Jesus was tempted. Jesus is victorious. He is “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16) –
and He’s at work in us, bringing us through temptation and into
victory. We don’t live in constant victory. Often, we’re defeated. We
need to learn to listen to God’s Word and be led into the pathway of
victory. It’s a lifelong learning process. There’s never a time when our
‘education’ is complete. Throughout our life, we must keep on coming to
the Lord, confessing our need of His cleansing and power and praying
that He will make us more truly and more fully what He wants us to be –
“Cleanse me from my sin, Lord. Put Thy power within, Lord. Take me as I
am, Lord, and make me all Thine own. Keep me day by day, Lord,
underneath Thy sway, Lord. Make my heart Thy palace, and Thy royal
throne” (Mission Praise, 82).
May God bless each of us as we read His Word and learn to trust the Lord to give you victory over temptation.
“Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin;
Ezekiel 8:3-18 "3 ... In
these visions from God, the Spirit carried me between heaven and earth.
He took me to Jerusalem, to the entrance to the north gate of the inner
courtyard of the temple. That was where an idol that stirs up God’s anger was located. 4 There I saw the glory of Israel’s God as I did in the vision that I saw in the valley.5 God said to me, “Son of man, look toward the north.” So I looked toward the north, and there in the entrance to the north gate beside the altar, I saw the idol that stirs up God’s anger.6 He
asked me, “Son of man, do you see what the people of Israel are doing?
The people of Israel are doing very disgusting things here, things that
will force me to go far away from my holy place. But you will see even
more disgusting things.” ... 9 He said to me, “Go in, and see the wicked, disgusting things that the people of Israel are doing here.” 10 So
I went in and looked. I saw that the walls were covered with drawings
of every kind of crawli…
In Christ, we have the victory: “they have conquered Satan by the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 12:7-12).God is calling us beyond the conflict. He is calling us on to victory.
don’t live in a perfect world. We’re not perfect people. We wish things
could be different – but they’re not! Not yet! We pray, “Your Kingdom
come” – but we’re still waiting for God’s complete answer to this
prayer. The Book of Revelation provides us with a vision of God’s coming
Kingdom. As we await His Kingdom, the words of Habakkuk 2:3 are very
helpful to us: “the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of
the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will
certainly come and will not delay.”
* There is conflict with the world.
commit ourselves to living for Jesus Christ. There are plenty of other
people who don’t want to have anything to do with Him. This is something
we must live with. “We do not lose heart” when we face opposition. We
give thanks that “God’s …
invites us to ‘come’ (6:1,3,5,7) - and look at things through His eyes.
With Him, we look at earth. With Him, we look at heaven. Troubled world,
tremendous worship - These are the things we see when we look through
the eyes of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our world is deeply troubled.
Heaven’s worship is absolutely tremendous. Of all our many ‘troubles’,
the greatest is this: We are sinners, and none of us ‘can stand’ before
‘the face of Him who sits on the throne’. Our earthly ‘troubles’ are
nothing compared with this! There is hope. There is a way of
‘salvation’. We can be saved through ‘the blood of the Lamb’. If,
however, we turn from Him - ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of
the world’ - there will be no hope. We will face ‘the wrath of the Lamb’
(4:16-17; 5:10,14; John 1:29). Will you be saved - or lost?
... Will you ... come and stand before Me in this house, which bears My
Name, and say, We are safe" - safe to do all these detestable things?
Has this house, which bears My Name become a den of robbers to you? But I
have been watching! declares the Lord" (Jeremiah 7:8-11). We
must take care that our love for God's house doesn't become more
important to us than our love for God. Love for God's house won't change
the way we live - if there's no real love for God in our hearts.
not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the Lord,
the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!”... Has this house,
which bears My Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been
watching! declares the Lord" (Jeremiah 7:4,11). Jeremiah
spoke to the people of his own day. He speaks to us as well. Don't let
the place where you worship become more important than it really is.
This is what he says to us. These are not only the words of Jeremiah.
This is the Word of the Lord. What's happening in our hearts when we are
gathered together in the House of the Lord? Are we thinking to
ourselves, "I never miss a church service - not like those who've
stopped coming to church"? What kind of "worship" is this? Lord, take us
to the heart of worship. Give us a worshipping heart.
"Listen to the Lord's Word, all you people of Judah who go through these gates to worship the Lord" (Jeremiah 7:2). We
worship the Lord. We listen to His Word. It's His Word that inspires
our worship. How can we worship the Lord truly if we're bot listening to
His Word attentively. We listen so that we might worship.
The Problem - "if one of you should wander from the truth"
The Returning - "if ... someone should bring him back"
The Blessing - "Whoever turns a sinner away from his error will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins."
Does God have a message of hope for those who have wandered away from Him? - Yes!
He speaks with truth concerning our sin, and He speaks with love concerning His salvation.
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" (Isaiah 55:6-7).
What blessing is given to those who return to the Lord!
There was sin and guilt. Now, there is the forgiveness of sin.
was death. Now, there is life: new life - life with a new sense of
meaning, purpose and direction; eternal life - life with the Lord in the
everlasting glory of His everl…
proclamation of peace with God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ
(Romans 5:1) must be carefully dissociated from a proclamation which
says, "'Peace, peace', when there is no peace" (Jeremiah 6:14; Jeremiah
brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should
bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of
his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins"
It is a great thing to rejoice in God's
salvation. We give thanks for the truth upon which our salvation rests.
As well as rejoicing in God's salvation and standing upon His truth, we
must also speak directly to those who have wandered from the truth,
calling upon them to turn from the error of their ways.
sinner from the error of his way" - we don't hear much of this kind of
talk nowadays. People like to hear the Good News of salvation. They like
to be assured of the truth of God's Word. If, however, our teaching
regarding the Good News of salvation and the truth of God's Word are to
have real depth, we must speak forthrightly about turning "a sinner from
the error of his way."
“You do not have because you do not ask God” (James 4:2) - This is a call to prayer.
you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that
you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3) - This is a
call to seek God's glory.
"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.
"Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you" (Isaiah 60:1). * Let the light of Christ shine. * Let the words of Scripture lead to thoughts of the Saviour. * In Christ, we are called to salvation, sanctification and service. * Be wise – worship the Saviour. Is 60:1-6; Ps 72:1-7,10-14; Eph 3:1-12; Mt 2:1-12
Jesus Christ is not merely a figure from the past. He is “Jesus Christ, risen from the dead” (Hebrews 13:8).
Jesus Christ, the risen Saviour, the living Lord, stands at the centre
of our future. He does not only speak to us from the past. He also
speaks to us from the future. What is He saying to us? How will He
affect our present way of living? Jesus speaks to us from the future. He
calls us on to heaven, but He does not turn us into dreamers who are so
“heavenly-minded” that we’re not learning to serve the Lord right now.
We sing of our heavenly hope: “On that bright and cloudless morning when
the dead in Christ shall rise, and the glory of His resurrection share;
when His chosen ones shall gather to their home beyond the skies, and
the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.” What is to be our present
response to this glorious hope? - “Let us labour for the Master from the
dawn till setting sun. Let us talk of all His wondrous love and care.
Then when all…
Lord, we come to You in weakness. You come to us in power. Our faith is
weak. Your power is great. What is our faith? It is faith in Your power
– the power of Your love. It’s not faith in ourselves. It’s faith in
You. You are our God. We put our trust in You. May we know, in our
hearts, that You are absolutely trustworthy – the God who will never
look back to the past. We say, “That was then. That’s old.” We live in
the present. We say, “This is now. This is new.” We shouldn’t be too
quick to dismiss the past. Jesus Christ belongs to the past. He also
speaks to us in the present. He is preparing us for God’s eternal
We read the Story of Jesus. We rejoice in His love. We
say, “The old, old story – It is ever new. The old, old story – Praise
the Lord! It’s true!” It’s true! That’s why it’s still God’s “new song.”
will always be people who refuse to trust in Jesus Christ as Saviour.
Will they silence us? Will we fail our Lord because we’re afraid of what
people will say about us? Let’s be like Paul. Let’s defy our critics.
Let’s keep on saying, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the
power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).
“While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Is this no longer true just because a lot of people have lost interest in singing the song of salvation?
No! This was Good News in Paul’s day. It’s still Good News for today.
It will always be the Good News of God’s love. It will always be the great reminder of God’s “for ever” love (Psalm 136).
"When people work, their pay is not regarded as a gift but something they have earned" (Romans 4:4). When
God is at work in us, bringing us to faith in His Son, our Saviour,
Jesus Christ, everything is very different. His salvation is His gift to
us. It's not our reward from Him. Grace
gives to us. We receive from grace. Grace brings us to faith. By faith,
we look away from ourselves to the God of grace. We say, "Praise Him, praise Him, alleluia! Praise with us the God of grace." "Jesus,
our Lord, was handed over to death because of our failures and was
brought back to life so that we could receive God’s approval" (Romans 4:25).
often of what Jesus had done for you. He died for you. He rose again
for you. Thank him for dying for you. Thank Him for rising again for
God's way of righteousness begins with this - He is "just" - and leads to this - He "justifies those who have faith in Jesus" (Romans 3:26).
"For our salvation Christ came down from heaven" (Nicene Creed) - This is Good News for sinners.
As we rejoice in the "for our salvation" message of the Gospel, let us never forget the "for His glory" message!
God be the glory, great things He has done! So loved He the world that
He gave us His Son, who yielded His life an atonement for sin, and
opened the life-gate that all may go in. Praise the Lord! ... Give Him the glory!"
"Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:23-24). Here,
we read about our sin and God's salvation. Once we have received God's
salvation, we must not forget about our sin. We have been saved by God's
grace - but we are always sinners. Our sin has been forgiven - but our
sin is still there, trying to get the upper hand, trying to keep us from
"growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18). How
are we to grow in Christ? We rejoice in His gift of the forgiveness of
our sins - but will we grow in Christ by forgetting that we are sinners?
When we come to the Cross of Christ, two things are revealed to us -
our sin and God's salvation. The revelation of our sin does not end when
we receive God's gift of forgiveness. In love, the Lord keeps on
showing us how far we have fallen short o…
"I’m not ashamed of the Good News. It is God’s power to save everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16).
Jesus wasn't ashamed of us. He went to the Cross for us. This is the Good News. Jesus is our Saviour.
we be unashamed of Jesus. May we be glad to speak of Him who died for
us. May our lives speak for Him - as well as our words. May we not bring
shame on His great Name. May we bring glory to His Name - the Name of
I was reading Romans 1:1-7. I was asking the question, "What's this about?" There's one simple answer to this question: "This is all about Jesus!"
the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging
him, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ After Paul had seen the
vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God
had called us to preach the Gospel to them" (Acts 16:9-10).
guidance came through " a man of Macedonia." His guidance came from
"God." We look at the human situation. We ask the Lord, "What do You
want me to do?"
time later Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let us go back and visit the
believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and
see how they are doing.’” (Acts 15:36).
begin with making decisions – but we don’t end there. We must go on
from there to making disciples. Making a decision for Christ is just the
beginning. Growing into a disciple of Christ – this is God’s calling
for the whole of our life’s journey.
we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with
words, unsettling your souls ... Now Judas and Silas, themselves being
prophets also, exhorted and strengthened the brethren with many words
... Paul and Barnabas also remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching
the word of the Lord" (Acts 15:24,32,35).
was a problem. There needed to be a response. Whenever God's people are
being "troubled" and "unsettled" by those who speak their own
"words" rather than the Word of the Lord, what are we to do? We must
pray that God will raise up "prophets" who will preach the Gospel
and teach the Word of God, strengthening the faith of God's people and
leading them into a closer walk with God.
things can happen when ‘earnest prayer’ is ‘made to God by the church’ -
God ‘is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think’ (Acts 12:5-7; Ephesians 3:20). Give all the glory to God.
‘did not give God the glory’. He accepted the praise of the people -
‘This is the voice of a god, not of a man’. Herod’s sudden death - ‘an
angel of the Lord struck him down’ - is a warning (Acts 12:22-23; Proverbs 29:1).
not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows that he
will also reap’. ‘Walk humbly with your God’ (Galatians 6:7; Micah 6:8).
"Look," Stephen said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God" (Acts 7:56).
Immediately after this great vision of his Saviour, Stephen prayed two prayers
- "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" (Acts 7:59);
- "Lord, do not hold this sin against them" (Acts 7:60).
Stephen's death wasn't a sad exit from this earthly world. It was a triumphant entry into God's eternal Kingdom.
Through faith in Christ, we can die triumphantly.
preached Christ with great boldness: ‘There is salvation in no one
else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which
we must be saved’(Acts 4:12).
This boldness came from the Holy
Spirit. Peter was ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’(Acts 4:8). Don’t say,
‘I‘m no Peter’. Peter failed his Lord and had to be restored (Matthew
26:69-75; John 21:15-17). Peter drew great strength from ‘the company of
those who believed’. They ‘gathered together’ for prayer. They ‘were of
one heart and soul’...’(Acts 4:31-33). Why did God deal so severely
with Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11)? This was the start of something
great. God refused to let His work be spoiled! There is a warning for
us: Don’t pretend to be more holy than you really are. God sees what
you’re really like. ‘Search me, O God...’(Psalm 139:23-24). There was
great blessing: ‘More than ever believers were added to the Lord’(Acts
5:14). There was persecution (Acts 5:17-18). This did not hinder the
change of direction is described for us in Acts 2:42 -“They devoted
themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the
breaking of bread and to prayer.”
Christ is preached. We believe
the Gospel. We receive salvation. Life is no longer centred upon
ourselves. It is centred upon Christ.
At the heart of the Gospel, there is the love of God. This is the story
told by Peter on the Day of Pentecost – the story of God’s
love for us. In love, God offers to us the forgiveness of sins and the
gift of the Holy Spirit (v. 38). These blessings are undeserved –
we are “far off” (v. 39). As the message of salvation was
proclaimed, the Spirit of love was powerfully at work, creating faith
– “they were cut to the heart and asked, ‘Brothers,
what shall we do?’” (v. 37). The story of salvation calls
for our response. Can we hear this story of salvation without
responding in faith, without earnestly seeking the blessings promised
to us in Christ? – Sadly, there are people who hear the Gospel
many times but are never gripped by the Gospel. We are only gripped by
the Gospel when we allow the Spirit of God to do His work in us,
drawing us to Jesus Christ. This emphasis on the Spirit is important.
Repentance and faith come to us through the work of the Spirit in us.
This is …
this become true only because a lot of people said that it was true?
Has it become false because many people refuse to believe that it’s
true? No! It’s God’s great miracle. Death has been defeated. There is
hope. Death will not triumph over us. Jesus Christ is Lord.
Don't seek freedom, the way the world defines it - free to do what you
like. That's not freedom. When we live to please ourselves, we show that
our lives are being controlled by Satan. The more self-centred we are,
the more Satan laughs. He says, ' I've got you exactly where I want
you.' Receive freedom from Christ - set free from self-centredness, set
free for a Christ-centred life - "It's no longer I who live but Christ
who lives in me" (Galatians 2:20).
without Christ is very different from life with Christ. He is "the
Light of the world" (John 8:12). When Christ shines His light into our
hearts, the whole of life is so much brighter than it could ever be
without Him. We could compare the world to a jigsaw. We don't see the
complete picture until we have all the pieces in place. For many people,
Christ is "the missing piece." He's not just one small missing piece
that doesn't really matter very much if it's not there. He is the Centre
of everything. Take Him away, and everything else looks very different.
Put Him in His proper place, at the centre of our life, and we begin to
see the complete picture. Everything is centred on Him. When we see the
whole of life in relation to Christ, our whole life starts to make
sense in a way that it doesn't when Christ is taken out of the picture.
Lord, we thank You that Jesus has risen from the dead. Death has been
defeated. Jesus is Lord. As we think of Jesus’ mighty resurrection,
help us to worship You. Fill our hearts with a joyful song of praise.
Help us to share the Good News that Jesus has risen.
God must do for us – He must save : “For God so loved the world that
he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not
perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the
world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17). *
What we must do for God – We must serve: “Then I heard the voice of
the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I
said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8). —– Salvation and service * Salvation leads to service. Those who have been saved by the Lord are to serve Him. * Service arises out of salvation. When we serve the Lord, we must never forget that we have been saved by Him.
the Lord’s Supper, Jesus stands before us as the One who calls for our
decision. There is no automatic guarantee that all who hear the
preaching of God’s Word do, in fact, receive the blessing of which God’s
Word speaks. There is no automatic guarantee that all will receive the
blessing to which these symbols point. Jesus stands before us, saying
to us, “What is your response to Me?”
Lord, Your love is greater than our sin.
You have a great purpose for every one of us – but our sin gets in the way!
You want to make us more like Jesus – but there’s so much of self in us!
You want to lead us in the pathway of victory – but Satan’s always trying to trip us up!
What are we to make of all this? Are we to give up in despair?
No! We must not give up – because You, Lord, never give up on us.
Your love is greater than our sin. You will fulfil Your great purpose in us. You will make us more like Jesus. You will lead us in the pathway of victory.
Our sin shall not triumph over Your love. Satan will be defeated. Your “love has the victory for ever!” (Mission Praise, 86).
Lord, everything seems so hopeless - when we take our eyes off You!
Help us to keep our eyes on You. Fill us with fresh hope.
Sometimes, we can be optimists. Often, we’re pessimists.
You’re always “the God of hope” (Romans 15:13). You’re always saying to us, “There is hope” (Jeremiah 31:17).
Lord, real hope comes from You. It’s more than human optimism. It’s Your gift to us. It’s Your “gift of eternal life” (Romans 6:23).
Lord, real hope comes from You. It’s more than just “hoping for the best.” It’s being lifted up by You, Lord – the God who raised Jesus from the dead (Acts 2::24).
Thank You, Lord, for the hope that You give to us when we stand upon Your great promises: “I will pour out My Spirit … and everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:18,21).
You lift us out of our hopelessness. You give us strength to face the future with confidence – the strength which comes from knowing that You are the God of hope.
Lord, living for You isn’t easy – Satan makes sure of that!
We try to escape his evil clutches – but he’s always there, and he’s up to no good!
Satan is such a determined enemy. Help us to remind him that he’s a defeated enemy.
We’re often tempted – and we feel so weak.
Help us to tell Satan that Jesus is Lord – and we belong to Jesus!
Satan wins some battles with us. He gives us a hard time. Often, he gets the better of us.
Help us to remind him that the final triumph belongs to Jesus.
Beyond our present conflict, there is His final triumph; “This day the noise of battle, the next the victor’s song” (from “Stand up, stand up for Jesus”).
Lord, help us to make good choices.
When we’re at the crossroads of life, we can so easily head off in the wrong direction.
At the crossroads of life, we need Jesus. He is the Way – the true and living Way (John 14:6).
“Without the Way, there is no going. Without the truth, there is no knowing. Without the life, there is no living.”
Help us to choose well. Help us to choose Jesus.
Lord, give us this great testimony: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
Lord, help us to keep on praying this prayer: “May there be less of self and more of Christ in me” (John 3:30).
The concluding message, preached by Joshua, is a call for the people to exalt the Lord. They make a definite and public commitment to the Lord. The Christ-centredness of real commitment to the Lord is summed up in the words of John the Baptist: "He must become greater; I must become less" (John 3:30). We must confess Christ and honour Him - "The One who comes from heaven is above all" (John 3:31). We must listen to what He says to us - "The One whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit" (John 3:34). It will not be easy to live a life of true commitment to Christ. Nevertheless, we have God's promise: "Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you" (Psalm 55:22).
This prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus entered Jerusalem.
Jesus is the King - not just a king.
* What kind of King is He? - “righteous and victorious”, “humble” (Zechariah 9:9)., “to the ends of the earth” (Zechariah 9:10).
* How are we to respond to Him? - “Rejoice greatly... Shout in triumph” (Zechariah 9:9).
Nahum 1:1-2:9 ‘Fulfil your vows’ (1:15). God is calling us to be faithful to Him. We are to be faithful in worship. We are to be faithful in reading His 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’. That 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’. We are to live ‘for the glory of God’ (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). Nahum 2:10-3:19 To those who refuse to live in obedience to Him, God speaks His Word of judgment: ‘I am against you’ (2:13; 3:5). Those who refuse to listen to God’s Word of salvation - ‘…
"This is a revelation from the Lord ..." (Nahum 1:1). What a wonderful start to this prophecy! "The Lord is patient and has great strength" (Nahum 1:3). Where does such knowledge of God come from? It comes from the revelation of God. It is revealed to us. It is the Word that comes to us from the Lord. It is the Word that is given to us by the Lord. "The Lord is good. He is a fortress in the day of trouble" (Nahum 1:7). Do we come to this faith by way of our unaided reason? or Is such faith given to us by the Lord? The way to faith is the way of revelation. "What do you think about the Lord?" (Nahum 1:9). This is a challenging question. True thoughts about the Lord are given to us by the Lord Himself. Fake thoughts come from our own minds. We think that we know God, until God comes to us and shows us that we are far from Him, and we need to be saved by Him. We need to have our minds renewed by Him. "This is what the Lord says&q…
“a sin offering … an atonement … clean” (Leviticus 12:8).
We read the words of the book of Leviticus. We feel like we’re out of our depth. We don’t really know what to make all of this. We read about ” a sin offering.” We read about “an atonement.”We read about being made “clean.” We read all of this, and the light begins to shine. It’s the light of Jesus, our Saviour. We think of Him. We think of His death upon the Cross. We know that He died for us. We know that He loves us – and we rejoice in His love. Do we need to understand all that there is in the book of Leviticus? No! We catch a glimpse of Jesus – and His “sin offering.” Our hearts are filled with joy, as we think of His “atonement.” This a new beginning for us – “the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). It’s a new beginning. We’re set free from our past. We’re set free for God’s future.
What is God’s future? What great plan does He have for us? – This is what He says to us…
"Then He told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any.7 So
he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now
I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found
any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’8 “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it.9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”" (Luke 13:6-9). Looking for fruit on a fig tree - one man was ready to give up after "three years", the other said, "leave it alone for one more year": Don't give up too soon!
Moses, the priests, the people – All of them were to honour the Lord in everything. (i) “Moses did exactly what the Lord commanded him to do” (Numbers 17:11). (ii) The priests were “a gift, given by the Lord, to do whatever work is necessary at the tent of meeting” (Numbers 18:6). (iii) The people were to “contribute the best and holiest parts to the Lord” (“out of all the gifts they had received” (Numbers 18:29). Whoever we are, whatever our place in God’s work, we are to be dedicated to the Lord, committed to doing His will and being faithful in the work He has given to us to do for Him.
In this chapter, we read about the judgment of God upon those who sinned against Him. God is perfectly holy. He calls us to be holy. This is not to be a pretence. It is to be real. Those who came under God’s judgment claimed to be holy (Numbers 16:3). God saw what they were really like. This very challenging. It’s a reminder that we must not take God lightly: “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Alongside this, we should also remember that Christ’s hands were pierced for us. He waits to welcome all who return to Him, fleeing from “the wrath to come.”
God’s work among His people was directed toward the future – “Once you’re settled in the land I’m giving you” – and it was grounded in the past – “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God” (Numbers 15:2,41). Our present obedience draws strength from our past redemption – “It is finished” – and our future hope – It is still to come.
In his leadership of God’s people, Moses faced problems. It was not an easy pathway towards the promised land. There was opposition from Miriam and Aaron (Numbers 12:1). There was an unbelieving report, brought back from the land of Canaan by most of the spies (Numbers 13:31). Alongside these problems, there was the encouragement, which came from Caleb’s words of faith: “Let’s go now and take possession of the land. We should be more than able to conquer it” (Numbers 13:30). By faith, we shall overcome the problems.
The Israelites were travelling towards the promised land. As they travelled, they were to celebrate the Passover (Numbers 9:1-14). In their journey, they were being led by the Lord (Numbers 9:15-23). In the course of their journey, they faced opposition from their enemies, the enemies of the Lord. In this situation, they looked to the Lord for victory: “the Lord your God will remember you and rescue you from your enemies”, “Arise, O Lord! Scatter Your enemies! Make those who hate You, run away from You!” (Numbers 10:9,35). Our journey is from the past (for which we give thanks to God), through the present (in which we look to the Lord for victory), to the future (towards which we are being led by the Lord.) In every part of our journey, we are journeying with God.
God spoke, Israel obeyed (Numbers 1:1,54). This is the constant pattern of the life of faith – hearing and obeying the Word of God. The names of God’s people differ from place to place. The pattern of their life remains the same. This pattern is also emphasized in Numbers 2, which begins with God speaking (Numbers 2:1) and ends with the people obeying (Numbers 2:34). This pattern is repeated in Numbers 3-4, which begin with God’s Word (Numbers 3:1; Numbers 4:1) and end with our obedience (Numbers 3:51; Numbers 4:49). In Numbers, we read so much that is unfamiliar to us. We must learn to look for the Word that comes to us, in our time, as a Word from the Lord who is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Hear and obey. Listen to what God is saying. Do what He has said.
"Trust the Lord with all your heart,and do not rely on your own understanding ... Blessed is the one who finds wisdomand the one who obtains understanding" (Proverbs 3:5, 13).
understanding of what our life really means - this isn't something that
comes from within ourselves. It is given to us by the Lord. The first
thing we must learn to do is this: Trust the Lord. He knows what our
life is all about. When we don't understand what's going on, may we
learn to trust Him.
his commentary on Luke’s Gospel, Leon Morris says that “strange” means
“beyond expectation.” He adds the comment, “Human achievement could not
explain what had happened.”
Humanly speaking, there’s nothing
stranger than Christ’s resurrection. Humanly speaking, we say, “We
didn’t expect this to happen.”
Humanly speaking, the story of
Jesus ends like this – “you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to
death by nailing Him to the Cross” (Acts 2:23).
we may miss the point of -it all when we fail to hear these strange –
“beyond expectation” – words: “But God raised Him from the dead … ”
“Human achievement could not explain what had
happened.” There is, however, another explanation – a “strange”
explanation: “But God … ”
“Beyond expectation”? Yes! It is beyond our human expectation – but it’s not beyond the Lord our God!
beyond Balaam’s donkey, here are some great promises for us today: (i)
“‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show…
Christ was no ordinary man. He was special. He was unique. He is God's
'only Son' (John 3:16). He is God's 'beloved Son' (Matthew 3:17; Luke
9:35). He is not only the greatest Man who ever lived. He is 'greater
than the angels' in heaven. 'All God's angels' are called to 'worship
Him'. 'Truly this Man was the Son of God' - In these words of faith, we
hear an echo of God's Word concerning His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ -
'You are My Son; today I have become Your Father...I will be His Father,
and He will be My Son...Your throne, O God, will last for ever and
ever...Sit at my right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for
your feet' (Hebrews 1:1-14). 'Truly this Man was the Son of God' - Let
these words be your confession of faith in Christ.
purpose was moving on. He had begun with Israel. Their deliverance
from bondage in Egypt was a mighty demonstration of His saving power.
This was only the beginning. God was moving on to Jesus - "the Saviour
of the world" (John 4:42). In Jesus Christ, crucified for us, God was reaching out, in love, to "the whole world" (1 John 2:2).
The Gospel is not only for the Jews: "It is it is the power of God to
salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the
Greek" (Romans 1:16).
Jesus is calling us, His redeemed people - empowered by the Holy
Spirit - to take His message of salvation to the ends of the earth:
"You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and
you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and
Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
says the Lord of hosts: ‘Let your hands be strong, you who have been
hearing in these days these words by the mouth of the prophets, who
spoke ... '" (Zechariah 8:9).
We hear the Word of the Lord so that we might become strong in the
Lord. God's Word is not to go in one ear and out the other hand. When
that happens, Satan is winning a great victory over us - "When they
hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in
their hearts" (Mark 4:15). When we "hear the Word of God", let us pray that we will "accept it and bear fruit" (Mark 4:20).
There is a sense in which forgiveness means the end of fear - "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). When we are rejoicing in God's salvation, we rejoice in this - "perfectlovecasts out fear" (1 John 4:18). There is another sense in which "the fear of the Lord" (Proverbs 1:7)
continues after we've been forgiven. Filled with with thanksgiving to
God for His free gift of salvation, we seek to glorify the Lord in our
lives. Loving the Lord, who first loved us (1 John 4:19), we pray that He will keep us close to Himself. There will be times when we're looking to the Lord to lead us in His way - "This is the way, walk in it" (Isaiah 30:21). There
will be times when we need to hear the word of warning - This is not
the way. Do not walk in it. "The fear of the Lord" keeps us from
thinking that we're closer to the Lord than we really are. It reminds us
that we must keep o…
God is the God of providence. He is the God of redemption. He provides food - “All of them look to You to give them their food at the right time” (Psalm 104:27). He has provided salvation for His people - “... He brought His people out with joy...” (Psalm 105:42-45). We think of all that the Lord has done for us, and we say, from the heart, “Thanks be to the Lord God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting. Let all the people say, Amen. Hallelujah!” (Psalm 106:48).
This Psalm begins with a tremendous statement of faith - “In the Lord I take refuge.” The whole Psalm should be understood in the light of this tremendous statement of faith. * From the vantage-point of faith, the Psalmist is able to overcome the temptation to doubt God (vs. 1-3). - His enemies say to him, “”Flee like a bird to your mountain.” The Psalmist replies, “In the Lord I take refuge.” - The “wicked” are out to get him. The Psalmist looks at them, and says, “In the Lord do I take refuge.” - It seems that “the foundations are being destroyed.” The Psalmist looks to the Lord, and says, “In the Lord I take refuge.” * From the vantage-point of faith, the Psalmist views the whole of life in the light of God. 4 The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne. He observes the sons of men; his eyes examine them. 5 The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates. 6 On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and b…