Friday, 28 June 2019

When we are honest about ourselves …

If we to think big thoughts about the love of God for us, we must learn to be honest about ourselves. When we are honest about ourselves, we will learn to appreciate how wonderful the Lord’s love really is.
In Ephesians 2:1, Paul gives us a devastating description of ourselves – “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins.”Don’t you think that sounds a bit pessimistic? There is optimism in Paul’s teaching, but it doesn’t come until Ephesians 2:4-5 – “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love for us, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” What is it that changes Paul’s view of us? It’s God. It’s His love. It’s His grace. It’s His mercy. Without His love, our situation is hopeless. without Him, we’re in a dark alone – and we can’t lift ourselves out of it. By ourselves, it just can’t be done. We need to be lifted out of this dark hole. This needs to be done for us by the Lord. Praise God! This is what He has done for us. we were “dead” – and He has “made us alive.” This is the work of His love. His grace and His mercy. In love, He has reached out to us us through His Son, Jesus, crucified and risen for us. In mercy, He withholds from us the judgment we deserve. In grace, He pours upon the salvation we don’t deserve. All praise To God – the great God of our salvation! 

A Human Problem That Needs - And Has - A Divine Solution

"The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure" (Jeremiah 17:9). What did Jeremiah mean when he said this? The words of the Rev Eric Alexander sum up Jeremiah's point very well: "The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart."
When we read Jeremiah's words on their own, we may find, in them, a counsel of despair - "Give up hope. Everything is hopeless." When, however, we move forward to Jeremiah 31:3, we read these wonderful words, “I have loved you with an everlasting love." These words are followed, in Jeremiah 31:17, by the positive declaration, "there is hope."
Where does this hope come from? It comes from God's everlasting love. Humanly speaking, there is no cure, and there is no hope. There needs to be something more than "Humanly speaking ... " All that "humanly speaking" tells us is this: you are sinners. The Gospel tells us that sinners are loved by God and can be saved by Him.: "Jesus Christ saves to the uttermost all who come to God through Him" (Hebrew 7:25). Jesus comes down to where we are and He lifts us out of the pit of our despair.
We cannot claim that we have been fully delivered from our self-centredness - but we are in the process of recovery. The first thing we must say about ourselves is this: "I'm a sinner." This is not, however, the only thing that we can say about ourselves. There is something else - "I'm a sinner, saved by grace."
In the Lord, there is fullness of grace. Out of the fullness of His grace, we have received grace - not once or twice, but many times over (John 1:16).
While we're here on earth, we'll never outgrow our need for His grace - but neither will He exhaust the supply of His grace.

Bad News About Ourselves … Good News From God

Can … a leopard change its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil” (Jeremiah 13:23).
A leopard can’t become a lion or a tiger. A sinner can’t stop being a sinner. Sinners – that’s what we are. Sinners – that’s we always will be. Looking at ourselves, looking at what we are – there’s no good news in that. We look at ourselves, and we can feel quite pleased with ourselves – if we don’t look too closely. The closer we look, the more we become aware that we’re very far from being the kind of people we should be.
Is it all bad news about ourselves? Yes! If we keep on looking at ourselves and fail to look away from ourselves to the Lord. If, however, we look at the Lord, we start to see ourselves differently. We see ourselves in the light of His grace. A bright light shines on us. It’s the light of His love. It’s the light of His salvation.
When we’re learning to look away from ourselves to the Lord, we begin to realize that there is Good News. This Good News is God’s News. He says to us, “I’ve got news for you. I love you – and My love is stronger than your sin.”
Returning to Jeremiah’s illustration of the leopard and its spots, we have to say that we still have our “spots” – but there’s something else we can say: the Lord is working on them!

Travelling With Humility And Courage

God sees us as we are – and He loves us. This is the great message that comes to us from the hymn, “Just as I am.” Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, didn’t wait for us to come to Him before He came to us. He didn’t wait for us to live for Him before He died for us.
When we come  to Jesus, in response to His coming to us, He doesn’t leave us the way we were before we came to Him. He begins to change us. Our coming to Jesus is the beginning of a journey. We’re travelling from what we were without Christ to what we are becoming in Him.
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face” (1 Corinthians 13:12). These words of Paul can be understood as a description of our journey of faith. We’ve only just begun to get to know the Lord. We still have a long way to go. 
In Philippians 3:12-14, Paul describes his own spiritual journey:
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
In our journey with Christ, Paul teaches us that we are to travel with humility and courage. In humility, we must never lose sight of our own inadequacy – “Not that I have already obtained all of this, or have already arrived at my goal.” In courage, we must “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” we do this in the firm conviction that the Lord’s working in us and through us is not limited by our limitations. We are being shaped by His grace – and His grace is greater than our sin.

We did not find Jesus. He found us.

In the Christian life, we will get nowhere if we start with ourselves. We cannot even begin the journey of faith if we do not begin by looking away from ourselves to Jesus Christ, our Saviour. Before our journey even begins, there is Jesus’ journey towards us. He “came “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke  19:10). Before He came to us, we were lost. We did not find Him. He found us.

Out Of This World!

“Out of this world!” – Sometimes, we use this phrase to describe something we like a lot. We exaggerate. We make something out to be better than it really is. When we speak about Jesus, our Saviour, we really mean it – He’s out of this world: “Who came down from heaven to earth? Jesus Christ our Saviour.” When we speak about God’s great salvation, we really mean it – It’s out of this world: ““What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Friday, 14 June 2019

A History Of Sin - And A History Of Salvation

Lord, we read about Israel’s sin - ‘They soon forgot what He had done and did not wait for His counsel... They despised the pleasant land; they did not believe His promise... They grumbled in their tents and did not obey the Lord... They rebelled against the Spirit of God’(Psalm 106:13,24-25,33). This is not only ancient history. It’s the story of our life! We read this, and we must join in Israel’s confession of sin: ‘We have sinned, even as our fathers did; we have done wrong and acted wickedly’(Psalm 106:6). We thank You, Lord, that the history of Israel is not only a history of sin. It's also a history of salvation: ‘He saved them...’(Psalm 106:8,10). When, Lord, we read of Your salvation, may we echo the prayer of Your people - ‘Save us, O Lord our God...’ May we join with them in praising You - ‘Praise be to the Lord...’(Psalm 106:47-48).

What, Lord, are we to do when the world, the flesh and the devil are threatening to overwhelm us?

Psalm 109:1-31 
Lord, we come to You, recognizing that, without You, our situation is hopeless - ‘I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me. I fade away like an evening shadow’(Psalm 109:22). When our enemies are on the attack, we are no match for them. What are we to do when the world, the flesh and the devil are threatening to overwhelm us? We must come to You, Lord, praying for Your help, asking You to save us - ‘Help me, O Lord my God; save me in accordance with Your love’(Psalm 109:26). Help us, Lord, to look away from ourselves and our own weakness. Help us to put our trust in You and Your strength. You will not fail us. You ‘stand beside’ us in our time of testing. You ‘save’ us from our enemies. Help us to keep on praising You: ‘I will greatly praise the Lord with my mouth. I will praise Him among many people...’(Psalm 109:30-31).

Lord, our situation seems to be utterly hopeless. How can we possibly win the victory?

Psalm 108:1-13 
‘With God we shall gain the victory. He will trample down our enemies’(Psalm 108:13). In ourselves, Lord, there is only defeat. We are no match for ‘our enemies’- the world, the flesh and the devil. We are surrounded by the world - ‘The world is ever near. I see the sights that dazzle. The tempting sounds I hear’. We live with the constant problem of the flesh - ‘the storms of passion, the murmurs of self-will.’ Behind the world and the flesh, there is an even stronger enemy - the devil: ‘Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against... the spiritual forces of evil...’(Ephesians 6:12). Lord, our situation seems to be utterly hopeless. How can we possibly win the victory? The simple truth is: We cannot. There is, however, a deeper truth: You, Lord, are with us - and ‘with God we shall win the victory’!

The Holy City or The Holy Saviour?

"… Jerusalem, the city where I chose to place My Name” (1 Kings 11:36).
Jerusalem is called the Holy City. It’s not so much Jerusalem that’s holy. It’s the Name of the Lord that’s holy – and He has placed His holy Name in Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, Jesus died for us and rose again for us. Again, it’s not Jerusalem that’s holy. It’s our Saviour who’s holy. Jerusalem’s a special place because Jesus is special. There’s no one like Him. He’s our Lord. He’s our Saviour.

Help us, Lord, to throw away our bad fruit and enjoy Your good fruit.

Proverbs 14:1-19
“A perverse man will be filled with the fruit of his ways, and a good man with the fruit of his deeds” (Psalm 14:14). Lord, You speak to us about two kinds of fruit – good fruit and bad fruit. How are we to have good fruit in our lives? Help us, Lord, to throw away our bad fruit – “strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness … ” – and enjoy Your good fruit. We need Your Word (Psalm 1:1-3). We need Your Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). – “love, joy, peace … ” (Galatians 5:19-24).

Can The Famine Become A Harvest?

In Ruth 2, there’s a beautiful picture of harvest. Look back to Ruth 1:1 – “There was a famine in the land.” The Christian life’s like that. It’s not always harvest. Sometimes, it’s famine. Sometimes, we feel like we’re on the mountain-top. At other times, we’re in the wilderness. Whatever your circumstances, remember this – God knows what’s best for you. In the happy times and the testing times, be sure of this – God is not far from you, He’s with you, He loves you and He wants to bless you. When it seems like nothing’s going right for you, take time to think about what the Lord has done for you and give thanks to Him.
When things are going well, don’t take God’s blessing for granted. He can withdraw His blessing from us if we don’t give thanks to Him – that’s the warning Jesus gives us in the parable of the rich fool (Luke 12:13-21).
When things are going badly, don’t let your head go down. Don’t start thinking that God’s blessing will never return to you again. This is the message which comes to us from the book of Ruth. At first, there was famine. Later on, there was harvest. Let’s pray that God will renew our walk with Him. Let’s pray that He will revive our work for Him.
In the happy times and the testing times, let’s count our blessings. Sometimes, we think that we can decide when we’re going to rejoice and when we’re going to complain. God says, “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4). This is joy in the Lord. It doesn’t depend on us. It comes from the Lord. Good things may happen to us. Bad things may happen to us. In the good times and the bad times, let us “rejoice in the Lord.”
In the Lord’s Prayer, we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” What we’re saying is this. We depend on the Lord. Every good gift comes from Him. Without His blessing, our life is empty. Our life may seem to be full of good things. If Christ isn’t living in us, our life is empty. Don’t be like the rich fool. He lost everything that mattered to him. Life is more than things. We can’t take them with us. Real life is Jesus living in us. It’s the beginning of eternal life.

Strengthened By The Lord

We thank You, Lord, for Your gift of the Holy Spirit. We are not called to serve You in our own strength. We come to You in our weakness. You give to us Your strength. This is the strength that we need - the strength that comes from You.

Is There A Revelation In A Genealogy?

Ruth 4:18-22

“A genealogy is a striking way of bringing before us the continuity of God’s purpose through the ages. The process of history is not haphazard. There is a purpose in it all. And the purpose is the purpose of God.” (Leon Morris, Ruth).

When things are going badly and we feel like giving up ...

Psalm 105:23-45 
‘He brought His people out with joy’(Psalm 105:43). When things are going badly and we feel like giving up, help us, Lord, to remember Your Word: ‘The joy of the Lord is your strength’(Nehemiah 8:10). You're calling us to ‘rejoice in You always’. You do not leave us on our own when our time of testing comes. You are there for us in our time of need: ‘My God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus’(Philippians 4:4,19). When we are deeply conscious of our own weakness, You come to us with Your Word of strength: ‘My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness’(2 Corinthians 12:9). Through Your Word, we receive strength. Your Word brings joy to us. May we sing ‘glad songs of victory’: ‘The Lord is my Strength, my Song, my Saviour’(Psalm 118:14-15).

How, Lord, do we receive Your strength?

Psalm 105:1-22
‘Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always. Remember the wonderful works that He has done...’(Psalm 105:4-5). Lord, You give strength to those who put their trust in You. Trusting in Christ, we have this great testimony: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’(Philippians 4:13). How, Lord, do we receive Your strength? We must '‘seek Your face always'. We must not think we can face difficult circumstances in our strength. Without Your strength, we will be defeated. You have helped us in the past. Help us never to forget this. Help us to give thanks to You for every victory won. As we face temptation, help us to remember Your promise of victory: ‘God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your strength. With the temptation, He will also provide the way of escape...’(1 Corinthians 10:13).

Are we to say, ‘God loves me. I can do what I like’?

Psalm 103:1-22
‘Praise the Lord’(Psalm 103:1-2,20-22). Lord, You're calling us to praise You for His ‘steadfast love’. You are ‘abounding in steadfast love’(Psalm 103:8). How are we to respond to Your ‘steadfast love’? Are we to say, ‘God loves me. I can do what I like’? No! We must not think like this. We’re not to say, ‘I’ll keep on sinning. God will keep on forgiving’(Romans 6:1-2). Your Word tells us something very different. You love us. Teach us to love You. When Your ‘steadfast love’ has really touched our hearts, it changes our lives: ‘As the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him... The steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon those who fear Him’(Psalm 103:11,17). We thank You, Lord, for Your love. Help us to live to please You!

Are Things Really So Different?

Psalms 101:1-102:28 
‘I will sing of Your love... I will walk with integrity of heart...’(Psalm 101:1-2). Lord, we read these words, from many centuries ago, and, too quickly, we say, ‘Things are very different now.’ Are they really so different? Are worshipping You and walking with You out-of-date now? Are they to be forgotten? So many people have no time for You, Lord. They feel that they can do without You. They refuse to worship You. They do not walk with You. In our ever-changing world, You keep on speaking to us about something we must never forget: You, Lord, are ‘enthroned for ever’. Your ‘Name endures to all generations’. In all the changes of life, You, Lord, ‘remain the same’. Your ‘years go on through all generations’. Your ‘years will never end’(Psalm 102:12,24,27). Lord, we read Your Word, and we say, "These words were ‘written for a future generation’". They were written for us. Help us never to forget to ‘praise You’(Psalm 102:18)!

Lord, You are the King - ‘the King all-glorious above’, ‘the King of love.’

Psalms 96:1-97:12 
‘The Lord reigns’(Psalm 96:10; Psalm 97:1). Lord, You are the King. You are not only ‘the King all-glorious above’. You are ‘the King of love’. You are ‘our Maker, Defender, Redeemer and Friend!’ You are not only ‘the King of heaven’. You are ‘the God of grace’. You are ‘the King of mercy.’ Your reign is not to be restricted to some faraway heaven. It is not to be a reign that is far removed from the practicalities of our everyday life. You want to reign in our hearts. You want to reign in every part of our life. May Your reign of love begin. May Your grace and mercy control all that we do.

God Is Good To Us Today.

“Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to His people Israel just as He promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises He gave through His servant Moses. May the Lord our God be with us as He was with our ancestors; may He never leave us nor forsake us.  May He turn our hearts to Him, to walk in obedience to Him and keep the commands, decrees and laws He gave our ancestors” (1 Kings 8:56-58).
God’s faithfulness isn’t just something that belongs in the past. It’s for us. It’s for today.  We’re not just to say, ‘God was good to “His people Israel” a long time ago.' We’re to say, ‘God is good to us today.’ When we realize how God our God is, we will give ourselves gladly to Him – “to walk in obedience to Him.”

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

The flesh and the Spirit

"Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you" (Romans 8:8-9).

The flesh and the Spirit are very different. This is what Paul says here. It's what Jesus said in John 3:6. In John 3:7, Jesus was saying, "You must be born again." Here, Paul is saying, "You have been born again." 

Lifted by the Lord

"Lift up your heads, you gates;
    be lifted up, you ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord strong and mighty,
    the Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, you gates;
    lift them up, you ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is he, this King of glory?
    The Lord Almighty—
    He is the King of glory" (Psalm 24:7-10)..

We may read the words, "Lift up your heads", and feel that  this is a very difficult thing to do. The more we try to do this, the more we fail. This is when we need the encouragement of knowing that it's the Lord who lifts our head (Psalm 3:3). What we can't do for ourselves, He does for us.

Looking Beyond Our Suffering

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). These are tremendous words of faith. They lift our eyes above “our light and momentary troubles.” They set our eyes on the “eternal glory.” When we see our times of suffering in this eternal perspective, our hearts are encouraged in the Lord. Our suffering isn’t the last word. God’s eternal glory is – and we will share in His eternal glory – “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! … Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:1-2).

For All Nations ...

"For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” (Luke 2:30-32).
God was doing a new thing. This was not only for the nation of Israel. It was for all nations. We need to be forward-looking. We need to be outward-looking. We will be forward-looking and outward-looking when we are upward-looking - looking away from ourselves to the Lord.

Lord, You’re calling us to stop turning away from You. You’re calling us to start turning to You.

2 Chronicles 24:1-25:28
Lord, we read the words – “He turned away from the Lord” (2 Chronicles 25:27), and our hearts are sad. Is this only the story of other people? Is it not also our own story? You’re calling us to stop turning away from You. You’re calling us to start turning to You. Help us to walk with You in the light of Your Word – “Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13).

From the dark place to the place of abundant blessing

"I loathe my very life" (Job 10:1). "Are not my few days almost over? Turn away from me so I can have a moment’s joy 21 before I go to the place of no return, to the land of gloom and utter darkness, 22 to the land of deepest night, of utter darkness and disorder, where even the light is like darkness.” (Job 10:20-22). 

From its first verse to its final verses, Job 10 takes us into a very dark place. 
Is there a way out of this dark place? When we're in a dark place, it seems like there's no way out of it. When we're going through a really hard time, our emotions may be telling that this is the way it's always going to be.    
We should read what the final chapter of Job tells us - "The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part" (Job 42:12).

Make it personal!

Read the words of John 3:16 and Romans 10:9. Put your name into these great verses. Make it personal - Jesus is my Saviour. Jesus is my Lord.

Holy, Holy, Holy ...

“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.

Monday, 3 June 2019

Lord, You are our Commander-in-Chief. Your work is to be done in Your way.

1 Chronicles 24:1-25:31
Lord, You are our Commander-in-Chief. Your work is to be done in your way - "as the Lord God of Israel had commanded" (1 Chronicles 24:19). Help us never to 'get too big for our boots.' Help us never to imagine that we're more important than we really are. You're the One that's important. You're the One that's at the centre of everything. Help us, Lord, to exalt You - and not ourselves.

In Your work, Lord, we need visionaries, managers and workers.

1 Chronicles 22:2-23:32 
In Your work, Lord, we need visionaries, managers and workers. David was a visionary. He had the original idea of building the Temple. Solomon was a manager. Under his leadership, the vision became a reality. The people were important. They built the Temple. Help us, Lord, to find our place. Help us to play our part. Help us to "do the work for the service of the House of the Lord" (1 Chronicles 23:24) - and help us never to forget this: "thanking and praising the Lord" (1 Chronicles 23:30). Help us to remember that You're more important than all of us - the visionaries, the managers and the workers.

Lord, there are no giants able to stand in Your presence.

1 Chronicles 18:1-20:8 
Lord, there are no "giants" able to stand in Your presence (1 Chronicles 20:8). We face the "giants" of unbelief, disobedience, spiritual pride and self-righteousness. By Your "divine power", these "giants" will be brought to nothing (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). Let the "giants" come tumbling down. Let us "grow in grace." Let us give all the "glory" to You, Lord (2 Peter 3:18).

Lord, You're calling us to be spiritual leaders. Help us to be faithful in hearing Your Word and doing Your Word.

1 Chronicles 12:8-13:14 
"The kingdom of Saul was turned over to David according to the Word of the Lord" (1 Chronicles 12:23). Lord, You're calling us to be spiritual leaders - "let us bring again the ark of our God" (1 Chronicles 13:7). We're to call the people to return to You and rejoice in You (1 Chronicles 13:4,8). We're to warn the people that failure to do Your will leads to the withdrawal of Your blessing (1 Chronicles 13:9-10). Where Your Word is honoured and given its rightful place, there will be blessing among Your people (1 Chronicles 13:14). Help us, Lord, to be faithful in hearing Your Word and doing Your Word. This is the way of obedience and blessing (James 1:22,25).

Lord, Your Word is alive. Your Spirit is alive. Renew in us the life that comes from Your Word and Your Spirit.

1 Chronicles 10:1-11:19 
Saul "was unfaithful to the Lord." Help us, Lord, not to become like Saul who "did not keep the command of the Lord ... and did not seek guidance from the Lord" (1 Chronicles 10:13-14). Saul had started well. At the beginning, everything had looked so promising. What went wrong? Lord, we think about Saul - and we think about ourselves. It happened to Saul. It can happen to us. Drifting away from You happens when we start to lose interest in worshipping You, reading Your Word and speaking to You. Everything falls apart. We become like Saul - a shadow of what we once were. we wonder, "Can things be turned around?" Yes! Your Word is alive. Your Spirit is alive. Renew in us the life that comes from Your Word and Your Spirit.

What kind of people are we becoming?

1 Chronicles 8:1-40 
Lord, some of the names, in Your Word, make us think about ourselves: What kind of people are we? What kind of people are we becoming? "Esh-Baal" (1 Chronicles 8:33) means "man of Baal" or "man of shame." "Merib-Baal" started off as "opponent of Baal", then it became "loved by Baal" or "my Lord is Baal." We wonder, Lord, how does Baal, the god worshipped by the Canaanites, get among Your people? The answer is not hard to find. We let him in. We give him the chance to wreck our lives. Forgive us, Lord. We have taken our eyes off Jesus. Help us not to be "double-minded" (James 1:8) - trying to listen to both You and Satan at the same time. Help us to be single-minded in our devotion to Jesus (Matthew 6:22). 

We take refuge in You, Lord - "our refuge and our strength."

1 Chronicles 6:61-7:40 
In Your Word, Lord, we read about "a city of refuge" (1 Chronicles 6:67). We take refuge in You, Lord. You are "our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1). Refuge, strength and help - What great blessings You give to us! Where do we find these blessings? - we find them all in Christ. When "evil" threatens to overwhelm us (1 Chronicles 7:23), we run to Jesus, we are strengthened by Him, and we receive help from Him. what are we to do when You bless us so much? - we are to give all the glory to You. Without You, Lord, we "can do nothing" (John 15:5). With You, we can "do all things" - because you give us the strength that we need.

Lord, You forget our sins - but you never forget us.

1 Chronicles 6:1-60 
Lord, we often forget names. You never forget our names. You forget our sins - but you never forget us. You forget our sins - how great Your forgiveness is! You never forget us - How great Your love is! What can we say about Your love and Your forgiveness? All we can say is this: "Thank You, Lord." 

Lord, You want to lead us in the way of victory.

1 Chronicles 4:24-5:26 
Lord, You want to lead us in the way of victory (1 Chronicles 5:22). You don't want us to be disobedient and defeated. You want us to be obedient and victorious. Why do we draw back from the kind of commitment that will bring blessing into our lives? Do we think You're going to 'lead us up the garden path?' Do we think You're 'taking us on a wild goose chase?' Do we think that You're going to take us so far along Your way, and, then, leave us to go it alone? Teach us, Lord, that Your way is better than the world's way. Show us that you're always with us, supporting us and giving us the strength that we need to keep on walking in Your way. 

Help us, Lord, to offer our whole life to You - not just the 'religious' part of it.

1 Chronicles 26:1-27:34
Lord, You're calling us to serve You. We're to serve You in the world. Before we can serve You in the world, there must be this: "ministering in the House of the Lord" (1 Chronicles 26:12). Part of our worship involves the dedication of "gifts for the maintenance of the House of the Lord" (1 Chronicles 26:12). When we're worshipping You in Your House, when we're supporting the work that is centred on Your House, help us to remember this: When our service of worship ends, our service in the world begins. Help us, Lord, to offer our whole life to You - not just the 'religious' part of it. Help us to serve You every day of the week.

Satan is much more powerful than we are. He's not more powerful than You, Lord.

1 Chronicles 21:1-22:1 
"Satan stood up against Israel ... " (1 Chronicles 21:1). Satan is much more powerful than we are. He's not more powerful than You, Lord. Satan prevails against us. He does not prevail against You. Help us, Lord, to come to You - and receive Your prevailing power. In our own strength, we cannot stand against Satan. In Your strength, we shall stand against him - and we shall triumph over him. 

Lord, help us to become "mighty" for You - "mighty" in Your strength, "mighty" in Your victory.

1 Chronicles 11:20-12:7 
We read, Lord, of "the mighty men of the armies", "the mighty men who helped ... in war" (1 Chronicles 11:26; 1 Chronicles 12:1). Lord, You're teaching us about spiritual warfare - "We are not carrying on a worldly war ... the weapons of our warfare are not worldly ... the weapons of our warfare ... have divine power to destroy strongholds." You're calling us to "take every thought captive to obey Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). Lord, help us to become "mighty" for You - "mighty" in Your strength, "mighty" in Your victory.

All of us have been called to serve You, Lord.

1 Chronicles 9:1-44 
Lord, You speak to us about "very able men", who were called to do "the work of the service of the house of God" (1 Chronicles 9:13). Some have been called to preach Your Gospel and teach Your Word. All of us have been called to serve You. We may not preach or teach - but there will be something for us to do. Some were "chosen to be gatekeepers." Some were "assigned to take care of the furnishings ..." Some were "entrusted with the responsibility for baking." Some were "singers or musicians" (1 Chronicles 9:22,29,31,33). Lord, You have something for all of us. As we do Your work, help us to hear Your Spirit saying to us, "'Tis a task the Master just for you has planned ... There's a work for Jesus none but you can do."  

Our whole life is to be a song of praise to You, Lord.

1 Chronicles 16:7-36 
Our whole life is to be a song of praise to You, Lord - "O give thanks to the Lord ... Sing praises to Him ... Glory in His holy Name ... Seek His presence continually" (1 Chronicles 16:8-11). "Continually" - Lord, this is more than gathering together with others for worship. "Fill Thou our life, O Lord our God, in every part with praise ... "

Known By Name ...

In 1 Chronicles 1 - 9, there are lots of names. Each one of us is known, by name, to the Lord. This is a very precious truth. It is summed up, for us, in the wonderful words of love, spoken by the Good Shepherd, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
“So Saul died because of his unfaithfulness to the Lord. He did not obey the Word of the Lord” (1 Chronicles 10:13). Here, we read of Saul’s sin, shame and sadness. This was more than a personal thing. It had a profound effect on the whole nation. God looked at the effect Saul was having on His people. The Lord decided that it was time for a change, a new beginning:“So the Lord killed him, and turned the kingship over to David, Jesse’s son” (1 Chronicles 10:14).
David becomes king (1 Chronicles 11:3). David is helped by his supporters. He has more than the help of other people. His help comes from the Lord (1 Chronicles 12:18). The work, done by David, was, first and foremost, the work of God - the restoration of God to His proper place among His people (1 Chronicles 13:3): “The Lord is enthroned on the praises of His people ... David and all Israel were celebrating in God’s presence with all their might ... “ (1 Chronicles 13:6,8).
The defeat of the Philistines was God’s doing: “God has gone ahead of you to defeat the Philistine army” (1 Chronicles 14:15). Along with this victory over the Philistines, there was the bringing to Jerusalem of “the ark of the Lord’s promise.” This was an occasion of joyful worship (1 Chronicles 15:28). In worship, there is “singing songs of thanks to the Lord” (1 Chronicles 16:7) - “Give thanks to the Lord” (1 Chronicles 16:8,34).
“I will place him in My royal House forever, and his throne will be established forever” (1 Chronicles 17:14). This is a word of prophecy concerning Jesus Christ, the King of kings. It is a prophecy, which highlights the eternal purpose of God - the eternal Kingdom of the eternal God. “You made the people of Israel to be Your people forever. And You, Lord, became their God ... Your Name will endure and be respected forever ... Almighty Lord ... You were please to bless my house, so that it may continue in Your presence forever. Indeed, You, Lord, have blessed it. It will be blessed forever” (1 Chronicles 17:22,24,26-27). This is the eternal perspective within which we must read these Old Testament stories. God is the eternal God. His Kingdom is eternal. It will stand forever.
As we read of David and his many exploits, we must remember that this is part of the great story of the mighty works of the Lord. To God’s people, there is the command, “Be strong.” From God’s people, there is the commitment: “Let’s prove ourselves strong for our people and the cities of our God” (1 Chronicles 19:13). This commitment is not only a commitment to the people. It’s a commitment to the Lord. From the Lord, there is His promise: “The Lord will do what He considers right” (1 Chronicles 19:13). This is something we must never forget. God is in control. Without Him, there can be no salvation and no victory. These blessings come from Him.
“Satan stood up against Israel” (1 Chronicles 21:1). This is ominous. Satan spells trouble - trouble for God’s people. Later on, we read of God’s judgment upon Israel (1 Chronicles 21:14). Beyond God’s judgment, there is God’s mercy (1 Chronicles 21:15). In 21:30-22:1, we read about the fear of the Lord - “David was afraid because of the sword of the angel of the Lord” (1 Chronicles 21:30) - and the grace of God - “this is the altar of the burnt offering for Israel” (1 Chronicles 22:1). Here, we learn that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 1:7). The burnt offering points us forward to to Jesus Christ, laying down His life as a sacrifice for our sins. When we are afraid to come into God’s presence, because of our sin, God speaks to us of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, crucified and risen for us, and we sing, from the heart, “’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved.”
The name, “Solomon” means “peace” - “in his time I will give Israel peace and quiet” (1 Chronicles 22:9). The peace came from the Lord. It came from the presence of the Lord with Solomon (1 Chronicles 22:18). When we think of all that the Lord has done for us and all that He has given to us, we must give our hearts and lives to Him, to live as His faithful people - “So dedicate your hearts and lives to serving the Lord your God. Start building the holy place of the Lord your God” (1 Chronicles 22:19).
The work of God is to be carried out by many people, working together as a team - God’s team. The importance of teamwork must be recognized if God’s work is to be moved forward in God’s way. Reading over the many names and numbers in 1 Chronicles 23 - 27, we are reminded of Paul’s words concerning the body of Christ: “the body is one unit and yet has many parts. As all the parts form one body, so it is with Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:12).
The Lord’s work requires the generous and wholehearted support of God’s people (1 Chronicles 29:9). It needs more than human enthusiasm. We need the presence of the Lord. This is what the Lord promises to us: “The Lord God, my God, will be with you. He will not abandon you before all the work on the Lord’s temple is finished.” This promise of God gives God’s courage to God’s servants: “Be strong and courageous, and do the work.” God’s promise gives us victory over fear: “Don’t be afraid or terrified” (1 Chronicles 28:20). In the service of the Lord, we need both hard work and worship. Without worship, hard work amounts to nothing. It will be service that is offered to God in the flesh - and it will accomplish nothing which brings glory to God. God is glorified only when His servants do all things in the Spirit of worship. This is the lesson that we learn from the song of praise in 1 Chronicles 29:10-15. Everything comes from God. He gives us what we need to do His work. He equips us for His service. He enables us to carry His work forward. At the heart of the life of God’s people, we have the continuation of the scene, described in 1 Chronicles 29:20 - “Then David said to the whole assembly, ‘Praise the Lord your God!’” The worship of God is to be a joyful celebration (1 Chronicles 29:22).

Help us, Lord, to seek Your will, to do Your will, and to give all the glory to You.

1 Chronicles 14:1-15:15 
It was You, Lord, who "established David king over Israel" (1 Chronicles 14:2). Help us to be like David. He "inquired of You" (1 Chronicles 14:10,14). He "did as You commanded him" (1 Chronicles 14:16). He gave all the glory to You (1 Chronicles 14:11,17). Help us, Lord, to seek Your will, to do Your will, and to give all the glory to You.

So many things are changing, Lord.

Genesis 44:1-34
So many things are changing, Lord. How are we to live in a changing world? We trust in Your unchanging love. In our changing world, Your love remains the same - unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable.  You are also the changing God - the God who changes us. Your love is a changing love. Your love changes us. Help us, in our ever-changing world, to keep on praying for the best kind of change - being changed by You - changed by Your love. Help us to become less self-centred and more Christ-centred.

In the bad times as well as the good times

“Fulfil your works, your daily tasks, as when there was straw” (Exodus 5:14).
When everything seems to be going from bad to worse, we must pray that God will give us the strength that we need to keep on loving Him, trusting Him and serving Him. Our circumstances may have changed. Nothing seems to be going right. We didn’t think it would turn out this way. Has our Saviour changed? Has He gone away and left us? No! He hasn’t. He’s still with us. Are we still with Him? or Do we opt out when the going gets tough? Lord, You are faithful to us. Keep us faithful to You.

Daily Devotional Readings: Year Two - January

1st January: Joshua 1:1-18 For Israel, it was a new beginning. They were leaving the wilderness. That was their past. They were entering...