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

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Jesus loves you. Let Him save you. Let His love change you.

Luke 10:1-37
Christ’s message – ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you’(9) – calls for our response – hearing with faith or rejecting in unbelief (16). Where does this response of faith come from? – From God: He reveals Himself to us (21). Questions: Why do we ask them? – ‘to put Jesus to the test’(25), ‘to justify ourselves’(29)? You cannot come to Christ until you stop trying to justify yourself – Are you trying to test Him or learning to trust Him? (a) What shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ (25): The law cannot save. It can only show us our need of the One who does save – Jesus (Romans 8:3-4). (b) ‘Who is my neighbour?’(29): ‘Passing by on the other side’(31-32) – This is not love. It’s nothing like the love of God for ‘sinners’(Romans 5:8). Jesus loves you. Let Him save you. Let His love change you.

Glory To God - Not Man!

In all the social details of the division of the land, we must not lose sight of its spiritual basis (Joshua 21:43-45). The important thing is that God, and not man, receives the glory: "Do not rebel against the Lord or against us by building an altar for yourselves, other than the altar of the Lord your God" (Joshua 22:19). If God, and not man, is to be exalted, there must be new birth (John 3:3,5-7). To the man who is obsessed with his own problems - "My heart is in anguish within me ... " (Psalm 55:4-5), God gives "the wings of a dove" (Psalm 55:6), to rise to higher things.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

A river that never runs dry

In Isaiah 46 - 48, we read about Israel's conflict with Babylon and God's verdict on Babylon. We also have the precious promise which God gave to His people: "Our Defender is the Holy One of Israel" (Isaiah 47:4). Along with the divine promise, there is also the divine call to obedience. God sees that His redeemed people are not living in obedience to Him. He calls them back to a life of honesty and sincerity. He is calling them to walk in His perfect way: I am the Lord your God. I teach you what is best for you. I lead you where you should go" (Isaiah 48:17). He promises to bless them, if they will follow His leading: "If only you had listened to My commands! Your peace would be like a river that never runs dry. Your righteousness would be like waves on the sea" (Isaiah 48:18).

Learning from children and caring for children

Learning from children and caring for children: This is what Jesus speaks about in Matthew 18:1-10. We should never act like we know it all, and have nothing more to learn. We should never act like we're a law unto ourselves. We must do all that we can to protect little children in a world that has so many dangers. We need little children. They have something to teach us. Little children need us. they need the protection that we, adults, can give to them.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Daily Devotional Readings: Year One - November

1st November: Deuteronomy 1:1-46
With the exception of Caleb and Joshua, the older generation - including Moses - was not to enter the land (34-38). For the new generation, there was a challenge. There must be no more failures. One wasted generation was enough. This was the time for real commitment to the Lord. He loved them - He had 'set the land before' them. They were to rise up in faith and ' take possession of the land' (8). We are called to go on with the Lord. 'You have stayed long enough' at a low level of Christian living. God is calling us on to maturity: 'go in and take possession of the land; (6,8; Philippians 3:13-14). Do not hesitate to move forward with God: 'do not fear...It is a good land which the Lord gives us' (21,25). Will we be the new generation, 'a new creation in Christ' (2 Corinthians 5:17) ?
2nd November: Deuteronomy 2:1-37
During their wilderness years, God's people had many problems. God is greater than all the problems! Israel's journey began in the land of 'bondage' (Exodus 2:23-25). From there, He led them to the land of promise, 'the land which the Lord our God gives to us' (29). This is 'amazing grace': 'Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; 'Twas grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home' (Mission Praise, 31). In the giving and taking of the land, we see both grace and faith: I have begun to give...this land over to you; begin to take possession...' (31). We are not saved by grace apart from faith. We are 'saved by grace through faith. We are not saved by faith without grace. We are 'saved by grace through faith'. Saved by the Lord, let us press on to a life of 'good works' (Ephesians 2:8-10).
3rd November: Luke 23:26-24:12
'God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong' (1 Corinthians 1:27). In his weakness, the thief on the cross trusted Christ for salvation (42-43). Pilate, a man of power, rejected Christ, sending Him off to be crucified (23:23-25). Jesus was 'delivered into the hands of sinful men'. Jesus was 'crucified'. This was not, for Him, the end. He rose from the dead (7). At the Cross, 'the centurion' described Jesus as 'a righteous man' (47). In the resurrection, God declared Him to be much more than a righteous man - He is 'the Son of God' (Romans 1:4). Don't be like those who do 'not believe', those who consider Christ's resurrection to be 'an idle tale' (11). Something has 'happened', something very wonderful - Jesus has risen from the dead:... 'believe...be saved' (12; Romans 10:9).
4th November: Deuteronomy 3:1-29
The promised land was near. For Moses, it was 'so near and yet so far'. He was excluded. Together with the sadness of Moses' exclusion, there was the joy of the people's entrance (27-28). When we consider Moses' sadness and the people's joy, we must remember this: Nobody deserved to go into the land! The land was God's gift. Without His strength, the people of Israel would fail. With Him, they would be victorious: 'You shall not fear them; for it is the Lord your God who fights for you' (22). There is here a basic principle of Christian living: 'not by might , nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts' (Zechariah 4:6). 'In heavenly armour we'll enter the land. The battle belongs to the Lord. No weapon that's fashioned against us will stand, The battle belongs to the Lord' (Mission Praise, 639).
5th November: Deuteronomy 4:1-43
The people of Israel were involved in the work of the Lord. The work was based on God - not Moses. Moses would not be in the promised land. God would be there. Moses would 'not go over the Jordan'. As God's man. he was to prepare the people for their task: 'you shall go over and take possession of that good land' (22). Privilege involves responsibility. Israel was a privileged people, redeemed by the Lord, delivered from bondage 'by a mighty hand and outstretched arm' (34). Israel was a responsible people, called to obey the Lord: 'Obey His laws and commands' (40). The Lord our God is 'a merciful God' (31). He has saved us. We are to serve Him. Let Him reign in your heart. Let there be 'no other besides Him' (35). Flee to Christ for refuge (42-43), and live each day with 'the attitude of gratitude'.
6th November: Luke 24:13-53
'In all the Scriptures', Jesus teaches 'the things concerning Himself' (27). Do 'our hearts burn within us...while He opens to us the Scriptures?' (32). He calls us to be His 'witnesses', to preach His message of salvation 'to all nations' (47-48). Before we can preach, we must listen to Him. Before we can proclaim His resurrection, we must consider His suffering for us: 'See my hands and my feet' (39) - even after His resurrection, they still bear 'the mark of the nails' (John 20:25). Listen to Christ. Consider His suffering for you. Be 'clothed with power from on high. Let the Lord 'bless' you, strengthening your worship and filling you 'with great joy'. With all this going on in your lives, we will consider it not only our responsibility but our joyful privilege to be His 'witnesses' (48-53)!

7th November: Deuteronomy 4: 44-5:33
Obedience is grounded in salvation. The Ten Commandments (7-21) are preceded by the divine declaration: 'I am the Lord your God' who brought you...out of the house of bondage' (6). He has redeemed us. We are to live for Him. The Word of God was spoken to Moses before it was spoken by him (27). We cannot begin to live for the Lord until we begin to listen to Him. The way of obedience is the way of blessing. Our obedience is to be offered in a spirit of gratitude to God for His gracious salvation. Never imagine it is because of our obedience that God loves us. His love for us is always prior to our love for Him. Remember what the Lord has done for you, and your love for Him will grow stronger. Forget, and you love will grow weaker. Loved by God, let us love Him - more!
8th November: Deuteronomy 6:1-25
'Hear' and 'do' (1-3; James 1:22-25). In our obedience to God, there is to be the fear of the Lord and love for the Lord (2,5). Fear and love: the two belong together. God is holy - fear Him. God is love - love Him. This is for every generation: 'you and your son and your son's son'(2). 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart' (5). Teach the children well so that the blessing of God may be 'prolonged' among us(7,2). Our promised land - heaven (John 14:1-3) - is far better than Israel's promised land. Through faith in Christ, we have received 'eternal life' (John 5:24; 6:40). Never take the Lord's blessing for granted. Always remember to thank Him for all that He has done for you (10-12). Teach the children what the Lord has done for them (20-23). Then, and only then, tell them what they must 'do' for Him (24-25).
9th November: Deuteronomy 7:1-26
Enter, Destroy, Possess (1-2). Don't try to jump straight from entering to possessing. Don't forget to destroy. We enter the Christian life through faith in Christ. We will not 'take possession of' a fuller enjoyment of His salvation if we refuse to 'destroy' the obstacles to His blessing in our lives. Sin is like a 'cancer'. It will 'kill' us if we let it (Romans 6:23). This is why we must fight it - with 'the whole armour of God' (Ephesians 6:10-17). From beginning to end, our salvation is the work of God: '...it is because the Lord loves you...that He has...redeemed you...' (6-8). The Lord's love speaks of His keeping power. He will complete the work He has begun (17-19; Philippians 1:6). Saved and kept by the power of God, we travel from Christ's Cross to our Crown (Romans 1:16; 1 Peter 1:3-5; 2:24-25; 5:4).
10th November: John 1:1-34
Jesus Christ is the Word of God. He is the Beginning. He is also the End (1-3; Revelation 21:6). He is 'the Word...made flesh'. 'We have seen His glory' (14). This is only the beginning. When He returns, we shall see His glory - 'we shall see Him as He is' (1 John 3:2). From Him, there is creation (1-3). From Him, there is salvation (12-13). In Him, we receive the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (29,32-34). He is the Word of God, the Lamb of God and the Son of God (1,29,34). When we look at Jesus Christ, we see God - 'the 'Word was God' (1), 'No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has made Him known' (18). Do you want to know what God is like? - Look at Jesus (14:9). What do we see when we look at Him? - 'the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world' (29).
11th November: Deuteronomy 8:1-9:21
The 'wilderness' was a place of 'testing'. God was 'disciplining' His people. He was teaching them to 'walk in His ways' (2,5-6). In the 'wilderness', we must remember this: 'man does not live by bread alone...man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord' (3). Everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord - His warnings as well as His promises! He speaks to us in warnings: 'Take heed lest you forget the Lord your God...' (11). He speaks to us in promises: 'the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land' (7). 'God forbid that I should glory...' (8:17-18; 9:4-6; Galatians 6:14). God gave Israel the land. He gives us 'the Kingdom' (Luke 12:32). As earthly kingdoms rise and fall, 'the God of heaven will set up a Kingdom which shall never be destroyed' (Daniel 2:44).
12th November: Deuteronomy 9:22-10:22
'We will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the Word' (Acts 6:4). Moses was an intercessor (25-29). The ministry of the Word needs to be grounded in prayer. Prayerfully seeking the Lord's help, we are to place His Word at the centre of the life of His people (5). God shows His mercy by providing His servants to carry His Word in a ministry of blessing to the people, a ministry which helps the people to 'go in and possess the land' (8,10-11). In gratitude to God, our Creator-Redeemer, we are to give ourselves to Him in obedience (12-15). Let your heart and life be changed by the Lord, never forgetting this: 'He is your praise; He is your God, who has done for you...great... things' (16-21). 'God...gives the growth' (22; Corinthians 3:7). Read Psalm 126:6 and pray!
13th November: John 1:35-2:25
Andrew brought his brother, Simon Peter, to Jesus (40-42). 'You are...You shall be...' (42). Jesus looks beyond what we are now. He sees what we will become through the transforming power of His grace. The 'water' became 'wine' (9). This was the Lord's doing. In Christ, we have been 'made alive'. This is the work of God. He is 'rich in mercy'. He loves us with a 'great love' (Ephesians 2:4-5). At a wedding, Jesus rejoices with those who rejoice (1-11). In the temple, He rebukes those who are proud (13-17). There was 'death' in the temple. Those who were spiritually 'dead' acted in complete disregard for the true purpose of God's House - 'My House shall be called a house of prayer' (Matthew 21:13). 'Raised from the dead', we receive 'new life' (22; Romans 6:4). Be real with Jesus. He will bless you (23-25).
14th November: Deuteronomy 11:1-32
God is at work among His people, teaching them many lessons. Through His precious promises and strong warnings, He leads us in the way of obedience and blessing (31-32). If we are to enjoy the Lord's blessing, we need the whole Word of God - the warnings as well as the promises. Obedience to God - This is the most important thing in the life of faith. Obedience demonstrates the reality of faith. By our obedience, we show our 'love' for the Lord. We rejoice in 'all the great work of the Lord'. By 'His mighty hand', He has provided for us a great salvation. Our enjoyment of His salvation increases as we live in obedience to Him (8-15). Without obedience, there can be no blessing (16-17). Teach others to obey God - especially the 'children' (18-21). God is good. He loves us (22-25). Obey Him. Choose blessing (26-28).
15th November: Deuteronomy 12: 1-32
In our hearts, nothing else must compete with the Lord. There is no room for idolatry. 'Destroy' everything that threatens to take the place of God in your life. (2-3). We are not to 'do what is right in our own eyes'. We are to worship as the Lord 'chooses' (5,8,13-14). Remove every distraction. Get rid of those things which keep you from crowning Christ as Lord of your life. When you are tempted to put other things before the Lord, 'be careful not to be ensnared' in the ways of the world (29-31). When we are tempted, we must take our stand on God's Word. 'Everything' He has given to us - This means more than our favourite passages! Don't 'add to it', making 'the traditions of men' more important than the Word of God. Don't 'take from it', ignoring the parts you don't like (32; Mark 7:8; Acts 20:27).
16th November: John 3:1-16
We say, 'I'll turn over a new leaf'. Christ says, 'You must be born again' (3,7). Our way of thinking begins with 'I'. Christ's way of salvation begins with 'God': 'God so loved the world...' (16). Begin with 'I' and you have sin, guilt and condemnation (Romans 3:10-11). Begin with God and you have Good News for sinners: 'God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us' (Romans 5:8). Through faith in Christ, we are 'born of the Spirit' (6-8; 1:12). The Spirit of God is the Spirit of holiness, love and truth. Those who are 'born of the Spirit' are to live a life of holiness, love and truth (1 John 4:2-3,6-7,12-13; 5:2-3). 'Come to the light'. 'Do what is true'. 'Obey the Son'. Let Christ increase. This is the work of the Spirit in us (20-21,36,29,34).
17th November: Proverbs 6:1-15
'Save yourself ...like a bird from the hand of the fowler' (5). 'He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler'(Psalm 91:3). In scripture, we have both the promise of grace and the call to faith: 'By grace you have been saved' (Ephesians 2:5), 'Your faith has saved you' (Luke 7:50), 'Keep yourselves in the love of God', 'To Him who is able to keep you from falling (Jude 21,24). Laugh at 'the sluggard' (6-11), but do not laugh too quickly or too long: You may be laughing at yourself! Looking at the sluggard is like looking into a mirror. We see so much of ourselves in him! 'A worthless man, a wicked man' - He 'fancies himself' - He's 'a chancer'. He better watch out: God doesn't share this man's opinion of himself - 'calamity will come...he will be broken beyond healing' (15).
18th November: Deuteronomy 13:1-14:21
Obedience to God involves an uncompromising attitude toward those who would lead people away from God. Those who say 'Let us go and serve other gods' (13:2,6,13) must not be permitted to exert their evil influence on God's people. God says, 'You must not listen to them (13:3,8). Temptations to 'idolatry' can come under the guise of 'spirituality' - 'a prophet...a dreamer of dreams...a sign or a wonder' (13:1; 1 John 4:1). 'Idolatry' can come from within one's own family. The Lord must come first (13:6-11; Luke 14:26). God's judgment is upon 'idolaters' so that others may see their folly, turn from 'idolatry' and receive God's mercy (13:12-18). Remember God's purpose of love (John 3:17). In our worship and in the whole of life, we are to be 'a people holy to the Lord our God' (14:2,21).
19th November: John 4:1-42
Here, we see Jesus' ministry of love. He brings the Samaritan woman out of her bondage to sin and into the joy of His salvation. Jesus comes to the woman in love. His love overcomes cultural divisions. His love breaks down cultural barriers (9). This is not simply the story of one woman. It is the story of 'many Samaritans' coming to faith in Christ (39). There are two 'stages' in their coming to faith. First, they 'believed in Him because of the woman's testimony' (39). Second, 'they believed because of His Word' (41). The Samaritans came to trust Jesus as 'the Saviour of the world' (42). The woman said that 'salvation is of the Jews' (22). It is also 'to the Greek' (Romans 1:16). The Gospel is for all. Pray that the human word will be empowered by the divine Word (1 Thessalonians 1:5; 2:13).
20th November: John 4:43-5:29
In Jesus' healings, we see the love of God. He 'went about doing good'. In His healings, we see the Source of His spiritual strength: 'God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power' (Acts 10:38). We look beyond Jesus to God the Father: 'mighty works and wonders and signs which God did through Him' (Acts 2:22). Jesus speaks of His unique relationship with the Father (19,26). Jesus is no mere servant. He is 'the Son'. We are to 'honour the Son' as well as the Father (23). Through Christ, we receive 'eternal life' (24). The gift of eternal life is the gift of God's love. In love, God 'gave His only Son'. 'In His Son', there is eternal life. 'This life' is given to everyone who 'believes in the Son of God' (3:16; 1 John 5:10-12). Listen to 'the voice of the Son of God', believe and 'live' (25).
21st November: Deuteronomy 14:22-15:23
'Tithing' (Giving the tenth to God) emerges out of holiness: 'You are a people holy to the Lord your God...You shall tithe' (14:21-22). It is more than giving things to God. It is giving ourselves to Him. It also involves caring for others (7-11; Isaiah 58:6-7). We have been 'earmarked' as servants of the Lord (17). Being 'earmarked' for God involves listening to God (Isaiah 55:2-3). Bring 'the firstling' to God (19). 'We are here to bring You the best that we can bring. And it is our love rising from our hearts' (Mission Praise, 717). 'Just as I am...to be the best that I can be for truth, and righteousness, and Thee, Lord of my life, I come' (Church Hymnary, 448). No second bests - Only the best will do for God.
22nd November: John 5:30-6:21
'Search the Scriptures' - and make sure you 'come to Christ and receive life' (39-40). From Jesus' miracles - the feeding of the five thousand (1-13) and His walking on water (16-21) - we learn about faith in Christ. Jesus is more than a 'prophet'. He is 'the Bread of God...which comes down from heaven' (14,33). He is not merely a human 'king'. He is the divine King - 'Lord of lords and King of kings' (15; Revelation 17:14). When the storms of life are raging, Jesus says, 'It is I; do not be afraid' (20). He assures us of His final victory - 'they will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them' (Revelation 17:14). 'Will your anchor hold in the storms of life?...We have an anchor that keeps the soul...Grounded firm and deep in the Saviour's love' (Church Hymnary, 412).
23rd November: John 6: 22-59
Jesus said, 'I am the Bread of Life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst' (35). Jesus had enemies - 'The Jews then murmured at Him, because He said, 'I am the bread which comes down from heaven' (41). Christ's enemies are still with us. They 'murmur among themselves' (43). How are we to respond to this situation? We must feed on Jesus Christ, 'the Living Bread' (51). Whatever difficulties we may face, the Lord provides for us: 'You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies' (Psalm 23:5). We have His invitation: 'O taste and see that the Lord is good! (Psalm 34:8). With His provision and invitation, let us make our response: 'We taste Thee, O Thou living Bread, and long to feast upon Thee still' (Church Hymnary, 571).
24th November: Deuteronomy 16:1-17:13
Blessed by God, the people of Israel had much to celebrate. They had been brought out of the land of bondage. They were about to enter the land of promise. The keeping of the feasts (16:1-17) was a response to God's love, a way of celebrating His love. Why did God bring Israel to the promised land? It was because He 'loved them' (Psalm 44:3). The Passover was a continuing reminder of God's mighty work of redemption. The Lord's Supper is a memorial of what God has done for us in Christ. In remembering His dying love for us, we remember what we were without Him and we give thanks for all that He has done for us. As well as 'joy' (45), there is to be justice (16:18-17:13; Micah 6:8). Note the effect of justice: 'And all the people shall hear, and fear, and not act presumptuously again' (17:13).
25th November: John 6:60-7:36
Jesus' words are 'spirit and life'. They are 'the words of eternal life' (63,68). While others - including Judas Iscariot - were drawing back from following Jesus, Peter confessed his faith in Jesus: 'You are the Holy One of God' (66-71). It was only a matter of time before Judas Iscariot (71) and 'the Jews'(1) formed an unholy alliance. The 'time' was 'not yet' (6,8). Even the plans of evil men could only be fully developed in the Lord's time. When God permitted their evil plans to proceed, then it would be His time for Jesus' crucifixion and our salvation (Acts 2:23). 'The Jews' were amazed at Jesus' teaching - 'How is it that this man has learning when he has never studied? (15). They did not understand that God's wisdom is different from man's wisdom. Obey God. Receive wisdom (17; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25).
26th November: John 7:37-8:20
'Rivers of living water' were flowing out of Jesus' heart. 'No man ever spoke like this man'! 'The Spirit' was speaking through Him with power. Still, there were those who 'wanted to arrest Him' (37-39,44,46). Stop 'throwing stones' (1-11)! Only Jesus had the right to point the finger at this woman. He refused to do so. He bore her sins and our sins on the Cross (1 Peter 2:24). Jesus spoke to the woman of both forgiveness and holiness (11). Jesus said, 'I am the light of the world' (12). This brought an immediate reaction from the 'Pharisees': 'Your testimony is not true' (13). They were 'disguised as angels of light' (2 Corinthians 11:14). They 'loved darkness rather than light' (3:19). Their 'darkness' was exposed by 'the Light of the world'. These evil men could do nothing until God's time (19-20).
27th November: Deuteronomy 17:14-18:22
Even the king is subject to God's 'law'. His supreme responsibility is this: Pay careful attention to God's Word (17:18-20). Politically, he may be in an elevated position - a 'king over' others (17:14-15). Spiritually, he must not allow 'his heart' to be 'lifted up above his brethren' (17:20). There must be humble obedience to God's Word. Priests speak to God for us. Prophets speak to us for God. We need both - 'prayer and the ministry of the Word' (Acts 6:4). In our worship, we must keep the Lord at the very centre. Anything or anyone who distracts our attention from the Lord is no help to true worship (9-14). 'A prophet like Moses' (18:15): Jesus is the ultimate prophet - to see and hear Him is to see and hear God (John 5:19; 12:49; 14:9). He preaches God's Word. He is 'the Word of God' (John 1:1).
28th November: John 8:21-58
In the face of evil unbelief and persistent opposition, Jesus spoke with tremendous assurance: 'You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world...you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am He' (23-24). 'As He spoke thus, many believed in Him (30) - Jesus spoke with power and love. Responding to Him in faith, we are set 'free' (32,36; Romans 8:2; Galatians 5:1). To receive His freedom, we must recognize our need: 'everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin' (34). To grow in His freedom, we must 'continue in His Word' (31). To religion without Christ (39,41), Jesus' answer is emphatic: 'You are of your father the devil...you do not hear God's words because you are not of God' (44,47). 'I am' (58; Exodus 3:14). God is in control - not men (59,20).
29th November: John 9:1-41
Empowered by God, Jesus gives sight to the blind man (3,6-7). 'The Pharisees' hear the man's testimony (15). 'Some of' them reject the Lord (16,24). There will always be those who refuse to believe in the saving power of the Lord Jesus Christ. They will pour scorn on those who have come to know the Lord. The man gives his testimony: 'One thing I know...I was blind, now I see' (25). The Pharisees continue to fire questions at him (26). He puts the most challenging question to them: 'Do you too want to become His disciples?' (27). They hurl insults at him (28). Fools attack what they don't understand. The more they rage, the more they show their folly. We say, 'Lord, I believe', and our spiritual 'eyes' are opened (38; 2 Corinthians 4:6). Don't be 'blind', despising the believer and the Saviour (39-40; 2 Corinthians 4:4).
30th November: Psalm 17:1-15
Here is the prayer of a man whose earnest desire is to walk with God, to have a close walk with God in the centre of His will (5). His prayer is sincere. It 'does not rise from deceitful lips' (1). He is painfully aware of 'the onslaughts of the wicked'. His 'enemies cluster round him, breathing hostility' (9). Whatever troubles we may encounter, we must learn to pray with the Psalmist: 'Hear, O Lord, my righteous plea; listen to my cry. Give ear to my prayer' (1). As we call upon the Lord, He gives the assurance of His protection. Through His Word and Spirit, He assures us that He will 'keep us as the apple of His eye' (8). We are precious in His sight. He looks upon us in love. He does not see our sin. He sees us 'in Christ' - 'accepted in the Beloved', 'no condemnation' (Psalm 32:1; Ephesians 1:6; Romans 8:1).

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Jesus Christ - the "Rock of our salvation"

You, Lord, are "our rock and our salvation" (Psalm 62:2,6). 
We think of Your Son, Jesus Christ - the "Rock of our salvation" (1 Corinthians 10:1-4,16), and we say, "Your steadfast love is better than life ... I will praise You as long as I live" (Psalm 63:3-4). We look at Jesus, our great Saviour, and we say, "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift" (2 Corinthians 9:15).

Daily Devotional Readings: Year One - December

1st December: John 10:1-42
The Christian life is not easy. The devil 'comes only to steal and kill and destroy' (10). Satan was working through the religious leaders. They were trying 'to stone' Jesus (31). 'Again', they failed (39). They could not take Jesus' life. 'His hour had not yet come' (18; 7:30; 8:20). When Satan attacks us, we must remember this: God is in control. God has given us great promises (28-29). Jesus saves. Jesus keeps. His salvation is eternal: 'He didn't bring us this far to leave us. He didn't teach us to swim to let us drown. He didn't build His home in us to move away. He didn't lift us up to let us down'. Satan will cause us plenty of trouble. Be on the alert (1 Peter 5:8). Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). Looking to Jesus, we are assured of this: Satan will be defeated (Revelation 12:9).
2nd December: Deuteronomy 19:1-20:9
Justice is concerned with (a) the protection of the innocent - 'innocent blood will not be shed in your land' (10); (b) the punishment of the guilty - 'you must purge the evil from among you' (19). Through justice, God is to be glorified among His people. We are to fight for the Lord without fear, confident of His glorious presence (20:1-4). In the service of the Lord, we must not be 'fearful and fainthearted' (20:8). We are to be 'good soldiers of Jesus Christ' (2 Timothy 2:3). We need to give careful attention to the Word of God: 'When you draw near to the battle, the priest will come forward and speak to the people, and say to them, 'Hear, O Israel...' (20:2-3). God's Word is not concerned only with 'Church work'. It sends us 'back to our house' - 'dedicated' to the Lord (20:5-9).
3rd December: Deuteronomy 20:10-21:23
The offer of 'peace' is made (20:10; Romans 5:1). Some refuse to 'make peace'.They choose to 'make war' (20:12). When the enemies of Christ and the Gospel are raging, we must be resolute in our commitment to living 'as the Lord our God has commanded' (20:16-18). We are to 'do what is right in the sight of the Lord'. This will involve 'going forth to war against our enemies'. It will involve 'purging the evil from our midst' (21:9-10,21; Ephesians 6:10-13; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Hebrews 12:1-2,11). Our life of holiness is grounded in the death of Christ who, on the Cross, was 'accursed by God' so that we might be saved by God (21:23; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 2:24). Through faith in Him, we have been declared holy (Romans 5:1,3-5,9-10).
4th December: John 11:1-44
Everything is moving on towards Christ's death and resurrection. On His way to the Cross, Jesus performs a mighty miracle - the raising of Lazarus (43-44) - which points unmistakably to an even greater miracle - His own resurrection (Acts 2:24). Accompanying this miracle - the raising of Lazarus - , we have Jesus' great declaration concerning Himself: 'I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die' (25). His words are immediately followed by the question: 'Do you believe this?' (26). This question is put to each of us. Jesus waits for the answer of faith: 'Yes, Lord I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God...'(27). This is 'for the glory of God' - receiving new life from 'the Son of God...' (4).
5th December: Deuteronomy 22:1-30
Care for 'your brother' (1-4). Our caring is not to be selective - 'If the brother does not live near you or if you do not know who he is' (2). When Jesus says, 'Love your neighbour as yourself' (Luke 10:27), He means much more than loving the people who live near us, the people that we know. The 'Samaritan' didn't know 'the man who fell into the hands of robbers' (Luke 10:30,33). 'Jews did not associate with Samaritans (John 4:9). Jesus says, 'Love your enemies (Matthew 5:44). Love your enemies with the love of the Lord - 'when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son' (Romans 5:8,10). Don't love the ways of those who 'live as enemies of the Cross of Christ' (Philippians 3:18). 'Purge the evil from the midst of you' (21-22,24).
6th December: Deuteronomy 23:1-25
God sees us as we really are. He 'looks on the heart' as well as 'the outward appearance'. We must live to please Him, praying, 'Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!' (14; 1 Samuel 16:7; Psalm 139: 23-24). God calls us to be holy: 'you shall keep yourself from every evil thing' (9). This 'holiness' is not to be a proud, arrogant thing. It is to be filled with compassionate caring. Don't write anyone off, saying, 'They're not our kind of people' (7). Don't be all out for all you can get for yourself without any thought of how your actions affect other people (24-25). Let your holiness be real. Don't say one thing and do another. Don't pretend to be more 'holy' than you really are. Choose to be holy - every day (21-23).
7th December: John 11:45-12:36
The Pharisees are developing their wicked plan. God is fulfilling His saving purpose (49-53). The voice of 'common sense' is not always the voice of the Lord (4-6). There is a higher wisdom than 'common sense'. We are to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. He leads us to put Jesus at the centre of our lives. Jesus is not suggesting that the poor are unimportant. He is emphasising that we must not lose sight of Him. If our concern for the poor is not truly grounded in devotion to Christ, it is not the obedience of faith (8). The Pharisees are lying in wait for Jesus. They say, 'The world has gone after Him' (19). They are going after Him too - in a different way! The crucifixion draws near. God is to be 'glorified' in the defeat of Satan and the salvation of sinners (28,31-32). Jesus had 'come' for this 'hour' (27).
8th December: Deuteronomy 24:1-25:29
Justice for the vulnerable is grounded in God's redemption (24:17-18). This is an important principle for us. God loves us. He has done great things for us. He cares. We are to care. Let His love be the guiding light in every part of your life. Scripture speaks of both salvation and judgment. Israel was given 'the land' as 'an inheritance to possess'. The Amalekites were blotted out (25:19). The Christian life is a spiritual warfare. When we are 'faint and weary', we will be 'attacked on the way'. If we 'lag behind' in our walk with God, those who 'do not fear God' will try to 'cut us off' from the Lord and His people. This is the work of Satan. We must not be 'ignorant of his devices'. God is with us in the battle. He is leading us on to our eternal 'inheritance' (25:17-19; 2 Corinthians 2:11).
9th December: Deuteronomy 26:1-27:10
The people of Israel had a testimony. They had been redeemed by the God of love. Thankful for His love and salvation, they brought their offerings to the Lord (26:5-9). The call to obedience is grounded in the gift of salvation. Redeemed by the Lord, we are called to be 'a people holy to the Lord our God' (26:16-19). There is no privilege without responsibility. Israel was privileged: God was giving them 'a land flowing with milk and honey'. Israel was responsible: God was saying to them, 'Keep all the commandments which I command you this day' (27:1-3). God blesses us. We obey Him. We enjoy more of His blessing. This leads us to obey Him more. Break the 'vicious circle'. Get on to God's 'victorious circle': He shows us His love. We love Him. He shows us more of His love. We love Him more... (John 14:21).
10th December: John 12:37-13:20
The Pharisees continue to exert their evil influence. 'For fear of the Pharisees', many remained silent, 'loving the praise of men more than the praise of God' (42-43). Whatever the opposition, Jesus calls us to believe in Him and confess Him (Romans 10:9). He calls us out of darkness into light (46). If you are a believer, come out into the open. Make it known that you belong to Christ. Do not only read God's Word for yourself. Speak His Word to others (50). he 'hour' of Jesus' suffering draws near. Satan is busy. Jesus is in control (1-3). It is the 'hour' of His love. We are 'washed' in His precious blood (8; 1 John 1:7; Revelation 7:14). What God has done for us comes before what we 'ought to 'do for others. Jesus is our Saviour before He is our 'Example' (14-15). Knowing Him, let us do His will (17).
11th December: Deuteronomy 27:11-28:24
Through His strongly worded warnings, God calls us back from the way of disobedience (27:15-26;28:15-24). Through His promises of blessing, He calls us to the way of obedience, the only way to true happiness (28:1-14). God's blessing cannot be taken for granted. Where there is disobedience, there is no blessing. Our 'enemies' will triumph over us (28:25). We need not be defeated. God has shown us His way of blessing. It is the way of obedience (1-2). We are not blessed because we deserve to be blessed. We can never earn the Lord's blessing. The blessing comes from Him (8). He blesses us because He loves us - not because we are worthy of His blessing. You can be in 'the promised land' without enjoying the promised blessing. Don't 'suffer loss' - 'saved, but only as through fire' (1 Corinthians 3:15).
12th December: Deuteronomy 28:25-68
There is nothing inevitable about the chain of events described in these verses. These are the consequences of disobedience. God is warning His people: 'If you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God...' (28:15). Why does God warn His people of the consequences of disobedience? He wants them to draw back from the way of disobedience and follow the pathway of obedience and blessing. These 'curses' were avoidable. They would only happen if Israel persisted in rebelling against the Lord. We can bring 'curses' upon ourselves. Don't imagine that God doesn't care how you live. He does. That is why He calls us back from the pathway of disobedience. That is why He exhorts us to choose holiness. Read Hebrews 10:26-31; 12:25-29. Pray for God's mercy (Luke 18:13). Ask Him to make you more holy (Hebrews 12:14).
13th December: John 13:21-14:14
Difficult times lay ahead for Jesus. He would be betrayed by Judas Iscariot (21-30). He would be denied by Peter (36-38). For Jesus, there was His departure (31-33). It would be a difficult time for His followers. He tells them to 'love one another': 'By this all men shall know that they are His disciples' (34-35). Jesus points them beyond the difficult times. He speaks of His glorious future. He assures them that the best is yet to be. He is preparing a place in His 'Father's House' for us. He will come again to take us to Himself (1-3). He is the Way to this place, the true and living way (6). Now, He reveals the Father to us (9). Now, He is working in and through us (12-14). He is preparing us for His place: 'Lord Jesus...fit us for heaven, to live with Thee there' (Church Hymnary, 195).
14th December: Deuteronomy 29:1-29
God has done great things for His people - 'in the land of Egypt...in the wilderness' (2,5). Acknowledging Him to be the Lord their God, they were to live in obedience to Him (6,9). The way of obedience is the way of blessing. Moses warns the people that they must not depart from the way of blessing. Moses warns the people that they must not depart from the way of obedience (16-28). Turning away from the Lord leads to judgment - 'anger and fury and great wrath' (24-28). There are 'secret things'. There are 'things that are revealed'. Some 'things' we will never understand. These 'things belong to the Lord our God'. There are many 'things' we have learned and have firmly believed. 'The things that are revealed' are found in 'the Holy Scriptures'. Through God's written Word, we are brought to 'salvation' and we are 'thoroughly equipped' for Christian living (29; 2 Timothy 3:14-17).
15th December: Deuteronomy 30:1-31;13
For Israel, a real turning to the Lord with 'all the heart and soul' involved obedience to 'His commandments...written in this book of the law' (30:10). We are not left wondering what God wants us to do - '...the Word is very near you...'(11-14). Through His Word, God 'sets before' us a choice. He calls us to 'choose life' (15-20). Joshua was to succeed Moses (31:1-2,7-8). Conflict lay ahead. God's people needed His Word of encouragement: 'Be strong and of good courage, do not fear or be in dread of them'. Beyond the conflict, there would be triumph. God gave His Word of promise: 'It is the Lord your God who goes with you; He will not fail you or forsake you' (31:6). Turning from the people to Joshua, Moses spoke the same words (31:7-8). Hear; Learn to fear the Lord; Be careful to obey His Word (31:12-13).
16th December: John 14:15-15:17
Those who love the Lord are called to a life of obedience - keeping His 'commandments', keeping His 'Word' (21,23). We cannot live this life in our own strength. Christ must make His home in us (23). Once He has come to live in us, we are to abide in Him (4). Jesus says to us, 'Apart from me you can do nothing' (5). You cannot live the Christian life until Christ comes to live in you. 'The Holy Spirit teaches us all things' (26). Christ's 'words' abide in us (7). We are called to a life of fruitfulness (15:5,15) - 'the fruit of the Spirit': 'love, joy, peace...' (Galatians 5:22-23). Jesus loves us (21). He gives us His peace (27). He gives us His joy (11). Love, Joy, Peace: Let this 'fruit' be seen in us. Let it be shared with others. 'Love one another...Go and bear fruit...love one another' (15:12,16-17).
17th December: Proverbs 6:16-35
God's Word is our 'lamp' and 'light' (23; Psalm 119:105). It leads us in the way we are to go (22). It exposes the darkness of the ways we are to avoid. It shows us the 'things that the Lord hates', the things which are 'an abomination to Him' (16). Why does God list the 'things' which are not pleasing to Him? He wants us to watch how we live. He wants us to keep on choosing His way. We must not allow things to drift. Keep God's Word in 'your heart always' (21). Let 'the reproofs of discipline' keep you from straying (23). The world tells us, 'Anything goes. Do what you like. It doesn't matter how you live'. God's Word speaks about sin: There is 'no sense' in it. It is the way of self destruction. It will not 'go unpunished' (32,29). Be careful to obey God in everything.
18th December: John 15:18-16:33
Jesus was 'persecuted'. We will be 'persecuted' - 'all who desire to live a godly life will be persecuted' (15:20; 2 Timothy 3:12). We have no guarantee that life will be easy. In all our difficulties, 'the Spirit of truth' directs our attention to Jesus our Saviour (15:26; 16:13-15). Whatever our problems, we draw encouragement from Jesus' words: 'In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world' (16:33). Here, we have realism and faith. The world is trying to squeeze us into its own mould (Romans 12:2). Sometimes, we feel like faith is slipping away. Sometimes, we feel like giving up. What are we to say to all this? 'Who is it that overcomes the world buy he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?' - This is our faith' (1 John 5:4-5).
19th December: John 17:1-26
Jesus prays for you. Jesus prays for me. We have come to faith in Him through the written Word of His apostles (20). The story of the Cross (1-5), the story of the first disciples (6-19) is an ongoing story. It continues in us. The saving effects of Christ's death are still being felt today. The written Word of His apostles is still exerting its powerful influence on today's world. Jesus is still praying for us (Hebrews 7:25). He prayed for His first disciples - 'that they may be one' (11). He prays the same prayer for us (20-23). Among His first disciples, there was Judas Iscariot, 'the one who chose to be lost' (12). If we are to 'maintain the unity of the Spirit', we must take account of 'the Judas factor' - 'take notice of those who create dissensions...avoid them' (Ephesians 4:3; Jude 4; 1 John 2:18-19; Romans 16:17-18).
20th December: Deuteronomy 31:14-32:18
'Write this song, and teach it to the people of Israel' (19,22). Moses did not delay his obedience to God. 'Write...Teach...': God is speaking to us about the renewal of our worship. Don't say, 'It's never been done that way before' - 'the seven last words of the church'! Moses' song was 'a witness for God against the people of Israel' (19). It can still help us, in this generation, to confess our sin - We 'have dealt corruptly with Him' (5) - and glorify our God - 'I will proclaim the Name of the Lord' (3). Modern music can help us to hear afresh the ancient message: 'Ascribe greatness to our God...' (3-4; Mission Praise, 40). Let us praise God 'in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs' (Ephesians 5:18-20).
21st December: Deuteronomy 32:19-33:17
Here, we have both the warning of judgment and the promise of salvation. Rebuking 'a perverse generation' - 'They are devious people, children who can't be trusted' - God says, 'I will hide My face from them' (20). When, in our need, we look to Him for mercy, we have His promise: 'The Lord will...have compassion on His servants, when He sees their power is gone' (36). 'This is the blessing...'(1). For each tribe - Reuben (6), Judah (7), Levi (8-11), Benjamin (12), Joseph (13-17) - , there is a different Word from the Lord. Each of us is different. Our circumstances are different. God knows what we need to hear. He speaks the Word which is just right for each one. He 'loves' every one of us. We are 'in His hands'. Let us 'follow in His steps, receiving direction from Him' (3).
22nd December: John 18:1-27
The story continues. Jesus is betrayed. Jesus is arrested (1-11). He stands before the Jewish authorities (12-14,19-24). Jesus is 'drinking from the cup which the Father has given Him' - He drinks from the cup of our condemnation that we might drink from the cup of His salvation (11; Matthew 26:38-39; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26). Jesus' death was not only 'expedient'. It was 'necessary' - for our salvation (14; Luke 24:26). Alongside the story of Jesus was the story of Peter (15-18,25-27). Jesus' death was not the end of His story - He rose from the dead (Luke 24:5-6; Acts 2:23-24). Peter denied the Lord three times. This was not the end of his story. For each denial, there was a new commitment (21:15-17). For each denial, there were, on the Day of Pentecost, 1,000 people brought to Christ (Acts 2:38,41).
23rd December: John 18:28-19:16
'Barabbas was a robber'. He was released (39-40). There was 'no crime' in Jesus. He was 'crucified' (38,4,6,16). Was Jesus not more than the innocent victim of a shameful and tragic miscarriage of justice? No! Jesus, the King of kings, chose to die. Looking ahead to the Cross, He said, 'For this I was born...' (36-37). In love, He chose death on the Cross. As truly as Barabbas, each of us can say, 'He took my place and died for me'. In His death, Jesus did not only take the place of one sinner, Barabbas - 'He took the place of many sinners'. He did not simply bear the punishment deserved by one sinner, Barabbas - 'The Lord made the punishment fall on Him, the punishment all of us deserved' (Isaiah 53:12,6).
24th December: Matthew 1:18-25
'Immanuel...God with us' (23). Think of what this means! Here are some words to help you. 'He walked where I walked, He stood where I stand, He felt what I feel, He understands. He know my frailty, shared my humanity, tempted in every way, yet without sin. God with us, so close to us. God with us, 'Immanuel!'. Let your thoughts move on to the Cross - 'He died in my place that I might live'. Let your heart be filled with worship: 'Immanuel, O Immanuel, Bowed in awe I worship at your feet, and sing Immanuel, God is with us; Sharing my humanness, my shame, feeling my weakness, my pain, taking my punishment, my blame, Immanuel. And now my words cannot explain, all that my heart cannot contain, how great are the glories of Your Name, Immanuel' (Mission Praise, 221,326).
25th December: Luke 2:1-20
'A Saviour, who is Christ the Lord' (11). The Name, 'Jesus', means 'Saviour' (Matthew 1:21). Focus your thoughts on Him: The Lord Jesus Christ. Here is a prayer to help you make your response to Him: 'Lord Jesus Christ, You have come to us, You are one with us, Mary's Son. Cleansing our souls from all their sin, pouring your love and goodness in; Jesus, our love for You we sing, Living Lord. Lord Jesus Christ, You have come to us, born as one of us, Mary's Son. Led out to die on Calvary, risen from death to set us free, Living Lord Jesus, help us see You are Lord. Lord Jesus Christ, we would come to You, live our lives for You, Son of God. All Your commands we know are true, Your many gifts will make us new, into our lives Your power breaks through, Living Lord' (Mission Praise, 435).
26th December: Matthew 2:1-12
'King of the Jews' (2). Jesus came from the Jews. He came for 'all nations' (28:19). He is the 'King of kings' (Revelation 17:14; 19:16). Here on earth, we are learning 'to worship Him' (2). We are being prepared for heavenly worship (Revelation 7:9-12): 'Kings and queens and beggarmen, presidents and servants, the people of all nations, will gather on that day. We will kneel before the King. None will be observers. We will lift our voices. Together, we will say, "He is the King and He will reign forever. He is the King and we will sing His praise. The King of kings and Lord of lords forever, Jesus, He is the King. Hallelujah to the King, He is our salvation. Master of the universe, King of all creation"!' Let 'Jesus...take the highest honour'. Let us 'glorify the King of kings' (Songs of Fellowship, 302, 590).
27th December: John 19:17-20:10
'It is finished' (30). These are not words of despair. They are words of triumph. At an early stage in His public ministry, Jesus said, 'My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me to finish His work' (4:34). Even then, He was looking ahead to the Cross, to the completion of the work of redemption. In one sense, 'it is finished' - on the Cross. In another sense, there is more to be done - by the Father. The Cross is followed by the resurrection - 'God raised Him from the dead' (Acts 2:24; Romans 10:9). To come to the words, 'It is finished' is not to reach the end of the story. Jesus was laid in the tomb (42). Still, this was not the end of the story. Something else had to happen - 'Jesus had to rise from the dead' (11). For our salvation, Jesus died 'and was raised to life' (Romans 4:25).
28th December: John 20:11-31
Christ is 'the Lord' (2,18,20,25). Christ is 'my Lord' (13,28). Faith becomes real when Jesus comes to us. Here, we see Jesus coming to Mary, the disciples and Thomas. Here, we see Mary, the disciples and Thomas - changed by the power of the risen Christ. In love, He comes to them, and they are changed. (a) Mary was 'weeping' (13,15). Jesus came to her, and she became a confident believer - 'I have seen the Lord!' (18). (b) The disciples were filled with 'fear'. Jesus came to them. He gave them His 'peace' and 'joy' (19-20). (c) Thomas found faith hard to come by (25). Jesus came to him, and he believed - 'My Lord and my God!' (28). Through the Gospel, we find faith: 'These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His Name' (31).
29th December: Deuteronomy 33:18-34:12
'The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms' (27): This is no guarantee of peaceful tranquillity. For Israel, there was conflict. 'Saved by the Lord', Israel had found true happiness. Still, there were 'enemies' to be 'thrust out' and 'trampled down' (27,29). Knowing the blessing of God's salvation is no guarantee that life will be easy. When the enemies of the Gospel see a believer intent on glorifying the Lord, they do all they can to create problems. We have 'enemies' in 'high places' (29; Ephesians 6:12). Their argument is not with us. It is with God. If God's work is to do well, there needs to be spiritual leadership. Moses had led God's people in his day. Joshua was to take his place (9). Moses was important. Joshua was important. The Lord is more important - 'If God is for us, who can be against us?' (Romans 8:31).
30th December: John 21:1-25
'Fishers of men' (Matthew 4:19) - Set your goals lower than this, and you will take others with you. Together, you will discover the emptiness of life without Christ at its centre - 'they caught nothing' (3). Note the contrast between the self-centered life (5) and the Christ centered life (6,8,11). Loving, serving and following Jesus - These are the most important things in life (15-17,22). Don't look over your shoulder at someone else - 'Lord, what about this man?' (21). Let it be personal - Jesus says, 'Do you love Me?' (15-17). He asked Peter, 'Do you love me more than these?' (15) - more than you love these other disciples, more than these other disciples love Me, more than your boats, nets and fishes? Look back and ask yourself, 'Do I love Jesus more than I did a year ago?'.
31st December: Psalm 18:1-24
The first three verses set the tone: Worship. What a great start to this Psalm. Our attention is directed away from ourselves to the Lord: 'my strength...my rock, my fortress and my deliverer...my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold' (1-2). The great testimony of verse 3 - 'I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies' - did not come easily (4-5). The enemies of the Lord will be brought to judgment (13-14). 'The cord of death encompassed me...He delivered me from my strong enemy...' (4-5,17-19) - Rejoice in the risen Christ through whom we have the 'victory' over 'the last enemy...death' (1 Corinthians 15:20,26,54). God is leading us into 'a broad place' (19). Step into the future with Him. Don't hold back! 'Let go and let God have His wonderful way'.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Our Rock And Our Salvation

You, Lord, are "our rock and our salvation" (Psalm 62:2,6). We think of Your Son, Jesus Christ - the "Rock of our salvation" (1 Corinthians 10:1-4,16), and we say, "Your steadfast love is better than life ... I will praise You as long as I live" (Psalm 63:3-4). We look at Jesus, our great Saviour, and we say, "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift" (2 Corinthians 9:15).

Daily Devotional Readings: Year One - October

1st October: Numbers 19:1-22
The sacrifice was to be 'without defect'. There was to be 'no blemish' (2). Here, we have a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ - 'without sin', He offered Himself 'for the sins of the people' (Hebrews 4:15; 2:17). The gathering of 'the ashes' (9-10) speaks of the completeness of Christ's work for us - 'for all time a single sacrifice for sins' (Hebrews 10:12). The danger of becoming unclean through touching a 'dead body' (11) - there is a warning for us here. 'Dead in trespasses and sins', we have been 'made alive' in Christ (Ephesians 2:1). We dare not look back (Luke 17:32; Genesis 19:26; Luke 9:62; 2 Peter 2:20-22). We have been purified 'from dead works to serve the living God' (Hebrews 9:14). Christ 'saves to the uttermost'. How dare we 'shrink back' from Him? 'Have faith. Be saved' (Hebrews 7:25; 10:39).
2nd October: Numbers 20:1-29
No man or woman is indispensable. God's work goes on, with or without us! (a) Miriam (Moses' sister) served and worshipped the Lord (Exodus 2:7-8; 15:20-21). Now, her time had come. She was not to enter the land. She 'died' (1). (b) Moses had been the leader of God's people. He sinned, and he was excluded from the promised land (12). Do not rest on your laurels. Yesterday's grace is not sufficient for today's challenges. A day-by-day walk with the Lord is called for. (c) Aaron (Moses' brother) had stood alongside Moses in leadership. He 'died' (28) without entering the promised land. In the leadership of God's people, the names and the faces change - but the Lord never changes. He remains unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable in His love. When Moses, Aaron and Miriam had gone, God was still there!
3rd October: Luke 13:1-35
Jesus stresses the need for both repentance (1-5) and the fruits of repentance (6-9). God's Word, planted in our hearts at conversion, is to bear fruit. This requires continual repentance and faith (Colossians 2:6; Galatians 3:1-5). Don't put it off till tomorrow! Today is 'the day of salvation'. Don't 'neglect' God's 'great salvation' (15-16; 2 Corinthians 6:2; Hebrews 2:3). Let there be spiritual growth, affecting the whole of your life (18-21). Jesus was 'journeying toward Jerusalem' - to 'finish His course' at the Cross (22, 32-33). He came from the Lord (35). Through Him, we come to the Lord (24; John 10:9). There is no salvation in ourselves (25-27). Apart from Him, there is 'no peace' (Jeremiah 6:14; 8:11). Jesus loves you (34). Make 'sure' that your trust is in Him. He will never fail you (2 Peter 1:10-11).
4th October: Numbers 21:1-35
In verses 5-9, there is an illustration of God's salvation (John 3:14-15). There is sin and death (Romans 5-6; 3:23, 6:23). Christ prays for our forgiveness (7; Luke 23:34). Lifted up on the Cross, He dies that we might have eternal life. In love, He appeals to us, 'Look to me and be saved' (John 12:32; Isaiah 45:22). Enter, Destroy Possess (21-24, 33-35): Let Christ enter your heart, destroying Satan's strongholds and taking possession of your life (2 Corinthians 10: 3-5). If we are to be victorious to the 'praise and glory and honour...of Jesus Christ' (1 Peter 1:6-8), we must 'go by the King's Highway, not turning aside to the right hand or the left'(22; 20:17). For the Christian, 'the King's Highway is 'the Way of Holiness': 'This is the way, walk in it' (Isaiah 35:8; 30:21).
5th October: Numbers 22:1-41
Learn from the past. In 2 Peter 2:15-16, Jude 11 and Revelation 2:14, we are encouraged to learn from the events of this chapter. Each passage contains a warning. (a) 2 Peter 2:15-16 - Don't leave 'the straight way' and follow the crooked way! (b) Jude 11 - Don't let making a profit become more important than being a prophet! (c) Revelation 2:14 - Make sure you don't get drawn away from God into sin! What is God saying to us here? - 'these things happened... as a warning... they were written down for our instruction...let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall'. With the warning, there is also the promise: '...God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide a way of escape...' (1 Corinthians 10:11-13).
6th October: Luke 14:1-35:
Let God's love flow freely in your own heart. Let it flow, from there, into the lives of others. Receive Christ and share Him with others. When the Gospel says, 'Come; for all is ready', there must be no excuses (17-20). When you share Christ, let there be no barriers (1-6, 12-14, 21-24). Let God's love flow freely - Make it your firm resolve to live as Christ's 'disciple' (27,33). Some will be critical of you - preoccupied with finding fault, they will miss the love of God(1-6). This is part of the 'cost' of being a disciple - the 'cross' (27-28). Others will respond positively: Keep your 'saltiness' - Be salty enough to make others thirsty, and be ready to lead them to Christ when they are thirsty 'for the living God' (34-35; Psalm 42:2). Remember to give all the glory to God (11).
7th October: Luke 15:1-32
People were coming to Christ (1). Still, the critics were murmuring among themselves (2). What did Jesus do ? - He kept on preaching the Gospel (3-32). The lost sheep (3-7) the lost coin (8-10), the lost son (11-32) - These are the parables of the Gospel. They teach us two lessons - By ourselves we are lost; In Christ, there is salvation. Read about the prodigal son, and think of the perfect Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. In Him, we see God's perfect love. Through Him, we receive God's perfect salvation - (a) 'the best robe' - forgiveness (Revelation 7:13-14); (b) the 'ring' - membership of God's family (John 1:12); (c) the 'shoes' - empowered to bring 'the Gospel' to others (Ephesians 6:15). 'God...has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing' (Ephesians 1:3). Don't be like the 'elder son' (28-30)!
8th October: Numbers 23:1-30
Our words are to be an echo of God's Word. We are to speak only what God says (8,12). Before we can speak for God, He must speak to us. 'God's Word is truth' (John 17:17). God does not lie. He does not change His mind. What He says, He does. He fulfils His purpose (19). How does God carry forward His purpose of blessing? We receive His blessing. We share His blessing with others. We can only bring blessing to others when we ourselves seek blessing from the Lord. His blessing comes to us. His blessing reaches out through us. We speak His Word, yet - through our words - He speaks (20). This is the work of the Holy Spirit. 'God's Word is the sword of the Spirit' (Ephesians 6:17). The Spirit uses the Word to convict us of our sin and lead us to our Saviour (Hebrews 4:12-16).
9th October: Numbers 24:1-25
When 'the Spirit of God came upon him', Balaam's 'oracle' was described as 'the message of the man who sees clearly'. His 'eyes are opened'. He sees 'with far-seeing eyes'. He 'hears the words of God'. He 'sees the vision of the Almighty' (2-4,15-16). Balaam looks beyond his own time. 'With far-seeing eyes', he prophesies concerning our Lord Jesus Christ: 'I see Him, but not now' (17). Balaam catches a glimpse of Jesus Christ, the 'King of kings' (Revelation 19:16). This is what we must pray for: 'the revelation of Jesus Christ'. Pray that you will be 'in the Spirit', ready to 'hear what the Spirit says'(Revelation 1:1,10; 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22). God is the unchanging God - Nothing changes Him (23:19). He is also the changing God. He changed Balaam. He will change us!
10th October: Luke 16:1-31
How do we use our money? This is an important question for all who want to live a practical Christian life. The worldly person is quick to see ways of making a profit. For the Christian, there is a higher priority. Beyond personal profit, there is eternal profit. Look for opportunities to support the work of the Gospel. By our giving, we help the Church to be Christ's prophet in to-day's world. 'Make friends': Win others for Christ so that, together with them, we may be welcomed to our eternal home (9). Jesus said, 'You cannot serve God and money'. The 'lovers of money' did not like His teaching (13-14)! Don't let money squeeze Christ out of your life. Life without Christ leads to eternity without Christ (19-31).
11th October: Numbers 25:1-26:22
Read of Israel's adultery and idolatry and remember God's Word of warning: 'Don't let the world squeeze you into its mould' (25:1-5; Romans 12:2). God is looking for people who have the 'same zeal' as He has (25:11). Those who are zealous for God may be few in number, but we must not be discouraged. Glorying in Christ our Saviour, we must continue to be zealous for Him. In Christ we have 'peace', 'atonement' and a 'perpetual' salvation (25:12-13; Romans 5:1-2,9-10). We are saved to serve - This is the thought contained in the phrase, 'all in Israel who are able to go forth to war' (26:2). The wilderness wanderings were over. God was doing a new thing. He was looking for a new people, determined, by grace, to carry His work forward into the future. He is still looking!
12th October: Numbers 26:23-65
There is real sadness in the final words of this chapter: 'There was not left a man of them, except Caleb and Joshua' (65). There is also a sense of expectation. So many had died in the wilderness. This was now a new generation. We're living in changing times. God is equipping His people for new challenges. We must not stand still. We dare not say, 'It's never been done that way before'! A new generation has to be won for Christ. Will we rise to the challenge? Or, will we 'die in the wilderness (65)? Taking possession of 'the promised land' would not be easy. Making advances for Christ will not be easy. We must lay aside those things which need to 'die in the wilderness'. We take hold of all that God has done for us - if there is to be 'Good News for the next generation'!
13th October: Luke 17:1-37
In verses 1-10, Jesus speaks about temptation, forgiveness, faith and service. (a) Temptation - 'watch yourselves', always remembering that we can only win victory through the strength of the Lord (3; 1 Corinthians 10:13). (b) Forgiveness - This is practical teaching. We not only receive forgiveness for ourselves. We are to forgive others (3-4; 1 John 1:9; Ephesians 4:32). (c) Faith - There will never come a time when we no longer need to pray, 'Increase our faith'. What great things can be achieved for God, when our faith in Him is strong (5-6; 1 John 5:4-5, 14-15). (d) Service - We are always 'unworthy servants'. We never outgrow our need of 'God's mercy' (10; Romans 12:1; 2 Corinthians 4:1). We need 'the attitude of gratitude' (17-18; 1 Thessalonians 5:18). Jesus is coming again (24). Be ready for Him!
14th October: Proverbs 5:15-23
There is teaching here concerning faithfulness in marriage: 'may you rejoice in the wife of your youth...may you ever be captivated by her love (18-19). We may apply this teaching to our relationship with the Saviour. You loved Him so much in 'your youth'. You were 'rejoicing in Him'. You were 'captivated by His love'. 'You were doing so well', but something happened - you have gone off course (Galatians 5:7-8). Is this the story of your life? Return to 'your first love' (Revelation 2:4-5). There is also a warning against unfaithfulness (20). This can also be applied to our relationship with Christ. He 'loved us and gave Himself for us'. He calls us to be 'holy...a radiant church' (Ephesians 5:25-27). We belong to Him. Why settle for anything less than the Best, anything less than our Lord Jesus Christ.
15th October: Numbers 27:1-23
The daughters of Zelophehad were concerned about the continuation of their father's name (1-11). Our first concern must be the glory of God, our Heavenly Father. We are to honour our parents, loving them deeply. We must not allow such love to compete with our love for Christ. He must come first. We are called to a life of single-minded devotion to Jesus Christ. Joshua is chosen to succeed Moses as the leader of God's people (12-23). Soon, Moses would be gone. The Lord was preparing His people for the future. God had His man - Joshua - waiting to continue the work which Moses had begun. For each place and time, God has His 'Joshua'. The work of God will go on. His work requires more than a 'Joshua'. What part will you play in God's ongoing work? Will you take up the challenge?
16th October: Numbers 28:1-31
The sacrifices, offered to God, were to be 'a pleasing odour' to Him (2,6,8,13,24,27). These sacrifices are no longer required. A greater Sacrifice has been offered and accepted. Jesus Christ, God's Son, has offered Himself as a Sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 9:23-26). This Sacrifice is 'a pleasing odour' to God. It is 'good news' for us. This is 'good news' - the Gospel of our salvation: 'Christ died for our sins' (1 Corinthians 15:3). How do we know that Christ's Sacrifice is 'a pleasing odour' to God? - God 'raised' Him from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:4). The 'feast of weeks' (Pentecost) turns our thoughts towards the Holy Spirit (26-31; Acts 2:1-4). It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that the 'good news' of Christ becomes real in our lives. He brings us to Christ and leads us on with Him (Acts 2:37-47).
17th October: Luke 18:1-43
Here, we learn some important lessons about faith. (a) Our faith is precious. We must not lose it! The question is asked, 'When the Son of man comes, will He find faith on earth?' (8). 'Don't lose heart' (1). (b) We are to have a humble faith (14). Pray, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner' (13). 'Receive the Kingdom of God like a child' (17). (c) We are to have a committed faith (22), always remembering that salvation comes from the Lord and not from ourselves (26-27). Our commitment can never be a way of earning God's salvation. He always gives us so much more than we could ever give to Him (29-30). (d) We are to have a Christ-centred faith, centred on His death and resurrection (31-33). (e) Our faith is to be full of worship. Our eyes opened by Christ and to Him, we are to glorify God and give praise to Him (43).
18th October: Numbers 29:1-40
Between the feast of weeks (Pentecost) and the feast of trumpets (28:26-29:6), there was the harvest. Pentecost - the outpouring of the Holy Spirit - has ushered in the time of Harvest - the saved are being gathered in as men and women are being won for Christ. During this time of harvest, we 'blow the trumpets' of worship, rejoicing in the Lord (1), and 'alarm', calling on men and women to pay attention to the Word of the Lord (Joel 2:1). By blowing the trumpets for God, we prepare the way for the final trumpet, 'the trumpet of God' (1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16). We must get ready, and we must encourage others to get ready, for Christ's Return. Atonement (7-11), Tabernacles (12-40): Christ has 'tabernacled' among us (John 1:14). He has made 'atonement' for us (Romans 5:11). Share the Good News!
19th October: Numbers 30:1-31:20
Vows (30:1-16): Be careful what you say - You may live to regret it (Ecclesiastes 5:2, 4-6; Matthew 12:36-37; James 3:6-11). Learn from Balaam. Full of good intentions about speaking God's Word (22:18; 23:12). He hoped to 'die the death of the righteous' (23:10). He did not live up to his good intentions. He sinned and he led others into sin (31:16). He ended up being slain among God's enemies (31:8). Why were the Midianites destroyed (31:7-8)? They opposed the Lord, exerting an evil influence on His people. We must take care that we do not cause God's people 'to act treacherously against' Him (31:16). Sin needs to be removed if we are to press on to a greater enjoyment of God's blessing. 'Put to death what is earthly in you...put off the old nature...put on the new nature' (Colossians 3:5-11). This is what we must do.
20th October: Luke 19:1-48
Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem (9:51; 13:22; 17:11), the place where He would be crucified for the world's salvation. 'Passing through' Jericho, He brought 'salvation' to Zacchaeus (1, 9). 'Near to Jerusalem', He spoke about service (11-27). Jesus is our Saviour - He came 'to save us' (10). He is also our Lord - He wants to 'reign over' us (27). 'Salvation has come to us (9). As 'good servants', let us be 'faithful' to our Lord (17). Jesus was 'going up to Jerusalem' (28). The Cross was the high point, the place of His triumph (Colossians 2:15). Seeing 'the city', Jesus 'wept over it' (41). He taught the Word of God in the House of God. Some were 'eager to hear Him'. Others were 'seeking to destroy Him' (47-48). What about you ? Does Jesus weep over you? He wants to rejoice over you (15:7,10).
21st October: Luke 20:1-47
Think before you speak. Jesus' critics had plenty to say for themselves. Jesus challenged them. They needed to say less and think more - about Jesus (8,17-18,41-44). Jesus' words reduced them to silence (26,40). They didn't know what to say next. Perhaps, some were beginning to ask the right questions and find the right answers (39). There were others who didn't want to know. They weren't interested in listening to Jesus. All that mattered to them was themselves: 'Beware of the scribes...' (46-47). 'The scribes' were so taken up with themselves that they failed to take the slightest notice of what the Lord was saying to them. The way of 'the scribes' ended in 'condemnation'. There is a warning for us here: Make sure you don't miss the most important thing - 'Jesus Christ is in you' (2 Corinthians 13:5).
22nd October: Numbers 31:21-54
If we are to be 'soldiers of Christ', we need to be 'purified', made 'clean'. There is purification by 'fire' and 'water'. Purification may be painful, but we have the promise of God's protective presence. He says, 'I will be with you'. He assures us, 'the waters...shall not overwhelm you...and the flame shall not shall not consume you' (22-24; Isaiah 43:2). From the Old Testament wars, we learn important spiritual principles: Enter the war, Destroy the sins, Possess the land. This is what we must do throughout life. Looking beyond Israel's triumphs to Christ's victory over Satan (Hebrews 2:14-15; 1 John 3:8), we thank God for His victory and we claim this victory by faith (1 Corinthians 15:57; 1 John 5:4-5). The battle may be 'fierce'. The 'victory is secure' (Church Hymnary, 479). Praise God!
23rd October: Numbers 32:1-42
Some look for an easy life. They know that there will be conflict on the other side of the Jordan. They opt out - 'do not take us across the Jordan' (5). They think they've travelled far enough. God says, 'Let us go on to maturity' (Hebrews 6:1). 'My happiness' - This is what concerns the self-centred person. Spiritual maturity is not about happiness. It's about holiness. We find happiness when we aim at holiness. What is holiness? - 'It's the life apart from the world's excess. It's the Lord's command, not the Lord's request. It's the only life that the Lord can bless'. Pretend to be more holy than you really are, and 'be sure your sin will find you out' (23). A small minority - Caleb and Joshua - 'wholly followed the Lord' (12): Better a minority with God than a majority without Him.
24th October: Luke 21:1-38
The 'poor widow' gave her 'all' to the Lord (1-4). True giving is a response to 'the grace of God'. Learning to appreciate 'the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ', we will learn to give with 'abundance of joy' and 'wealth of liberality' (2 Corinthians 8:1-2, 9). Let us give ourselves to our Lord. True Christian living will not be easy (12; 2 Timothy 3:12). The Lord will be with us in all our difficulties (15, 18-19). Christ will return 'with power and great glory' (27). For some this will be a time of 'distress...perplexity...fear...foreboding' (25-26). For others, it will be the Day of 'redemption' (28). To all, there is the warning: 'Take heed to yourselves...watch at all times' (34-36). Let us restore Him to His rightful place in our lives - '...all the people came to Him...' (38).
25th October: Numbers 33:1-49
In the history of Israel - Set free by the power of God, failure to learn, wandering, the promised land - , there is a picture of the Christian life - conversion and growth to spiritual maturity by way of learning from our mistakes. We are not to remain in the past. That would be nostalgia. It is, however, a good thing for us to remember, with gratitude, all the way the Lord has led us. This will increase our appreciation of the goodness of God. It will deepen our sense of indebtedness to Him. Israel's redemption was a mighty work of God. Our salvation is a mighty work of God. Think back over your life - 'stage by stage' (2) - and thank God for all that He has done. 'These are the stages of' what the Lord has done (1): You may see the Lord in places where you hadn't noticed Him before!
26th October: Numbers 33: 50-34:29
'Drive out all the inhabitants of the land' (52): We must drive out the enemy (Satan) if we are to enter more fully into our salvation in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:3-14). Idolatry is to be banished (52). It has no place among God's people. God wants us to 'possess the land' (53): a fuller enjoyment of Him. Idolatry is settling for 'second best' - letting something or someone else become more important to you than the Lord. Don't let it happen! The setting of the boundaries of the land of Canaan (34:1-29) is a reminder that there are boundaries in the Christian life, boundaries set by God Himself, the boundaries of Holy Scripture. When we move beyond the boundaries of God's holy Word, we move outside the sphere of God's blessing. Live in the will of God - within the boundaries set by His Word.
27th October: Luke 22:1-38
Jesus' enemies were 'religious' men but they were not God's men (2). Behind the scenes, there was the activity of 'Satan' (3). He 'disguises himself as an angel of light' - Judas Iscariot was 'one of the twelve'! (3; 2 Corinthians 11:14). In reality, Satan is 'a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour' (1 Peter 5:8). Jesus was in complete control of the situation. He allowed Satan to carry out the plot which would lead to his own defeat - at the Cross. As the whole situation gets darker, never forget the purpose of Christ's death (19-20). Jesus was suffering - the pain inflicted by His enemies (2) and the agony brought on by his 'friends' (21,31-34). His suffering was for us: 'Christ our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed for us' (7; 1 Corinthians 5:7). In His suffering is our salvation.
28th October: Luke 22: 39-71
Jesus was 'greatly distressed... troubled... very sorrowful... ' (Mark 14:33-34). 'Nevertheless, in obedience to His Father's will, He chose the way of the Cross (42; John 10:17-18). Satan - 'the power of darkness' - would have his 'hour', but Jesus was to be 'seated at the right hand of the power of God' (53,69). Jesus suffered much persecution (63-71). He endured it 'for the joy that was set before Him', the joy of 'bringing many son to glory' (Hebrews 12:2; 2:10). The way of the Cross is never easy. It involves death to self (2 Corinthians 4:10-12). Do not 'sleep'. Pray (45-46). Don't 'follow at a distance' and deny your Lord (54, 57-58, 60). Keep close to Jesus. Let the 'rivers of living water flow' (John 7:37-39; Acts 1:8). When you sin, let His 'Word' lead you to repentance (61-62; Psalm 119:11).
29th October: Numbers 35:1-36:13
Cities of refuge were provided for those who had killed someone accidentally. This is a good illustration of fleeing to Christ for refuge. He is our 'strong tower'. We 'run' to Him and we are 'safe' (Hebrews 6:18; Proverbs 18:10). God gave Israel a 'land'. They were not to 'defile the land' (34). God has given us a Saviour. We are not to dishonour Him. Christ is our 'inheritance'. Our full enjoyment of Him is still to come (36:2-4, 7-9,12; Ephesians 1:18; Colossians 3:24; 1 Peter 1:4). How can we enjoy our Saviour more fully ? - 'These are the commandments...' (36:13). The names change. The places change. The principle remains the same: Obedience to God. We have been redeemed by God. Let us live in obedience to Him. There is nothing more important than this - if we really want to enjoy His blessing
30th October: Luke 23:1-25
In Jesus' trial, we see unity in evil (12). Politically, Pilate and Herod were at odds with each other. Spiritually, they were united in their opposition to Christ. Jesus was found guilty by neither Pilate nor Herod (13-16). They were Very Important People. Jesus was a threat to them. They held positions of great power. They could not allow Jesus to 'upset the apple cart'. Three times, Pilate declared Jesus' innocence (4,14,22). 'Public opinion' said, 'Crucify Him!' (21). Pilate had a problem. He would be 'crucifying' himself - politically - if he ignored public opinion. Pilate made his choice. Jesus had to go. Jesus went - but He came back again! There is real human drama here, but there is much more than that: There is God! Crucified by men, Raised by God (Acts 2:23-24): This is divine drama, the drama of redemption!
31st October: Psalm 16:1-11
'Thou wilt show me the path of life; in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore' (11). In this earthly life, there are many difficulties. For all of God's people, there is something better still to come. We must look not only at the things which are happening now. We must look also to the glory which is yet to come. Our hope of eternal glory is based on Christ's resurrection. David's words (8-11) are quoted by Peter in connection with 'the resurrection of the Christ' (Acts 2:24-33). 'Christ has been raised from the dead...at His coming those who belong to Christ...will be raised imperishable' (1 Corinthians 15:20-23, 52). 'The Lord is my chosen portion...Therefore my heart is glad' (5,9). Is this your testimony? Choose Christ and be glad.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Strengthening the faith of all the disciples

"Paul ... strengthened  the faith of all the disciples" (Acts 18:23).

Strengthening the faith of all the disciples - This is such an important ministry. We are not to be content with the faith that we have. We are to press on to a stronger faith. What do we mean when we speak about a strong faith? What we mean is this: We're learning to trust in our strong God. Our God is always stronger than our faith. It's not so much our faith that's strong. It's our God who's strong. The strengthening of our faith - This is about a growing awareness of our strong God. He is our strength. Our faith is growing stronger when we're learning to look away from ourselves - we are always weak - to our God - He is always strong.

Wisdom for living

Practical wisdom, wisdom for living  - this is what we have in Proverbs. The teaching of Proverbs is based on the principle: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Proverbs 1:7). This does not mean that God is mentioned frequently. In Proverbs 25 - 27, there is only one mention of God (Proverbs 25:2). The concern is with life on earth, our relationships with our fellow human beings. These relationships are to be lived out from the godly perspective which comes from "the fear of the Lord."

Monday, 22 August 2016

Immanuel - God with us

'Immanuel...God with us' (Matthew 1:23). Think of what this means! Here are some words to help you. 'He walked where I walked, He stood where I stand, He felt what I feel, He understands. He know my frailty, shared my humanity, tempted in every way, yet without sin. God with us, so close to us. God with us, 'Immanuel!'. Let your thoughts move on to the Cross - 'He died in my place that I might live'. Let your heart be filled with worship: 'Immanuel, O Immanuel, Bowed in awe I worship at your feet, and sing Immanuel, God is with us; Sharing my humanness, my shame, feeling my weakness, my pain, taking my punishment, my blame, Immanuel. And now my words cannot explain, all that my heart cannot contain, how great are the glories of Your Name, Immanuel' (Mission Praise, 221,326).

Sunday, 21 August 2016

The Lord saves and keeps.

"The fear of the Lord leads to life" (Proverbs 19:23). God is holy. We come to Him, confessing our sins. He forgives our sins, and leads us into new life. "Wait for the Lord, and He will save you... The Lord is the One who directs a person’s steps” (Proverbs 20:22,24). The Lord saves and keeps: “The victory belongs to the Lord” (Proverbs 21:31). Saving and keeping us, as He leads along the pathway of discipleship, the Lord brings us to our final victory. This is the great triumph, described in the jubilant words of 1 Corinthians 15:58 - “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Saturday, 20 August 2016

"What the Spirit says to the churches"

"What the Spirit says to the churches" (Revelation 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22).
What does the Spirit say to the churches? - He speaks the words of Christ, the risen Lord.
 * We need the Spirit - "Be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18).
 * We need the Scriptures - "Let the word of Christ dwell among you richly" (Colossians 3:16).
To His enemies, Jesus said, "You do not know the Scriptures or the power of God" (Mark 12:24).
He is calling us to know both the Scriptures and the power of God.
A real knowledge of the Scriptures will always be more than head-knowledge. It will also be knowledge of the power of God.
"What the Spirit says to the churches" - It will be more than a knowledge of the power of God. It will also be knowledge of the Scriptures. May God give us much of both - knowledge of the Scriptures and knowledge of the power of God. This is what it means to "walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:16). We will walk with the Lord in the light of His Word, always paying close attention to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who says to us, "The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life" (John 6:63).  

Another “3:16″ to set alongside John 3:16!

John 3:16, Rev 3:16–20
In John 3:16, we read these wonderful words concerning God’s love: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Here’s another “3:16″ – “So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16).
This “3:16″ leads on to some other words about God’s love: “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent” (Revelation 3:19).
Called to repentance by the God of love, we hear the great promise given to us by our Saviour: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).

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 ...