Tuesday, 29 January 2019

The glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.

“The glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord” (1 Kings 8:11).
The house of the Lord is never to be the chief focus of our attention. The Lord of the house is to be the focus of all that we do when we gather together for worship.
When we look, with admiration, at the grand cathedrals, we may wonder, “Who were they trying to impress when they built this?” When we see two hugely impressive examples of Church architecture located very close to each other, we may wonder, “Is there more than a bit of the ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ thing going on here?”
We may wonder, “What goes on in these places?” Are they places of which it can be said, “The glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord”? or Have they become places that are not really much more than tourist attractions?”
When Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem, He found that life in the Jerusalem Temple was busy with activity, but it was empty – God was not there.
At the end of the book of Ezekiel, there are these simple yet very wonderful words: “The Lord is there” (Ezekiel 48:35).
When we hear these words, we know that this is what really matters: “The Lord is there.”
“The glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord” – What does this mean?
- We are to be “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day” (Revelation 1:10).
- We are to “worship the Lord in Spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).
- We are to “pray in the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:18).
- We are to pray that we will “hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches” (Revelation 2:7).
- We are to pray that our preachers will speak with the authority and power of God: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach the gospel … ” (Luke 4:18).

Building the 'temple' of a godly life


"Concerning this temple which you are building, if you walk in My statutes, execute My judgments, keep all My commandments, and walk in them, then I will perform My Word with you, which I spoke to your father David" (1 Kings 6:12).
Building a temple for God means nothing if it isn't accompanied by building the 'temple' of a godly life.  We must remember that "our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit" (1 Corinthians 6:19). If the place of worship looks great and our lives are a mess, we need to hear what God is saying to us here. He's speaking to us about godly living. How are we to live a godly life? - We must build our life on Jesus Christ - "whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock ... it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock" (Matthew 7:24-25). Whenever we start to attach too much importance to the place where we worship, let us remember the words of Jesus: "In three days I will raise up the temple of my body" and let us build our faith on Jesus Christ, "risen from the dead" (John 2:19-22). He is the Person whom we worship. May He always be more important to us than the place where we worship Him.

You Can Be A Giantkiller - For God.


1 Samuel 17
David faced a giant. We face giants. His giant was called Goliath. Our “Goliaths” are the giants of unbelief and disobedience. We’re told that it doesn’t matter what you believe. We’re told that it doesn’t matter how you live. Like David, we must rise up with faith in the Lord. Like David, we must move forward in obedience to the Lord. Let us challenge today’s “Goliaths” – “I come to you in the Name of the Lord … whom you have defied.”We do not face these “Goliaths” in our own weakness. We face them in the strength of the Lord. Knowing that “the battle is the Lord’s”, we take our stand upon the Word of God: “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment, you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me, says the Lord” (1 Samuel 17:45-47; Isaiah 54:17).

When, Lord, we listen to Your Word ...

2 Kings 21:19-23:3
A book was found – “the book of the law” (2 Kings 21:8). Everything changed. When, Lord, we listen to Your Word and act upon what it says, nothing remains the same. When, Lord, we stop listening to Your Word, we get dragged down into the ways of the world. When this happens, help us to “return to the ancient paths”, to “the good way” – You way, the way of salvation, the way of holiness (Jeremiah 6:16).

Help us to resist Satan – in Your strength.

2 Kings 23:31-24:17
“The king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon all the men of valour … all of them strong and fit for war” (2 Kings 24:16) – A prisoner war is taken out of the battle. What a sad state of affairs it is, Lord,  when Satan sweeps in and takes control of our lives. Help us to resist Satan – in Your strength. You are stronger than Satan. Help us to remind him of this: “Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

Help us, Lord, to hear and heed Your Word of warning.

2 Kings 24:18-25:30
“Finally, in the end, it came to the point that He cast them out of His presence” (2 Kings 24:20). Help us, Lord, to hear and heed Your Word of warning. We thank You, Lord, that You are “patient … not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Help us never to presume upon Your patience – “Shall we go on sinning, so that grace may increase? God forbid!” (Romans 6:1-2).

Singing The Lord's Song

“By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?” (Psalm 137:1-4).
Here on earth, we are always “in a foreign land”. We haven’t yet arrived safely at our heavenly home. In this “foreign” land, we are called to keep on singing the songs of the Lord. We live in an atmosphere of rebellion. Let us keep on praying that God will send revival.
Can depressing situations be turned out? – Our hope is not in ourselves. It is in the Lord. He is “mighty to save” (Isaiah 63:2).

Help us, Lord, never to tire of praising You.

2 Samuel 22:8-51 
Some things are worth repeating! Help us, Lord, never to tire of praising You. We can never praise You enough. You are greater than all of our praise. Help us, in our worship, to lift up our hearts to You. Help us to think of how great You are. Help us to rejoice in the greatness of Your love for us. Help us to remember all that You have done for us. 

Monday, 28 January 2019

Do we give the Lord lip-service? or Do we serve Him with our lives?

"The Lord also called to the man of God. He said, “This is what the Lord says: You rebelled against the words from the Lord’s mouth and didn’t obey the command that the Lord your God gave you ... A lion found him as he travelled on the road and killed him" (1 Kings 13:21, 24).
What we have here is so different from the story of Daniel in the lion's den (Daniel 6). Daniel was so different from this "man of God." This "man of God" didn't  do what God told him to do. Daniel did do what God told him to do. What about us? Do we give the Lord lip-service? or Do we serve Him with our lives?

There Is Only One Power Able To Destroy The Power Of Satan: ‘He Shall Be Broken By The Hand Of God.’

Daniel 7:1-28
There before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven... His Kingdom is one that will never be destroyed’(13-14). These words point us to Christ’s description of His Second Coming, the Coming of His Kingdom: ‘They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory’(Matthew 24:30). In Revelation 1:7, we have another echo of Daniel’s ‘vision’: ‘Look, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him’. ‘Lo! He comes, with clouds descending... Yea, Amen! let all adore Thee, high on Thine eternal throne; Saviour, take the power and glory, claim the Kingdom for Thine own. O come quickly! O come quickly! O come quickly! Alleluia! Come, Lord, come!’(Church Hymnary, 316).

Daniel 8:1-27
Here, we have a ‘vision’ concerning ‘the distant future’, ‘the time of the end’(26,17). Here, we catch a glimpse of Satan, the very powerful enemy of God’s people. Satan’s power is very frightening - ‘His power shall be great, and he shall cause fearful destruction...’. It was the power of Satan which lay behind the ‘stern-faced king’: ‘He will become very strong, but not by his own power’(23-24). Satan’s power will be broken. Satan faces certain defeat- ‘He will be defeated’. How will he be defeated? We will not defeat him - ‘He will not be destroyed by human power’. There is only one Power able to destroy the power of Satan: ‘He shall be broken by the hand of God’. ‘Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’(1 Corinthians 15:57).

Salvation Always Begins With God's Great Love For Us.

Daniel 9:1-27
'O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act!’(19). How do we know God will hear and answer our prayer as we look to Him for salvation? - ‘The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against Him’(9). We come to God with our sin- We are ‘dead in our sins and wickedness’. He comes to us with His grace- ‘By grace you have been saved through faith’. We come to God, deeply conscious of our sin. We know in our hearts that we can do nothing to save ourselves. The way of salvation can never begin with the word, ‘I’. It always begins with God. It begins with His love - ‘His great love for us’: ‘God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our sins’(Ephesians 2:1,4-5,8).

Daniel 10:1-11:13
Daniel came to God in great weakness- ‘I am helpless... My strength is gone...’(16-17). From the Lord, Daniel received great strength- ‘The One who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength... When He spoke to me, I was strengthened...’. Daniel’s strength came from the love of God and the peace of God. God assured Daniel of His love for him. He called Daniel a ‘man greatly beloved’. God spoke His Word of peace to Daniel: ‘Peace be with you’. As God revealed His love and peace to him, Daniel came to realize that there was no need to be afraid. He could ‘be strong’ in the Lord (18-19). When we are weak, let us come to God and receive His strength - ‘His grace is sufficient for us. His strength is made perfect in weakness’(2 Corinthians 12:9).

Jesus Asks Us, ‘Do You Love Me?’ He Waits For Our Reply: ‘I Love You.’

Daniel 3:1-30
‘We want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up’(18). We have no other king but the Lord. He alone is King. He alone is to be worshipped. We are to ‘have no other gods before Him’. We are ‘not to make for ourselves an idol’ which takes the place of the Lord (Exodus 20:3-4). The Lord must come first in our lives. He is to be our ‘first love’- ‘the love of our heart: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart...’(Revelation 2:4; Mark 12:30). Jesus asks us, ‘Do you love me?’. He waits for our reply: ‘I love You’(John 21:15-17). ‘I love the Name of Jesus. King of my heart, He is everything to me’. ‘I love You, O Lord, You alone... my God who shall have all my praise’. (Mission Praise, 285,286).

Daniel 4:1-37
‘His Kingdom is an eternal Kingdom; His dominion endures from generation to generation’(3). The generations rise and fall - ‘You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of the morning... by evening it is dry and withered’; ‘As for man, his days are like grass... the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more’(Psalms 90:5-6; 103-15-16). The Lord is ‘the everlasting God’: ‘From everlasting to everlasting You are God’. His love is an ‘everlasting’ love: ‘From everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him’. The Lord ‘has established His throne in heaven, and His Kingdom rules over all’. He is ‘our dwelling-place throughout all generations’(Isaiah 40:28; Psalms 90:1-2; 103:17,19).

Come Back Home.

“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades.“Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.” (Luke 10:13-16).

When we read these words of Jesus, we may think that they sound very negative. We must not miss the positive message. Things can be turned around. You don't need to wander far away from God. You can come back to Him.You can be blessed by Him. Listen to Jesus. Hear what He's saying to you. There is a word of warning here. There's also a promise of blessing. Will we be 'lifted to the heavens'? - "There's a way back to God From the dark paths of sin; There's a door that is open and you  may go in: At Calvary's cross is where you begin, When you come as a sinner to Jesus" (E H Swinstead).

Count Your Blessings.

"Let Your blessings reach me, O Lord. Save me as You promised" (Psalm 119:41).
We count our blessings. We name them on by one - and it surprises us what the Lord has done for us. None of our many blessings can even begin to compare with the greatest blessing of all - salvation.
When we thank God for His many blessings, may we never forget to thank Him for His greatest blessing - our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Main Course!

“Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).
Here, on earth, we’re still at the ‘starter.’ When we’re in heaven, we’ll move on to the ‘main course.’ We won’t be disappointed!

Quiet trust and loud praise

‘Be still, and know that I am God… Shout to God with loud songs of joy’(Psalm 46:10; Psalm 47:2).
In our worship, there is to be both quiet trust and loud praise.


Thursday, 24 January 2019

God's Love Endures Forever.

"God's love endures forever" (Psalm 107:1).
This is Good News! Often, we feel unloved. We've let the Lord down. We feel like He's given up on us - then we read this great Word from Him.To know that God loves us is the greatest thing we can ever know. His love makes the difference between our life falling apart in guilt and despair and our life going from strength to strength in joy and victory.

Was this the end of the road?

In Mark 14:66-72, we read about Peter denying his Lord three times. Was this the end of the road for Peter? No! In John 21:15-17, we read of Peter declaring his love for Jesus - three times, once for each denial! In Acts 2:41, we read of three thousand people being brought to faith in Christ through Peter's preaching - three thousand people, one thousand for each denial!! There was a great future for Peter - and there's a great future for us. Peter was changed by the love of Jesus - and we can be changed by His love, the greatest love of all.

Is there a way back to God?

In Ezekiel 14, we read about people turning away from the Lord, people turning to idols. Does God turn His back on them? When we read on to verse 11, we find these wonderful words: "Then the people of Israel will no longer stray from me, nor will they defile themselves anymore with all their sins. They will be my people, and I will be their God, declares the Sovereign Lord." This Word from the Lord is very special. He is the God of mercy. He is the God of grace. He loves us. His love is stronger than our sin. When we hear about his love, we are drawn by His love - drawn back to Him, drawn to return to Him and to rejoice in Him again.

The Spirit of the Almighty Lord is with me ...

"The Spirit of the Almighty Lord is with me
    because the Lord has anointed me
        to deliver good news to humble people.
    He has sent me
        to heal those who are brokenhearted,
        to announce that captives will be set free
            and prisoners will be released" (Isaiah 61:1).

These words were spoken by Isaiah. They were spoken by Jesus. May they also be our words.  

"I will strengthen you" (Isaiah 45:5).

We come to the Lord in our weakness. He gives us his strength. His strength is more than enough for us.

Wonderful Grace of Jesus


We are, because of our sin, under the judgment of God. Christ has taken our judgment that we might receive His salvation. In the Lord’s Supper, we have a great reminder of this. Christ drank from the cup of our condemnation that we might drink from the cup of His salvation. This is amazing grace, reaching out to us.

What we do with this grace, which is so freely offered to us in Christ, is a matter of eternal significance. May God, in this generation where there is so much unbelief, bring many people to heed the words of the Prophet Isaiah: “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will freely pardon.” These great words of grace are followed by some words which tell us how amazing this grace is: “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways’, declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:6-9).

In ourselves, convicted of our sin, we feel that there is no hope. As the Spirit works in our hearts, we are able to look to Christ in faith. As we come to Him, we see how wonderful the love of God is. We think, “The Lord could never accept me after what I have done.” Jesus says, “Those who come to Me, I will never turn away” (John 6:37). “Wonderful grace of Jesus, greater than all my sin; How shall my tongue describe it? Where shall my praise begin?”

God’s Word does not return to Him empty. It accomplishes the purpose for which He sent it (Isaiah 55:11).
Often, we feel like God’s Word returns to us empty. It never returns to Him empty. Wherever God’s Word is preached in the power of the Holy Spirit, God is at work. He is doing more than we realize. Some may refuse to listen to the voice of the Spirit – but the Spirit keeps on speaking to them, calling them to return to the Lord and receive His free gift of salvation: “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on them, and to our God, for He will freely pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7). Let us pray that the Word of God will be spoken in the power of the Spirit of God: The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul (Psalm 19:7).

There's one thing that doesn't change. It's the love of God.

Isaiah 54:1-17
‘The Lord’ is not only ‘the Holy One of Israel’. He is ‘the God of the whole earth’ (Isaiah 54:5). The Gospel is for ‘all nations’. The ministry of Christ’s apostles began in ‘Jerusalem’, but it did not end there. The Gospel was to be taken ‘to the ends of the earth’ (Luke 24:46-47; Acts 1:8). Taking the Gospel out from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth was not easy. The apostles faced much opposition. They stood upon God’s promise: ‘No weapon formed against you shall prosper’ (Isaiah 54:17). When we face opposition, we must take our stand on the Word of God: ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’ (Romans 8:31). Even when our words seem to fall on stony ground, we must keep on speaking the Word of God’s love: ‘With everlasting love I will have compassion on you, says the Lord, your Redeemer’ (Isaiah 54:8). 
"The mountains may move, and the hills may shake, but my kindness will never depart from you. My promise of peace will never change,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you" (Isaiah 54:10).
This may change. That may change. The next thing may change. It may seem like everything's changing. We wonder if there' anything that remains the same. There's one thing that doesn't change. It's the love of God. He loved us then. He loves us now. He will love us forever.

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Keeping Our Focus On Christ

1 Corinthians 1:1-2:5
Paul preached the Gospel, ‘not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power’ (17; 2:4). He preached 'Christ crucified' with a determination ‘to know nothing except Jesus Christ crucified’(23; 2:2). This is the message of our salvation - ‘Christ crucified... Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God’ (23-24). All the glory belongs to God. We have no right to steal away any of the glory for ourselves: ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord’ (26-31). Our faith is ‘not based on human wisdom but on God’s power’ (2:5). ‘Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace’ (Mission Praise, 712). Christ is our full salvation. ‘Let us rejoice and be glad’ in Him’ (30; Psalm 118:24).

God Wants To Bless Us. How Much Do We Want To Be Blessed By Him?

Ezra 8:1-36
The return of God’s people to Jerusalem was not simply a geographical return - moving from one place to another. It was a spiritual return. They were returning to the Lord. They were seeking His blessing (21). Without God’s blessing, we are nothing. We may have happy memories of better days, recalling ‘the good old days’. We may look back to times of blessing, remembering how the hand of the Lord was upon us. If this is all we have, we have nothing. We are no longer in the place of blessing. We need to return to the Lord. The times of blessing can come again. God gives us His promise: ‘The hand of our God is for good upon all that seek Him’(22). God wants to bless us. How much do we want to be blessed by Him? If the times of blessing are to return to us, we must ‘return to the Lord’(Isaiah 55:6-13).

Ezra 9:1-10:44
The return of God’s blessing begins with a real confession of sin - ‘our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens’(9:6). If God chooses to bless us, it is not because we deserve to be blessed by Him. It is because He loves us and wants more than anything else to pour out His blessing upon us. Despite all of our sin, God’s Word encourages us to believe that the Lord may yet ‘grant us a little reviving’. Pray that God will ‘grant us some reviving to set up the House of our God’(9:8-9). This was Ezra’s prayer. It was the prayer of ‘a very great assembly of men, women and children’(10:1). If prayer for revival is real, it will be much more than pulpit prayer. There will be much prayer, arising from the hearts of many people: ‘If My people pray... I will heal their land’(2 Chronicles 7:14).

The Saviour Is More Important Than The Preacher.

1 Corinthians 2:6-3:23
We come to know God when ‘the Spirit’ leads us to 'Jesus Christ' (2:10-13; 3:11; John 16:14).
We must not attach too much importance to the preachers - ‘What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants ...’. When we make too much of the servant, we draw attention away from the Saviour.
There is a very important lesson here - ‘Neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth’ (3:5-7).
We are not members of a ‘mutual appreciation society’ - ‘You pat my back, and I’ll pat yours’!
We must learn to point to Jesus, saying, ‘He must increase, but I must decrease’ (John 3:30).
Let ‘Jesus take the highest honour’. Let His Name be ‘the Name high over all’. ‘’Tis all my business... to cry Behold the Lamb!’ (Mission Praise, 378,385) - Let’s say it and mean it!

God ‘Blesses’ Us Through ‘His Word.’ He ‘Blesses’ Us In ‘The Spirit.’

Psalm 147:1-20
‘The Lord builds up Jerusalem. He gathers the exiles of Israel. he heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds’(2-3). This is much more than the building of the city of Jerusalem with bricks and mortar. This is God building up His people in their ‘most holy faith’(Jude 20). This is God blessing His people as they gather together to worship Him. In Christ, we are ‘being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit’(Ephesians 2:22). The Lord draws us to Himself. He brings us into fellowship with His people. He calls us to worship Him: ‘Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving’. He ‘blesses’ us through ‘His Word’. He ‘blesses’ us in ‘the Spirit’: ‘He sends His Word... and the waters flow’(7,12-13,18; John 7:37-39).

Psalms 148:1-150:6
‘Praise the Lord’. Psalms 146 and 147 began and ended with these words. Now, we find the same beginning and ending in each of these three Psalms - ‘Praise the Lord’. Our personal song of praise to God - ‘Praise be to the Lord my Rock... I will sing a new song to You, O God... I will exalt You, my God the King; I will praise Your Name for ever and ever; Every day I will praise You... My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord... I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live’(144:1,9; 145:1-2,21; 146:2) - is just a small part of something so much richer and fuller - ‘Let everything that has breath praise the Lord’(150:6). May these great Psalms of praise inspire us to praise the Lord more truly and more fully.

When Your Head Goes Down, The Lord Will Lift You Up.

Ezra 4:1-5:17
God’s work does not always move forward smoothly. We face determined opposition. Where there is opportunity, there will be opposition (1 Corinthians 16:9). The servants of Satan rise up to oppose the servants of the Lord. This is what happens here. The Lord’s enemies had some success: ‘the work on the House of God in Jerusalem came to a standstill’. This was, however, only a temporary setback. God gave new strength to His servants. He sent His ‘prophets, Haggai and Zechariah’. They brought His Word to the people. Strengthened by their ministry of God’s Word, ‘Zerubbabel... arose and began to rebuild the House of God in Jerusalem’ (4:24-5:2). God’s work was back on track. His people were moving forward - again. When your head goes down, let the Lord come to you. He will lift you up!

Ezra 6:1-7:28
God’s work makes good progress when God’s people receive strength from God’s Word. Haggai and Zechariah were faithful in preaching God’s Word to the people. Their preaching ministry was very important. It was just what the builders needed. It inspired them to keep working. God’s House was rebuilt and God’s people rejoiced (6:14-16). The rebuilding of God’s House was followed by the ministry of God’s servant, Ezra. ‘The hand of the Lord was upon Ezra’(7:6,28). His ministry was blessed by the Lord. In Ezra’s ministry of the Word, there are three vital elements - studying, doing and teaching (7:10). Ezra did not only study and teach God’s Word. He did God’s Word. Obedience lies at the heart of true ministry. This is the kind of ministry that God blesses - an obedient ministry.

Wait On The Lord And Renew Your Strength.

Habakkuk 2:15-3:19
We are to ‘be silent before God. We are to ‘stand in awe’ of Him. In His holy presence, we become deeply conscious of our sin which separates us from Him: ‘Your eyes are too pure to look on evil’. Confessing our sin to God, we pray that ‘in wrath’ He will ‘remember mercy’. We pray that He will ‘renew’ us with His blessing. God answers our prayer. He sends His ‘glory’ into our lives. He fills our hearts with His ‘praise’: ‘I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour. The Lord God is my Strength. He makes my feet like the feet of the deer. He enables me to go on the heights’. ‘Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles...’(2:20; 3:2; 1:13; 3:18-19; Isaiah 40:31).

Keep On Praying. Keep On Believing.

2 Samuel 21:1-22:7
There’s no two ways about it. God’s people were getting it rough. There seemed to be so many problems. Were they to give up hope? - Not a bit of it! Read verse 14 - ‘After that God heeded supplications for the land’. What happened when God heard and answered the prayers of His people? - ‘the plague was averted from Israel’(24:25). Things would have been an awful lot worse, if it was not for the Lord hearing and answering prayer! Keep on praying. Keep on believing that God hears and answers prayer. He is not a tragic victim of circumstances - ‘Poor God. He can do nothing about it all’. Don’t believe that. That’s the lie of the devil. He is still the living God. Things are not out of His control. He is still on the throne. God can, if we will - ‘If my people…’(2 Corinthians 7:14). Pray ‘for the land’! 

Times Of Trouble Can Turn Out To Be Times Of Great Blessing.

2 Corinthians 1:1-2:11
Times of trouble can turn out to be times of great blessing - ‘God… comforts us in all our affliction’(1:3-4). Whether good things or bad things are happening to you, don’t forget this: God loves you. His Word is ‘not Yes and No’- ‘Yes, I love you. No, I don’t love you’. In Christ, His Word is ‘always Yes’(1:19). How do we know that God loves us? - ‘God showed His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us’(Romans 5:8). Whatever may happen to us, nothing can change this great fact: Christ died for us. This is the great fact of God’s love. Life is not easy. There is ‘Satan’, always seeking ‘to gain the advantage over us’(2:11). We do not stand alone in our battle against Satan. God ‘has given us His Spirit in our hearts’. He is the ‘guarantee’ of our final victory (1:22).

2 Corinthians 2:12-3:18
How do we react when things don’t seem to be going very well? We all need the encouragement of God’s Word: ‘Thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumph’(2:14). When everything seems to be going wrong, we need to be reminded of God’s Word: ‘In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us’(Romans 8:37). When we feel so weak, we receive strength ‘from God’. We are strengthened by ‘the Spirit of the living God’(3:5,3). We must learn to look beyond our circumstances to our Saviour. In Him, we see ‘the surpassing glory’. As we look upon ‘the glory of the Lord’, we are ‘changed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory’(3:18). In life’s many hard times, may God help us to see what He is doing in our lives and not only what we think is happening to us.

God Is Always Greater Than Our Inadequate Worship.

2 Samuel 22:8-51
David’s ‘song’ of praise is also found in Psalm 18. Some things are worth repeating! David is praising the Lord. He is giving glory to Him. We must never tire of praising God. We can never praise Him enough. He is always greater than our inadequate worship. He is ‘worthy to be praised’(4). Again and again, we must lift our hearts and voices to Him in praise. Think of the Lord. Think of how great He is. Think of how much He loves you. Think of how much He has done for you. Let your song of praise rise to Him: ‘The Lord lives; and blessed be my Rock, and exalted be my God, the Rock of my salvation’(47; Mission Praise, 306). Some things are worth repeating - when we’re giving all the praise and glory to the Lord! Praising the Lord- We were created for this. We have been redeemed for this.

We think – and we thank.

Psalm 9:1-20
“I will give thanks to You, Lord, with all my heart …My enemies turn back; they stumble and perish before you . The Lord reigns forever … The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble” (Psalm 9:1,3,7,9).
We give thanks to You, Lord. Where does our thanksgiving begin? It begins with thinking. We think – and we thank. We think about what You have done for us. We thank You for what You have done for us.
We thank You, Lord, that we have the victory in Christ. When Satan attacks us, help us to remind him that Jesus is Lord. Help us to tell him, “Jesus is my Saviour – and He’s a lot stronger than you are!” We thank You, Lord, that Satan – our determined enemy – is also our defeated enemy. He’s been defeated by Jesus – and Jesus gives His victory to us! When Satan to us, “I’m stronger than you are”, help us to answer him with Your Word: “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Jesus Christ takes us out of judgment and into salvation.

Unbelievers have ridiculed “fire and brimstone” preaching. We cannot, however, allow their scornful attitude to lead us to dismiss “fire and brimstone” preaching. We dare not say that such preaching belongs to the past. We must note that the Bible preaches “fire and brimstone.” We must ask, “How does the Bible preach “fire and brimstone”?” The fact that the Bible preaches “fire and brimstone” means that this emphasis on divine judgment must not be excluded from our preaching in today’s world. The way that the Bible preaches “fire and brimstone” teaches us that we must always preach with a view to leading men and women to know Jesus Christ as their Saviour. Jesus Christ is the only way out of judgment. Jesus Christ is the only way into salvation. We hear the Gospel. we hear its promise. We hear its warning. The Gospel places us at a cross-roads. Each of us must decide. We must come to Christ. We must trust Him as our Saviour. We must come to Him, believing that He died on the Cross for us. We must come to Him and receive His free gift of the forgivenss of our sins. It is only through faith in Him that we will come to know, for ourselves, the truth of the final words of Psalm 11: “upright men will see His face” (verse 7).

Christ - Our Wisdom

Christ is our Wisdom. We will never be wise unless we build our lives on Him (Matthew 7:24-27).

Thank You, Lord, that You do not keep Your distance from us.

Proverbs 4:1-9
Thank You, Lord, that You do not keep Your distance from us. In Your Son, Jesus, our Saviour, You have come to us. This is more than “From a distance, God is watching us.” From a distance, You have come to us. Help us to come to You. Help us to know that you are near to us.

Lord, our faith is often put to the test.

Proverbs 3:19-35
Lord, our faith is often put to the test. Soon, we become aware that our faith is very weak. When we start to feel that our faith is so weak, help us to remember something – Our God is always strong. With You, as our God, we go from strength to strength. It’s not our own strength. It’s Your strength.

Come To Christ And Find Salvation In Him Alone.

Genesis 7
What was going on outside of the ark is contrasted with the haven of salvation inside the ark. We read that, once all were in the ark, "the Lord closed the door behind them" (v. 16). What was it that made the ark a place of salvation? - The Lord. What is it that makes Jesus Christ the Source of our salvation? - "God has given Him the Name that is above every name, the Name of our salvation" (Philippians 2:9-11; Acts 4:12). This is the spiritual significance of what we read in Genesis concerning the flood: "Salvation is of the Lord"(Jonah 2;9). Christ is the Door. Those who enter through Him will be saved (John 10:9). We must listen to what God says concerning salvation. If we listen to what the world says, we will conclude that all will be saved. If we listen to the Lord, we will come to Christ and find salvation in Him alone. From the ark, we learn of (a) the one way of salvation - The ark had only one door. Jesus is 'the Door' which leads to salvation (John 10:9). (b) the eternal security of salvation - All were safe inside the ark. In Christ, there is eternal security (John 10:28). (c) the absolute necessity of salvation - Outside of the ark, there was certain death. Refusal to come to Christ for salvation leads to judgment: 'How shall we escape ... ?' (Hebrews2:3).

Thank God for encouragers!

Miriam and Aaron complained (Numbers 12:1-2). Caleb and Joshua encouraged (Numbers 13:30; 14:6-9). Thank God for encouragers!

"But You, O Lord, remain forever" (Psalm 102:12).

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.

Lord, we long for a closer walk with You.

Psalm 17:1-15
Lord, we long for a closer walk with You. Sometimes, Lord, we take our eyes off Jesus, our Saviour – and we wander far away from You. Always, You are calling us back to Yourself. In love, You wait for us to return to You. You call us to make a new beginning with You.

Help us, Lord, to thank You for Your good days, and to trust You in our bad days.

Job 29:1-30:31
When, Lord, we start wondering, ‘Why are these bad things happening to us?’, help us to start thin king something else: “Why have You blessed us with so many good things?” (Job 30:27,31; Job 29:4-5). Help us, Lord, to thank You for Your good days, and to trust You in our bad days.

Create in us, Lord, a deeper longing to become more like Jesus, our Saviour – and help us to give all the glory to You

Job 31:1-40
“Job … was blameless and upright, one who feared God, and turned away from evil” (Job 1:1). Again and again, Lord, we fall far short of this ideal (Romans 3:23). How can our sins be forgiven? How can our guilt be removed? We thank You that “the blood of Jesus, Your Son, cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). This is more than having our sins forgiven. You, Lord, are leading us n the paths of righteousness. Create in us a deeper longing to become more like Jesus, our Saviour – and help us to give all the glory to You (Psalm 23:3; Psalm 51:10).

Lord, help us to look beyond our problems. Help us to look to You.

Psalms 70:1-71:24
“May all, who seek You, rejoice and be glad in You! May those who love your salvation continually say, ‘God is great!’” (Psalm 70:4). When, Lord, we’re going through “many terrible troubles”, help us to look beyond our problems, to look to You, to know that You are our “rock of refuge” and our “strong fortress” (Psalm 71:3, and to say, from our hearts, “You have done great things, O God … You will revive us again” (Psalm 71:19-20).

Lord, You are the God of salvation.

Psalm 68:1-35
Lord, You are “the God of salvation.” You are “our salvation” (Psalm 68:19-20). Your salvation covers our past, present and future.   You have saved us – You have forgiven our sins (Romans 5:1). You are saving us – You are making us the kind of people that You want us to be (Romans 5:3-5). You will save us – You’re leading us on to Your eternal glory (Romans 5:9-10). From beginning to end, salvation is Your work. It is such a great salvation. Help us to rejoice in You – and to give all the glory to You (Psalm 68:13,35).

Come And See ... Come And Hear ...

Psalm 66:1-67:7
“Come and see what God has done …Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what He has done for me” (Psalm 66:5,16). Lord, You invite us to read the story of all that You have done for us. You invite us to let the story of Your salvation become real in our lives. Help us, Lord, to come to You with this prayer – “May God be gracious to us and bless us … ” Help us to receive Your answer – “God has blessed us”, to “be glad and sing for joy,” and to call “all the ends of the earth” to “worship You” (Psalm 67:1,4,6-7).

In all of life – our times of suffering as well as our times of blessing, draw us, Lord, closer to Yourself ...

Job 33:19-34:20
When things are going well, help us to remember to say, “Thank You, Lord.” When things start going badly, help us to remember that You are still with us – and You haven’t stopped loving us. You haven’t left us on our own. You’re there beside us, every step of the way. In all of life – our times of suffering as well as our times of blessing, draw us, Lord, closer to Yourself and give us this powerful testimony; “He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and I shall love to enjoy the light” (Job 33:28-30).

Sometimes, Lord, we face opposition ...

Psalms 54:1-55:23 
Sometimes, Lord, we face opposition from people who are outside of Your Church: “Strangers are attacking me; ruthless men seek my life – men with no regard for God” (Psalm 54:3). Sometimes, the opposition comes from people we know very well: “my close friend, with whom I enjoyed sweet fellowship, as we worshipped together at the House of God” (Psalm 55:13-14). What are we to do? Are we to run away from it all – “I would flee far away … far from the tempest and storm” (Psalm 55:6-8)? Would it not be better to remember this: “God is my Helper” (Psalm 54:4). Help us, Lord, to remember Your promise: “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you.” Help us to say, “I will call upon God, and the Lord will save me” (Psalm 55:16,22).

Lord - may Your love reach us, may Your power change us.

Psalm 51:1-19
“Create in me, a clean heart, O God … Cast me not away from Thy presence … Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation” (Psalm 51:10-12). Lord, these words come to us from thew ancient past. They can become words that change our future – words for making a new beginning with You. We have sinned. We need to be forgiven. May Your love reach us. May Your power change us. May we know the truth and power of Jesus’ gracious and precious promise: “I will never turn away anyone who comes to Me” (John 6:37).

What, Lord, are we to do when things seem to be going from bad to worse?

Psalm 38:1-22
“My guilt  has overwhelmed me. Like a heavy load, it is more than I can bear” (Psalm 38:4). What, Lord, are we to do when things seem to be going from bad to worse? What are we to do when everything seems to be falling apart? When, Lord, we are “completely devastated” and our “heart is in turmoil” (Psalm 38:8), help us to join with the Psalmist in saying, “I wait with hope for You, O Lord” (Psalm 38:15).

Help us, Lord, to rejoice in Your victory.

Psalm 35:1-28
“Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me!” (Psalm 35:1). When, Lord, we feel that we are under pressure from the unbelieving world, help us to remember the words of Jesus: “In the world, you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Help us to rejoice in Your victory (Romans 8:31; 1 Corinthians 15:57). Help us to say, from our hearts, “I will thank Thee … I will praise Thee … all day long” (Psalm 35:18,2,8).

Lord, we rejoice in Your salvation.

Psalm 34:1-22
Lord, we rejoice in Your salvation (Psalm 34:4-6). We say, “I will bless the Lord at all times” (Psalm 34:1). Help us to bring others with us, calling on them to worship You, with joy (Psalm 34:3,8). Help us to share Your Word with them (Psalm 34:11), and to lead them on to spiritual maturity (Psalm 34:14; Hebrews 5:14).

We thank You, Lord, for Jesus Christ – Your Son, our Saviour.

Psalm 2:1-12
We thank You, Lord, for Jesus Christ – Your Son, our Saviour. What a great Saviour He is! When we think of Jesus, may our hearts be filled with true and lasting joy. We search for happiness – but we don’t find it. Why? – Because we look in the wrong place. We look within ourselves. What do we find? – An emptiness which keeps on gnawing away at us, ‘There must be more than this.’ There is. There’s Jesus. He changes our focus. We start looking less at ourselves and more at Him. We see that real happiness – true and lasting joy – doesn’t come from within ourselves. It comes from Jesus – “Hallelujah! I have found Him … Through His blood I now am saved.”

Jesus Christ - Our Crucified Saviour, Our Risen Lord

Psalm 31:1-24
“Into Thy hand, I commit my spirit” (Psalm 31:5). As we read these words, Lord, our thoughts turn to Jesus Christ, crucified for us. In death, He gave Himself for our sins (Luke 23:46). Beyond His “affliction and the anguish of His soul”, there was the “spacious place” of His resurrection – and there was, for us, “eternal salvation” (Psalm 31:7-8; Hebrews 5:7-9). Lord, we look to Jesus, our crucified Saviour, and we say, “Praise be to the Lord, for He showed His wonderful love to us” (Psalm 31:21). We thank You for Jesus, our risen Lord. In Him, we are  “strong and our hearts take courage” (Psalm 31:24).

Lord, we thank You that You answer the sinner’s prayer. Jesus is Your Answer.

Psalm 4:1-8
Lord, we thank You that You answer the sinner’s prayer. Jesus is Your Answer. He is our Saviour. He is the Gospel Answer. He is the Good News that we need to hear. He is the Good News of Your amazing love. He is the Good News of Your saving power. Lord, we thank You for Jesus – our wonderful Saviour.

A New Name

God has given us ‘a new Name’. It is ‘the Name which is above every name’, the Name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ (Isaiah 62:2; Philippians 2:9-11).

Sometimes, Lord, Your "No" means "Not now - later."

1 Chronicles 16:37-17:27 
Sometimes, Lord, Your "No" - "You shall not build Me a House to dwell in" (1 Chronicles 17:1-4) - means "Not now - later" - "one of your sons ... shall build a House for Me" (1 Chronicles 17:11-12). What are we to say about the 'delay'? We call it a delay. You, Lord, give us Your promise - "the Lord will build you a House" (1 Chronicles 17:10). You say to us, "Still the vision awaits its time ... If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay" (Habakkuk 2:3). 

Sometimes, Lord, we feel like we’re in a deep, dark hole.

Psalm 7:1-17
Sometimes, Lord, we feel like we’re in a deep, dark hole. We don’t want to be in this place – but we are! Help us to know that You’re there with us. You’re not there to blame us for getting into this mess. You’re there to assure us that there is hope.

What effect do our words have on other people?

Job 18:1-19:7
“How long will you torment me, and break me in pieces with words?” (Job 19:2). Lord, we read Job’s reply to the harsh words, spoken by Bildad, and we ask, “What about us? What effect do our words have on other people? Lord, You speak to us about our use of words “The tongue is a fire … set on fire by hell …With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, this should not happen!” (James 3:6,9-10). As we think about what You are saying to us, help us to pray that “our conversation will be always full of grace” (Colossians 4:6). Lord, may our words “bring a blessing to those who hear” them (Ephesians 4:29).

Thank You, Lord, for sacrificial love and everlasting life.

Esther 2:19-4:17
"If I perish, I perish" (Esther 4:16). Esther was ready to put her life on the line. We thank You, Lord, that Jesus did lay down His life. He died for us. Now, because He died in our place, we will live forevermore. Thank You, Lord, for sacrificial love and everlasting life.

Our story is a human story. It's more than that. You, Lord, are in our story - even when we don't realize it.

Esther 1:1-2:18
Our story is a human story. It's more than that. You, Lord, are in our story - even when we don't realize it. We find it difficult to put this into words - but we believe it's true. You are there with us, every step of the way.

Where does the song of praise come from? It comes from You, Lord.

Nehemiah 12:31-13:31
“Songs of praise and thanksgiving to God” (Nehemiah 12:46) – Where does the song of praise come from? It comes from You: “God had given them great joy” (Nehemiah 12:43). You look  at the way we are living – and what do You see? “Why is the House of God forsaken?” (Nehemiah 13:11). Does it have to be this way? Is there not a better way? Can we stop forgetting You – and start remembering You? Can we rise above our failure – and be lifted up into Your victory? Help us to keep on believing that You have not abandoned us. You have not turned Your back on us. You still love us. Let Your love come to us – and fill us with Your joy.

Lord, You’re calling us to commit our lives to You.

Nehemiah 10:1-39
Lord, You’re calling us to commit our lives to You. At the heart of this commitment, there must be worship: “We will not neglect the House of our God” (Nehemiah 10:39). Help us to worship You. This is our reason for coming to Your House. We come to worship You. May our worship be more than words. Help us, Lord, to give ourselves to You.

Lord - What a great God You are. Your love is greater than our sin.

Nehemiah 9:6-38
What a great God You are – “You are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Nehemiah 9:17). Your love is greater than our sin. We look at ourselves – and everything seems to be hopeless. We look to You - and everything changes. We see Your grace and Your mercy. Your love fills us with hope.When everything seems to be getting too much for us, we remember that Jesus died for us – and we rejoice: “His blood cleanses us from all sin” (1 Corinthians 15:3; 1 John 1:7).

Thank You, Lord, for giving us our own name - and the Name of Jesus.

1 Chronicles 2:1-55 
Thank You, Lord, for giving us our own name. It makes us feel special - "I'm me. I'm not somebody else." We thank You, even more, for giving us the Name of Jesus. His Name is the Name of our salvation. Among all the many names of people, from all over the world, there's one Name that stands out. It's the Name of Jesus. Why is Jesus so special? It's because He's Your Son - and He's our Saviour.

"Oh that you would bless me" - May this be our heartfelt prayer.

1 Chronicles 3:1-4:23 
"Jabez called upon the God of Israel, 'Oh that You would bless me ...' And God granted his request" (1 Chronicles 4:10). Help us, Lord, when we ask for Your blessing, to pray for your mercy - "Have mercy on me, O God, a sinner" (Luke 18:13). Help us to make Your blessing the most important thing in our life. What's the point of having plenty of friends, if we fall out with You? "Oh that you would bless me" - May this be our heartfelt prayer.

Lord, You're calling us to worship You - to bring to You true "spiritual worship" - the dedication of our lives to You.

1 Chronicles 15:16-16:6 
Lord, You're calling us to worship You - to "raise sounds of joy," to praise You with "loud music," to worship You "continually (1 Chronicles 15:16; 1 Chronicles 16:6). May we bring to You true "spiritual worship" - the dedication of our lives to You (Romans 12:1).

Help us, Lord, to return to You - and to seek Your blessing.

Ezra 8:1-36  
Lord, the return of Your people to Jerusalem was more than a geographical return. It was a spiritual return. Help us to return to You - and to seek Your blessing (Ezra 8:21). Without Your blessing, we are nothing. Help us to hold on to Your promise: "The hand of our God is for good upon all that seek Him" (Ezra 8:22).

Lord, Your work makes good progress when Your people receive strength from Your Word.

Ezra 6:1-7:28 
Lord, Your work makes good progress when Your people receive strength from Your Word. It's Your Word that inspires us to keep on working for You. Your House is rebuilt, and Your people rejoice (Ezra 6:14-16). Help us, Lord, to turn, often - again and again - to Your Word. May Your Word lead us in the pathway of joyful obedience.

Reaching out with the Good News of Jesus Christ

‘Reconciled’ to God through Christ, we have received ‘the ministry of reconciliation.’ Saved by Him, we are to ‘work with Him.’ We are ‘not to accept the grace of God in vain’ by living for ourselves. We are to be ‘ambassadors for Christ.’ We must proclaim the urgent message of salvation - ‘now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation.’ We must call men and women to respond to God’s message of salvation: ‘Be reconciled to God’ (2 Corinthians 5:18-6:2). If we are to be effective ‘ambassadors for Christ’, we must dedicate our lives to Him: ‘Let us cleanse ourselves… and make holiness perfect in the fear of God’(2 Corinthians 7:1). Without this heartfelt commitment to godly living, we cannot really serve the Lord at all. Our wrong lives will drown out our ‘right’ words. We need true lives as well as ‘true’ words.

Joyful, generous and wholehearted giving - Where, Lord, does this kind of giving come from?

1 Chronicles 29:6-30 
Joyful, generous and wholehearted giving (1 Chronicles 29:9) - Where, Lord, does this kind of giving come from? It comes from You, Lord. It comes to us when we're learning to worship You, when we're learning to say, from deep in our hearts, "Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty" (1 Chronicles 29:10). It's this kind of worship that inspires our giving. When we're learning to worship like this, our giving will become a joyful privilege rather than a legalistic burden. Our giving will become thanksgiving - "Our God, we thank You ... Everything comes from You. We give only what has come from Your hands" (1 Chronicles 29:13-14).

May we learn to say, "Not My will, Lord. Your will be done."

1 Chronicles 28:1-29:5 
"It is Solomon your son who shall build My House (1 Chronicles "8:6). Lord, this was the Word that You spoke to Your servant, David. what a Word of hope this was! David had heard the words, "You are not to build a House for My Name" (1 Chronicles 28:3). His heart sank - but You lifted him up again. It wasn't all about David - and it isn't all about us. It's all about You. You do things Your way - not our way. May we learn to say, "Not My will, Lord. Your will be done."

Lord, there are bad things happening to us, things that we wish weren't happening.

2 Samuel 4:1-5:25
Lord, there are bad things happening to us, things that we wish weren't happening. Sometimes, all of this gets us down. We wonder, "Who really cares about us? Is there anybody out there - anybody who's really interested?" We thank You, Lord, that there is an answer to our question. It's not an answer that comes from the human side. It's an answer that comes from above, an answer that comes from You. It's the answer of Your love. You love us in the good times. You love us in the bad times. Thank You, Lord.

Our sin is sad. Our sin is shameful. Can anything be done about our sin?

2 Samuel 3:1-39
Our sin is sad. Our sin is shameful. Can anything be done about our sin? When, Lord, we think about our sin, help us to remember this: You have done something about our sin. Our sin threatens to overwhelm us. we feel like we're going down. We don't have a chance. we can't do anything about it. We can't - but You can! You can - because You have! When Jesus died and rose again, He triumphed over sin. He won the victory for us. That was a long time ago - but it's still the reason we believe that Your triumph can become real in us and through us. What You did then, You can still do now. You raised Jesus from the dead. Give us Your strength to "walk with You in newness of life" (Romans 6:4).

The Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ

“The appearance of His face changed”; “His clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning”; Peter, James and John “saw His glory” – the glory of the Son of God (Luke 9:35). The transfiguration points forward to Christ’s crucifixion: “They spoke about His departure, which He was about to bring to fulfilment at Jerusalem” (Luke 9:31). It also points beyond His crucifixion to the glory of His resurrection – the glory of Christ, risen from the dead; the glory of Christ, seated at the Father’s right hand.

Am I Going To Heaven?

Am I going to heaven? - This is the most important question of all.
Jesus says, "Unless one is born anew, again, from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of God" (John 3:3).
Here, Jesus is speaking about the new birth, the second birth, the heavenly birth.
His words weren't spoken to the publican in the parable of the Pharisee and the publican. They weren't spoken to the woman caught in adultery. They weren't spoken to the thief on the cross. They were spoken to a "Pharisee, a ruler of the Jews" (John 3:1).
Nicodemus said to Jesus, "You are a teacher come from God" (John 3:2), but this didn't take him far enough. He still needed to hear the words, "You must be born again." He needed to be shown his need of the Saviour.
Jesus' statement concerning the new birth is His supreme message to the world. It's a message that runs counter to human pride.
The new birth is a divider of the human race. Either you are born again or you are not born again. Jesus tells us, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6).
Are you born again? If you can answer, "Yes" to this question, you can also answer "Yes" to the question, "Am I going to heaven?"
You may say, "I don't understand." We are not called upon to understand. We are called to believe (John 1:12).
The new birth comes when I believe and submit to His Word: "You must be born again."
The new birth comes when I believe in the love of God (John 3:16). God loves us. In love, He calls us to be born again.
God wants you to go heaven (John 3:17). Accept His way of salvation - faith in Jesus, His Son, faith in Jesus, our Saviour.

The Participation Of God's People

John 1:29-42
"Like a mighty army moves the Church of God" - What a great challenge there is in these words from the well-known hymn, "Onward Christian soldiers."
How are we, in the Church, to move forward into the future? How are we to march forward - with God and for God?
Let's look together at three men - John the Baptist, Andrew and Peter (especially Andrew).
As we look at these three men, we'll also look beyond them to Jesus.
Each of these men say to us, "Keep your eyes on Jesus. We are only servants. Jesus is the Saviour."
John and Peter are two towering giants in the New Testament story.
What do we learn from John the Baptist and the Apostle Peter? We learn about the preaching of God's Word, and we learn about the power of God's Spirit.
John and Peter were great preachers. their preaching brought many people to the saviour. When John and Peter preached, the Spirit of God was doing a mighty work in the hearts of many people.
we need the preaching of God's Word, and we need the power of God's Spirit. there is, however, something else that we need. It is something that must never be overlooked. It is something that we learn from Andrew. We need the participation of God's people.
Andrew is rarely mentioned in the New Testament. he wasn't so well-known as his brother, Peter. Andrew could, very easily, be overlooked. He could, so easily, become the forgotten man.We must not forget Andrew. He was the link in the chain. John had told Andrew about Jesus - "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Andrew told Peter about Jesus - "We have found the Christ" (John 1:41).
When you think of Peter's preaching, bringing 3,000 souls to Christ on the Day of Pentecost, don't forget Andrew. It was Andrew who brought Peter to Jesus.
In today's world, we need people like Andrew. He wasn't like John the Baptist. He wasn't like his brother, Peter. Thousands of people were talking about John's preaching. Thousands of people were talking about Peter's preaching. What about Andrew? Andrew didn't preach to thousands of people, but he did lead his brother, Peter, to Jesus.
 - Andrew heard what John had said.
 - Andrew followed Jesus.
 - The first thing that Andrew did was to find his brother, Peter, and tell him, "We have found the Messiah (Christ)."
 We need the participation of God's people.
You may never preach to great crowds of people, but you can share the love of God with the people you meet. You can tell them that you love Jesus. You can invite them to come to Church. you can invite them to come to the Saviour. You can bring them to Church. You can bring them to Jesus. You can give them a friendly welcome. You can introduce them to the greatest Friend of all - our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
How do we get from the preaching of God's Word to the participation of God's people? - We need the power of God's Spirit. When the Spirit of God is at work among God's people, things start to happen.There is change, real change - people get changed: changed by God. When God is changing us, we become more like Jesus. we want to live for Him. we want to serve Him. We don't hang back. we get involved - worshipping God, doing His will, working for Him, bringing His Word to others.
In the work of the Lord, there is something for every one of us. This is the great lesson that comes to us from Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.
We began with a memorable phrase from an old hymn: "Like a mighty army moves the Church of God." There's a modern hymn that tells us something else about this mighty army. It's something we must never forget - This mighty army is "an army of ordinary people." What an encouraging phrase this is! We must never say, "We're just ordinary people." We may be ordinary people, but we have an extraordinary God.
How does "an army of ordinary people" become "a mighty army"? - The extraordinary God is working in us. He is changing us. The extraordinary God is working through us. He's giving us something to do for Him. You may wonder, "What can I do for God?" The best answer I can give you is this:
"There's a work for Jesus, ready at your hand.
 'Tis a task the Master just for you has planned.
 Haste to do His bidding. Yield Him service true.
 There's a work for Jesus, none but you can do." (WEC Youth Crusade Songbook, 61).
We may be intimidated by people like John the Baptist and the Apostle Peter. thousands of people were brought to Christ through their powerful preaching (Matthew 3:5-6; Acts 2:41).
When we look at Andrew, we see someone who is very ordinary, and we begin to think, "I could do what Andrew did."
What did Andrew do? Is it within the reach of ordinary people? When we look at Andrew, we say, "This is for all of us." Bringing his brother, Peter, to Jesus - Was this the only time Andrew brought people to Jesus? No! It wasn't. It was the first time that he brought someone to Jesus, but it wasn't the last time. On two other occasions, he brought people to Jesus.
 * Do you remember the wee bit who had 5 loaves and 2 fishes? - It was Andrew who brought him to Jesus (John 6:8-9).
 * Do you remember the Greeks who said, "We want to see Jesus"? - It was Andrew who brought them to Jesus (John 12:20-22).
Andrew may not have been preaching to great crowds of people - but he was doing the work that God had given him to do. He was bringing his family, friends and neighbours to Jesus. He was bringing children to Jesus. He was being a friend to strangers. He was introducing them to the greatest Friend of all - Jesus, our Saviour. Bringing people to Jesus - This is something all of us can do.
Leading people to Jesus is not only our great responsibility. It is also our great privilege.
May God help each of us to be more like Andrew. Andrew was filled with the joy of the Lord. It was an overflowing joy. Let this joy fill your heart and ask God to give you opportunities to share His joy with others. Say to God, "Lead me to some soul. Teach me, Lord, just what to say" (WEC Youth Crusade Songbook, 140). 

Listening To Jesus

"Mary ... sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what He said" (Luke 10:39).

What was the difference between Martha and Mary? Was it, "Martha did everything. Mary did nothing"? 
No! There was something that Martha didn't do. She didn't sit at the Lord's feet and listen to what He said. There was something that Mary did do. What Martha didn't do was "the one thing" (Luke 10:42) that Mary did do. "Mary ... sat at the Lord's feet, listening to what He said." 
Sitting at the Lord's feet, listening to what He says to us. Is this a waste of time? That's what some people tell us. It's not what Jesus tells us. 
When Martha criticized Mary - "Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’ (Luke 10:40), Jesus had an answer for her - ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’ (Luke 10:41-42).

Blessing Is In Jesus. Blessing Comes From Him.

“Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!” (Mark 11:9).

Blessing is in Jesus. Blessing comes to us through Him. There's no direct route to God's blessing without going by way of Jesus. He is "the Way, the Truth and the Life." We come to God the Father through Him (John 14:6). When we are deeply aware of our sin, we rejoice in this: There is one God and one Mediator between God and us, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for us all" (1 Timothy 2:5-6). 

Speaking the Word of God in today's world

We have to speak to today's world - but we must make sure that it's God's Word that we speak.
What are we to say to the world?  We must begin with another question: What is God saying to us?
If we are to hear what God is saying to us, we must make time for studying His Word. We can only speak the Word of God to others if we have heard Him speaking to ourselves. If our words are to bring something real and relevant to today's word, they must be an echo of "the living and enduring word of God" (1 Peter 1:23).
In themselves, our words have no power to change the lives of those who hear them. There is, however, a greater Power at work when the Lord's servants proclaim His Word. In Ephesians 6:17, Paul describes "the Word of God" as "the sword of the Spirit." Whenever we are bringing the Word of God to men and women, we must pray for the presence and power of the Spirit . We must remember this: "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). When our preaching is grounded in the the Holy Scriptures, empowered by the Holy Spirit and centred upon our Holy Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, men and women will be set free from the clutches of Satan and will begin to glorify God through His Son, Jesus Christ, who is "our righteousness, holiness and redemption" With Christ as our Saviour, let us join, with Paul, in saying, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:30-31). Let us "preach Christ crucified" (1 Corinthians 1:23), praying that there will be "a demonstration of the Spirit’s power" (1 Corinthians 2:4). This is what today's world needs more than anything else!

How do we know that God loves us?

How do we know that God loves us?
‘Christ died for us’(Romans 5:8). This is the greatest demonstration of God’s love for us. How can we doubt God’s love for us when we think of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, dying on the Cross for us as our Saviour? When we think of God’s love for us, we must remember that He calls us to love Him. We are not to take God’s love for granted – ‘God loves me. I can do what I like’. We are to appreciate God’s love – ‘God loves me. I will love Him’. God loves us. Christ died for us. How can we say, ‘I’ll do what I like’? How can we refuse to be changed by His love? ‘Let us examine our ways and turn back to the Lord. Let us open our hearts to God’ (Lamentations 3:40-41).

“O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.”
‘I will exalt You, O Lord’(Psalm 30:1). God is not exalted because we exalt Him. We exalt Him because He is exalted: ‘He is exalted, for ever exalted, and I will praise His Name’(Church Hymnary, 437). How do we come to the point where we say, ‘I will exalt You, O Lord’? We realize our need of Him – ‘when You hid Your face, I was dismayed’(Psalm 30:7). We look to Him for mercy – ‘To You, O Lord, I called; to the Lord, I cried for mercy’(Psalm 30:8). God hears and answers our prayer – ‘You turned my wailing into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy’(11). God calls us to worship Him – ‘Sing praises to the Lord, O you His saints, and give thanks to His holy Name’(Psalm 30:4). ‘The joy of the Lord’, His ‘unutterable and exalted joy’, gives us ‘strength’(Nehemiah 8:10; 1 Peter 1:8). We worship God: ‘O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever’(Psalm 30:12).

How are we to be ‘cheerful’ in giving ourselves to the Lord (2 Corinthians 9:7)?
How are we to be confident that ‘God is able to provide us with every blessing in abundance’(2 Corinthians 9:8)? Before we ever think of giving ourselves to God, we must look at all He has given to us. We look away from ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ: ‘You know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ…’(2 Corinthians 8:9). We look at Him, and we say, in our hearts, ‘Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!’(2 Corinthians 9:15). Can our giving to Him even begin to compare with His giving to us? We give to Him as those who have first received from Him. In his giving, we see His love. Our giving expresses our love, our response to His love: ‘We love because He first loved us’(1 John 4:19). Rejoice in His love. Thank Him – for ‘every blessing in abundance’!

Receive New Life From The Lord - And Live Your Life For Him.

What's it all about - this Christianity? is it a form of religion or a code of ethics? The words, 'religion' and 'ethics' are well wide of the mark when it comes to describing what it means to be a Christian.
The word, 'life' is the word used by Jesus: "I have come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).
Jesus did not say, "I have come that they might have religion (or ethics)."
Jesus came to give us life - the life of God.
When we have received this life from Him, we come to understand that being a Christian is about a personal relationship with God. It's not just a matter of following a certain code of religious or moral behaviour.
This personal relationship with God is entirely bound up with Jesus Christ. Apart from him, there is no life. There is only the emptiness of life without God, in this world and in the world to come. With Jesus Christ, there is life - a life given by God, a life dependent on God, a life lived for God.
  • (1) A life given by God
What is a Christian? Is it about being kind to others, giving to charities, not committing crimes? A humanist does all of these things. Is it about going to church services? the New Testament says something different: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Galatians 2:20).
Note the contrast between the things which we do and the New Testament teaching that Christianity is Christ .
This contrast is emphasized in the Gospels. The religious leaders of Jesus' day had become so tied up with rules and regulations that they had neglected their relationship with God. Jesus, offering them something better - a life that is to be given to us by God. He told them, in no uncertain terms, that they needed to be "born again."
This is a message that we need to hear today. Like the Pharisees, we tend to complicate the simplicity of the Gospel. We turn it into a complex system of rules. God invites us to come to know Him as our loving Father. Why do we insist on thinking of God as a kind of heavenly policeman, who is constantly trying to catch us out when we do wrong? The idea of God as a kind of heavenly policeman, who's trying to catch us out, needs to be rooted out of our thinking.
There's another idea we need to get rid of - the idea that God is a kind of heavenly skinflint, a tight-fisted character, who's only interested in what he can get out of us. The idea of a god, who is on the make, s the exact opposite of the god and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is a loving God, a giving God - "God so loved the world that He gave His only Son" (John 3:16).
It's often said, "You only get what you pay for." If you approach the Christian Faith from this angle, you will come up with the most complete misunderstanding of the Christian Gospel imaginable.
If God were to give us what we've paid for, there would be nothing, for us, but judgment and condemnation. This is what we deserve from God - nothing more, nothing less: judgment and condemnation. The amazing thing is this: God has, in His Son, paid the price of our sin. this is the Gospel. This is the Good News that comes to us from God. In Jesus Christ, God has taken the punishment for our sin. At the heart of the Christian Faith is the death of Jesus Christ as our substitute. He took my place and died for me. This is what the Christian has come to know. Those who have come to the Cross and accepted Jesus Christ as their Saviour can truly say, "The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).
There is no room, at the Cross of Jesus Christ, for a 'skinflint' god. It is, at the Cross, that we must receive the gift of God, the gift for which we can never even begin to pay, the gift which has been paid for the death of Another - our Lord Jesus Christ. At the Cross, we learn that it is not we who give to God. It's God who gives to us. we learn that we can only receive from God. From Him, we receive the gift of Jesus Christ, our Saviour.
  • (2) A life dependent on God
We must avoid carefully the idea of a god, who is always on the make. We must also take care not to take God for granted. The kind of person, who tries to get as much as he can out of God with the least personal involvement, has misunderstood completely what it means to have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. To have faith in Christ is to "live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20). The Christian life is lived in the light of the death of Jesus Christ, who loved us and gave Himself for us. It doesn't make sense to say, "I believe the Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me", and, then, hold back from giving ourselves to Him, in glad surrender.
The question may be asked, "Can I accept Jesus Christ as my Saviour without submitting to Him as my Lord?" This question is based on reveals on a serious misunderstanding of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are saved by the grace of God. We can do nothing to deserve His grace. We must receive the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ as God's free gift. We must never lose this emphasis. It is the heart of the Christian Gospel. Building on the foundation of God's grace, we must emphasize that Christian commitment is a privilege before it is a responsibility.
Trusting Jesus is not like wearing a lucky charm. It's not just a way of getting on the right side of God, and making sure of a place in heaven. We are called to a life of faith: "Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey."
  • (3) A life lived for God
If the life of trust and obedience is to be real in you and me, we must take great care to avoid two very dangerous misconceptions of the Christian life.
(a) The first is that we become so heavenly-minded that we're no earthly use. This kind of person is very concerned to make sure that he himself is going to heaven, but he shows no real interest in serving the Lord and serving other people here on earth. He needs to understand that real faith is more than booking a place in heaven. We need to be wary of a self-centred desire to get to heaven, which doesn't lead us to serve God and other people here and now. Salvation leads to service.
(b) The second is that we become so earthly-minded that we're no heavenly use. Some people throw everything into their work., their family life and their personal interests. The Christian has a higher priority: serving God and pleasing Him. This doesn't mean that we should all be preachers or missionaries. What it does mean is this: use your gifts and abilities to the full for God. The Bible never separates believing and doing. Faith and work belong together. We are not saved by works, but we are saved for works. When faith is real, it will lead to good works.
Live for God. This is very important. Words mean nothing, if we're not living for the 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 ...