Monday, 30 October 2017

Lip-Service? or Life-Service?

The choices that we make while we are here on earth will decide whether we we will spend eternity with him or apart from Him. This is the message of Matthew 7:13-14. "False prophets ... vicious wolves" will seek to lead us away from the Lord (Matthew 7:15-16). We must pray that the Lord will deliver us from paying lip-service to Him without living our whole life for Him (Matthew 7:21-23). How are we to live for the Lord? - We must hear His Word and obey it (Matthew 7:24). Obedience to God's Word begins with hearing His Word. Hearing God's Word leads to obeying His Word. May God help us to build on Christ, always receiving His Word as the Word that speaks to us with His authority.

Live In The Will Of God - Within The Boundaries Set By His Word.

‘Drive out all the inhabitants of the land’(Numbers 33:52): 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 (Numbers 33:52). It has no place among God’s people. God wants us to ‘possess the land’(Numbers 33:53) - 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 (Numbers 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.

Lord, where have all the years gone?

Lord, where have all the years gone? Five years becomes ten years. Ten years becomes twenty years. Twenty years becomes forty years …. Is there something more than this? - We thank You that You are the eternal God. In all the changing circumstances of our life, help us to remember this: “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27). You are the eternal God. Your love is unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable. This is our encouragement – when everything around us is changing. We are encouraged. Lord, may we also be challenged: How much of our life is bringing glory to You?

Lord, we thank You that You have a place in Your heart for us.

Lord, we thank You that You have a place in Your heart for us. Why? What have we done that You should keep on loving us? Is there something good about us - something that makes us worthy of Your love? Whatever way we look at it - the answer’s always “No.” No! No! No!
There’s no way back to You, Lord, that begins with ourselves. We cannot begin with ourselves - but “Is there another starting-point?”
Lord, there is only one place. We begin with Your love - “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son ... “ (John 3:16). We hear these words, and we ask, “Why, Lord, have You loved us like this?”
From our side, there’s no answer to this question. We can only say, “We’re sinners.” There’s nothing else we can say about ourselves.
What do You, Lord, say to sinners? “God shows His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).


The eternal love of God

"The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8): Before we had sinned, God was planning for our salvation!

"The devil ... was thrown into the lake of fire ... " (Revelation 20:10).

The time will come when God will say to Satan, “Enough! No more!”

"The living God" (Hebrews 12:22)

 * He is the God who is life. He is the God who gives life.
 * He is the eternal God. He gives us eternal life.

Our love for the Lord comes from His love for us.

"And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God" (Philippians 1:9-11).

Our love for the Lord comes from His love for us. His love reaches us. His love changes us. With Jesus as our Saviour, our life changes direction. It's less of self - and more of Him. We're moving towards "the day of Christ." We're not there yet. We've got a long way to go. We find it so difficult to look beyond where we are right now. Jesus is very different from us. He looks right on to the end. He sees as we will be at the time of His Return. Now, we catch only a glimpse of the glory of Christ. Then, we will see Him in the fullness of His glory. What we shall be is still to be fully revealed to us. Saved by grace, promoted to glory - Here-and-now, these are, for us, words of faith. When He returns, we will enter into the full reality of what it means to be saved by grace and promoted to glory.

"Be Still ..."

Mark 4:33-5:20
Parables and miracles: In Jesus' miracles, there's a message for us. We must ask, 'What does this mean for us?' In the miracles - calming the storm (Mark 4:35-41) and driving out demons (Mark 5:1-20), there is the message: "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46;10).
We look beyond the storm of wind and waves. We see the storms of life - and we hear Jesus, saying to us, "Be still" (Mark 4:39). He challenges our fears, and He calls us to have faith in Him (Mark 4:40).
Where do the storms come from? - Satan. He's a determined enemy: "No one was strong enough to subdue him" (Mark 5:4). We need more than positive thinking. We need Jesus - the Saviour. He is strong enough to subdue Satan. Satan is a defeated enemy. We don't put ourselves together again. Jesus does this for us.
Don't keep the Good News to yourself. Tell people "what the Lord has done for you and how He has had mercy on you" (Mark 5:19). Your testimony will be blessed: "They were all amazed" (Mark 5:20).

Prophecy - From Isaiah To Jesus

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Jesus spoke about His death and resurrection (Matthew 16:210. This is prophecy. What we have here is even more remarkable. We read this, and we think that this must have been written after Jesus’ death. This is the work of the Spirit of God. He sees what lies ahead. He describes these events, as if they had already happened. This is more than a description of what was going to happen. It’s an explanation of the meaning of the death of Christ.
Is there a look beyond His death to His resurrection? Yes! “He will see His seed, He will prolong His days, and the will of the Lord will succeed by His hand” (Isaiah 53:10).
When these words were first spoken, people must have wondered, “What does all this mean?” They must have wondered about Jesus, when He started talking about His resurrection - “What is He talking about?”
When Jesus died for us, and then rose from the dead, everything fell into place. This was what Isaiah and Jesus had been speaking about.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Where does worship begin?

Isaiah 55:1-13

“Without money and without cost” (Isaiah 55:1) - “The best things in life are free. Money can’t buy me love” (The Beatles).
We read, in Matthew 26:7, about a woman who anointed Jesus with “very expensive fragrant oil.”
What are we to say about all of this? - It’s not about repaying the Lord for His love for us. It’s about expressing our love for Him. It’s about worship.
Where does worship begin? - “Seek the Lord... He will freely forgive” (Isaiah 55:7).
How does the love of Christ reach us and change us? You feel like you’re lost. The love of Christ says, “You can be found,” This is the message of Jesus’ parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son (Luke 15) - three parables, one message.
It’s not so much about us - our seeking the Lord and finding Him. It’s about the Lord. He seeks us and finds us.
In Matthew 26, we read about a woman who worshipped the Lord, and a man who betrayed Him.
Worship or betrayal? Which will it be?
 * How do we worship the Lord? - We worship Him, when we make Him the top priority in our lives.
 * How do we betray the Lord? - We betray him when we fill our lives with other things, and leave no place for Him.
The woman is to be remembered for the right reason. She worshipped the Lord. Judas Iscariot is remembered for the wrong reason. He betrayed the Lord.
We remember them. We remember Jesus, the Passover Lamb, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

Sing with joy ...

Jeremiah 31:7-14

“Sing with joy” (Jeremiah 31:7,12-13).
This is to be our response to the Gospel. It’s more than a singalong. It’s “praise.” This praise continues after we leave the place of worship.
“Shout” - “I am not ashamed” (Romans 1:16).
“Proclaim” - Make the message known: “for the Good News” (Romans 1:1,5-6).
This for everyone (Jeremiah 31:8,10).
We come as we are - “blind” and “lame” (Jeremiah 31:8). We come to our “Shepherd” (Jeremiah 31:10). He has “ransomed” us. He has “redeemed” us from the “power” of Satan, Our enemy is stronger than we are, but he is not stronger than Jesus - “the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:40.
With Christ in our life, everything changes - “new wine, fresh oil... Their life will be... They will be no longer...” (Jeremiah 31:12). It is “abundant” life, a “satisfied” life (Jeremiah 31:14). We have received new life in Christ - “This is the Lord’s declaration concerning us (Jeremiah 31:14).

The Lord is my Shepherd ...

Psalm 23:1-6

“The Lord is my Shepherd” (Psalm 23:1).
He speaks to us. He calls us to Himself. He leads us on with Himself (John 10:3).
He is all that we need for walking the walk as well as talking the talk.
He works in us through the “oil” of the Holy Spirit and the “table” and “cup” of Christ (Psalm 23:5).
The completion of God’s work in us is beyond this life. It’s more than “as long as I live.” It’s “forever” (Psalm 23:6).

Cain, Abel - And Christ

Genesis 4:1-16
We read about Cain and Abel. We look beyond them to Christ. He offered himself as the perfect sacrifice for sin. He is "the Passover Lamb." He "has been sacrificed for us" (1 Corinthians 5:7). Jesus is "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).
We read here about the parting of the ways. Cain went one way - away from God. Abel went the other way - towards God. When we come to the Cross of Jesus Christ, we must make our choice. Our  life can never be the same again.
Will we be like Cain? - "He went out from the Lord's presence and lived in the land of wandering" (Genesis 4:16). What does God say to those who are wandering away from Him? He says, "Awake, sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you" (Ephesians 5:14).
We read about Abel, and we look beyond him to Christ. Let us walk with Christ on the way of faith and obedience, the way of His salvation, the way of holiness. When we read about Abel's offering being accepted by God, we must remember this - It's Christ who makes the difference. It's "His blood" which "cleanses us from our sins" (1 John 1:7).

The sinner becomes the singer ...

Psalm 40:1-3

The sinner becomes the singer, the servant and the soul winner.
 * “a desolate pit”, “the muddy clay” - This is our sin. We bring our sin to the Saviour.
 * “a new song” - This is our song of salvation. This is the song that our Saviour has given to us.
 * “Many will see...” We do not sing for ourselves. We do not live for ourselves. We live for the Lord. We are to win people for Him.
Before a song can be a song of praise, it must be a song of salvation. We praise God because He has saved us.

Righteousness And Joy

"May Your priests be clothed with Your righteousness; may Your faithful people sing for joy" (Psalm 132:9).
We need "righteousness" and "joy" - not righteousness without joy, not joy without righteousness. What is "righteousness", if there's no "joy"? It's Pharisaism. What is "joy" without "righteousness"? Is it really "the joy of the Lord"? No! "The joy of the Lord" gives us "strength" to live for the Lord (Nehemiah 8:10). "The joy of the Lord" is always more than a nice feeling. The joy of the Lord changes us.

He Has Risen!

"Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love ..." (Psalm 90:14).

Out of the darkness of the night, into the light of the morning - "Very early on the first day of the week ... He has risen!" (Mark 16:4,6). Our new morning comes from Christ's resurrection morning.

Lord, Give Us Your Joy.

"Zion hears about this and rejoices" (Psalm 97:8).
God's Word brings joy. True joy is not something that we can give to ourselves. It must be given to us by the Lord. This joy - the joy of the Lord - gets stronger and stronger as we listen to the Word  of the Lord and receive its message with faith and obedience.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Times change - but our God doesn't change.

Times change - but our God doesn't change. He's unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable - in His great love for us. His love doesn't come and go - sometimes up, sometimes down. His love remains forever. This is Good News for sinners. We have wandered far from Him - but He hasn't stopped loving us. He keeps on loving us. He's calling us to return to Him. He's calling us to make a new beginning with Him. This is love - and it gives us great hope for the future. Without His love, a New Year is just another year - more wandering around in the wilderness without really knowing where we're going. With His love, everything changes. His love changes everything. We move forward into the future with confidence in this: the Lord remains forever - and His love remains forever. Thank You, Lord, for Your great love. We don't deserve to be loved by You - but You keep on loving us. This fills our hearts with gladness - and with much hope for the future into which You are leading us.

God’s faithful love

“God sends His love and faithfulness” (Psalm 57:3).
Whatever may be happening in our lives, let’s remember God’s faithful love. Let's will look beyond everything that's happening to us. Let's catch a glimpse of God’s presence and purpose. : God is there, and He is fulfilling His purpose of “love and faithfulness.” In Jesus Christ, the love and faithfulness of God are seen more clearly than anywhere else. Rejoicing in God’s faithful love, let us say, from our hearts, “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth” (Psalm 57:5).

Atonement For Us - And For God

" ... O God of our salvation, For the glory of Your name ... provide atonement for our sins, For Your name’s sake!" (Psalm 79:9).
Beyond our salvation, there is God's glory. When we think about Christ's atoning sacrifice for sin, we must not think only of the "for us" blessing - the forgiveness of our sins. We must also think of the "for God" character of the atonement which has been provided for us by God. We rejoice in the forgiveness of our sins.  We also rejoice in this: God's holiness is proclaimed in the death of Christ for sinners. We may think first of the blessing that has come to us through the the shedding of Christ's precious blood. Scripture speaks first of the "for God" character of the atonement - God is "just" - before speaking of the "for us" blessing - God is "the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus" (Romans 3:26).

The Vine

“You transplanted a vine from Egypt. You drove out the nations and planted it. You cleared the ground for it, and it took root and filled the land” (Psalm 80:8-9).
When we read here about a “vine”, we should remember that Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). We read here that the vine “filled the land.” Let us pray for our land – “Shine, Jesus, shine. Fill this land with the Father’s glory.”

Real Listening ...

Real Listening, A Real Turning To The Lord And A Real Sense Of His Blessing (Psalm 85:8)
We are to pray for real listening - ‘I will listen to what God the Lord will say’- , a real turning to the Lord - ‘turning to Him in our hearts’- , and a real sense of His blessing - ‘He will speak peace to His people’(Psalm 85:8).

Social concern and spiritual worship

“Blessed is the one who has concern for helpless people … Thank the Lord God of Israel through all eternity” (Psalm 41:1,3).
Social concern and spiritual worship – Both are important. There’s an earthly situation which we cannot turn our back on. There’s an eternal dimension we dare not lose sight of.

Strong In The Lord

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).
Our strength comes from the Lord. In ourselves, we are weak. In Him, we are strong.

Two ways of living

Psalm 1
The first Psalm speaks to us about two ways of living – the Lord’s way and the world’s way. Each of us must choose. When we choose God’s way, His blessing fills our lives. We must not turn away from Him, and lose out on His blessing. May God help us to keep on walking with Him, and to enjoy His blessing on our lives.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Perfect Love Casts Out Fear.

We are not to be afraid of those who oppose God and His Word (Jeremiah 42:11). We are to trust God. We are to stand on the promises that He has given to us in His Word – “I will have compassion on you” (Jeremiah 42:12).

Listening To The Word Of The Lord - And Being Changed By The Word Of The Lord

Jeremiah’s ministry was a call from God to the people – a call to “listen to the Word of the Lord” (Jeremiah 44:24). Listening to what the Lord has to say to us will mean being ready to revise our own ideas. Our thoughts, without the guiding Word from the Lord, will be very different from thoughts which have been shaped by the Word of the Lord.

The Greatest Love Of All - The Love Of God

Love, given by God, is not returned by His people. “When Israel was a child, I loved him” (Hosea 11:1), “The more  I called them, the further they went away” (Hosea 11:2). “I was one who taught the people of Ephraim to walk. I took them by the hand” - This is the love of God, “But they didn’t realize that I had healed them” (Hosea 11:3) - This is the ingratitude of God’s people. “I led them with cords of human kindness, with ropes of love” (Hosea 11:4) - Again, we see the love of God. “They have refused to return to Me” (Hosea 11:5) - Again, we see the people of God, turning away from the God of their salvation. How deep is their rebellion against God - “My people are determined to turn away from Me” (Hosea 11:7). How deep is His continuing love for them - “How can I give you up, Ephraim?” (Hosea 11:8). What a great contrast there is between God and man: “I am God, not a human” (Hosea 11:9). He is so much greater than we are. His love is so much greater than our sin. The Word of God is honest and forthright about our sin - “Ephraim surrounds Me with deceit. Judah rebels against God” (Hosea 11:12) - but is doesn’t end there. It speaks also about the faithfulness of God. This is the great thought with which Hosea 12 ends. Judah’s rebellion is “against the Holy One who is faithful” (Hosea 11:12).
“I spoke to the prophets and gave them many visions. I taught lessons through the prophets ... The Lord used a prophet to bring the people of Israel out of Egypt. He used the prophet to take care of them” (Hosea 12:10,13). The ministry of the prophets was very important. It doesn’t begin with speaking to men. It begins with hearing from God. The question, “What does the Lord have to say to me?” comes before the question, “What will I say to the people?” When we listen to what the Lord is saying to us, we will have “power with God” (Hosea 12:3) - power to speak His Word in a way that will bring glory to Him and people to Him.
“You are against Me, your Helper” (Hosea 13:9). God is our Helper. This is grace. How does He help us? He is our “Saviour” (Hosea 13:4). “You are against Me.” This is ingratitude. It’s not only disobedience of a command. It’s rejection of a love, the greatest love of all, the love of God. If we do not turn to the Lord to save us, we will turn to someone else, someone who will not be able to save us - “Where, now, is your king, the one who is supposed to save you?” (Hosea 13:10). What does God say about others who claim to bring salvation to us? This is what He says: “There is no saviour except Me" (Hosea 13:4). It is the Lord alone who “frees us from the power of the grave” (Hosea 13:14) and “gives us “the opportunity to live again” (Hosea 13;13).
“Return to the Lord your God ... Return to the Lord” (Hosea 14:1-2). Who is the God to whom we return? He is the God who loves us. He is the God who says, “I will love them freely” (Hosea 14:4). God’s love for us is His free gift to us. He does not love us because He has to love us. There is nothing about us that compels God to love us. He is the God of love. He is the God who chooses love. He is the God who chooses us. What wonderful promises of love He gives to us. In Hosea 14:4-5, God says, “I will.” He says this four times. In Hosea 14:5-7, He says, “They will.” He says this nine times. “They will” follows “I will.” The blessings are given to us. They come to us from the Lord. When we realize how much we have been blessed by the Lord, this leads us to make a fuller commitment of our lives to the Lord, turning from our evil ways - “The people of Ephraim will have nothing more to do with idols” (Hosea 14:8) - and turning to the good ways of the Lord - “The Lord’s ways are right. Righteous people live by them” (Hosea 14:9).

God has much more blessing for us.

God is “our Father” (Isaiah 64:8). He says to us, “Here I am” (Isaiah 65:2). He waits, in love, for us to come to Him and receive the blessing He has promised: “Whoever asks for a blessing in the land will be blessed by the God of Truth” (Isaiah 65:16). He sets before us this glorious future: “I will create a new heaven and a new earth” (Isaiah 65:17). The Lord’s blessing is like “an overflowing stream” (Isaiah 66:12). The more we experience His blessing, the more we come to realize that this is just the beginning. God has much more blessing for us. There is no end to His love. His love is eternal. This eternal love is the source of His blessing. This is the basis of our eternal hope - “The new heaven and earth that I am about to make will continue in My presence” (Isaiah 66:22).

Realism And Hope, Suffering And Glory

There’s realism in the ministry of Jeremiah. He prophesies the Babylonian captivity. There is also hope. He looks beyond the Babylonian captivity: “They will be taken to Babylon and stay there.I come for them, declares the Lord. I will take them from there and bring them back to this place” (Jeremiah 27:22). The way we are led may not be easy. The destination will be glorious. When things are going badly, we must never lose sight of the final goal of God’s working in us and through us. Beyond the suffering, there is the glory.

Life's Disasters And God's Love

“Maybe the nation of Judah will hear about all the disasters that I plan to bring on them, and they will turn from their wicked ways. Then I will forgive their wickedness and their sins” (Jeremiah 36:3). Even in all life’s disasters, we must never lose sight of God’s love. He sends disasters. This is not because He hates us. He loves us. Through these disasters, He’s calling us back to Himself. He’s calling us to receive His forgiveness.

"My Word... will accomplish whatever I want and achieve whatever I send it to do."

When God sends out His Word, He sends it with a promise; "My Word... will not come back to Me without results, but it will accomplish whatever I want and achieve whatever I send it to do" (Isaiah 55:11). The Lord is looking out. He's looking beyond those who are already worshipping Him. He says, "I will gather still others besides those I have already gathered” (Isaiah 56:8). When we find, in our hearts, a desire to praise God, where does this spirit of praise come from? God says this, “I’ll create praise on their lips” (Isaiah 57:19).

Monday, 23 October 2017

The joy of God's salvation

In the Lord, we have joy - the joy of His salvation: “I will find joy in the Lord. I will delight in my God. He has dressed me in the clothes of salvation. He has wrapped me in the robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10). This joy of salvation comes to us through our Saviour, Jesus Christ. God has fulfilled His gracious promise: “The Lord has announced to the ends of the earth: Tell My people Zion,Your Saviour is coming” (Isaiah 62:11). In the Lord, we have victory. We rejoice in Him. He gives us the victory. He announces His victory - “It is I, the Lord, I am coming to announce my victory. I am powerful enough to save you” (Isaiah 63:1).

Don't trust 'Egypt'. Trust the Lord.

Isaiah speaks of both God’s judgment (Isaiah 34:2) and His salvation (Isaiah 35:2). What a privilege it is to be called “the redeemed of the Lord” (Isaiah 35:9-10). We're not to "trust Egypt" (Isaiah 36:6) - That's what we've been delivered from. We're to "trust the Lord our God" (Isaiah 36:7) - It's the Lord who has delivered us from "Egypt." The redemption of God - This is the source of true happiness, real joy and lasting gladness.

The Day Of Salvation Will Come!

In Job 8, we have the first speech of Bildad. Its theme is very straightforward. Sin leads to suffering (Job 8:4). Obedience leads to prosperity (Job 8:5-7). This teaching is presented in a heavy-handed way. In Job 8:20, we have an attack on Job’s character: “Certainly, God does not reject a person of integrity or give a helping hand to wicked people.” When this statement is applied to Job, it has the effect of saying to him, “You’re not a person of integrity. You’re a wicked person.” There’s a problem with Bildad’s words. He doesn’t recognize that there is an eternal perspective within which the divine judgment is set. Here, on earth, the wicked may be prospering, but the time of judgment will come. It may not be in this world, but it will come, in God’s final judgment (Revelation 20:11-15). Here, on earth, the righteous may suffer much, but their suffering will not be forever. The day of salvation will come. There will be “a great reward in heaven!” (Matthew 5:10-12). Our suffering is “for a little while now”, but it will not last forever: “Your faith is more precious than gold, and by passing the test, it gives praise, glory and honour to God. This will happen when Jesus Christ appears again” (1 Peter 1:6-7).
In Job 9 - 10, Job speaks. He is in a mood of deep distress. He speaks of the futility of arguing with God (Job 9:3). His situation is very depressing: “I hate my life” (Job 10:1). He is surrounded by deep darkness: “So stop this, and leave me alone. Let me smile a little before I go away to a land of darkness and doom to a dismal land of long shadows and confusion where light is as bright as darkness. I’ll never return” (Job 10:20-22).

Attacked And Accused

With God’s permission, “Satan, the accuser” attacks Job (Job 1:8). The attack is ferocious, May the Name of the Lord be praised! Through all this, Job did not sin or blame God for doing anything wrong” (Job 1:21-22). Satan’s attack on Job is really a challenge to God. The Lord is in control of the situation. Satan can only do what God permits him to do (Job 2:6).
Job’s so-called ‘friends’ were watching the situation. They intended to sympathize with him and comfort him (Job 2:11). When they saw the “great pain” he was in, they did not say anything to him (Job 2:13). They were thinking about what was happening to him, and their thoughts moved from comfort to blame. They started off with the intention of being comforters. They ended up doing the work of accusers.

The Rebuilding Of The Walls

The book of Nehemiah begins with distressing news - “The wall of Jerusalem has been broken down, and its gates have been destroyed by fire” (Nehemiah 1:3). Nehemiah takes this situation to the Lord in prayer (Nehemiah 1:4-11). With the help of God, the work of rebuilding begins. This work was pleasing to the Lord (Nehemiah 2:18). This work would not be easy. There was opposition: They “mocked and ridiculed us, ‘What is this you are doing?’” (Nehemiah 2;19). The opponents would not succeed. Why? - “The God of heaven” would give “success” to His people (Nehemiah 2:20). God’s work is done by many people, working together. Nehemiah 3 gives us a list of all the people who played their part in the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls.
Nehemiah and his fellow-builders face determined opposition from their enemies: “What they are building - if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!” (Nehemiah 4:3). When the enemies “heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. They all plotted together against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it” (Nehemiah 4:7-8). What did God’s people do when they were faced with this opposition? - “We prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat” (Nehemiah 4:10). They were watching out for their enemies - and they were looking to the Lord. Nehemiah urged the workers to keep looking to the Lord: “Remember how great and awe-inspiring the Lord is ... Our God will fight for us!” (Nehemiah 4:14,20). This is what we must do. We must keep our eyes on the Lord. He is the great God. He is a great help to His people in their many times of testing.
Nehemiah works, with the help of God, for the poor of the people (Nehemiah 5:19). The enemies of Nehemiah continued to oppose the work of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. When they came with their criticisms, Nehemiah refused to be distracted. He kept on working (Nehemiah 6:3). Work on the city walls was completed. The critics were silenced - “When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence.” God was glorified - “They realized we had done this work with the help of our God” (Nehemiah 6:19). The situation of God’s people today is still the same as it was in Nehemiah’s day. To rebuild the “walls” of God’s work, we must overcome determined opposition.
Following the list of those who returned to the city of Jerusalem from exile (Nehemiah 7), we see the people of God, hearing the Word of God, read and explained to them (Nehemiah 8:7-8). The preaching of God’s Word took the place within the context of thanksgiving and worship (Nehemiah 8:6). The ministry of the Word of God was grounded in the study of the Word of God (Nehemiah 8:13).
“Stand up and thank the Lord your God” (Nehemiah 9:5). This is a call to worship. We worship God, our Creator: “You alone are the Lord. You made heaven ... You made the earth” (Nehemiah 9:6). The God of Abraham is our God - the faithful God: “You made a promise ... You kept Your promise” (Nehemiah 9:8). Our God is the God of redemption. He’s the God who redeemed His people, Israel, from their bondage in Egypt (Nehemiah 9:9-11). He is the God who has given us “commandments, laws and teachings” (Nehemiah 9:14). He gives us “bread” and “water”, as we stumble through life’s wilderness, on our way to His promised land (Nehemiah 9:15). Our God is great: “You are a forgiving God, One who is compassionate, merciful,patient, and always ready to forgive” (Nehemiah 9:17). He is the God of “endless compassion” (Nehemiah 9:19). He has given us “His good Spirit” to teach us (Nehemiah 9:20). He blesses us, with His “vast supply of good things” (Nehemiah 9:25). “Our God” is “the great, mighty, and awe-inspiring God.” He is the “merciful and compassionate God” (Nehemiah 9:31-32).
The “separation of God’s people from the inhabitants of the land” was “for the sake of God’s teachings” (Nehemiah 10:28). There is an important principle here. We are separated from the world so that we might be separate to God. Everything revolves around this - giving glory to God by giving Him His rightful place in our hearts and lives: “We won’t neglect God’s Temple” (Nehemiah 10:39).
The walls had been rebuilt. Now, they were “dedicated” to God (Nehemiah 12:27). Was a time of great joy (Nehemiah 12:27,43). The people of God sand “songs of praise and thanksgiving to God” (Nehemiah 12:46). As well as singing praise to God, the Lord’s people listened to His Word (Nehemiah 13:1). Sometimes, after happy times among God’s people, there can be a time of decline - “Why is God’s Temple being neglected?” (Nehemiah 13:11). We must not live in the past. Our walk with God must continue. There must be an ongoing fellowship with the Lord. If there is to be a closer walk with God, we must always remember that this is not our own doing. It is the loving kindness of God, reaching out to us: “Remember Me ... My God ... Since You are very kind” (Nehemiah 13:22). His kindness brings blessing into our lives: “Remember me, my God, for my benefit” (Nehemiah 13:31).

The Lord's Mercy Endures Forever ...

Following the return of the Jews to Jerusalem, after their captivity in Babylon and prior to the beginning of the rebuilding of the Temple, there was the resumption of worship at the Temple site (Ezra 3:1-6). Worship - This must always lie at the heart of the life of God’s people. Once the foundation had been laid at the Temple, there was joyful thanksgiving - “They prayed and gave thanks to the Lord ... He is good; His mercy toward Israel endures forever ... Praise the Lord” (Ezra 3:11).
In Ezra 4, we read of opposition to God’s work. This opposition led to a temporary hold in God’s work (Ezra 4:24). Inspired by the ministry of Haggai and Zechariah, Zerubbabel resumed the rebuilding of God’s Temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 5:1-2). The work was completed (Ezra 6:15) and dedicated to the Lord (Ezra 6:16). At the heart of the dedication of the Temple, there was worship - joyful worship (Ezra 6:19-22).
Ezra was a man of God. His life was grounded in the word of God. He brought the Word of God to others, teaching them to build their lives on the word of God. In Ezra 8:22, we have a Old Testament statement of the spiritual principle, taught by Paul in Romans 8:28 - “Our God works things out for the good of everyone who dedicates his life to serving him.”
In His Word, God calls us to make a total commitment of our lives to Him. Where we have failed him, we must make confession of our sin and pray that He will give us the strength to live a life that is pleasing to Him and brings glory to Him.

Blessed In The Past - What About The Future?

Numbers 20:1-29 
Neither Moses nor Aaron were to enter the land, promised by God to His people (Numbers 20:12,24). This is a reminder to us that we dare not presume on God’s continued blessing. The fact that He has blessed us in the past does not mean that He will always bless us. We can lose out on His blessing. The blessing of God is to be treasured. It is not be taken lightly. It must never be taken for granted.

Read The Old Testament - And Look On, From There, To Jesus.

Numbers 19:1-22
When we read about being made clean, we must look beyond what we read in the Old Testament. From the sprinkling of the blood of “a red cow that is perfect, with no defects”, we must look on to the New Testament, where we read of “the blood of Jesus Christ which cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Jesus Christ is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

The Lord saves me.

“I call on God, and the Lord saves me” (Psalm 55:16) - This is the Psalmist’s testimony. It is followed by his call to others to turn to the Lord and discover how good He is: “Turn your burdens over to the Lord and He will take care of you” (Psalm 55:22). “I praise the Word of God, I trust God, I am not afraid. What can mere flesh and blood (mortals) do to me?” (Psalm 56:4,10-11). “My heart is confident, O God, I want to sing and make music... I want to give thanks to You among the people, O Lord, I want to make music to praise You among the nations because Your mercy is as high as the heavens. Our truth reaches the skies. May You be honoured above the heavens, O God. Let Your glory extend over the whole earth” (Psalm 57:7,9-11). As we praise God, He leads us forward in His triumph.

God's Perfect Plan

Numbers 35:1-36:13
The whole of life is to be arranged according to God’s perfect plan. This principle underlies all the detailed instructions given here. We see it, first, in Numbers 35:1 – “The Lord spoke to Moses … ” It is repeated in Numbers 35:9 – “The Lord said to Moses … ” It is emphasized in Numbers 36:5-6 – “So Moses gave the Israelites a command from the Lord … This is what the Lord commands … ” It is seen in the response of “Zelophedad’s daugthers” who “did as the Lord commanded Moses.” It is found in the concluding verse of the book of Numbers: “These are the commands and rules the Lord gave the Israelites … ” (Numbers 36:13). Life may be very different today. Still, the spiritual principle remains the same: Our life is to be lived according to the teaching of God’s Word.

Speaking The Word Of Truth, Walking In The Way Of Truth

Numbers 22:1-24:25
The story of Balaam concerns the challenge of speaking God’s Word in truth. God is the God of truth (Numbers 23:19). His messengers must speak the Word of truth.. Before we can speak God’s Word in truth, there needs to be a confession of sin, an acknowledgment of how far we have deviated from the way of truth. This confession of sin is to be accompanied by a fresh commitment to walking in the way of truth (Numbers 22:34). Speaking the Word of truth involves looking beyond ourselves to the One who is the Word of truth – our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ (Numbers 24:17).

The Holy Spirit Comes From God - And Changes Us.

(i) The Holy Spirit comes from God.

- The new birth (John 3:3, 7).

- “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Luke 3:16).

(ii) The Holy Spirit changes us.
– “Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-4).
– “When the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you shall be My witnesses” (Acts 1:8).

Lord, Your love makes us feel very special.

Lord, Your love makes us feel very special.
There are plenty of times when we’re down in the dumps – and we need some encouragement from You.
When we feel like this, help us to remember that Your love makes us very special: “I’m special because God loves me.”
How do we know that You love us? – You gave Your Son, Jesus, to be our Saviour.
What are we to say when we think of Jesus – crucified for us?
“Thank You Jesus, thank You Lord, for loving me so much.”
We look at ourselves – and we know that we’re nothing special.
We look at Jesus. We think of His love for us – and something happens. We begin to feel that we are very special – to You!
“Help me feel Your love right now, to know deep in my heart that I’m Your special friend” (Graham Kendrick).

Lord, we need Your strength.

Lord, we need Your strength.
Without Your strength, we fall. Without Your strength, we fail.
With Your strength, everything changes.
You lead us from our defeat into Your victory.
Help us, Lord, to trust You.
In ourselves, we are weak. In You, we are strong.
Where does this strength come from? – It comes from this: Jesus has risen – and He lives in us!
“Resurrect in our lives faith, hope, and love, as surely as You raised Jesus Christ from the grave” (Common Order, Prayer for Easter).

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Lord, help us to get our priorities right.

Genesis 1:1-3
Lord, help us to get our priorities right - Your priorities. May our lives be more centred on You - less centred on ourselves. Help us to listen for Your Word - not to jump straight in with our own words. Help us to open our hearts to Your Holy Spirit. May He move among us - in power, in love, in holiness, in victory. Transform our life, O Lord - May we live as a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). May we know the great blessing of knowing that Jesus, our Saviour, is always "God with us" (Matthew 1:23).

Saturday, 21 October 2017

The Holy City ...

"The Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God - It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel" (Revelation 21:10-11).

At the heart of "the Holy City", there is Jesus Christ. In Him, we see the bright shining light of God's love. He is the precious cornerstone upon which our eternal salvation is built (1 Peter 2:4-7).
As we read about "the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God" (Revelation 21:10), our thoughts turn to our Saviour, Jesus Christ. It's only because of what He has done for us that we will be welcomed into the glory of God's saving and eternal presence of love. Jesus is "the cornerstone" of our faith (1 Peter 2:6). He is the foundation upon which our salvation is built. Without Him, there is no salvation. With Him, there is full salvation. What light there is shining into our hearts - from the wonderful love of our Saviour. It's the light that comes from the glory of God. It has touched our life here on earth. It will fill our life with Him - when we go to be with Him in "the Holy City."

Monday, 9 October 2017

Praying Through God’s Word: Nahum

NAHUM

1:1-2:9
‘Fulfil your vows’ (1:15). Lord, You’re calling us to be faithful to Him. We are to be faithful in worship. We are to be faithful in reading Your Word. We are to be faithful in prayer. We are to be faithful in giving. We are to be faithful in witness. Our faith is to be real. Our faith is to make a difference. It’s to change the way we live. It’s not to be a case of ‘faith without works’. Show us , Lord, that this kind of ‘faith’ is ‘dead’ (James 2:17). Our whole life is to be a life of faith. It is to be a life of ‘love.’ You’re calling us to live ‘for Your glory’ (Romans 14:23; 1 Corinthians 16:14; 10:31). ‘Fill Thou our life, O Lord our God, in every part with praise… Not for the lip of praise alone, nor even the praising heart we ask, but for a life made up of praise in every part’ (Church Hymnary, 457).
2:10-3:19
To those who refuse to live in obedience to You, Lord, You speak Your Word of judgment: ‘I am against you’ (Nahum 2:13; Nahum 3:5). To those who refuse to listen to Your Word of salvation – ‘The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him’, You speak a very different Word. It will be Your Word of judgment. Your Word will come like ‘an overwhelming flood’: ‘He will pursue His foes into darkness’ (Nahum 1:7-8). We thank You, Lord, that none of us needs to face this ‘overwhelming flood’ and hear the words, ‘I am against you.’ Each of us can come to Christ and hear His Word of ‘overwhelming victory’: ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?… Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 8:31,37-39). Thank You, Lord.

Keep On Worshipping The Lord.

" And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good works, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the ...