Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from July, 2016

Look To Jesus - And Learn From Him.

In Matthew 9:18-38, we read about Jesus' healing ministry. At the end of Matthew 9, there's a reminder to us that the Lord's work is to be carried on by His followers - "The harvest is large, but the workers are few. So ask the Lord who gives this harvest to send workers to harvest His crops" (Matthew 9:37-38). Jesus wasn't saying, 'Look at what I am doing and see how great I am." He was saying, 'Look at what I am doing and learn from Me - learn how to see the crowds with compassion, to see them in their trouble, to see how helpless they are - "like sheep without a shepherd" (Matthew 9:36). we are to be looking at Jesus and learning from Him. We are to be looking at the world and seeing how we can serve the world for Jesus' sake (2 Corinthians 4:5).

Leviticus links

In the beginning, God

"In the beginning, God" (Genesis 1:1).
Here, we are taken back to eternity, back to the eternal God. There is nothing beyond this. There is nothing beyond Him.
"God created the heaven and the earth" (Genesis 1:1).
He is the Lord of heaven and earth. The mention of heaven and earth in the Bible's opening verse sends our minds on from the beginning to the middle and the end of God's great Story of salvation. At the heart of this wonderful Story, there is Jesus Christ who came from heaven to earth for us. The Story moves on to the marvellous fulifilment of God's plan of salvation. The Lord Jesus will come to take us from earth to heaven to share with Him in the glory of eternal life.

Out of the darkness - and into the light

Genesis 1:5 – “Day and Night” It’s like the difference between Day and Night. What a great change there is in us when the Lord brings us out of our darkness and into His light. Genesis 1:6 -“a firmament” Firm – We have a firm foundation upon which to build our faith. There is solid ground upon which we can take our stand. The sold ground is Jesus Christ. He is the firm Foundation. Genesis 1:7 -“the waters” In the days of Noah, there was a great flood. All around us there is danger. The flood threatens to overwhelm us. How are we to be saved from drowning? There is one way of salvation. Jesus Christ is our Saviour. Genesis 1:8 -“Heaven” What a wonderful word this is! What a wonderful Saviour Jesus is. He is the way to heaven (John 14:6). Genesis 1:9 – “gathered together unto one place” What a release of the living waters of God’s Spirit there is when the Lord’s people are gathered together with a real desire to give praise and glory to Him. Genesis 1:10 -“the gathering together of t…

Jesus is Lord! - He Gives His Victory To Us.

Genesis 1:24 -The “beast”
Whenever we read, in God’s Word, about “the beast”, we are reminded that we face constant and determined opposition from Satan, the enemy of our souls. Whenever we feel that Satan is getting the upper hand, let us remind him that Jesus is Lord.
Genesis 1:25 -“every thing that creeps upon the earth”
Creep – Isn’t that such a sinister word? Satan creeps around, doing no good. There is One who does nothing but good – our Lord Jesus Christ. He will never be defeated by Satan. Let us rejoice in this: Jesus gives His victory to us.

Back to the beginning (Genesis 1:1-4)

Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” This is our only starting-point. We begin with the eternal God. Before there was creation, there is God. There is nothing beyond God. He is the Beginning. Genesis 1:2 -“darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of face of the waters.” Before the Spirit of God has done his powerful work in our hearts, we remain in darkness. We can do nothing about this. The light does not come from ourselves. It comes from the Lord. Genesis 1:3 -“And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” This is the mighty work of God. Through His amazing grace, He brings us out of His darkness and into His light. Genesis 1:4 -“the light was good” What a wonderful blessing it is when the light of the Lord shines in our hearts.

The Strong Meat Of God's Word

Genesis 1:29 -“meat” We need the strong meat of God’s Word if we are to grow strong in the Lord. Let us feed on the Word of God. Let us pray that our hunger will increase. The more we hunger for the Lord, the more fully He will satisfy us.

Christ - Crucified For Us And Risen For Us

Genesis 2:1 -“finished” We read about the finished work of creation and we think of Jesus’ words from the Cross, “It is finished.” This is the finished work of Christ. He has completed the work that was required by the holy God for sinners to receive forgiveness. Genesis 2:2 -“He rested” After creation, there was rest. After crucifixion, there was resurrection. We rest in the risen Lord. We rest in His perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. We rejoice in His triumph over death. We remind Satan that he has been defeated by our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Holiness

Genesis 2:3 - “holy” When God blesses us, He makes us holy. He has not given to us the forgiveness of our sins and left us just the way we were before we came in faith to Christ. We come to the Saviour – “Just as I am” – but do not remain the same. God has given us new life – the life of the Holy Spirit. From the moment we receive God’s forgiveness, we begin our new journey on the High Way of holiness (Isaiah 35:8). We will often wander away from this High Way, but the Lord keeps on bringing us back. He brings us back to the Cross where we find forgiveness. He brings us back to the risen Lord, who empowers us for walking with God in holy living. When we see that our forgiveness and holiness comes from Jesus Christ, crucified for us and risen for us, we give all the glory to God. This is not our own doing. It is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes (Psalm 118:23).

Showers Of Blessing

Genesis 2:5
“rain”
No rain, no plants of the field, no herbs of the field, no man to till the ground. This is a picture of life without God’s blessing. To His faithful servants who look to Him for the blessing, God gives His precious promise: “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is My Word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10-11). Genesis 2:6
“watering the whole surface of the ground”
It’s water that makes the difference. Without water, everything dries up and dies. There’s a better way than the way of spiritual death. God says to us, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters” (Isaiah 55:1). Jesus says to us, “whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them …

From The Garden To The City

Genesis 2:8
“garden”
To those who put their trust in Him, the Lord gives His very precious promises – “You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail” (Isaiah 58:11); “They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more” (Jeremiah 31:12). Looking to the Lord as we move towards the great future He has planned for us, we look beyond the Old Testament prophets. We look forward to the glorious fulfilment of God’s wonderful purpose of eternal salvation – “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city … I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God … God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning …

God's Gift - Eternal Salvation

Genesis 1:30 -“I have given” The gift of God – Life is God’s gift. He is our Creator. Salvation is God’s gift. Jesus is our Saviour. The Holy Spirit is God’s gift. He has come to live in us. He will take us to live with God – to give glory to God forevermore. Genesis 1:31 -“everything was very good” When we look at the world as we know it, it’s hard to take this in! We must take our stand upon God’s Word. There was a time when “everything was good.” There was a time before our sin spoiled everything. There will, again, be a time when everything will be a good. There will be a time when sin will be no more. It will be a time of giving glory to God forevermore.

One River Becomes Four Rivers.

Genesis 2:10- One river becomes four rivers. God’s blessing is not to be kept to ourselves.
“Water that was ankle-deep” becomes “water that was knee-deep”. Then it becomes “water that was up to the waist”. This is just the beginning of God’s blessing. He is leading us on to even greater blessing – “now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in-a river that no one could cross” (Ezekiel 47:3-5).
When the Lord’s blessing is shared, there is an increase of blessing and greater glory is given to the Lord.

Flow, River, Flow ...

Genesis 2:13
“the river that flows through the whole land”
God is not only concerned with our personal blessing. He wants His blessing to reach out to many people in every land: “Fill this land with the Father’s glory … Flow, river, flow … Flood the nations with grace and mercy” (from the hymn, “Shine, Jesus, Shine” by Graham Kendrick). Genesis 2:14
“Hiddekel … Ashshur … Perat”
The names are unfamiliar to us. Think of the places that are familiar to you. Pray that the river of God’s blessing will flow freely in these places, bringing people to know the Saviour and leading them on to “a closer walk with God.” Genesis 2:15
“dressing and keeping the garden”
Coming into the “garden” of God’s blessing is just the beginning. We must keep on walking with God in the “garden” of His blessing – “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him” (Colossians 2:6).

The Lamb Of God

As the story of Christ’s becoming one of us - His birth - moves on towards the story of His dying in our place - His crucifixion, the story of His baptism is a significant step forward. Jesus identifies with us. He stands in the place of the sinner. John the Baptist said to Jesus, “I need to be baptized by You. Why are You coming to me?” (Matthew 3:14). Jesus was doing everything that God required of Him - everything that needed to be done for sinners to be saved. The chief focus is on His death for us - “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). We do, however, need to look back from His crucifixion to His birth and His baptism. In His birth, we see the sovereign purpose of God. In His baptism, we see the definite choice made by Jesus. In salvation, there is the work of God, and there is our response. God reveals Himself to us through His Son: “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). We respond to God’s revelation a…

Victory For Jesus, Victory For Us

Jesus' victory over Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4) must be seen in the broader context of His work of salvation. This was more than just a personal victory - a victory for Jesus. It was a victory for us. Jesus won the victory for us. He walked in the way of victory so that we might live in the power of His victory. After Jesus had won the victory over Satan, He called His disciples to Him - "Come, follow Me!" - and He sent them out from Him, empowered by Him, to be witnesses for Him - "fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19). His victory was more than a victory for His first disciples. It was a victory for all would become believers through their witness. This includes all of us, since each one of us has come to faith in Christ through the testimony of His apostles. When Jesus sent them out, He did more than send them. He showed them what they were to do (Matthew 4:23-25).

All Of God's Word - Not Just Some Of It!

Jesus' words, known as "the Sermon  on the Mount" (Matthew 5-7), need to be taken as a whole. We're not to pick out the bits that we like, and ignore the bits that we don't like so much. We're not to come, looking for "comfort" (Matthew 5:4), if we're not also seeking for "righteousness" (Matthew 5:6). We're not to look for peace, if we're not preparing ourselves for persecution (Matthew 5:9-10). We're not to read one verse, and say, "This is great", and then skim over the next verse, as if it wasn't even there.

In God's Image ...

Genesis 1:26 -“in God’s image” This doesn’t sound like a true description of the way we really are! We are sinners. We have lost our way. It’s a reminder of what God created us to be. It’s His high calling for us. He calls us to be like Him. He calls us to bring glory to Him. Genesis 1:27 -“male and female” We belong together. We’re not to compete with each other. We are to help each other to love the Lord more and more as we journey through life together. Genesis 1:28 -“dominion” We are given dominion. God has dominion. Let us never forget this. We must not think too highly of ourselves. We can never think too highly of the Lord.

The Breath Of Life

Genesis 2:7 “the breath of life” Everything changes when the Lord breathes His breath of life into us. * Until God comes to us in power, our situation is desperate – “I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry” (Ezekiel 37:2).
When He breathes life into us, we are changed by the power of His love. We become new men and women in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17).

We Need Each Other - And We Need The Lord.

Genesis 2:16 “The Lord God commanded the man” Here, we have God’s command. He is concerned about us. He gives us His instructions about how we are to live. He knows what is best for us. Who are we to argue with Him? Genesis 2:17
“you shall surely die.”
God is warning us. You can go your own way – but you will find that it is the way of death: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12). Genesis 2:18 “a helper suitable for him” We are not left to go it alone. As well as receiving the Lord’s help, we are to help each other. Give help. Receive help. In everything, never forget this: “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:2); “Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:8).

Be Holy. Be Loving.

Jesus calls us to be both holy and loving. We need both - holiness and love. We're not to be hypocrites who've given up on holiness. We're not to be content with keeping up appearances. We're to seek holiness of heart. This is the heart of holiness. We're not to be hypocrites who show no love for other people. How can we have much love for God if we don't have much love for other people? A life that's centred on ourselves is very different from a life that's centred on Christ. A life that's being shaped by Christ's love will be a life of receiving His love and sharing His love. He's teaching us how much He loves us. He's helping us to show His love to other people.

Praying Through God's Word: Philippians

Philippians 1:1-2:11 Lord, there are times when we feel like we can’t go on, times when we feel like giving up. When we feel like this, speak to us Your Word of encouragement: “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the Day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). Philippians 2:12-3:11 Lord, we have Your command – “Work out your salvation.” We also have Your promise – “God is at work in you” (Philippians 2:12-13). Help us to obey Your command, and trust Your promise. Philippians 3:12-4:23 “Christ Jesus has made me His own” (Philippians 3:12). How wonderful this is, Lord! In these words of Paul, we hear an echo of Jesus’ great words: “You did not choose Me … I chose you” (John 15:16). Your love for us is so much stronger than our love for You. May Your love – the greatest love of all – inspire us to love You more.

Deliver Us, Lord, From Hypocrisy.

Jesus speaks about prayer (Matthew 6:5-15), doing good works (Matthew 6:1-4) and fasting (Matthew 6:16-18). He emphasizes that we're not to be like the hypocrites (Matthew 6:2,5,16). Sometimes, it is difficult to work out where Jesus is leading us with. In Acts, there's a strong emphasis on God's people praying together. In Matthew 6:6, Jesus is emphasizing the importance of praying "in secret." Is there something about us that leads us in the direction of hypocrisy whenever we are praying with others? We find the same emphasis in Jesus' teaching about doing good and fasting. - "Make sure that you don't become like the hypocrites." When we move into the public sphere, we run the risk of hypocrisy. We must never forget this - and we must pray that God will deliver us from hypocrisy.

What Are You Saying To Us, Lord, Here-And-Now?

"You have heard that it was said ... But I say to you ... " (Matthew 5:21-22,27-28,31-32,33-34, 38-39,43-44). When we see the great contrast between what has been said in the past and what Jesus says to His generation and our generation, we must remember Jesus' words, "Don't ever think that I came to set aside Moses; teachings or the Prophets" (Matthew 5:17). What does Jesus mean? Clearly, He doesn't just repeat what's already been said. Jesus says, "I didn't come to set them aside but to make them come true" (Matthew 5:17). Jesus doesn't contradict the Old Testament. He brings out its deeper meaning. He reveals its fuller meaning. Jesus is expounding the Word of God. He enables His hearers to see things in a new light - but He doesn't do this by setting aside God's Word. The Word of God stands - for every generation. It is not to be tampered with. It's to be upheld. At the heart of upholding God's Word…

Good News - Reaching Out To Us And Reaching Out Through Us

“Good News” - “the forgiveness of sins” and “baptism with the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:1,4,8). This Good News is centred on Jesus Christ, God’s beloved Son (Mark 1:11). Jesus was empowered by “the Spirit” (Mark 1:12). He comes to us with “the Good news of God” (Mark 1:(14). He calls for our response - “Change the way you think and act, and believe the Good News” (Mark 1:15). Where does this change come from? It comes from the Good News. This is what changes us. By becoming Christ-centred (following Jesus), we become less self-centred and more other-centred. Jesus teaches us “how to catch people instead of fish” (Mark 1:17).

Give to us, Lord, the wisdom that is centred on Christ ...

Job 27:7-28:28 “The fear of the Lord – that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding” (Job 28:28). Give to us, Lord, the wisdom that is centred on Christ, the wisdom that receives “salvation through faith in Christ Jesus”, the wisdom that leads us to become “mature in Christ”, the wisdom that is Christlike, the wisdom that gives glory to Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30-31; 2 Timothy 3:15; Colossians 1:28; James 3:17).

We think, Lord, of Christ’s resurrection, His return and our redemption - and we give to You our thanks, our praise, our hearts and our lives.

Job 19:8-29 “I know that my Redeemer lives … In the end He will stand upon the earth” (Job 19:25-26). Lord, we read these great words of faith, spoken by Job, and our thoughts turn to Jesus. We think of His resurrection – He “has risen” from the dead” (Matthew 28:6). We think of His return – He will return “with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30). We think of “our redemption” – “When  He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is”; “We shall always be with the Lord” (Luke 21:27-28); 1 John 3:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:17). We think of all of these things – Christ’s resurrection, His return, our redemption, and we give to You, Lord, our thanks, our praise, our hearts and our lives. To You, Lord, be all the glory!

Historical Truth And Spiritual Truth

“You will know that what you have been told is true” (Luke 1:4). Historical truth underlies the spiritual truth through which the Spirit brings home to our hearts the meaning of the Gospel. Without the historical truth, there is no Gospel. The Gospel is not based on myth. It is God’s testimony to His truth: truth - unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable. The historical truth of the Gospel is not something that we can set aside, as we search for some deep meaning, which is independent of historical truth.