacob) (23)? The answer is grace, the 'amazing grace' of God. Grace lifted Jacob. The glory belongs to God. Grace could have lifted Esau. By grace Jacob valued the birthright (God's blessing). His way of seeking God's blessing was devious. Nevertheless, he was seeking for God - and God, in His grace, found him and made him a new man (32:28). 'Wonderful grace of Jesus, Greater than all my sin'! 2nd April: Genesis 26:1-35 'History …

The Power Of God And The Blessing Of God

“It is not in me. God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace” (Genesis 41:16). Can any of us speak the Word of God – and bring blessing to others? – “It is not in me.” Our words will never bring blessing to anyone, unless God is in our words. The real power comes from God. The real blessing comes from Him.

A Mighty Work Of God

Exodus 1:1-2:25 The stage is set for a mighty work of God. The Lord’s people face a crisis situation. they are being oppressed by the Egyptians. God sees what is happening. He is making His plans – to give His people a better future. It may have seemed like God was doing nothing about Israel’s problems – “a  long time passed ” (Exodus 2:23). God was not standing back, paying no attention to what was going on. He was busy – preparing Moses to be the leader of His people. He was taking steps towards the great event of the deliverance from the oppressors. God was looking ahead to the Exodus and the movement from the land of bondage to the land of promise – “He remembered His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (Exodus 2:24), and He was about to fulfil this promise with a mighty demonstration of His saving power.

Lord, You are always with us ...

Genesis 4:17-26 Lord, You are always with us - but we are not always with You. There is never a time when You are not there at our side – but there are many times when we don’t realize that You are right there, beside us at every stage in our journey through life. Life isn’t easy! Bad things happen to us – and we take our eyes off You. Before we know it, we’re going round in circles – getting nowhere quickly. What are we to make of all this? Are we to say, “Why have You left me, Lord?” Our difficult circumstances are shouting at us, “God has left you. You’re on your own. Make the most of it – without Him.” Lord, help us, when we feel like this, to keep on listening for Your “still, small voice.” Help us to hear the “gentle whisper” of Your love (1 Kings 19:11-12). When our emotions are pulling us this way, pulling us that way, pulling us all over the place, help us to hear and believe Your precious promise: “I will be with you always” (Matthew 28:20).

A Servant Of God's People

Exodus 3:1-22 Moses was called to be a servant of God’s people. He was to be the leader who would play an important part in bringing the blessing of God to the people of Israel. He was not to be a ‘lone ranger.’ He was to “assemble the leaders of Israel” (Exodus 3:16). He was to share with them the Lord’s vision for His people’s future. God was taking them away from “misery.” He was leading them on to blessing – ” a land flowing with milk and honey.” Moses was not to go to the Pharaoh as a ‘lone ranger’ – “you and the leaders must go to the King of Egypt” (Exodus 3:18). There are important lessons here for God’s servants today. We move forward together – as “one body in Christ.”

It Gets Worse Before It Gets Better!

Exodus 5:1-8:31 It gets worse before it gets better. Things seemed to be going from bad to worse for God’s people. They become “discouraged” (Exodus 6:9). They were unable to look beyond their present difficulties. They needed the Lord’s Word of encouragement – “The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I use My power against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of there” (Exodus 7:5). Before there was salvation for Israel, there needed to be judgment for Egypt. The judgments on Egypt (the “plagues”) were a call to repentance. If there had been a willingness to listen to God’s Word at the beginning, these “plagues” would not have happened. Each “plague” was a call to repentance as well as a judgment on disobedience. Each “plague” could have been the last – if Pharaoh had said ‘Yes’ to the Lord. Pharaoh said ‘No’, and the “plagues” continued.

So many things are changing, Lord.

Genesis 44:1-34 So many things are changing, Lord. How are we to live in a changing world? We trust in Your unchanging love. In our changing world, Your love remains the same - unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable.  You are also the changing God - the God who changes us. Your love is a changing love. Your love changes us. Help us, in our ever-changing world, to keep on praying for the best kind of change - being changed by You - changed by Your love. Help us to become less self-centred and more Christ-centred.

In the bad times as well as the good times

“Fulfil your works, your daily tasks, as when there was straw” (Exodus 5:14).
When everything seems to be going from bad to worse, we must pray that God will give us the strength that we need to keep on loving Him, trusting Him and serving Him. Our circumstances may have changed. Nothing seems to be going right. We didn’t think it would turn out this way. Has our Saviour changed? Has He gone away and left us? No! He hasn’t. He’s still with us. Are we still with Him? or Do we opt out when the going gets tough? Lord, You are faithful to us. Keep us faithful to You.

Lord, we thank You that we do not need to live in fear.

Genesis 46:1-34 Lord, we thank You that we do not need to live in fear. Your love is greater than our fear. Where does fear come from? It comes from the devil. Who is he? He's our enemy. He's a determined enemy. He's also a defeated enemy. Lord, we rejoice in Your word of victory: "Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:57).

More Opportunities For Repentance

Exodus 9:1-11:10 More plagues, more opportunities for repentance – God was appealing to Pharaoh to change his mind about God and the people of God. The call to repentance was ignored. Pharaoh put on a show of repentance (Exodus 9:27-28; Exodus 10:16-17). – but he didn’t mean it: “Pharaoh was stubborn”, “the Lord made him stubborn” (Exodus 9:35; Exodus 10:20). He was a man of unbelief. God confirmed him in his unbelief. the final plague – the death of the firstborn – represented the end of the road for Pharaoh – “the Lord made Pharaoh stubborn” (Exodus 11:10). God was saying, ‘Enough is enough.’ God was going to bring His people out of Egypt – with or without Pharaoh’s permission. there were good things happening – “the Lord made the Egyptians kind to the people. And Moses was highly respected by Pharaoh’s officials and all the Egyptians” (Exodus 11:3) – but this didn’t change the fact that Pharaoh was resistant to God. This resistance did not hinder God in the outworking …

Mercy To Thousands ...

“showing mercy to thousands of those who love Me and keep My commandments” (Exodus 20:6). In there, among the Ten Commandments, there’s the word, “mercy” – what a wonderful word! What a wonderful thought – God is merciful. He does not look upon us in our sin. He looks upon us in His Son, our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.  He looks at Jesus – dying on the Cross. He sees Jesus, bearing our sin – and He sees us, receiving Jesus’ salvation. “In my place, condemned He stood. Hallelujah! What a Saviour!” – This is mercy, and it’s right here in the Ten Commandments. How wonderful is this! God’s Word speaks here of our love for the Lord and our obedience to His commandments. Where does this come from? It comes from the Lord – from the God of love, grace and mercy. Before we come to the Ten Commandments, we have the great declaration of God’s salvation: “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (Exodus 20:2). Real love for the …

Lord, help us to have faith in You.

Genesis 47:27-48:28 Lord, help us to have faith in You - faith that is humble, and faith that is confident. Lord, give us a humble faith. Give us the humility that comes from knowing that You are God - and we're not God! Lord, give us the confidence which is confidence in You - and not self-confidence!

All The Days Of Our Life

“If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing” (Exodus 21:2).
In the seventh year, the slave could choose to leave his master. The slave was no longer under a legal requirement to remain in the service of his master. In the service of Christ, we are bound to Him by His everlasting love. There is never a point at which we should ever choose to turn back from following Him. Jesus redeemed us by the shedding of His precious blood. Let us serve Him all the days of our life.

Something For "A Cloudy And Dark Day"

" ... so will I seek out My sheep ... on a cloudy and dark day" (Ezekiel 34:12). Our life on earth is " a cloudy and dark day." Left to ourselves, we always lose our way. We cannot find our way back on to the way of the Lord without the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus does not leave us to stumble around on a "cloudy and dark day." He has come "to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10). He is "the Light of the world" (John 8:12). His Light is still shining brightly. The darkness can't put it out (John 1:5). We look to Jesus, and we see beyond "the cloudy and dark day." We look to Him, and we say, "The Lord is my light and my salvation" (Psalm 27:1).

We thank You, Lord, that we have the victory in Christ.

Genesis 32:22-32
We thank You, Lord, that we have the victory in Christ. This is not our own victory. It's His victory. On the Cross, He won the victory over Satan. How do we know that He has won the victory? - You raised Him from the dead. We thank You, Lord, that Jesus didn't win the victory for Himself. He won the victory for us. He gives His victory to us. Help us, Lord, to walk with You in victory. When we stumble and fall - as we so often do, pick us up and set us on our feet again. Help us to take our stand against Satan. help us to take our stand in Christ. Lead us on, Lord, from victory to victory.

The Lord Provides.

Exodus 16:1-17:16 The Lord provides. Through the provision of manna and water, the Lord sustains His people. Strong in Him, they press on to victory. This is a picture of the Christian life. Before we can be soldiers of Christ, we must receive our strength from the Lord. We come to Him, looking to Him for strength – His strength. Jesus is the Bread of Life. He is the Living Water (John 6:51: John 4:14). Strengthened by Him, we will not be defeated. We will be victorious – “more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” His love will give us the victory. “Nothing will be able to separate us from His love” (Romans 8:37-39). In the provision of manna and water, we see love. In the victory over the Amalekites, we see the victory of love: “Love has the victory forever.” The God who loved His people – revealing His love in the Exodus, maintaining His love in the wilderness – gave them the victory.

From Pride To Praise

2 Samuel 24:1-25
Here, we see the spirit of pride. David wanted to ‘know the number of the people’ (2). Why? He wanted to feel important - ‘the big man’. He was not giving the glory to the Lord. He was taking it for himself. Did God give up on David - ‘a hopeless case, too full of himself and his own importance’? Of course not! The Lord, whose ‘mercy is great’, drew David back to Himself. David confessed his sin - ‘I have sinned greatly… I have done very foolishly… I have sinned and I have done wickedly’(10,17). David was accepted by the Lord - ‘The Lord your God accepts you’. He was brought from pride to praise (23,25). This is what God has done for us. We are ‘accepted in the Beloved’- ‘to the praise of His glorious grace’ (Ephesians 1:6).

A Vision - For Daniel

"I, Daniel, alone saw the vision ... the men who were with me did not see the vision" (Daniel 10:7). Here, we have a vision that was intended for Daniel. The vision was not given to the men who were with him. While this was, for Daniel, a unique experience of divine revelation, it raises for us a more general question: Why is it that some people receive blessing from the Lord, while others miss out on the blessing? What are we to say about those who miss out on God's blessing? They may be present when the Lord's people are gathered together for worship - but they have no real sense of the Lord's presence. The power of the Lord is at work in the lives of others, but nothing happens to them. The Word goes on one ear and out the other. Others are being transformed. They remain unchanged. Are we simply to say, "Some are blessed by the Lord. They give thanks for His blessing. Sadly others miss out on His blessing - and we can say no more about this&quo…

There is work to be done.

What will the future hold for us? One thing we can say is this: there is work to be done – God’s work. God is calling us to do His work and He will give us the strength that we need (Ezra 1:2,5). ‘At such a time is this’, a time when many are turning away from the Lord, showing little or no interest in worshipping and serving Him, a time when many are living according to the world’s standards with no real desire to please God and do His will, God is looking for people who will make a whole-hearted commitment to a life of serving Him. He is looking for people who will say, ‘Serving the Lord – this must be the great priority of my life, the most important thing’ (Esther 4:14,16). Serving the Lord will not be easy. There will be many times when we will feel like giving up. We will be tempted to follow the crowd rather than following our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. When it seems that we are in danger of being overwhelmed by such temptations, we must say, ‘I have decided to f…

Some Thoughts On Mission And Evangelism

Teaching Evangelism

In the preface to his book, The Evangelism of the Early Church, Michael Green states a personal reason for writing the book: “Most evangelists are not very interested in theology: most theologians are not very interested in evangelism. I am deeply committed to both. So the study of this subject was particularly congenial to me” (p.7).
Green’s book contains a brief but helpful section on “Teaching Evangelism” (pp.204-206). Green’s emphasis on the unbreakable connection between theology and evangelism encourages us to develop an evangelistic theology. A theology which does not lead to evangelism remains remote from both the Gospel of God and the need of human beings. An evangelism which shows little interest in theological reflection tends to become rather superficial, lacking the depth and range of “teaching evangelism”.

Looking up to God and looking out to our community

Here are some more thoughts from Local Church Evangelism, edited by David Wright and Alastair Gray. Wors…

Shining!

“The skin of Moses’ face shone” (Exodus 34:35).
What glory there is in the presence of the Lord! The glory of the Lord was shining upon Moses. The glory of the Lord was shining out from Moses. In the Lord’s presence, there is light. When we come into His presence, we come out of the darkness, and we come into the light. It is the light of His glory. It is the light of His love. It is the glory of His love. This is what changes us. This is what makes us new men and women. How can we remain the same when we have been in the presence of the Lord? Was there something special about Moses? No! There was something special about God. Is there something special about us? No! There’s something special about God. In His presence, everything changes. The things that seemed so important to us are seen in a new light – the light of eternity. They are seen for what they really are. Do these things really matter as much as we thought they did? or Have we been shaped too much by the world’…

Links to "Evangel" Articles

Be An "Andrew". You May Win A "Peter" For Jesus.

In John 1:40-42, we see Andrew bringing his brother, Peter, to Jesus. In Acts 2:37-42, we see Peter bringing three thousand people to Jesus. When we lead someone to Jesus, we have no idea of what a remarkable future may lie ahead of that person. Note the immediacy of Andrew's response. He was a man who had been waiting for the Messiah. He had been waiting with active and living faith. When Jesus appeared, Andrew was ready to become His follower. Praise God for people like this, people who make an immediate response to Jesus. As soon as they hear the Gospel, they receive its message with joyful faith. It's so important that we bring Christ to such people so that, when they hear the Gospel, they will come, in faith, to the Saviour. Andrew was a convert of the Lamb of God. *There is such a difference between the preacher's converts and the Saviour's converts. Sometimes, people say, "Are you trying to convert me?" The answer to this question is, "No. I coul…

A Biblical Approach to Theodicy

This article was published in ”Evangel", 10.2 (Summer 1992): 25-29. [p.25]
Introduction
We approach theodicy from two angles: the authority of Scripture and the need for contemporary relevance. These two approaches should not be set over against each other. They are to be held together. If we believe that Scripture is ‘the living and abiding word of God’ (1 Peter 1:23), this will influence the way in which we seek to attain contemporary relevance. If we are inclined to lightly set aside the Scriptures with a view to being relevant, our procedure carries with it the implied denial of the ‘living and abiding’ character of Scripture. If, on the other hand, we are firmly convinced that the Bible is ‘the living and abiding word of God’, we will not view the Bible as an obstacle to contemporary relevance. Rather, we will see this ‘living and abiding word of God’ as the foundation of relevance.
Normative Scripture and Apologetics A real commitment to the normativity of Scripture does …