Saturday, 23 March 2019

“Proclaiming Your love in the morning and Your faithfulness at night” (Psalm 92:2)

What blessing there is in these few words! Our God is with us in the morning. He is with us at night. He is with us always. He loves us in the morning. He is faithful at night. He says to us, “I will always love you.”
What a God – a God of perfect love, a God of absolute faithfulness! "You, O Lord, are exalted for ever" (Psalm 92:8).
God is not exalted because we exalt Him. We exalt Him because He is exalted.

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

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

'Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom' (Psalm 90:12).

The older generation will be familiar with the opening question and answer of the Shorter Catechism. It is a question about the purpose of our life. We are 'to glorify God'. We are 'to enjoy Him for ever'. We live our life in the light of eternity. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we look forward to the wonderful future God has in store for us: 'No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him' (1 Corinthians 2:9). How are we to prepare ourselves for this glorious future? We are to pray, 'Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom' (Psalm 90:12). We must not think only about how long we live. We must think also about how well we live. We are to be men and women of faith, men and women who have asked the question of salvation, 'What must I do to be saved?', men and women who have obeyed the Gospel command, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved' (Acts 16:31). We must not think only of ourselves. There is more to life than achieving a comfortable standard of living. We are to be 'rich toward God' (Luke 12:21). There is more to life than 'storing up for ourselves treasures on earth'. We must not forget the challenge put to us by our Lord Jesus Christ: 'store up for yourselves treasures in heaven' (Matthew 6:19-21). As we grow older, we must not forget another type of growth – spiritual growth: 'grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ' (2 Peter 3:18).

"You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to You" (Psalm 86:5).

Sometimes, we contrast 'the God of the Old Testament' and 'the God of the New Testament.'  We speak about 'the God of law' and 'the God of love.' If we think that 'love' only began with the start of the New Testament, we need to read God's Word more carefully. Here, we are in the Old Testament. What do we find? We find love - the love of God, the God of love.

Real Listening, A Real Turning To The Lord And A Real Sense Of His Blessing (Psalm 85:8)

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

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Jesus is the Vine. We are the branches.

"You transplanted a vine from Egypt. You drove out the nations and planted it. You cleared the ground for it, and it took root and filled the land” (Psalm 80:8-9).

When we read here about a “vine”, we should remember that Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). We read here that the vine “filled the land.” Let us pray for our land – “Shine, Jesus, shine. Fill this land with the Father’s glory.”

Beyond our salvation, there is God's glory.

" ... O God of our salvation, For the glory of Your name ... provide atonement for our sins, For Your name’s sake!" (Psalm 79:9).

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

The Lord saves us - and we praise Him.

"Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help;   my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God" (Psalm 69:1-3).  

Sometimes, we get ourselves into deep water. We're sinking. We're looking to You, Lord. The world is pulling us down, pulling us away from You. We're looking to You, Lord. It's not easy. Life is difficult. There are many problems. We're looking to You, Lord. Help us to keep on looking to You - when we feel like giving up and giving in. Help us to keep on believing that there is the light at the end of our tunnel. We're looking to You, Lord - and we will keep on looking to You, whatever happens.  

"Let heaven and earth praise Him… For God will save" (Psalm 69:34-35). 
God does not save us because we praise Him. We praise God because He saves us.

"Let the righteous rejoice in the Lord" (Psalm 64:10).

Lord, You give us joy - true joy, lasting joy. This is Your joy. It's not just a passing emotion. It's more than a feeling that doesn't last very long. Your joy changes us. It gives us the strength to live as "a new creation" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Help us, Lord, to come to You, in our weakness. Help us to receive new strength, Your strength.

2 Chronicles 19:1-20:37
Lord, we see two sides of Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 19:2-3) – two sides of ourselves! There is the godly side – “O Lord … our eyes are upon You” (2 Chronicles 20:12). There is the sinful side – “Jehoshaphat … made an alliance with Ahaziah … who was guilty of wickedness” (2 Chronicles 20:35). Lord, You know our weakness. Help us to come to You, in our weakness. Help us to receive new strength, Your strength, the strength that we need to live a more godly life, a life that brings glory to You and blessing to us.

Three Centuries!

When I was living in Glasgow, at the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first century, I met a lady who lived in three different centuries! She was a born a few months before the end of the nineteenth century. She died a few months into the twenty-first century. When someone achieves their century of years, it is a time for giving thanks to God. We look back over our life and we say, ‘Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life’. It is not only a time for looking back. It is also a time for looking forward – ‘I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever’ (Psalm 23:6). We look back, giving thanks to God for many precious and treasured memories. We look forward to something even better – ‘we will be with the Lord for ever’ (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

You call us, Lord, to return to You. You promise to welcome us.

2 Chronicles 30:1-31:10
You call us, Lord, to return to You. You promise to welcome us (2 Chronicles 30:9). Where does our returning come from? Where does our rejoicing come from? They both come from You. You put it into our hearts - to return to You (2 Chronicles 30:12). What joy there is for us when we return to You - "The good Lord pardons every one who sets his heart to seek God" (2 Chronicles 30:18-19).

We Will Do As The Lord Has Said.

Numbers 30:1-32:42
In the various areas of life – -personal faithfulness (chapter 30), our relationship with the world (chapter 31), our relationship with the Lord’s people (chapter 32), there is one thing which is of the utmost importance: “we will do as the Lord has said” (Numbers 32:31). This is the most important thing: obedience to God.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

I Stand in Awe of You (by Mark Altrogge) - Annie Herring

Sing To The Lord ...

May God help each of us to “sing to the Lord.” May we “sing praise to Him.” May we “glory in His holy Name.” May we “rejoice” in Him. May we come to Him in our weakness and find our new “strength” in Him (Psalm 105:2-4).

Bearing Fruit For The Lord

Genesis 1:11 - “the fruit tree yielding fruit”
We bear fruit as we build our lives on the Word of the Lord (Psalm 1). There is the fruit of the Spirit in our own lives (Galatians 5:22-23). There is the fruit of God at work in the lives upon whom we are able to exert a life-changing influence for God (Psalm 126:5-6).
Genesis 1:12 - “God saw that it was good.”
What a good thing it is for the people of God to bear fruit in their lives and in winning others for the Saviour.

Teach Us, Lord, To Live For You.

"I am filled with the power of the Lord's Spirit" (Micah 3:8). This is what makes true ministry of God's Word so different from 'prophecy' that doesn't come from the Lord. Without the power of the Lord, there can be no Word from the Lord. We need the Word, and we need the power.
"Let's go to the mountain of the Lord ...He will teach us His ways so that we may live by them" (Micah 4:2). We are taught by the Lord so that we might live for Him. Teaching and living - they belong together. We do not learn from God's Word so that we can amass more head-knowledge. We pray for a saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ - a life-changing knowledge that gives us the strength that we need to live for the glory of God.

The Lord Our God, The Maker Of Heaven And Earth

Genesis 1:1-3
There is here a real sense of the majesty of God. He is 'beyond description'. We cannot comprehend Him. We can hardly put into words this sense of God's greatness. We are transported into an eternal dimension, which is so different from our earthly existence. We read, 'In the beginning, God ... ' (v. 1). Many live as if humanity was the only reality. Here, it is we who are absent from view. Here, we see God only. Humanity only comes into view when God chooses (vs. 26-27). Everything about this is God-centred rather than man-centred. The light comes when God says, 'Let there be light' (v. 3). Prior to God's Word of command in verse 3, we see the Spirit of God 'hovering' (v. 2). The Spirit is on the alert, ready to move into action, ready for the Word of God to be spoken, ready to empower the Word so that it becomes mightily effective. All that follows - described as 'very good' - comes from God, from His Word and His Spirit. Only good can come from God. The reality of evil has not yet come into view. When it does, everything changes except one thing - the love of God for His creation.

Joy, Pleasure, Satisfaction ...

Our complete joy, pleasure and satisfaction is found in the Lord. We say, with the Psalmist, “Complete joy is in Your presence. Pleasures are by Your side forever ... I will be satisfied with seeing You” (Psalm 16:11; Psalm 17:15). We join, with the hymnwriter, in singing praise to our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: “O Christ, in Thee my soul hath found, And found in Thee alone, The peace, the joy I sought so long, the bliss till now unknown. Now none but Christ can satisfy, None other Name for me. There’s love and life, and lasting joy, Lord Jesus, found in Thee.”

We thank You, Lord, that You have blessed us.

Exodus 2:11-3:22
We thank You, Lord, that You have blessed us. We have come to You with our sin - and You have forgiven us. We thank You, Lord, that You call us to bring Your blessing to others. We have received Your blessing. Help us to share it with others.

Yes, Lord.

“The Lord is the only God. He is the living God and eternal King” (Jeremiah 10:10). The contrast between God and the gods is simple. God made us. We made the gods. In the Lord our God, there is majesty and mystery - the majesty of the “eternal King”, the mystery that He is always beyond our understanding. Before this majesty and mystery, we bow down in worship. We acknowledge his greatness. We give Him glory. He is worthy of our worship. When God speaks His Word to us, “Obey Me, and do everything that I have told you to do. Then you will be My people, and I will be your God. I will keep the oath I made to your ancestors and give them a land flowing with milk and honey, the land you still have today.” We are to give our answer, “Yes, Lord” (Jeremiah 11:4-5). There will be many times when our "devotion" to the Lord will be put to the "test" (Jeremiah 12:3). These will be times of temptation - times when our 'Yes, Lord' could so easily become 'No, Lord.' When this happens, may God help us to return to Him and hear, again, His wonderful Word of amazing grace: "I will have compassion on them again ..." (Jeremiah 12:15).

Sing to the Lord ...

May God help each of us to “sing to the Lord.” May we “sing praise to Him.” May we “glory in His holy Name.” May we “rejoice” in Him. May we come to Him in our weakness and find our new “strength” in Him (Psalm 105:2-4).

My Saviour and my God

  * "My soul thirsts for God, for the living God ... He is my Saviour and my God ... my Rock" (Psalm 42:2,5,8).
The living God is our Saviour and our Rock. When we come to Him, our life can never the same again. We were lost. Now, we've been found. We were falling apart. Now, we're standing on the solid Rock.
 * "Why are you discouraged, my soul? Why are you so restless? Put your hope in God, because I will still praise Him. He is my Saviour and my God" (Psalm 42:11; 43:5).
These two verses are the same as each other. Some things are worth repeating. We need to hear them over and over again. We get discouraged. Our heads go down. We get restless. We're being pulled in different directions. The pull of the world seems so strong. Does this kind of thing happen now and again? No! It's happening all the time. There's never a time when we don't need to hear the words, "Put your hope in God." There's never a time when we no longer need to hear the call to return to the Lord and start praising Him again. What do we find when we return to the Lord? This is what we find - "He is my Saviour and my God."

Listen To What The Lord Says - Not The World!

"It's pointless to serve God. What do we gain if we meet His standards or if we walk around feeling sorry for what we've done" (Malachi 3:14) - This what the world says.
What does the Lord say to us?  - "The Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in His wings for you people who fear My Name" (Malachi 4:2).
The Sun is shining upon us. It's not just the sun that's up in the sky. It's Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He makes everything new. It's not pointless. Life has a purpose. It's God's purpose for our life. There is gain. We don't just think in terms of financial gain. There's spiritual growth. There's moral strength. Our life is better when we see it through the eyes of the Lord. Many times, we have let our Lord  down. He will not let us down. He will lift us up - above the world's way of thinking, and into His way of living. He will lead us in His way of blessing.
"I have decided to follow Jesus ...
no turning back, no turning back.
The world behind me, the cross before me ...
no turning back, no turning back.
Though none go with me, I still will follow ...
no turning back, no turning back.
Will you decide now to follow Jesus? ...
no turning back, no turning back.

The Downward Slope!

The book of Joshua speaks of a high-point in the history of God’s people, Israel. By faith, they took possession of the land which the Lord had provided for them. The book of Judges tells of the downward slope - “ ... The people of Israel did what the Lord considered evil ... “ (Judges 2:10-15). Although this was a bad time in the history of Israel, there was also some encouragement - “Then the Lord would send judges to rescue them from those who robbed them” (Judges 2:16). Sadly, the people wouldn’t listen to the judges (Judges 2:17-19). There were difficult times ahead for the people of Israel. The Lord allowed the nations to remain in the land. This was His way of testing His people (Judges 2:20-23).
In the book of Judges, we see both sin and salvation - “The people of Israel did what the Lord considered evil” (Judges 3:7,12); “Then the people of Israel dried out to the Lord for help” (Judges 3:9,15); “The Lord sent a saviour to rescue them” (Judges 3:9,15). Viewed from the point of view of human sin, this was a bad time in the history of Israel. They were a wayward people. They were prone to wandering away from the Lord. Viewed from the point of view of divine grace, there is the great encouragement that God continues to love His people.He puts into their hearts a desire to return to Him. He responds to their cry from the heart. He sends His blessing. This is His way of showing us that His love for us remains constant, even when our love for Him has grown very weak.
As we read of Israel’s military exploits, we must recognize the spiritual dimension. This is brought out well in the song of victory in Judges 5. It begins with the words, “Praise the Lord!” (Judges 5:2). It is a song of praise to God - “I will sing a song to the Lord. I will make music to the Lord God of Israel” (Judges 5:3). The victories gained by Israel were “the victories of the Lord” (Judges 5:11). When we worship the Lord, we are strengthened to go on, living for Him - “I must march on with strength!” (Judges 5:21).
The story of Gideon is the story of the Lord at work. This is summed up in (a) Gideon’s call - “The Lord is with you, brave man ... You will rescue Israel from Midian with the strength you have. I am sending you” (Judges 6:12,14). (b) Gideon’s victory over the Midianites - “Attack! The Lord will hand Midian’s camp over to you” (Judges 7:15). There is also a warning for us. Even those who have been used by the Lord can fall into Satan’s trap. Gideon made a gold idol, and “it became a trap for Gideon and his family” (Judges 8:27).
“The people of Israel again did what the Lord considered evil ... The Lord became angry with the people of Israel ... Then the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help” (Judges 10:6-7,10). We don’t deserve to be blessed by the Lord. In mercy, He blesses us, far more than we could ever deserve. The time of the judges was not a time of the greatest blessing. In life’s low points, we must hold on to our conviction that God is there with us, even when He seems to be far away. We must keep on believing that God is with us at all times.
In the story of Jephthah (Judges 11 & 12), we learn that we need wisdom as well as sincerity. We need to have knowledge of God’s will as well as a desire to do His will.
Samson was to “dedicated to God from his birth” (Judges 13:5). His early life is described in terms of God’s blessing - “The boy grew up,and the Lord blessed him” (Judges 13:24). Samson’s adult life can be viewed  at two levels - (a) Samson’s selfishness - “Get her for me! She’s the one I want!”; and (b) God’s sovereignty - “the Lord was behind” this (Judges 14:3-4). We see this pattern continuing throughout Samson’s life. There is victory: “he called out to the Lord, and said, ‘You have given me this great victory.’” There is defeat: “he saw a prostitute and slept with her” (Judges 15:18; 16:1). This combination of defeat and victory continues all the way through to the time of Samson’s death. He was a prisoner of the Philistines (Judges 16:21,23-24). He was used by God to bring the Philistines down (Judges 16:28-30). The story of Samson is a story of divine grace, triumphing over human sin.
In Judges 17 & 18, the chief character is Micah. This was not the prophet, Micah. This man was a worshipper of idols! He did what he wanted - not what God wanted (Judges 17:6). What a contrast to the prophet, Micah (Micah 6:8)! This worshipper of idols tried to keep on the right side of God: “Now I know that the Lord will be good to me. I have a Levite as a priest” (Judges 17:13). This is ‘salvation by works’ - trying to earn one’s own salvation. The message of the prophet, Micah is very different. Salvation is by grace (Micah 7:18-20). The idolater, Micah, had a bad influence on others (Judges 18:30-31). The voice of the prophet, Micah, was very different: “The voice of the Lord calls out to the city. The fear of Your Name is wisdom” (Micah 6:9).
The sinful and shameful times, described in the book of Judges, are summed up in the book’s final verses of chapters 19, 20 & 21. “Never has such a thing happened or been seen from the time the people of Israel came out of Egypt until today” (Judges 19:30). “Then the men of Israel went back to attack the rest of the territory of Benjamin ... “ (Judges 20:48). “Everyone did what he considered right” (Judges 21:25). It was an ‘anything goes’ situation/ Left to our own resources, we will go from bad to worse - further and further into sin,further and further away from God. There is only one thing that can be done in a situation like this. We must repent. We must return to the Lord with our whole heart. When there is a true return to the Lord, even the most sinful people can be mightily transformed. We do not see this at the end of the book of Judges. We see the reverse of this - ‘where grace abounded, sin did much more abound.’ As we see the same thing happening in our own day, we must pray for the triumph of God’s grace over human sin.

"This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes" (Psalm 118:23).

When we think of all that the Lord has done for us, let us think also of what He will do for us.
Let us look back with thanksgiving. Let us look forward with hope.

On To Maturity

Numbers 25:1-26:65
God’s people are being called on to maturity. This is the significance of the phrase, “at least twenty years old” (Numbers 26:2,4). There are, however, many dangers. We are easily sidetracked – putting other “gods” before the Lord our God (Numbers 25:3). This turning away from the Lord is a serious matter, leading to the withdrawal of God’s blessing. We can, however, continue to enjoy the Lord’s blessing if, like Caleb and Joshua, we are men and women of faith (Numbers 26:64-65).

"I have been crucified with Christ ... Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:20).

When our devotion to the Lord is being deepened, we learn to walk with Him on the way of the cross – “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20) When our devotion to the Lord is being deepened, we will be less concerned with being more popular and more concerned with pleasing the Lord – “approved to God” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Lord, we thank You that we're not left to go it alone.

Genesis 27:41-28:9
Lord, we thank You that we're not left to go it alone. You've given us Your Spirit - the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love, the Spirit of truth, the Spirit who leads us to Jesus, the Spirit who makes us more like Jesus. Thank You, Lord - with Your Spirit, we can go from strength to strength. Help us to walk in Your Spirit.

From Victory To Victory

Numbers 21:1-35
The Israelites are journeying with the Lord. He is leading them from victory to victory. Salvation for Israel, salvation from the God of Israel, the true and living God, meant “destruction” (Numbers 21:3) for those who opposed God and His people – “How horrible it is for you, Moab! You are destroyed, you people of the god Chemosh” (Numbers 21:29). If there is to be real blessing among God’s people, we must face conflict and overcome opposition from God’s enemies.

Don't Forget The Spiritual Dimension.

Numbers 33:1-34:29
Much of what we have here is geographical. There is also, however, a spiritual dimension. God is leading His people to their new land, the land He had promised to them. In all the names of the places, we must see the hand of God directing His people according to His perfect plan. In God’s “place”, the “place” of His blessing, there must be nothing that hinders true worship of the Lord (Numbers 33:52).

Guidance

"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?"

The Cornerstone

"From him will come the cornerstone... they shall be as mighty men, treading down their enemies... because the Lord is with them" (Zechariah 10:4-5).
* Jesus Christ is "the cornerstone" upon which our faith is built  - "The Church's one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord" (Samuel John Stone).
* In Christ, we are "more than conquerors" (Romans 8:37) - "From victory unto victory His army shall He lead, till every foe is vanquished and Christ is Lord indeed" (George Duffield).
* Jesus is with us. He is our Saviour. He has forgiven our sins. He is our Lord. He leads us in triumph over Satan.

A Problem - And A Response

"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.

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).

The Power Of The Spirit

The work of God is not done in our own strength. We need the superior power of God's Spirit (Zechariah 4:6). The power of the Spirit comes to us as the power of love, the power of Christ, the power of the Gospel. This is the power that reaches us and changes us. There  is no power like the power  of God's Spirit. The power of God's Spirit does not come in an entirely supernatural way. It comes to us through people:. "Zerubbabel's hands have laid the foundation of this House, and his hands will finish it" (Zechariah 4:9). It is the Lord who uses us in His service. We must never forget that the real power comes from Him: "Then you will know that the Lord of Armies has sent me to you" (Zechariah 4:9). This supernatural dimension is at the heart of every real work of God. When we emphasize this supernatural dimension. This something that we must never forget - if we are to honour the Lord, truly and fully. God works through ordinary people, who give themselves to Him, the extraordinary God. God is looking for people who will say to Him, "Here am I, send me" (Isaiah 6:8).

The Lord Is Building His Church. Let Us Build For Him.

"A house in Shinar (Babylonia)" (Zechariah 5:11). Babylon is symbolic of the world that opposes God and His purpose. Even in 'Babylon', an unbelieving and disobedient world, God is building His House. "They are going to build a House" - There are human builders, but, ultimately, this is the work of the Lord. All the glory belongs to Him. We must not sit back, and say, "You do it, Lord." We acknowledge that, without God, no real work of lasting value will be done - but we also say, "We commit ourselves to You, Lord. We will not leave your work undone."
"Here  is the man whose name is Branch ... He will rebuild the Lord's Temple" (Zechariah 6:12), We read these words. We think of Jesus and His promise, "I will build My Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18). The servants of the Lord are sent out to different places (Zechariah 6:1-7). The "Spirit" of the Lord goes with them (Zechariah 6:8). It is the Spirit of the Lord who brings blessing when the Word of the Lord is preached. "Those who are far away will come and rebuild the Lord's Temple" (Zechariah 6:15). By ourselves, we are "far away" - far from God. Through Christ, we have been brought near - near to God. By His grace, he has saved us. By His grace,He will use us in the rebuilding of His Temple. There will be blessing when we are fully obedient to the Lord - This will happen if you obey the Lord your God completely" (Zechariah 6:15). Lord, lead us on to a closer walk with You and a fruitful witness for You.

Our God? or Ourselves?

Who is most important to us? Our God or ourselves (Zechariah 7:5-6)? This is the challenge that is placed before us by the prophets of God. Our way of thinking and our way of living must be laid bare by the Word of the Lord. God wants us to see ourselves as we really are. He wants us to see Him as He really is. By ourselves, we cannot move from a self-centred life to a God-centred life, but we can look to the Lord to change us. When we ask for the Lord's help, we don't suddenly become perfect, but we do receive help from the Lord - help to become more what He wants us to be.
We need both truth and holiness (Zechariah 8:3). Truth is not just something to be believed. Truth changes us. Truth leads us into the pathways of holiness. We need both "truth and peace" (Zechariah 8:19). When truth changes us, it leads us into the paths of peace. The holy life is not to be a life of pride. That is Pharisaism. We think that holiness is all our own doing. The way of true holiness is also the way of peace. We seek to show, by our way of living, that we have been saved by the Lord and changed by Him. We show that the Lord is working in us, when we learn to walk in the way of peace. We are not to be like the Pharisee who looks down his nose at other people. We are to reach out to them in peace. At the Cross, we have learned that we are loved. At the Cross, we learn to hold out the love of Christ to other people.

The Great Love Of God - Hallelujah! What A Saviour!

"Even outside the borders of Israel, the Lord is great (Malachi 1:5). The Lord is not great because we call Him great. We call Him great because He is great. When we worship God, we are not creating His greatness. We worship God because He is so much greater than we can put into words or even imagine. His greatness does not come from our understanding of Him or our faith in Him. our understanding is limited. Our faith is weak. Our God is great. We must never forget this. It's not about our great faith or our great understanding. It's about our great God. He is great in holiness and power. more than that, He is great in love. We see the greatness of His love in Christ, His Son, our Saviour. We see His love in the death of our Saviour - "Hallelujah! What a Saviour!" "His Name will be great among the nations" (Malachi 1:11). To say that God's greatness extends beyond Israel is not an excuse for complacency. We have a God-given responsibility to proclaim His greatness: "I am a great King" (Malachi 1:14). The Lord is King. He's the King of love. Let us never think that the Lord can be compared to earthly kings. He is far greater than any and every earthly king. He is to be the King in our worship. He is to be the King in every part of our life. When we say, "The Lord is King, we're not just speaking words - even words of faith. we're pointing to the reality - "The Lord is King" - and we're committing ourselves to living in the light of this reality.
God's Word speaks out against us so that we might learn to stop speaking against Him. We speak against Him when we present ourselves as righteous in His sight. To imagine that we are righteous is to be guilty of self-deception. If we are to enjoy the blessing that comes to us from the Lord, there is something that we must hear: "this warning is for you" (Malachi 2:1). Through the warning of the Gospel, we are brought into the position where we see ourselves as sinners. This is God's way of showing us our need of the Saviour. It's His way of leading us to Jesus.
There is, in Malachi 3:1, a prophecy which has two parts - John the Baptist, Jesus the Saviour. When Jesus comes to us, He makes us new (Malachi 3:2-3). This purpose of God - to make us holy - is in fulfilment of His plan, which has been spoken of in "the past, as in years long ago" (Malachi 3:4). In His coming, there is salvation, and there is also judgment (Malachi 3:5). When we speak about prophecy and fulfilment, there is something we must never forget: "I, the Lord, never change" (Malachi 3:6). When we read God's Word, we must pray that we will see the continuity that comes from the character of God. In Old Testament times, in New Testament times and today, He calls us to "return" to Him. He promises that He will "return" to us. As we are faithful in committing ourselves to Him, He will send His blessing to us (Malachi 3:7-10). This blessing is described in Malachi 3:11-12. If we are to enjoy His blessing, we must learn to stop speaking against Him (Malachi 3:12-14). It is a good thing to seek God's blessing. We must never take His blessing for granted. That is arrogance (Malachi 3:15). The better way is the way of fearing the Lord and serving Him (Malachi 3:16,18). When we give ourselves truly to the Lord, we will draw strength from this: "They will be mine, says the Lord of Armies. On that day I will make them My special possession" (Malachi 3:17).
"The Sun of Righteousness will rise ... " (Malachi 4:2). The perfect Son of God has risen from the dead. This is the great declaration of salvation. The resurrection - This is what stands at the heart of the New Testament. The resurrection stands at the centre of the Gospel of Christ. This is the thought that we are to carry with us into the New Testament.

The dedication of our lives to the Lord

David called God’s people to worship. They were ‘to raise sounds of joy’, praising the Lord with ‘loud music’. David did not leave it to others. He gave the lead. Along with all the others, he was there, ‘dancing and making merry’. He was a true spiritual leader. He ‘blessed the people in the Name of the Lord’. He called upon the people to ‘praise the Lord’ (1 Chronicles 15:16,28-29; 16:2,4). God calls us to worship Him continually’ (1 Chronicles 16:6). May God help us to be the kind of people who take ‘delight in the Word of the Lord, meditating on His Word day and night’ (Psalm 1:2). Our meditation on God’s Word is to be accompanied by obedience to His Word – ‘be careful to do according to all that is written in it’ (Joshua 1:8). This is the true ‘spiritual worship’ God is looking for – the dedication of our lives to Him (Romans 12:1).

God's Way Is The Best Way.

“As for God, His way is perfect” (Psalm 18:30).
The Lord knows what He has planned for each one of us. There are no surprises for Him. The Lord doesn’t leave us to travel on our own. He’s with us every step of the way. When we wonder about what’s happening in our lives, He is there, teaching us to say from the heart, “As for God, His way is perfect” (Psalm 18:30; 2 Samuel 22:31). He’s leading us to His Son, Jesus. He’s showing us our suffering Saviour. He’s showing us our risen Lord. He’s showing us that there is a way of peace, joy and love. It’s the way of Jesus. It’s the way of trusting Him. Keep your eyes on Jesus. He will lead you in His way. God’s blessing will surround you each day.

The Light Of God's Love, Truth And Holiness

“You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light” (Psalm 18:28).
Without You, Lord, we’re stumbling around in the dark. With You, we’re walking in the light – the light of Your love, the light of Your truth, the light of Your holiness.

Loved By The Lord - And Saved By Him

“Show Your marvellous lovingkindness …  O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer” (Psalm 17:7; Psalm 19:14).
The lessons that we discover in the Word of God are lessons that are given to us by revelation. God shows us His “marvellous lovingkindness.” He shows us His salvation. Learning about God’s love and His salvation – There is nothing more wonderful than this. To know that we are loved by the Lord and have been saved by Him – This is what gives us strength to keep on loving and praising Him as we travel with Him towards His glorious Kingdom.

Wholehearted Devotion

“And give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep Your commands, statutes and decrees and to do everything to build the palatial structure for which I have provided” (1 Chronicles 29:19).
We don’t begin with what’s on the outside – building the temple. We begin with what’s on the inside – “wholehearted devotion.” The first thing isn’t doing things for God. It’s loving the Lord. In the work of the Lord, there’s something we must never forget: The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. Everything good in the work of the Lord flows from this: “wholehearted devotion” to Him.

What God Has Done, What God Will Do

We look back, and we ‘give thanks to the Lord’, remembering ‘the wonderful works that He has done’ (1 Chronicles 16:8,12). We look forward, committing our future to the Lord in prayer, looking to Him to fulfil the promise He gives to those who call upon Him in heartfelt prayer: ‘If My people who are called by My Name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land’ (2 Chronicles 7:14).

"A voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”" (Luke 3:22).

What wonderful words about Jesus, our Saviour! He is God's beloved Son. He reveals God's love to us. What a great Saviour Jesus! - This is the great message that comes to us from Jesus' baptism. Jesus is more than a great man. His greatness is more than human greatness. His greatness comes from heaven. Jesus comes from heaven - "He came down wo earth from heaven, who is God and Lord of all" (from the hymn, "Once in royal David's city").

What we do for God can never compare with what He has done for us.

“Be sure to fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things He has done for you” (1 Samuel 12:24).
What we do for God cannot even begin to compare with what He has done for us.  Anything that we do – fearing the Lord and serving Him faithfully – can never repay the Lord for what He has done for us. He has done more for us than we could ever do for Him.

"We have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus " (Hebrews 10:19).

What a word of encouragement this is! When we are so deeply aware of our sin, these words make us more deeply aware of our Saviour.

"Love one another" (John 13:34); "Pray for each other" (James 5:16).

Jesus loves us. Jesus prays for us. If we are to follow Jesus, we will love one another and pray for one another. May the love of Jesus fill our hearts will love for one another. May the prayers of Jesus for us encourage us to keep on praying for one another. How can we do this? We need to learn to live in the power of the Holy Spirit, exchanging our weakness for the Lord’s strength (Isaiah 40:31). Strengthened by the Lord, we will enjoy more of His peace and His joy.

"Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (Psalm 90:12).

"Number our days" - what does this mean? Surely, it means that our life on earth will come to an end. How long will my life be? I don't know the answer to this question. How long will your life be? You don't know the answer to this question. "A heart of wisdom" - what does this mean? A lot more could be said about this, but, here, we say just one thing - it's about learning to live in the light of eternity.      

"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me" (Psalm 51:10).

"A pure heart" - this is what we don't have. This is what we need - a change of heart. This is something we can't do for ourselves. It needs to be done for us - by God, our Creator. We need a new creation. This is what God has given to us in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Often, we fail to live in the power of Christ. We revert back to living in the weakness of the flesh. We read, in this prayer, about "a steadfast spirit." We say, "This is what we need." God says, "This is  what I've already given to you." He says to us, "You are a new creation in Christ. This is what I have made you. I have given you new life in Christ. Live the life that you have been given."

Dion-Only Jesus

Wisdom and power - from God to us

"To God belong wisdom and power" (Job 12:13).
We need God. We need His wisdom. We need His power. How does God help us. How does He make our life better? He gives us His wisdom - to understand how He wants us to live. He gives us His power - to live the way He wants us to live. Before we can learn how God wants us to live, we must turn our eyes on Jesus. He is the Way - the true and living Way - to God (John 14:6). Once we have come to God through faith in Christ, we begin to live with wisdom and power - the wisdom of Christ and the power of Christ. Often, we will let our Lord down. We will not always live according to His wisdom. Often, our lives will speak more of our weakness rather than His power. This is when we must come before the Lord, confessing our sin, seeking receiving His forgiveness, and rejoicing in His great salvation. 

"Help me, Lord my God; save me according to Your unfailing love" (Psalm 109:26).


We need to be helped. We need to be saved. Salvation is the help that we need. Salvation comes to us from the Lord. It's His gift to us. It's the gift of His "unfailing love." It's the revelation of His "unfailing love." There's nothing like the love of God. It's the only "unfailing love." When all other loves fail, the Lord's love does not  fail. When human love comes to an end, the Lord's love continues. When human love lets us down, the Lord's love lifts us up. We pray to the Lord for salvation. He answers our prayers - because He loves us.

"To Him who is able to keep you ... be glory ... forevermore!"

"My heart, O God, is steadfast" (Psalm 108:1).
Can any of us really say this about ourselves? The answer is "No! We can't" - but there's something we can say about God, something wonderful: "Great is Your love, higher than the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the skies" (Psalm 108:4). It's God's love and faithfulness that gives us the strength that we need to become more and more steadfast as we travel through life with with the Lord. In Jude 21, we read, "Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life."We read the words, "Keep yourselves" - and we are filled with anxiety - This is exactly what we can't do for ourselves. This is when we need to hear about "God's love" and "the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ." When we look away from our own weakness to the great love God has for us, our hearts rejoice and we praise the Lord, thanking Him that He is able to keep us on the pathway that leads to eternal life - "To Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore!" (Jude 24-25).

Jesus, Paul ... and you (What will your future be?)

"I am Jesus, whom you (Saul of Tarsus) are persecuting ... I am sending you to the Gentiles to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Me" (Acts 26:15,17-18).
Jesus revealed Himself to Saul of Tarsus (see Acts 9). His life was never the same again.He was completely transformed. He became a man in love - with Jesus, a man on fire - for Jesus, a man on a mission - for Jesus. He became Paul the Apostle. He had such a high calling - "to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Me." He was given the strength that he needed to fulfil this high calling to the glory of God and the salvation of many people in so many different places. What great things Jesus did for Paul, in Paul and through Paul - and what great blessing came to so many people and places. It began on the day when the persecutor met the Saviour, the day when the persecutor was set on a new pathway, when the persecutor became the preacher. Whatever your past may have been, Jesus may have a wonderful future planned for you. Will you say "Yes" to Jesus and the future He has planned for you? I don't know what He has planned for you, but there's one thing I do know - it will be a much better future than the one you're planning for yourself. Life with Jesus is always better than life without Him.  
  

A holy man of God ...

"I know that this man who often comes our way is a holy man of God" (2 Kings 4:9).
What a wonderful reputation Elisha had. He was known as "a holy man of God" - What a reputation to be lived up to! How can any sinner become a holy man of God? This is the work of God's grace. No-one can make himself a holy man of God. God must do this, working in us by His power and His love. Holiness comes to us from the love of God and the power of God. The desire for holiness comes from the love of God. It begins when we see ourselves as sinners - and we is begin to long for something more of God in our lives. In His love, He assures us that it can be done - we can be changed. We can be made new. We cannot do this for ourseves, but God can do this for us. By His power - the power of his love - He changes us. We will never be without sin. We're sinners. We can't change that. This side of heaven, we can't get away from our sin - but we do have God's promise: "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6). God doesn't forgive our sins - and then leave us exactly the way we were before we received His forgiveness. He leads us on His "highway of holiness" (Isaiah 35:8). Often, we will fall from this high way, but, each time we fall, He will lift us up again. He will set us on our feet again - and lead us forward on His highway of holiness. Often, we will fail him, but He will not fail to fulfil His great purpose of love. By the way of true holiness - holiness which never loses sight of His love, He will lead us on to His heavenly and eternal glory. As we travel on this road, deeply conscious of our own weakness,we can only say this: To God be the glory! - "This is the Lord's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes" (Psalm 118:23).

Lovely, beautiful - what do these words mean?

"How lovely is Your dwelling-place, Lord Almighty!" (Psalm 84:1); "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news" (Isaiah 52:7).
Lovely, beautiful - what do these words mean? Where God is, there is love. When He comes into our hearts, He comes in His love - and we, sinners, become His dwelling-place. His love is not for keeping to ourselves. It's to be shared. We're to bring the "good news" of His love to other people. We're to let them that God loves them. This is a beautiful thing - sharing the Good News of God's love.

The joy of the Lord and the strength of the Lord

"Sing for joy to God our strength" (Psalm 81:4); "The joy of the Lord your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10).
Where does our joy come from? Where does our strength come from? Our joy comes from the Lord. Our strength comes from the Lord.  It's not really our joy and our strength. It's the joy of the Lord. It's the strength of the Lord. Everything good in us comes from Him. He puts it into our hearts. We come to Him with our sadness. He gives us His joy. We come to Him in our weakness. He gives us His strength.

Christ is always greater than our thoughts about Him.

"Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ" (Ephesians 3:8).

Paul was deeply conscious of his own inadequacy. He was profoundly grateful for the great privilege of being called to preach "the boundless riches of Christ." We can learn so much from Paul - so much about ourselves, so much about Christ. There is nothing great about ourselves. Everything about Christ is great. We must never think too highly of ourselves. We can never think too highly of Christ. He is always greater than our thoughts about Him.  

God has a question for us ...

"Can you fathom the mysteries of God?" (Job 11:7).

As we think about God, we are brought to the limits of our human understanding. We are reminded of this in Deuteronomy 29:29 - "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children for ever, that we may follow all the words of this law." Note that this verse ends with a call to live in obedience to God's Word. We don't have to understand everything about God to start living for Him. There will be many questions that we can't answer. There is one question that we must answer. It is God's question to us. He asks us, "Will you live for Me?"

No Condemnation

"There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1).
What a wonderful Word from the Lord this is! Wherever we look in our life, we feel that we are condemned - but, here, God says something else about us. he says something very wonderful. Jesus was not condemned. He is "God's beloved Son." God is "well pleased" with Him (Matthew 3:17). We say, "But that's Jesus - not us." True - but note what Paul tells us here. He says that we are "in Christ Jesus". When God looks on us, He does not see our sin. He sees His Son. He sees Jesus, our Saviour - and He says, " For you, in Christ Jesus, there is now no condemnation."

Blessing From The Lord

"They will receive blessing from the Lord ... " (Psalm 24:5).
Sometimes, it seems to us that it is impossible for us to be blessed by the Lord. We have sinned so much and so often. How can we possibly be blessed by the Lord? Are we overstating our sinfulness? The more we think about it, the more we realize that it is true - "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Then our thoughts move away from ourselves to Jesus - and we realize that God loves sinners - "God showed His love for us in this - while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).That's when we begin to see the wonderful truth of the Gospel of God's love - "the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23).

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

God’s Word for hard times

“Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31).

"The Highway of Holiness" (Isaiah 35:8)

It's  the highway of the heart. It's the highway of hope. It's the highway to heaven. 
 * Holiness is more than external conformity to a set of moral teachings. Holiness begins to grow in us when our hearts belong to Jesus, when Jesus lives in us.
* Holiness doesn't take away from our life. Holiness gives us hope for the future. We begin to see ourselves in terms of God's purpose of love. He hasn't given up on us. He's working in us to make us more like Jesus. 
 * Holiness leads us beyond our earthly journey. It leads us on to our heavenly destination. We're not saved by our own holiness. We're saved by God's grace. By His grace, our Heavenly Father leads us in the pathway of holiness. He's leading us on to His eternal glory. 
When we're walking om the highway of holiness, may we always say, "To God be the glory!" There can be no place for self-congratulation. All we can say is "Thank You, Lord."

"Say to the faint-hearted: 'Be strong; do not fear! Here is your God" (Isaiah 35:4).


What encouragement there is for us in the Word of the Lord. Our encouragement comes from the Lord. It is He who speaks to us His words of encouragement.

Awesome holiness, awesome love

"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty" (Isaiah 6:3); "Your sins are forgiven" (Isaiah 6:7).
"Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. I am the worst of them" (1 Timothy 1:15).
---
Awesome holiness: It was my sin which sent Christ to the Cross.
Amazing love: Christ has taken my sin to the Cross. I receive His forgiveness.

“I will sing for the one I love” (Isaiah 5:1).

Isaiah speaks here of our love for God. When we speak of our love for God, we must always remember this: God’s love for us comes before our love for Him. We sing to the One who has loved us. The song we sing to Him is the song of love: “Loving Him who first loved me.”
Lord, we sing a song of love. We sing about the best love of all - Your love for us. There is no love like Your love. It's the greatest love of all. It's Your love for us that inspires our love for You. Our love for You grows strong when we think less about our love for You - and more about Your love for us.

Salvation

"I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him" (Ecclesiastes 3:14).
God's salvation

- It's a permanent salvation: it "will endure forever";
- It's a complete salvation: "nothing can be added to it";
- It's a secure salvation: "nothing" can be "taken from it";
- It's a salvation which leads to worship: "so that men will revere Him."

" ... a faithful messenger ... refreshes the soul ..." (Proverbs 25:13).

God is calling us to be faithful and fruitful. Let us bring His Word to others. Let us bring his blessing to them. 

What kind of people are we to be?

What kind of people are we to be? What kind of life are we to live? Lord, You're calling us to live a life of "love" (Proverbs 17:9). How, Lord, do we learn what love is? - We learn from You. You show us what love is - "God so loved the world that He gave His only Son ... " (John 3:16). In Jesus, we see perfect love - "The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20). The Holy Spirit fills our lives with Your love - "The fruit of the Spirit is love" (Galatians 5:22). Help us, Lord, to live a Godly, Christlike, Spirit-filled life - a life of love.

What great love, Lord, You have for us.

Leviticus 27:1-34
What great love, Lord, You have for us. There is no love like Your love for us. It's the best love! What joy You give to us - the joy that comes from knowing that we are loved with "everlasting love" (Jeremiah 31:3). Help us, Lord, to rejoice in Your love, to be changed by Your love, to share Your love. Your love: It's the best thing we could ever receive from You - and it's the best thing we can pass on to other people!

Lord, help us never to think, "We are blessed because we are obedient."

Leviticus 26:1-46
Lord, help us never to think, "We are blessed because we are obedient." Help us always to say, "We are blessed because You love us and Jesus died for us." Your love for us, Jesus' death for us:  This is where the blessing comes from - and it's where our obedience comes from! We think of Your great love for us. We think of Jesus, crucified for us.  We say, "Lord, You love me. Help me to love You." We say, "Jesus, You died for me. Help me to live for You." This is how Your blessing comes to us - You show us how much You love us, You put Your love into our hearts, the obedience grows stronger - and so does the blessing!

Lord, when hard times come our way ...

Lord, when hard times come our way, help us to remember that "Your steadfast love never ceases" (Lamentations 3:22). When bad things are happening to us, help us to keep on remembering that You are still the good God. Who are we to say that You are no longer with us – just because we’re going through a hard time? You’re with us in our bad days as well as our good days. You’ve promised to be with us every step of the way. Who are we to suggest that You’ve gone away and left us to go it alone? Help us to trust Your promises – and not to get dragged away from You by our feelings which can go up and down like a yoyo. Sometimes, we’re up. Sometimes, we’re down. With You, there are no ups and down – You’re always the faithful God. You’re always near to us – even when we feel that You’re far away from us. We’ve wandered far away from You – but You’re always near to us. Thank You, Lord, that You are always with us.

Lord, You are the God of holiness. You are the God of love.

Exodus 32:15-33:23
Lord, You are the God of holiness. You are the God of love. Your holiness is loving holiness. Your love is holy love. Help us to see that Your holiness and Your love belong together. It's not one without the other. It's not holiness without love. It's not love without holiness. We need both - Your holiness and Your love. Your holiness shows us our sin. Your love forgives our sin. You love us. Help us to love You - and be changed by Your holy love.

We thank You, Lord, that "we have peace with You through our Lord Jesus Christ"

Leviticus 3:1-4:35
We thank You, Lord, that "we have peace with You through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1). We thank You that "Jesus is our peace" (Ephesians 2:14). This peace is not something that comes from within ourselves. It comes to us from outside of ourselves. It comes from above. It comes to us from You. It's given to us. It's Your gift. We cannot give this gift to ourselves. We can only receive it by faith - faith in Jesus, our Saviour.

Lord, You are the God of perfect holiness. You are the God of perfect love.

Leviticus 18:24-19:37
Lord, You are the God of perfect holiness. You are the God of perfect love. You call us to a life of holiness. You call us to a life of love. How are to live this life of holiness and love? We need the Holy Spirit - the Spirit of love. Without Him, we cannot even begin to live this new life - the life of holiness and love. We thank You, Lord, that You have not left us to live this life in our own strength - "the Holy Spirit ... lives in us" (2 Timothy 1:14).

Lord, what are we to do about our sin?

Leviticus 14:33-15:33
Lord, what are we to do about our sin? What can we do about it? It keeps on spreading. We can't do anything about this. It just gets worse and worse. What can be done about this? We can do nothing - but Jesus can do something about it. He's our Saviour. He comes to us in love. He comes to us in power. He forgives our sin. He gives us a new beginning. The past is put behind us. Jesus leads us on to Your eternal glory. Hallelujah! - "This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes" (Psalm 118:23).

We thank You, Lord, that "the vilest offender, who truly believes, that moment, from Jesus, a pardon receives."

Leviticus 13:47-14:32
We thank You, Lord, that "the vilest offender , who truly believes, that moment, from Jesus, a pardon receives." By faith, we receive Your forgiveness - but we never earn Your forgiveness. Forgiveness is always Your gift. It's never a reward. By faith, we look away from ourselves. We look to Jesus, our Saviour. We do not say, "How great is my faith." We say, "How great is my Saviour."

Lord, we thank You that the blood of Your Son, Jesus, cleanses us from all sin.

Leviticus 12:1-13:46
Lord, we thank You that the blood of Your Son, Jesus, cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7). We come to the Cross of Christ in our failure. At the Cross of Christ, we receive Your forgiveness. We bring our sin to the Saviour. He gives to us His salvation. Bring us, Lord, out of the darkness of our sin and into the light of Your salvation.

Lord, we thank You that Your call to holiness begins with Your call to salvation.

Leviticus 11:1-47
Lord, we thank You that Your call to holiness begins with Your call to salvation. We're not left to go it alone. You come to us. You come as our Saviour. You take us as we are - but You don't leave us the way You found us. You start changing us. You have great plans for us. You're making us more like Your Son, Jesus. We trust Jesus. We receive His salvation. Help us to follow Him, to be changed by Him, to become more like Him.

Lord, You are holy. We are sinners.You see our sin - and You keep on loving us.

Leviticus 9:1-10:20
Lord, You are holy. We are sinners. You see our sin - and You keep on loving us. We see Jesus - and we know that You will never stop loving us. Help us, Lord, to confess our sin and to receive Your forgiveness. Lead us out of our sin and into Your holiness - and help us to give all the glory to You.

Lord, You love us. You call us to love You.

Leviticus 8:1-36
Lord, You love us. You call us to love You. Help us, Lord, to grow in our love for You - to obey Your Word, to do Your will, to walk in Your way.

Lord, show us our pride - and teach us to humble ourselves before You.

Exodus 7:25-8:32
Lord, show us our pride - and teach us to humble ourselves before You. Show us Your power and teach us to trust You to do great things in and through us.

We thank You, Lord, that Your Son, Jesus, is "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."

Leviticus 1:1-2:16
We thank You, Lord, that Your Son, Jesus, is "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). In His death for us, we see Your love for us. Help us to come to the Cross of Christ. Help us to worship You in the beauty of holiness. Help us to celebrate Your love in the spirit of thanksgiving.

Lord, help us to listen to Your Word ...

Exodus 40:1-38
Lord, help us to listen to Your Word, walk in Your way and "worship You in Spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). These are the things that matter most. Are they our priorities? We know, Lord, that they should be our priorities - but we are often distracted. We lose our focus. Other things become more important to us. "Restore our souls and lead us in the paths of righteousness for Your Name's sake" (Psalm 23:3).

Lord, we want blessing - but we're not so keen on obedience.

Exodus 39:1-43
Lord, we want blessing - but we're not so keen on obedience. Help us to learn from Jesus. For Him, obedience was everything. He was fully obedient. For Him, it meant the Cross (Philippians 2:8). Lord, help us not to be thinking, "What are we going to get out of this?" Help us to be praying, "How can we do Your will? How can we bring glory to You?"

We thank You, Lord, that Your Son, Jesus, is "pure gold."

Exodus 37:1-29
We thank You, Lord, that Your Son, Jesus, is "pure gold." There's nothing better than Jesus. there's no-one better than Him. He's the very best. What Jesus has done for us - this is "pure gold." He died for us. He was raised to life for us. This is Good News. It's the best news we could ever hear. Lord, help us not to get bogged down in the bad news of our sin. Lord, lift us up with the Good News of our Saviour.

Teach us, Lord, that it's not all about us.

Exodus 36:8-38
Teach us, Lord, that it's not all about us. It's not about getting ourselves noticed. It's all about You. It's about giving all the glory to You.

Help us, Lord, never to think that we have nothing to offer to You.

Exodus 35:1-36:7
Help us, Lord, never to think that we have nothing to offer to You. We can never save ourselves. That is something that You must do for us. We have been saved by Your grace. Now, we must serve You in Your strength. You gave Your Son for us. Help us to give ourselves to You. May we never be half-hearted in our devotion to You. Help us to be whole-hearted in all that we do for You.

Lord, You are the faithful God.

Exodus 34:1-35
Lord, You are the faithful God. You give us Your promises. You keep Your promises. You never go back on Your Word. You always stand by the Word that You have spoken. Your promises come to us from the past. They lead us on into Your future. What a wonderful future You are planning for us. We thank You for Jesus' great promise: "I go to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2). Help us to receive His Word, to rejoice in His promise, to be renewed by His love.

Lord, You call us to speak Your Word - but, first, You call us to listen to Your Word.

Exodus 24:1-18
Lord, You call us to speak Your Word - but, first, You call us to listen to Your Word. How can we speak for You if we're not listening to You? Help us to come to the Cross of Christ. Help us to hear the voice of Your love. Send us from the that holy place - the place of His crucifixion, the place of our salvation - back into the world. May we return to the world as people who've been changed - changed by the love of Christ. 

So often, Lord, we get preoccupied with ourselves.

Exodus 30:1-38
So often, Lord, we get preoccupied with ourselves. Our words say that You are more important than anyone else. Often, our lives tell a very different story - 'It's all about us. It's all about what pleases us.' How can we be changed? Lead us to the Cross of Your Son, Jesus. Show us Jesus - dying for us. Teach us to live for Him. Lift us out of our weakness and failure into Your strength and victory - and help us to praise You with hearts that are becoming more God-centred and less self-centred.

Sometimes, Lord, our lights are switched off.

Exodus 27:20-29:9 
Sometimes, Lord, our lights are switched off. Sometimes, they're switched on. The light of Your love is never switched off. It's always switched on. Your love is 'all the time' love. There is no love like Your love for us. It's the only 'always and forever' love. Thank You, Lord, for the light that never stops shining - the light of Your undying love. This is the only light that is always shining.

"He that winneth souls is wise" (Proverbs 11:30).

Be wise. Win souls.
"Those are the best educated ministers, who win the most souls" (Charles Finney) - It is estimated that over 250,000 souls were converted as the result of Finney's preaching!
"Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever" (Daniel 12:3).

Brighter and brighter ...

"But the path of righteous people is like the light of dawn that becomes brighter and brighter until it reaches midday. 19 The way of wicked people is like deep darkness. They do not know what makes them stumble" (Proverbs 4:18-19).
What a contrast there is between the "light" of the "righteous" and the "darkness" of the "wicked." The light that shines upon us is the light of the Lord. It is the light of his love, the best love, the greatest love of all, the love that never lets us go, the love that never comes to an end, everlasting love. It's God's love that brings us out of our darkness and into his light. Praise the Lord! 

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.

The Search For Wisdom

The search for wisdom may begin for us with the question, “What does the book of Proverbs teach us about wisdom?”, but it must not end there. While it is important to learn what the Old Testament has to say to us, we should not allow ourselves to get trapped in the Old Testament so that we fail to look beyond the first stage of God’s revelation and see the fullness of God’s revelation – our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ: “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by His Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2).
The book of Proverbs encourages us to search for wisdom. In our search for wisdom, we find that we are led beyond the book of Proverbs. We read what the New Testament says to us – “you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). We are to led to “Christ” who is “the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24). Christ leads us beyond “man’s wisdom” (1 Corinthians 1:25). Whatever else may be said about wisdom, there is one thing that we must always say, “Christ Jesus … has become for us wisdom from God” (1 Corinthians 1:30).
We do learn about wisdom as we read the book of Proverbs – but there is more to learn than the book of Proverbs, on its own, is able to teach us. In the book of Proverbs, we read of “Wisdom” calling out to us (Proverbs 1:20-21). In the Gospels, Jesus speaks to us. He tells us that He is “the Truth” (John 14:6). He tells us that He is “the Light” (John 8:12). We seek understanding. We seek enlightenment. We find these things in Jesus. We are truly wise when we build our life on Christ (Matthew 7:24-27).
When, in the book of Proverbs, we read the words, “Get wisdom” (Proverbs 4:7), we must follow where our search for wisdom leads us. For us, “Get wisdom” means more than it meant for the writer of the book of Proverbs. It means, “Come to Christ and receive salvation.”
Whatever we may learn about wisdom from the book of Proverbs, this is only the beginning of our search. From there, we look to Jesus and we see that in Him are “‘all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’ (Colossians 2:3) – all that we need for salvation, sanctification and service.

Lord, we come to You in our weakness.

Exodus 6:14-7:24
Lord, we come to You in our weakness. We receive Your strength. In our weakness, we fail. Through Your strength, we shall triumph. When we're stumbling along in weakness, help us to say, with ever-increasing faith, "Our God is marching on to glorious victory."

Often, Lord, we fail You - and we wonder why You bother with us.

Exodus 4:1-31
Often, Lord, we fail You - and we wonder why You bother with us. We thank You, Lord,that You never fail us. When we let You down, You lift us up. Help us, Lord, not to be shaped by our failure. Help us to be transformed by Your love and power. Help us to respond to Your call to "attempt great things for You and expect great things from You" (William Carey).

Lord, there is work to be done.

Exodus 38:1-31
Lord, there is work to be done. It's Your work. Help us all to play our part. We leave it to someone else - and it never gets done. Change us, Lord. Spectators can become workers. Help us not to hang back - on the sidelines. You're calling us to come into the centre of Your will and Your work. When we're tempted to stand back and watch, help us to come forward and work. Help us to remember this: "There's a work of Jesus none but we can do."

Lord, what are we to do when we're going through a hard time?

Exodus 1:1-2:10
Lord, what are we to do when we're going through a hard time? Hard times can be the breaking of us - or the making of us. We can blame You - or we can trust You. Help us to trust You - to know that You are near, even when it feels like You are far away.

Saved By The Lord - And Obedient To Him

Exodus 18:1-20:26
The Word of God tells us what God has done for His people: “the Lord saved them” (Exodus 18:8). The Word of God teaches us that being saved by the Lord places us under responsibility to be obedient to Him (Exodus 19:4-5). the vital connection between salvation and obedience is brought out clearly in the giving of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). Before speaking to His people about what they must do if they are to live as His obedient people, God reminds them of what He has done for them: “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of slavery in Egypt” (Exodus 20:2). We must never forget how much the Lord has done for us. If we lose sight of His love, His grace and His mercy, so wonderfully revealed to us in our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, our ‘obedience’ will be nothing but legalism. Real obedience comes from real salvation. It comes to us from the God of our salvation.

The God Of Abraham

Genesis 12:1-3
Our concern is not so much with Abraham. Our chief focus of attention is on “the God of Abraham.” The story of Abraham is both the story of Abraham and the story of God’s grace and power. We see the grace of God, revealed in the promises of God. We see the power of God, revealed in the fulfilment of His promises: “God can do anything; God can do anything; god can do anything but fail; He can save. He can keep. He can cleanse, and He will. God can do anything but fail.”
God’s promise to Abraham has three parts: (a) personal – “I will bless you; (b) national – “I will make of you a great nation”; (c) universal – “by you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” As the fulfilment of God’s promise moves forward from Abraham to Israel to Christ, we hear God’s Word speaking to us: “I will bless you” – saved, kept, cleansed.
As we receive the blessing of God’s salvation, we discover how faithful God is, in His love towards us. “God can do anything but fail” – God cannot fail, because He is the everlasting God. He is Lord. He is carrying out His purpose, the purpose of His unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable love. This purpose of love is expressed in His promises. His promises have been fulfilled in Christ. His promises are offered to us today. These promises are summed up in the simple yet rich words, “I will bless you.” His promises express “the unchangeable character of His purpose” (Hebrews 6:17). We know that God will not fail us. He will not let us down. He will not forsake us. He will not leave us. We know this not only because of the promise given to Abraham. We know that God is faithful, in His love, because of the Cross of Christ – “the sure and steadfast anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19).
As we learn about the faithfulness of God, we discover that the God of Abraham is our  God, and the God of Jesus Christ is our God. We find ourselves drawn to Him. This isn’t a superficial and shallow attraction. It’s a deep devotion. It’s a heartfelt, loving loyalty. As we think about God’s faithfulness, our hearts are filled with hope for the future. This hope is summed up for us in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, our Saviour. we think of Him, and we say, “Hallelujah! What a Saviour!”

Lord, when You speak to us ...

Genesis 1:4-13                                  
Lord, when You speak to us, help us to say, ‘Your will be done’ (Matthew 6:10).
‘Let it be to me according to Your Word’ (Luke 1:38) - This was Mary’s prayer. May it also be our prayer. By ourselves, we are helpless and hopeless - Without Your help, we have no hope of doing Your will and pleasing You. We need Your Holy Spirit - May the Spirit’s ‘living water’ flow in us (John 7:37-39). Thank You, Lord, for the gift of Your Holy Spirit - He gives us the power to ‘walk in the light’ (1 John 1:7) with You. Lead us in the way of fruitfulness - the way of “love, joy, peace ..." (Galatians 5:22-23).

Lord, we thank You for Your “amazing grace” ...

Lord, we thank You for Your “amazing grace” – “I once was lost but now am found” (John Newton). We think about our life. Did we find our way back to You?  - No! You found us! You came looking for us – and You found us. We think about this – and we say, “Hallelujah!” We say, “Praise the Lord!” Do we say, “Hallelujah! We have found Him”? We do say this – but there is something more than this: “Hallelujah! He has saved me.” Thank You, Lord, for Your amazing grace.

Friday, 15 March 2019

No-one else can ever be more important and more wonderful than Jesus.

Knowing the Lord Jesus Christ is more important and more wonderful than everything else (Philippians 3:8).

Paul's testimony lifts us above the shallow superficiality of the worldly way of thinking. Too often, we attach too much importance to the things that aren't really that important. We need to be reminded that Jesus is the most important Person of all. No-one else can ever be more important and more wonderful than Jesus.

To You, Lord, be all the glory ...

To You, Lord, be all the glory – You have done so many great things for us.
So many blessings – and they all come from You, Lord.
Our sins have been forgiven. You’ve come to live in us.
Such great blessing – but this is just the beginning!
You’re leading us on to eternal life.
Lord, when our heads go down, help us to lift up our eyes.
Help us to “come and see the shining hope.” Help us to look through heaven’s “open door.” Help us to catch a glimpse of “the mighty multitudes of heaven … singing, ‘Alleluia!’ … Love has the victory for ever!” (Mission Praise, 86).

Called To Be A Prophet Of God

Jeremiah 1:4-10
How old was Jeremiah when he was called to be a prophet of God? We don't know. We do know that this was the great turning-point of his life. This was the day that he discovered the meaning, purpose and direction of his life. This was revealed to him by God. This call gave him strength to face many difficult times.

Facts, Faith, Feelings

Psalm 46:1-11
"God is our refuge and our strength ..." (Psalm 46;1). "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). First, the truth about God; Then, our feelings are brought into line with the truth about God,
Facts; Faith; Feelings
 * Facts - Christ's death and resurrection for us 
 * Faith - I believe the facts. My faith is built on the sure foundation - Christ, the rock of my salvation.
 * Feelings - Never start with feelings. They will lead you astray.
Safety; Certainty; Enjoyment
 * Safety - We have been saved by the Lord. It's His doing - not ours.
 * Certainty - We believe His Word. We stand upon His promises.
 * Enjoyment - We enjoy His blessing.

Lord, Your Word challenges us ...

Genesis 40:1-23
Lord, Your Word challenges us, "What do you want to get out of life?" Help us to look carefully at what is important to us. Are we 'looking after No. 1'? Lord, give us ambitions that do not centre on ourselves. Give us a deep persistent desire to glorify You in all that we do - and to find that this is the way of true and lasting joy!

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 ...