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Showing posts from May, 2016

The Mercy Of God - And The Purpose Of God

Exodus 2:23-25 The mercy of God, revealed in the Exodus, is connected with the ongoing purpose of God – “God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob” (Exodus 2:24). From Exodus 1:13 to Exodus 2:23-25, there were 80 years (Acts 7:23,30). These 80 years are referred to as “the course of those many days” (Exodus 2:23). Egypt is “the house of bondage” (Exodus 20:2; Deuteronomy 5:6). The people of God were in bondage for many years. Year after year passed, and the people remained in bondage. Where in the world was God in all this? Was He absent? Has He left His people? Had God forgotten His promises? No! Not at all! God was there all the time. In mercy, He was waiting patiently for His people to call upon Him, to cry to Him for mercy. Is there not here a lesson for our Church and our community? Don’t give up. God hasn’t given up on us. He is still waiting for us to call upon Him. In mercy, He is waiting for us to cry to Him for mercy. In Exodus 2:23-25…

Thank God - for the Holy Spirit.

We thank You, our Father, that You have sent Your Holy Spirit to live in our hearts. We thank You that the new life in the Spirit is just the beginning. You are preparing us for the greater ‘glory that will be revealed in us’(Romans 8:18). We thank You that the Holy Spirit is ‘the guarantee of our inheritance’ - He is the starter which whets our appetite for the main course! With Him in our hearts, we long for more. We long for Your glorious future. We’re not staggering along on a dead-end street. We’re walking tall. We’re travelling with You, Lord. You’re leading us on to Your glory. May we always be led by Your Spirit. May we keep on growing in Your Spirit.

Praying Through God's Word: John's Gospel

John 1:1-34
We thank You, Lord, for Your Son, Jesus - "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). What a wonderful thing this - it's the great exchange: Jesus has taken our sin, and we receive His salvation.

John 1:35-2:25
Help us, Lord, to look beyond what we are right now. Help us to catch a glimpse of what You want us to become. How are we to become what You want us to be? Your divine power is far more important than our human effort. We don't change ourselves. We are changed by You - changed by Your love, changed by Your power.

John 3:1-36
Where does our salvation come from? Does it come from ourselves? Does it begin with "I"? No! It comes from You. It begins with You - "God so loved the world ... " (John 3:16).
John 4:1-42 We thank You, Lord, for Your great love. You bring us out of our bondage to sin. You bring us into the joy of Your salvation. Your love reaches down to us. Your love brings us to Jesus. He's Your Son…

A Godly, Christlike And Spirit-Filled Life

What kind of people are we to be? What kind of life are we to live? Lord, You're calling us to live a life of "love" (Proverbs 17:9). How, Lord, do we learn what love is? - We learn from You. You show us what love is - "God so loved the world that He gave His only Son ... " (John 3:16). In Jesus, we see perfect love - "The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20). The Holy Spirit fills our lives with Your love - "The fruit of the Spirit is love" (Galatians 5:22). Help us, Lord, to live a Godly, Christlike, Spirit-filled life - a life of love.

“Give thanks to the Lord.”

Psalm 107 calls us to “give thanks to the Lord” (Psalm 107:1,8,15,21,31). When we hear the call to “give thanks to the Lord”, our response is to be ‘I want to give thanks to You among the people, O Lord” (Psalm 108:3). “With my mouth I will give many thanks to the Lord, I will praise Him among many people” (Psalm 109:30).

Take Your Problems To The Lord.

The Psalmist faced many difficulties. There were the problems caused by “unfaithful people” (Psalm 101:3-5). He had health problems (Psalm 102:3-5). He takes his problems to the Lord, convinced that “from everlasting to everlasting, the Lord’s mercy is on those who fear Him” (Psalm 103:17).

Prayer and Testimony

In Psalms 38-40, we have the Psalmist’s prayer and his testimony that God had heard and answered his prayer. “Do not abandon me, O Lord. O my God, do not be so distant from me. Come quickly to help me, O Lord, my Saviour... Listen to my prayer, O Lord. Open Your ear to my cry for help... I waited patiently for the Lord. He turned to me and heard my cry for help. He pulled me out of a horrible pit, out of the mud and clay. He set my feet on a rock and made my steps secure” (Psalm 38:21-22; Psalm 39:12; Psalm 40:1-2).

God's Wisdom? or Our Wisdom?

In Job 11, we hear from Zophar. So far, so good - That’s what we can say about the basic principles of his message: “God’s wisdom is higher than heaven” (Job 11:8); “If you want to set your heart right, then pray to Him. If you’re holding on to sin, put it far away” (Job 11:13). There’s a problem with Zophar’s message. He applies these basic principles to Job. He allows the idea that Job has sinned to dominate his thinking rather than allowing for the possibility that God, in His perfect wisdom, may have another reason, a very different reason, for permitting Job to suffer. When we have two important principles - God’s wisdom and God’s forgiveness, we must not assume that we know exactly how the two relate to each other. If we act on the basis of our own wisdom rather than God’s wisdom, we may end up showing ourselves to be fools. In Job 12 - 14, Job speaks. He emphasizes that wisdom comes from God (Job 12:13). He charges his so-called ‘comforters’ with speaking foolish…

The Glory Of The Lord

Exodus 24:1-27:21 “The glory of the Lord” (Exodus 24:16-17) – God is to be glorified in all that we do. Symbolic of God’s glory is the frequent reference to “gold” or “pure gold.” God’s glory is to shine brightly among God’s people. If God is to be glorified among us, if our lives are to be like “pure gold”, we must be like “pure virgin olive oil”, keeping our “lamps” burning for Him (Exodus 27:20-21). God will not be glorified if we are not looking to Him to keep our lamps burning for Him – “Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning”, “Shine, Jesus, shine. Fill this land with the Father’s glory. Blaze, Spirit, blaze. Set our hearts on fire … ” The blessing we read about here is not simply for those who are already God’s people. It is also for those who will be reached for Christ and won for Him, as the Lord’s people rise to the challenge of carrying Christ to “this land” and to “the nations.”

Praying Through God's Word: 1 Corinthians

1 Corinthians 1:1-2:5
We thank You, Lord, that our faith is “not based on human wisdom.” Our faith comes from Your power at work in us (1 Corinthians 2:5). Our faith is nothing without Your power. Without Your wisdom, we are fools. How do we receive Your power and Your wisdom? – We receive Your power and Your wisdom when we receive Jesus Christ, the Saviour, who has been crucified for us. He is Your power and Your wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:23-24). 1 Corinthians 2:6-3:23
Help us, Lord, never to forget that the Saviour is always much more important than the servant. We serve You. You save us. Save and serve – what a difference there is between the two! Your salvation comes first. First, You save us. Then, we serve You. Help us never to forget this. When we start thinking, “You save us, because we serve You”, take us back to the Cross of Christ. Teach us that we serve  You because You have saved us. 1 Corinthians 4:1-21
Lord, You’ve called us to be “servants of Christ.” May we be…

Read - And Study.

We need to study Leviticus - not just read it. Leviticus follows on from Genesis and Exodus. In Genesis, we see man ruined. In Exodus, we see man redeemed. In Leviticus, we see man worshipping. This is a book of worship. It is a book for redeemed people. It shows them how to worship God. What is true worship? We do not begin with the worshipper. We begin with the God who is worshipped: ‘The Lord called Moses’ (1:1). Before worship, there is revelation.
God reveals Himself to us. (a) He shows us who He is. (b) He speaks His Word to us.
(a) He says to us, ‘I am the Lord’ (22:2-3, 8-9, 16, 30-33). He says to us, ‘I am your God’ (23:14, 22, 28, 40, 43). We say to Him, ‘You are our God’ (23:14).
(b) ‘The Lord spoke.’
‘The Lord said.’ ‘The Lord commanded.’
Leviticus contains many direct messages from the Lord.
In Leviticus – the book of holiness and atonement – , God reveals Himself as the God of holiness and love.
(i) Leviticus speaks much about God’s holiness. It also speaks of our cal…

""Great is Your faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:22).

Day by day, we learn more about our own human failure. Day by day, we learn also of God's divine faithfulness. "We are faithless. He remains faithful" (2 Timothy 2:13). Day by day, let's praise God for His wonderful love, His amazing grace and His superabundant marvellous mercy. "The grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant ... Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners ... I obtained mercy ... Now to the King eternal ... be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen" (1 Timothy 1:14-17).

Lamentations

The title―Lamentations ― suggests human sadness. There is, however, something else here ― divine faithfulness. At the heart of this short book, we find this great declaration ― ‘Great is thy faithfulness’ (3:23). Knowing God as the God of great faithfulness involves looking beyond our circumstances and our feelings.
Israel’s circumstances were depressing. Jerusalem had fallen. The Temple had been destroyed. Depression seemed to be the mood of the moment. Humanly speaking, things did not look good. Israel had known better times. The Lord’s people had wandered from the Lord. The people of God knew little of the power of God. This was not, however, the whole story. The faithful God had not given up on his wayward people. He assured them that they would again have good reason to say ― ‘Great is thy faithfulness’. We could easily miss the five chapters of Lamentations. Hidden away between the fifty two chapters of Jeremiah and the forty eight chapters of Ezekiel, they hardly catch the eye. …

Praying Through God’s Word: Lamentations

Lamentations 1:1-22 Jerusalem had fallen into hard times – ‘she who once was great among the nations… has now become a slave’ (Lamentations 1:1). Lord, we wonder why this happened. The explanation for this sad situation was not hard to find – ‘Jerusalem has sinned greatly and so has become unclean…’ (Lamentations 8-9). We wonder, “Could things be turned around? Could there once again be blessing?” We thank You, Lord, that there was a way back to You – the way of being honest before You. They needed to look seriously at their way of life and think seriously about their attitude towards You, Lord. They were not to adopt an arrogant attitude – ‘There’s really nothing wrong with us. We’re doing all right.’ They were to come to You with a real confession of sin: ‘The Lord is righteous, yet I rebelled against His command… O Lord,… I have been most rebellious’ (Lamentations 1:18,20). We thank You, Lord, that Your blessing will begin again when we confess our sin. Lamentations 2:1…

A Hopeless Situation?

For Jerusalem, the situation seemed to be hopeless. Humanly speaking, everything looked very gloomy. This was the situation into which the word of the Lord came. Often, our feelings may tell us, “My enemies have triumphed” (Lamentations 1:9). These are the times when we must learn to look beyond our feelings, believing that God has His Word for us, and it is a Word of victory. There is so much, in Lamentations 2, about God’s judgment. It is, however, encouraging to read the words of Lamentations 2:13 – God’s people are described as the “beloved people of Zion.” Beloved – This is a great word. God used this word to describe Jesus – His Beloved Son. We are in Christ. We are in the Beloved. We are God’s Beloved. We are loved with an everlasting love. At the heart of this book, in which there is much lamentation, we find words of great encouragement – “Great is Thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:23). The Lord is assuring us that, whatever may happen to us, here is something …

Keeping Things Simple - Big Thoughts In Short Sentences

Genesis

When I was writing these words, I was thinking of some of the stories in the book of Genesis (the book of beginnings). I was thinking about Adam, Abraham and Joseph - and I was thinking about Jesus!
___________________________________________ It was the genesis of my life.
Things were looking so good.
Then, it all went badly wrong.
What could be done about this?
Could things be turned around?
The devil was running the show.
Where was God in all of this?
Was He there? or Had He gone?
The more I thought about this,
The more I came to see,
The Lord was watching me,
Waiting for me to come home.
It was the genesis of my faith.
What must I do to be saved?
Look away from myself.
Put my trust in Jesus Christ.
Things are looking so good.
They're on the up and up.
The sun  is shining in the sky.
It's not just the sun that's in the sky.
It's the Son who's shining on me.
It's the Saviour. He loves me.
It's the Saviour. He changes me.
It's Jesus. All prai…

Two Sides Of Jesus

We're going to look at the Lord Jesus in two very different situations. We will see two sides of Him - two sides which belong together. In John 2:1-11, we see him at a wedding, celebrating with the newly-weds, sharing with them in their happiness. In John 2:12-16, we see Him as the religious reformer, strenuously defending the purity of worship in God's House. These two sides of the Lord Jesus show us something about the purpose of life. The Westminster Shorter Catechism begins with question, "What is man's chief end (purpose)?" The answer is given, "Man's chief end (purpose) is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." Glorifying God and enjoying God - the two belong together. In the Christian life, there is both privilege and responsibility - the privilege of being a Christian and the responsibility of being a Christian. In John 2, we learn about the joy of being a Christian and the seriousness of being a Christian. We learn that the joy of being a …

God Doesn't Give Up On Us!

Jonah tried to run away from the Lord. The Lord protected Jonah (Jonah 1:17). The Lord hadn’t given up on Jonah. God had a purpose for Jonah. What a great purpose it was! The call of God (Jonah 1:1-2) wasn’t obeyed by Jonah – but the call of God remained. God was still planning to use Jonah to bring great blessing to the people of Nineveh. Jonah’s attempt to go to Tarshish (Jonah 1:3) was a detour – but God had not forgotten His plan for Jonah. The “big fish” was the beginning of God’s way of getting Jonah to the place where He wanted him to be. The “three days and three nights” were God’s way of getting Jonah ready for being His faithful and fruitful servant. In this time of preparation for service, there is prayer (Jonah 2:1-10). Jonah’s prayer was preparing the way for revival in Nineveh. “From inside the fish…” – Not a great place to be; Jonah prayed to the Lord our God” – Can prayer change things? – Yes! “I called to the Lord in my distress, and He answered me” (Jo…

Praying Through God’s Word: Jonah

Jonah 1:1-2:10
‘Salvation comes from the Lord’ (Jonah 2:9). We can never save ourselves. We can only be saved – by You, Lord. Left to our own devices, we ‘flee from Your presence.’ We ‘run away from You’ (Jonah 1:3). Sin – This is the story of our life. Salvation – This is the story of what You have done for us. We are sinners. We need to be saved. How can our life be turned around? How can we turn from the way of sin and seek the way of salvation? We cannot change ourselves. We need to be changed by You, Lord. We cannot forgive our own sins. We need to be forgiven by You. Where does the desire for forgiveness and change come from? Does it come from ourselves? No! It comes from You, Lord: ‘He drew me, and I followed on…’ (Mission Praise, 499). Jonah 3:1-4:11
The people of Nineveh ‘believed God’ and ‘turned from their evil ways.’ You, Lord, had shown Yourself to be ‘a gracious and compassionate God…’ How did Jonah react? Was he rejoicing in You? No! He was complaining – …

From Disaster To Revival

* "In my distress I called to the Lord, and He answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and You listened to my cry" (Jonah 2:2). What are we to do when the going gets tough? We've heard the saying, When the going gets tough, the tough get going. We wonder if this really helps. What if we find that we're not really so tough? What happens when we can't get going? There are times when we know that this is too much for us. We can't raise ourselves up. We need to be lifted. We need You, Lord. You are "the lifter of my head." (Psalm 3:3). It's Your love that lifts us: "Love lifted me. When no-one but Christ could help, love lifted me" (James Rowe).  * “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered You, Lord, and my prayer rose to You, to Your holy temple" (Jonah 2:7). Where does this remembering come from? It comes from the Lord. He puts the prayer into our hearts. Jonah was running away from God. God w…

The Preaching Of John Wesley

"John Wesley’s Forty-Four Sermons" (published by the Epworth Press in 1944:  reprinted in 1977) - These sermons were first published, as four volumes, in 1746, 1748, 1750 and 1760. The language will seem, to the modern reader, to be very old-fashioned. There is, however, a great deal, in what Wesley says, that we need to hear today. My basic observations in reading theses sermons is this: Here is preaching which is centred on Jesus Christ, who is “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). When Wesley speaks of our sin, he speaks with great directness. When he speaks of God’s grace, he speaks with great warmth. This is preaching which is centred on our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Wesley shows us that we are sinners who need the Saviour. He shows us that the Saviour is always ready to receive sinners.

John Wesley on "The Righteousness of Faith"

Righteousness of Faith, The
This sermon is based on Romans 10:5-8. It is found in John Wesley’s Forty-Four Sermons, (Epworth Press, 197…