Thursday, 28 February 2019

"I will remove their stubborn hearts and give them obedient hearts" (Ezekiel 11:19).

This is the miracle of the new birth . We cannot do this for ourselves. Only God can do this for us.

Temptation And Victory

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;
each victory will help you some other to win;
fight manfully onward, dark passions subdue,
look ever to Jesus, he’ll carry you through.
Ask the Savior to help you,
comfort, strengthen and keep you;
He is willing to aid you,
He will carry you through.
Shun evil companions, bad language disdain,
God’s Name hold in reverence, nor take it in vain;
be thoughtful and earnest, kindhearted and true,
look ever to Jesus, He’ll carry you through.
To him that o’ercometh, God giveth a crown;
Through faith we shall conquer, though often cast down;
He Who is our Savior our strength will renew;
Look ever to Jesus, He’ll carry you through."

Shining - Out from God's Word, into our hearts

"The brightness of the Lord's glory ... the sound of the Almighty God when He speaks" (Ezekiel 10:4-5)
The glory of the Lord has shone in our hearts. It is the glory that shines out from His Word.

The eternal love of God

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

Idolatry: What has taken the place of the Lord in our lives?

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. There I saw the glory of Israel’s God as I did in the vision that I saw in the valley.
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.
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.” ...
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 crawling creature, every kind of disgusting animal, and all the idols in the nation of Israel. 11 In front of these drawings stood 70 of Israel’s leaders. Jaazaniah, son of Shaphan, was standing with the leaders. Each of them was holding an incense burner in his hand, and a cloud of incense went up.
12God asked me, “Son of man, do you see what the leaders of the nation of Israel are doing in secret? Each of them is in the room where his god is, and each one of them is thinking, ‘ The Lord has abandoned this land.’13 Then he said to me, “You will see even more disgusting things that they are doing.”
14 He brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the Lord’s temple. Women were sitting there and crying for the god Tammuz. 15 He asked me, “Son of man, do you see this? You will see even more disgusting things than these.”
16 Then he brought me into the inner courtyard of the Lord’s temple. There at the entrance to the Lord’s temple, between the entrance and the altar, were about 25 men who had their backs turned to the Lord’s temple. They were facing east and worshiping the rising sun. 17 He asked me, “Son of man, do you see this? Isn’t it bad enough that the people of Judah have done these disgusting things that you have seen here? Yet, they also fill the land with violence and continue to provoke me even more. Look how they insult me in the worst possible way. 18 So I will take action because I’m angry, and I won’t have compassion for them or feel sorry for them. Even if they shout in my ears, I won’t listen to them.”
Disgusting! What we have here is idolatry - false gods taking the place of the true God, dead idols taking the place of the living God. Is this just ancient history? What about today? What has taken the place of the Lord in our lives? Idolatry was a big problem - "70 of Israel's leaders" (Ezekiel 8:11)! These men were "the leaders of the nation of Israel" (Ezekiel 8:12). We may say, "They should have known better." They did know better! Why were they were worshipping false gods "in secret" (Ezekiel 8:12)? - They knew that they were doing wrong. They were trying to hide from the Lord. They were saying to themselves - "The Lord doesn’t see me" (Ezekiel 8:12). They were telling themselves, "The Lord has abandoned this land" (Ezekiel 8:12). They were thinking, "Now, we can do whatever we like." The situation was going from bad to worse - "25 men ... had the backs turned to the Lord's temple. They were facing east and worshipping the rising sun" (Ezekiel 8:16). Going from bad to worse - Is this just the story of ancient Israel? No! It's more than that. It's the story of today's world. Are the terrifying words of Ezekiel 8:17-18 only for the idolaters of Ezekiel's day? We would be very foolish if we imagined that we could do whatever we like and still expect God to look on us with favour. This is a solemn word of judgment. We must, however, ask, "Does God have anything else to say to us?"  In Ezekiel 8:3, we read about the place "where an idol that stirs up God’s anger was located." In Ezekiel 8:4, we read something else - "There I saw the glory of Israel’s God as I did in the vision that I saw in the valley." In our day, surrounded by so much that brings dishonour to the Name of the Lord, may we, like Ezekiel, catch a glimpse of the glory of God. May God help us to keep looking to Him while many others are turning their backs on Him. May He reveal His glory to us. May we be "changed into His image with ever-increasing glory" (2 Corinthians 3:18).

In Christ, we have the victory ...

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.
We 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.
We 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 mercy” has reached us, bringing to us the forgiveness of all our sins and giving to us the great privilege of being Christ’s witnesses in this sinful world (2 Corinthians 4:1).
* There is conflict within ourselves.
Though we have committed ourselves to Christ, we are deeply conscious that we do not serve Him as well as we should. Our problems do not always come from the world around us. Often, we create problems for ourselves. There is too much of self and not enough of Christ in our lives. He has given Himself for us. How much have we given ourselves to Him?
* God is calling us beyond the conflict.
“Just as I am, though tossed about, with many a conflict, many a doubt, fightings within, and fears without, O Lamb of God, I come.”
The conflict, the doubt, the fightings, the fears – these things don’t just disappear. Satan makes sure of that! As we look to the Lord, we receive His strength. He enables to say from the heart, “I will praise You, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High” (Psalm 9:1-2). These words take us to a ‘high’ place – but we are quickly reminded that there is also a ‘low’ place. Psalm 9:3 begins with the ominous words, “My enemies”!
Beyond those whom the Psalmist describes as “my enemies, there is another enemy – Satan! As we read Psalm 9:3-6, we must catch a glimpse of the final defeat of Satan. Here on earth, we face conflict. Our life in Christ isn’t an easy life. Satan sees to that!
Ephesians 6:12 tells us that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against … the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” This is something we must never forget.
Revelation 12:9-10 tells us while Satan may be very powerful, he is less powerful than Christ. The victory does not belong with Satan. It belongs with Christ.
“The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.”
How does this victory become ours? – “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death” (Revelation 12:11).
The victory is not easily won. It was very costly for Christ. He went to the Cross to win for us the victory over Satan. Revelation 12:12 reminds us that it will be very costly for us – “the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.”
Whatever the devil may be doing – in the world and in his attacks upon ourselves, may us learn to say from the heart, “I will praise You, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High” (Psalm 9:1-2).

"The Spirit lifted me" (Ezekiel 3:12,14).

The Spirit speaks God's Word to us, and He gives God's power to us. Through God's Word, the Spirit reaches us. Through God's power, the Spirit changes us.

Troubled World, Tremendous Worship

Christ 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?

Love For God Is More Than Love For His House.

" ... 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.

Do not trust in deceptive words ...

"Do 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 ...

"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, the Returning, the Blessing (James 5:19-20)

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.
"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" (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.
There 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 everlasting Kingdom.

Peace with God

The 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 8:11).

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Turning "a sinner from the error of his way"

"My 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" (James 5:19-20).
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.
Turning "a 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."
* Speaking about our "multitude of sins" - this is not to be dismissed as a purely negative reaction against the easy-going outlook of so many people in today's world. There is something much more positive than that - we speak about our sin so that we might learn to glory in God's salvation.
* Speaking about "the error of our way" - this is not be dismissed as a 'know-it-all' attitude by which we 'look down our noses' at the 'anything goes' approach that is so common in today's world. There's something much more positive here - following our Saviour, we warn against the folly of building on a foundation of shifting sand so that we might learn to build our life upon the Solid Rock: Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:24-27;  1 Corinthians 3:11).
* Speaking about "death" - this is not be dismissed as out-of-touch with the positive outlook of today's world. Once again, there is something very positive here. We emphasize that "the wages of sin is death" so that there might be a greater appreciation of "the gift of God" which is "eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
--
Why do we speak of sin, error and death?
- We speak of sin so that people may be called back from the way of sin to a much better way  - the way of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, our Saviour: "He is able to save to the uttermost all who come to God through Him" (Hebrews 7:25).
- We speak of error so that people may be called back from the way of error to a much more reliable way than the way of error - the way of truth, trusting in Jesus Christ, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life" (John 14:6).
- We speak of death so that people may be called back from the way of death to the much more wonderful way that God has planned for all who put their faith in His Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ - the way of eternal life: "God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life" (1 John 5:11-12).

Truth in our teaching, truth in our living

"Lord, Your eyes look for the truth" (Jeremiah 5:3).

God is looking for more than truth in our teaching. He's looking for truth in our living.

A call to pray, a call to seek God's glory

“You do not have because you do not ask God” (James 4:2) - This is a call to prayer.
“When 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 ...

"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 ...

"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 Is Calling Us On To His Future.

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 of life is over, and our work on earth is done, and the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.”

Lord, we come to You in weakness. You come to us in power.

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 fail us.

Sunday, 24 February 2019

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

We 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 future.
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.”
There 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).

"The living God" (Hebrews 12:22)

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

We must keep our eyes on Jesus.

Past grace is no guarantee of present growth. We must keep our eyes on Jesus, ‘the Author and Finisher of our faith' (Hebrews 12: 2).

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

“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).

Think often of what Jesus has done for you .... Thank Him for dying for you ...

"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).
Think 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 you.

Praise the Lord! ... Give Him the glory!

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!
"To 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!"

God shows us our sin so that we might appreciate His salvation ...

"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 of His perfect holiness. He shows us our sin so that we might appreciate His salvation and learn to walk with Him on His "Highway of Holiness" (Isaiah 35:8).

Friday, 22 February 2019

"I’m not ashamed of the Good News ... "

"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.
May 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 our salvation.
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!"

Come Over And Help Us ...

"During 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).
Paul's 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?"

Making Decisions ... And Making Disciples

“Some 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). 
We 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.

There was a problem ...

"Since 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).
There 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.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Great things can happen ...

Great 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.
Herod ‘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).
‘Do 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).

I see heaven open ...

"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.

Peter preached Christ with great boldness ...

Peter 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 advance of the Gospel (Acts 5:42). Satan was not going to give up easily. He came right back at the apostles (Acts 6:1). Satan was defeated. Through the Spirit of God and the Word of God, the victory was won. The apostles ‘devoted themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word’. They were supported by ‘seven men... known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom’(Acts 6:3-4). Armed with ‘the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God’, let us be ‘be strong in the Lord’- ‘filled with the Spirit’- as we ‘let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly’(Ephesians 6:17,10; 5:18; Colossians 3:16). Filled with His Spirit and obedient to His Word, let us look to God for His blessing (Acts 6:7).

Jesus is the way of salvation, joy and victory.
  • Jesus is the way of salvation - Concerning "the Name of Jesus Christ", Peter tells us that "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:10, 12).
  • Jesus is the way of joy - Jesus tells us, "In the world, you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
Jesus is the way of victory - Paul gives to us this word of encouragement: "Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Christ brings a change of direction into our life.

This 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.

Monday, 18 February 2019

On The Day Of Pentecost ...

Acts 2:37-38
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 very different from the suggestion that we depend on our own
ability to save ourselves through our own ‘good works’ of
repentance and faith. Peter calls for repentance. When we repent , we
turn from every attempt to save ourselves. It cannot be done. We put
our trust in Christ. He alone can save us. We do not come to God,
demanding that God must accept us because of our repentance.Trusting in
Christ, we receive the Holy Spirit.
We receive the power we need to live a new life, centred upon Christ
rather than self. It is the power that comes from knowing that our sins
have been forgiven. It is the Spirit’s power to change us, making
us more like Jesus. What does it mean to be gripped by the Gospel? What
does it mean to have faith in Christ? There are two elements in faith.
First, there is faith in the events, believing that they really
happened. Second, there is trust in what the events reveal. We trust in
the love of God. What is faith? In one sense, faith is personal. In
another sense, faith involves being in community with other believers
– “they were added to their number” (v. 41). In
Peter’s call for baptism, we see this second element of faith. In
baptism, we are taken beyond the purely personal aspect of faith. Our
attention is focused on the community of faith into which we enter. We
are not simply isolated individuals. We belong to the body of Christ,
in fellowship with other believers.
Our Question And God's Answer (Acts 2:37-38)
The question is our question: “Brothers, what shall we do?”
The answer is God’s answer: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the Name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Where Does Our Question Come From? (Acts 2:37)
Where does our question come from? – It comes from God.
His Word is preached. His Spirit is at work.
Following on from the preaching of God’s Word in the power of God’s Spirit, we read this, “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart”. This is where the question comes from. God has put it into our heart. Through His Word and His Spirit, he leads us to ask the question of salvation: “What must I do to be saved?”
God's Answer To Our Question (Acts 2:37-38)
The question is our question. The answer must always be God’s answer. We ask the question. We cannot give the answer. In ourselves, there is no answer. We are “far off” (Acts 2:39).
We know about our sin, but we cannot give to ourselves the forgiveness of sin.
We know about the emptiness in our lives, but we cannot fill our own hearts with the presence of the Holy Spirit.
We can only come to God in our sin and our emptiness.
We come in our sin, praying for God’s forgiveness. We come in our emptiness, praying that God will fill us with His Spirit.
When we come in our sin and emptiness, God speaks His answer.

God’s Answer Comes To Us In The Name Of Jesus Christ. 
“What are we to do?” – Before we think of what we are to do, we must think about what Jesus Christ has done for us. This is the Good News. Jesus Christ has taken our sins upon Himself. He has died for us so that we might be forgiven by Him.

We must never begin with the call for repentance and baptism. We must always begin with Jesus Christ – “the Son of God loved us and gave Himself for us” (Galatians 2:20).

“What are we to do?” – The first thing we must do is this: we must look away from ourselves to Jesus Christ, our Saviour.

When we turn our eyes on Jesus and keep our eyes fixed on Him, we will never think of our repentance and baptism as ‘good works’ we have done, ‘good works’ by which we make ourselves acceptable to God.

The Name of Jesus Christ is the Name of our salvation. It is in Him that we are called to repentance and baptism. It is through the power of Jesus Christ, the risen Lord, that we are able to put the old life behind us and begin the new life of the Spirit.

At the heart of God’s answer to our question, there is “the Name of Jesus Christ.”

In His answer to our question, God speaks to us of repentance and baptism. He speaks of the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Above all else, He speaks to us of His Son, our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.

God's Answer Is For Every One Of Us (Acts 2:38).
To every one of us, God says, “Repent and be baptized”. To every one of us, He says, “Leave your old life behind. Step out into the new life with Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord.”
God’s answer is for every one of us. He doesn’t say to some of us, “You need to repent” and then turn to others, saying, “You won’t need to repent. You’re good enough already.”
Let God's Answer Change You. (Acts 2:38).
The question is asked, “What are we to do?” God’s answer begins with a call for repentance and baptism – “Repent and be baptized.”
If we were to read no further than the words, “Repent and be baptized”, we would miss a great deal of what God is saying to us here.“Repent and be baptized” is only the beginning of God’s answer. We must go on from there. As we read the remainder of verse 38, we learn that
* God’s answer is addressed to every one of us.
* God’s answer comes to us in the Name of Jesus Christ.
* God’s answer comes to us with the promise of the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
We ask the question, “What are we to do?” (Acts 2:37), God gives the answer – “Repent and be baptized.” (Acts 2:38).
We lay our old life before the Lord. We invite Him to come and change us.
He comes in forgiving love. He comes in transforming power.
Once we have put our faith in Christ, everything changes.
“If any one is in Christ, he is a new creation.
Old things have passed away. Everything has become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
“It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
Three Great Gifts - Jesus, Forgiveness, And The Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38)
Through faith in Christ, we put the old life behind us. Our sins are forgiven. We receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Through faith in Christ, we receive the strength we need to live as men and women who love God.
Through faith in Christ, we receive the strength we need to maintain our confession of faith – "Jesus Christ is Lord.”
In Jesus Christ, God’s answer comes to us with the promise of the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

“God raised Jesus Christ from the dead” (Acts 2:24).

Did 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.

"You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free ... So, if the Son sets you free, you will be absolutely free" (John 8:32,36).

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).

Jesus is "the light of the world" (John 8:12).

Life 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.

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.

What God must do for us, What we must do for God

* What 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.

Jesus calls for our decision.



In 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?”

Chapter 3, Verse 16: The Saviour, The Scriptures, The Spirit

John 3:16 - The Saviour
2 Timothy 3:16 - The Scriptures
Colossians 3:16 - The Spirit
---
Let us come to the Saviour. Let us read the Scriptures. Let us worship God in Spirit and in truth.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Lord, Your love is greater than our sin.

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!

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 ...

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, we thank You that You are always with us ...

Genesis 15:1-21
Lord, we thank You that You are always with us – even when bad things are happening to us.

Lord, help us to make good choices.

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).

A Call For A Christ-Centred Life

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).

Jesus Is The King.

Zechariah 9:9-10

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).



God Is Calling Us To Be Faithful To Him.

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 - ‘The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him’ - will hear a very different Word from the Lord. It will be a Word of judgment. God’s Word will come like ‘an overwhelming flood’: ‘He will pursue His foes into darkness’ (1:7-8). None of us needs to face this ‘overwhelming flood’ and hear the words, ‘I am against you’. Each of us can come to Christ and hear His Word of ‘overwhelming victory’: ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?... Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 8:31,37-39).

Lord, You're Speaking To Us. Help Us To Listen To You.

"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" (Nahum 1:12). Learning to listen to the Lord is more important than anything else.
A Word of warning for God's people: "The one who will scatter you is coming to attack you. Guard your fortress! Keep a lookout on the road! Prepare for battle! Be very courageous!" (Nahum 2:1). A promise of victory for God's people: "The Lord will restore Jacob's glory like Israel's glory, although enemies have looted it and have destroyed its vines" (Nahum 2:2). We read the Old Testament prophets. It seems to us that their world is very different from our world. There are, however, spiritual principles which remain constant for every nation and every generation. The Lord comes to us in our conflict. He leads us on to His victory.
"I am against you, Nineveh, declares the Lord of Armies" (Nahum 3:5) - The Lord speaks against us so that we might learn to stop speaking against Him. We cannot really appreciate God's positive Word concerning salvation until we learn to listen attentively to His negative Word concerning our sin. It's only when we begin to see ourselves as sinners that we will begin to see how wonderful is the great salvation that has provided for sinners.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Travelling Towards God's Future

“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, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high” (Leviticus 26:13).
What God has done for us in the past is not all that He will do for us. We must never forget what He has done for us in the past. the Exodus from Egypt was a great event. It was an event of salvation. The death of our Saviour was an even greater event. this is the event of our salvation. without His death for us, we could never be saved. he took our place. He died our death. He took our sin upon Himself. He died that we might have life – the new life of those who have received the forgiveness of their sins, the eternal life which will be filled with joy forevermore. Following our entry into this new life and before our entry into God’s everlasting Kingdom, there is a journey that each of us must make. It will be a different journey for each of us. We must make our own journey. My journey will not be your journey. Your journey will not be my journey. In my journey, I am not alone. In your journey, you are not alone. The Lord is with you. The Lord is with me.
What kind of journey will it be? It will be a hard road. How hard? In what way will it be hard? No-one really knows. We know that there will be “enemies” – but we know that the Lord has given us his promise: “When they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them … I am the Lord their God” (Leviticus 26:44).
What a great promise this is! We have many enemies – but there is one enemy who is more determined than all of the rest of them, put together. Our great enemy is Satan. God’s Word teaches us that Satan is a determined enemy. It also teaches us that he’s a defeated enemy. we look at Satan – and we look at Jesus. We see what Satan is trying to do to us. We look at what Jesus has done for us. At the Cross, we learn that Jesus has succeeded – and we learn that Satan has failed. Jesus has triumphed over Satan. Can we doubt that Jesus’ victory over Satan will be a complete victory? Can we doubt that Satan’s defeat will be a total defeat? At the Cross, we catch a glimpse of the final victory. In our hearts, we know that God’s Word is true: “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Don't give up too soon!

"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. 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?’
“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 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!



Exactly What The Lord Commanded

Numbers 17:1-18:30
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.

A Welcome And A Challenge

Numbers 16:1-50
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.”

Past Redemption, Present Obedience, Future Hope

Numbers 15:1-41
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.

Not An Easy Pathway

Numbers 12:1-13:33 
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.

Travelling And Celebrating

Numbers 9:1-10:36
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.

Listen To God. Learn From Him. Live For Him.

Numbers 1:1-4:49
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 ...

"Trust the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding ... Blessed is the one who finds wisdom  and the one who obtains understanding" (Proverbs 3:5, 13).
Real 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.

“We have seen strange things today” (Luke 5:26).

In 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).
Humanly speaking, 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 … ” (Acts 2:24).
“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!
Moving beyond Balaam’s donkey, here are some great promises for us today: (i) “‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3).
When God is at work, great and mighty things happen. How do they happen? Why do they happen? – God is the great and mighty God.
(ii) “The people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits” (Daniel 11:32).
We are forgiven sinners. We’re nothing more than that. We have a great and mighty God. Let’s believe that God can and will do great and mighty things through His faithful people when we commit ourselves to doing His will.

"Theophilus" (Luke 1:3)

This name means 'lover of God.' As we read God's Word, may our love for Him grow stronger and stronger.

"Truly this Man was the Son of God" (Mark 15:39).

Jesus 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.

"His dominion shall be ... to the ends of the earth" (Zechariah 9:10).

God's 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).

We hear the Word of the Lord so that we might become strong in the Lord.


“Thus 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).

Monday, 11 February 2019

"But with You there is forgiveness so that You can be feared" (Psalm 130:4).

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 - "perfect love casts 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 on coming to the foot of the Cross of Christ. At the Cross, we rejoice in the love of our Saviour. We receive reassurance that "there is no condemnation for those who are  in Christ Jesus." At the Cross, we are challenged by the holiness of our Saviour. He calls us back from "walking in the flesh." He calls us to keep on "walking in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:16).  

Providence And Redemption

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).

God's Way of Salvation (Psalm 11)

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 burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot. 7 For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice; upright men will see his face. —– “In the Lord I take refuge.” There is only one refuge. The Lord is our refuge. He is our salvation. There is only one place of safety – “in Christ". In Ephesians 1:3-14  we read about our spiritual blessings in Christ - "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will— to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory." In Ephesians 2:8, we read, “It is by grace you have been saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). By grace, we are in Christ. Through faith, we are in Christ. * “He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock” – This is grace. * “Rock opf ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee” – This is faith. Grace and faith belong together. - We are not saved by grace apart from faith. - We are saved by grace through faith. The grace of God reaches us as we receive Jesus Christ in faith. - We are not saved by faith apart from grace. - We are saved by grace through faith. Faith has no meaning in itself. Faith finds its meaning only in relation to the grace of God. Faith is God’s way for us to come to Him through our Lord Jesus Christ. “By grace you have been saved through faith” – This is the Christian’s unshakeable foundation. With this unshakeable foundation, the Christian can face the attacks of the enemy with confidence. — 1 … How then can you say to me: “Flee like a bird to your mountain. 2 For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart. 3 When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do ?” The devil is at work. He seeks to sow seeds of doubt into the heart of God’s people. He suggests to us that God’s gracious foundation for our faith can be destroyed. This is nothing new. It’s as old as Genesis 3:1 – “Did God say … ?“ The devil says to us, “Has God really forgiven your sins?” He says, “Has God really saved you?” The devil wants to get us on the run. He wants us to run away from him. We must not let him get the upper hand. We are to resist him in the strength of Christ’s victory over him. When we “resist the devil” in the strength of Christ’s victory, “he will flee from us” (James 4:7). To believe the devil is to believe the lie. The truth is that, when take our stand in Christ, the devil has no alternative but to ruin from us. Christ’s victory over the devil becomes our victory over Christ has won the victory over the devil. Through faith in Christ, His victory becomes our our victory over the devil. Here are three important lessons concerning this victory. * Through His death on the Cross, Christ has won the victory over the devil. He has won this victory for us. Hebrews 2:14-15 14Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. * On the basis of the victory that Christ has won for us, we can stand our ground against the devil. Isaiah 28:16 16 So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed. * When we take our stand in Christ, the devil can do nothing else but flee from us. He is strong when we try to stand against him in our own strength. When, however we remind him of Christ’s victory over him, he can do nothing but bow before Christ’s superior power. Rejoicing in the victory that Christ has won for us, let’s remind the devil that he’s a defeated enemy. James 4:7 “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” — Our faith is built on a secure foundation. How do we know this? – “The Lord is on His heavenly throne” (v. 4). Knowing that the Lord is King, we are assured that God’s way of salvation is the one way of salvation. Salvation is by grace through faith. This salvation is centred on Jesus Christ. It is in Jesus Christ that we find the grace of God. It is Jesus Christ in whom we put our trust. Jesus Christ is God’s way of salvation. Through Jesus Christ, we have received salvation. There is no other way of salvation. God’s Kingship is revealed in His way of salvation. There is only way of salvation. It is God’s way of salvation. By grace through faith – This is God’s way of salvation. When we refuse to accept God’s way of salvation, we refuse to acknowledge His Kingship. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). We dare not attempt to dispute this point with God. Who are we to argue with God? We may attempt to save ourselves. We will not succeed. When we attempt to save ourselves, God looks upon us and He sees our sin. In ourselves, we are not “the righteous.” We may think that we are “righteous.” In God’s eyes, we are “the wicked.” This is the truth concerning every one of us: “There is no one righteous, not even one … all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10, 23). There is only one way in which “the wicked” can become “the righteous.” We must come to the God of perfect holiness through faith in Jesus Christ. We must remember that “Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). This is God’s way of salvation. We don’t tell God that He has to save us because we think that we have earned the right to be saved. He tells us that we are sinners. He tells us that we need to be saved. He tells us that “Jesus Christ is able to save to the uttermost completely those who come to God through him” (Hebrews 7:25). We have the great promise of the Gospel. In Christ, there is full salvation for all who come to God through Him. Alongside this great promise, there is also the warning of the Gospel. We read the solemn words of verse 6 – “On the wicked he will rain fire and brimstone; a scorching wind will be their lot” “Fire and brimstone” – What are we to say about this? We must note that the Psalm doesn’t end with “fire and brimstone.” It ends with the words: “upright men will see His face” (v. 7). God doesn’t want to leave us where He finds us. He doesn’t want to leave us trembling in fear of “fire and brimstone.” He speaks to us of these things so that we might see our need of the Saviour. He speaks to us of these things so that we might”flee from the wrath to come” (Luke 3:7). He speaks to us of these things so that we might find our way to the Cross of Christ. He speaks to us of these things so that we might learn to confess our sins and receive God’s forgiveness: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). 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 forgiveness 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 this Psalm: “upright men will see His face” (v. 7).

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 ...