Wednesday, 25 September 2019

House of Mirrors, Tenth Avenue North (lyrics!)

Daily Devotional Readings: Year Two - May

1st May: 2 Samuel 1:1-27
'How are the mighty fallen!' (19,25,27). The tragedy of Saul was there for all to see. He had made a right mess of things! What are we to think when we read of this tragic figure? He started out so well. He ended so badly. There were high hopes – but it all came to nothing. Do we not see ourselves in Saul? – This could happen to me, if I'm not careful. The danger signs are there. Satan is at hand. He is ready to sweep in. He will sweep the feet away from us, if we don't watch out. We are very weak, but the Lord is 'able to keep us from falling' (Jude 24-25). These are things we must never forget – our own weakness and the strength of the Lord. Disaster threatens. Tragedy looms. Jesus draws near. He speaks His Word – 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness' (2 Corinthians 12:9). By grace, we shall stand!
2nd May: 2 Samuel 2:1-32
It was a new beginning. There was a new king. Saul was gone. He had been replaced by David. One thing had not changed. The Lord is King. To know His blessing – His 'steadfast love and faithfulness' – is more important than anything else. We look beyond the servants of the Lord. We look to the Lord Himself (4-7). The names and the faces change – Saul, David, - but the Lord never changes'. Some liked one king – 'If only we had Saul back again'. Some preferred the other – 'Things can only get better, now that David's here'. Some people would never be happy. There was no pleasing them. What is the most important thing of all? – Keep your eyes on the Lord. God's servants are not in competition with one another. They are not trying to outdo each other. Let God be glorified!
3rd May: 2 Samuel 3:1-39
'There was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David' (1) – What a sad situation! It was shameful. It was sinful – a scandalous situation, which brought no glory to the Lord. The conflict seemed to go on and on – it was 'a long war'. Perhaps, there were times when things didn't seem too bad. Still, the problem showed no sign of going away. They were at 'war' with one another. Is there any hope in a situation like this? We may wonder. Humanly speaking, things seem to go round in circles. There appears to be some progress, then there is another outbreak of violence. There is hope. Our hope is in the Lord. He continues to speak His Word – '…I will save My people…from the hand of all their enemies' (18). Whatever happens, don't forget the Word of the Lord.
4th May: 2 Samuel 4:1-5:25
'…they came into the house…and slew him…' (4:7). What are we to make of this kind of thing? – 'What's the world coming to?'. Where's it all going to end?'. It is difficult to maintain real faith in the Lord when this kind of thing is going on. What are we to do? Don't bury your head in the sand. Don't pretend that such things are not happening. Don't imagine that that they will just go away. 'Inquire of the Lord'. 'Do as the Lord commands'. Keep on believing that there will be a breakthrough – from the Lord (19,23,25,20). Can you 'hear the sound of rustling in the leaves of the trees'? – 'The Spirit of the Lord has come down on the earth'. Let us 'rise, a mighty array, at the bidding of the Lord – The Spirit won't be hindered by division in the perfect work that Jesus has begun' (24; John 3:8; Mission Praise, 274).
5th May: 2 Samuel 6:1-23
'When she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart' (16). Michal was a very angry young woman. Her husband had embarrassed her and she didn't like it! What had David done to deserve this? – 'I will celebrate before the Lord' (21). This is really quite pathetic. God's children are learning to 'worship Him in Spirit and in truth' (John 4:23-24). In comes 'the stiff upper lip brigade'. They have no real heart for worship. They put a dampener on it – 'This has to stop'. This is not only pathetic. It is sinful. 'Do not quench the Spirit…Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God…Be filled with Spirit, addressing one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart…' (1 Thessalonians 5:19; Ephesians 4:30; 5:18-20).
6th May: 2 Samuel 7:1-29
David was king. God was looking on the next king, Solomon. Knowing the kind of man Solomon would become, God speaks of chastening: 'When he does wrong, I will chasten him'. This chastening is an expression of God's 'steadfast love': 'Those whom I love, I rebuke and chasten'. How do we respond to God's chastening? Don't be like 'Saul'. He was 'put away from' being king because of his continual disobedience. 'Be zealous and repent'. When you are being chastened, don't forget the love of God: 'The Lord disciplines him whom He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives'. Why does God chasten His children? – 'He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness'. Beyond the 'pain' of 'discipline', there is 'the peaceful fruit of righteousness' (14-15; Revelation 3:19; Hebrews 12:5-11).
7th May: 1 Corinthians 9:1-27
'If I preach the Gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting' (16). Paul preached the Gospel. His whole desire was to bring men and women to the Saviour (22). Paul did not want to draw attention to himself. He didn't preach so that his hearers would say, 'What a good preacher Paul is'! He did not want to be 'an obstacle in the way of the Gospel of Christ' (12). Paul was not a 'performer', trying to increase his own popularity. Paul described his ministry like this: 'I do it all for the sake of the Gospel' (23). Keep your eyes on Jesus. This is very important. Don't get so preoccupied with 'a good preacher' that you lose sight of the great Saviour! There is no room for 'superstars': 'Humble yourselves before the Lord' – 'The Name of Jesus is the Name above every name' (James 4:10; Philippians 2:9-10).
8th May: 1 Corinthians 10:1-33
'Participation in the blood of Christ…participation in the body of Christ' (16): There is nothing more important than this. We are not to be spectators, standing on the side lines, watching what's going on without ever getting involved. We are to be participants, getting to know the Lord Jesus Christ, growing in our love for Him, strengthening our faith in Him, bringing more glory to Him. We eat bread. We drink wine. We remember Jesus Christ, 'the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us'. We do not only remember this great event from the past. We participate in Christ here and now. He has brought us out of our old life – 'I have been crucified with Christ' – and into His new life – 'It is no longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me' (Galatians 2:20). Participate 'in Christ' – not only in 'the Church'!
9th May: 1 Corinthians 11:1-34
We celebrate the Lord's Supper (23-26). We even take note of what Paul says about the way we are to come to the Lord's Table (27-29). What's this all about? Is it about the whole thing looking good – impressive? Paul gives us something to think about in verse 22 – 'Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the Church of God and humiliate those who have nothing?'. In Paul's questions, we hear an echo of the Old Testament prophets (Isaiah 1:12-20; Amos 5:21-24). We rejoice in John 3:16 – 'God so loved the world…'. Let's not forget 1 John 3:16-18 – 'let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in trust'. Jesus says, '…first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift' (Matthew 5:23-24). Don't just think about it. Act on it (James1:22-25; 2:14-17)!
10th May: 2 Samuel 8:1-9:13
David was involved in many battles with his enemies. Their antagonism had been aroused by his strong stand for the Lord. David enjoyed many victories. Why? – 'The Lord gave victory to David wherever he went' (8:6,14). Jesus said, 'Apart from Me you can do nothing' (John 15:5). We are not left on our own. Through 'the kindness of God', we receive strength (9:3). 'The heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind'. Through His kindness, He has provided 'plentiful redemption'. When, through the kindness of God, we enjoy His victory let's not forget, 'Every virtue we possess, every victory won, every thought of holiness, are His alone' (Church Hymnary, 218,336). The 'victory' does not come from ourselves. It is 'the victory of our God': 'Sing to the Lord…He has done marvellous things' (Psalms 44:3; 98:1-3)!
11th May: 2 Samuel 10:1-11:27
'May the Lord do what seems good to Him' (10:12). This is the attitude we ought to have. This is the ideal: 'Your will be done in earth as it is in heaven'; 'Not as I will, but as You will' (Matthew 6:10; 26:39). Often, we do not live up to the ideal – 'the thing that David had done displeased the Lord' (11:27). Throughout life, there are choices between our own will and the will of the Lord. Sometimes, we make wrong choices. We choose our own way rather than the Lord's way. Throughout life, God is speaking to us. He is trying to get our attention. He wants it to be less of self and more of Him. He is leading us to say from the heart, 'As for God, His way is perfect' (22:31; Psalm 18:30). May we have this testimony: 'I have kept the ways of the Lord; I have not done evil by turning from my God' (Psalm 18:21).
12th May: 2 Samuel 12:1-31
Here, we learn much about God's dealings with sinners. In verse 7, there is conviction of sin – 'You are the man'. In verse 13, we have confession of sin – 'I have sinned against the Lord' – and forgiveness of sin – 'The Lord has taken away your sin'. In verse 20, there is the restoration of the sinner - 'washed ... anointed … changed …he went into the house of the Lord, and worshipped'. These were not easy times for David – 'the child died' (18). Later on, 'a son' was born (24). Sometimes, good things are happening to us. Sometimes, bad things are happening. 'The Lord loved him' (24): 'Through all the changing scenes of life, in trouble and in joy', never forget 'His love' (Mission Praise, 702). Our circumstances change. His love never changes. When you're feeling down, let His love lift you up!
13th May: 1 Corinthians 12:1-31
Paul speaks about 'gifts of the Spirit'. They are 'given for the common good' (4-7). We're not 'to show off': 'Look at me. The Church can't do without me'. When we draw attention to ourselves rather than Christ, we are not living 'by the Spirit of God'. He moves us to say, with our whole heart, 'Jesus is Lord' (3). We live in fellowship with one another: 'the body does not consist of one member but of many' (14). 'I'm happy – as long as I'm getting my own way': We can do without this kind of attitude! What about 'the common good'? Sometimes, things don't go according to my plan. Perhaps, my plan needs revising – to take account of 'the common good'. When self raises its ugly head – 'It's my way or no way at all' – let's not forget the 'still more excellent way' (3). It is the way of love – Christ's love!
14th May: 1 Corinthians 13:1-14:12
Paul's teaching seems so unrealistic. Life isn't like this, people aren't like this, the Church isn't like this – and we're all the poorer for it! We speak about revival. We hope for it. We pray for it. What we need most of all is a revival of love. This is not a return to 'the good old days'. This is for here and now. We can make a good deal of a 'revival' which took place a good many years ago. It is in today's world that we are called to show love. Differences of opinion become deeply-held prejudices. It's all going on in the Name of Christ! Our reverence for yesterday's religious leaders will mean nothing – if there is no love. Some things should have been 'dead and buried' a long time ago. Keep the negative thinking going and we'll be speaking to ourselves. Nobody will be listening (14:4,8)!
15th May: 1 Corinthians 14:13-40
'Be eager to prophesy' (39). Preaching God's Word to the people is important. It is not everything. It is to be accompanied by prayer and praise. Many come to hear 'the preacher'. Few gather to pray that the whole service of worship will be filled with the presence of the Lord. Some come to hear a 'sermon'. They show little real enthusiasm for worshipping the Lord. They want 'the Word'. There is no real heart for worship, witness, and work. The preacher's public performance becomes more important than the prayerful praise of God's people. 'All things' are 'done decently and in order' yet the atmosphere is forbidding. The Spirit of God is not moving freely among the people of God (39-40). Let there be less talking about the preacher and more concern with giving all the praise and glory to the Lord.
16th May: Psalm 25:1-22
'Lead me in Thy truth, and teach me, for Thou art the God of my salvation' (5). We can pray this prayer with confidence. God has given His promise: 'He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble His way' (9). Our confidence is in the Lord. We 'put no confidence in the flesh' (Philippians 3:3). Jesus teaches us that God hides Himself from the proud and reveals Himself to the humble: '…Father…Thou hast hidden these things from the wise and revealed them to babes' (Matthew 11:25). In the life of faith, the most important thing is the right attitude – not the 'best education'! The proud may concern themselves with impressing 'the right people'. For the humble, there is something more important – pleasing God. His opinion is the one that really matters!
17th May: 2 Samuel 13:1-39
Lust is very different from love. What appeared to be 'love' turned into 'very great hatred' – 'The heart is deceitful…and desperately wicked' (14-15; Jeremiah 17:9). Things went from bad to worse. The 'one-off' event became a consistent and continuing rejection (16). Things continued to get worse. 'Absalom hated Amnon'. He refused to speak to him (22). Could things get any worse? – Yes. Absalom and Amnon were murdered (28-29). Where is God in all this? His Name does not appear in this whole chapter. Is He absent? – No. He is there. He is warning us. This is what can happen if you forget about God! He is the God of holiness: 'the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men…' (Romans 1:18). He is the God of love. He call us to confess our sins and be forgiven (1 John 1:9).
18th May: 2 Samuel 14:1-33
David loved Absalom – 'the kings heart went out to Absalom' (1). David could not bring himself to forgive Absalom: 'Let him dwell apart in his own house; he is not to come into my presence' (24). God loves us. God forgives us. We dare not come to Him in pride – 'I'm really not that bad. I'm really quite good'. We must come to Him with a real confession of sin: 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son'. In ourselves, we are 'lost'. In Christ, we are 'found'. In ourselves, we are 'dead'. In Christ, we are 'made alive' (Luke 15:21,24; Ephesians 2:1,5). In Christ, we see God's love. Through Christ, we receive God's forgiveness. Christ does not leave us 'out on a limb'. He is preparing a place for us – in His Father's House (John 14:1-3). This love – without limits!
19th May: 2 Samuel 15:1-37
There is a great difference between human popularity and divine approval. Here, we have human popularity – 'The conspiracy grew strong, and the people with Absalom kept increasing' (12). In Acts 5:14, we have divine approval – 'More than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women'. Conspiracy involves man seeking to get his own way. Revival comes when we 'let go and let God have His wonderful way'. 'Carry the ark of God back into the city' (25). In the ark of God, we have the Word of God among the people of God. If the people of God are to enjoy the blessing of God, they must live according to the Word of God. We organize things to suit ourselves. This is conspiracy. God is not in it. Look to God. Listen for His Word. Live in the light of His Word. This is God's way to revival.
20th May: 2 Samuel 16:1-23
What is more important to you – your own reputation or the glory of God? 'Curse David' – This was the last thing David wanted to hear. It may, however, have been what he needed to hear. Here, we see David's true spiritual stature. This was not a 'feel good' message. David recognized that this might be what the Lord was saying to him (10). He speaks against us so that we might learn to stop speaking against Him. He speaks of His righteousness that we might see our own unrighteousness. He speaks of His judgment that we might see how hopeless our situation is without Christ. He speaks of our sin that we might be brought to Christ for salvation (John 16:8-11; Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-2:2). Let there be no more talk of your righteousness. Confess your sins and trust the Saviour.
21st May: 2 Samuel 17:1-29
Here, we have a tragic train of events. Ahithophel's advice was 'not good'. His advice 'was not followed'. He 'hanged' himself (7,23). Without going into detail about this particular suicide, we may make some general comments about coping with life's difficulties. Things don't go according to plan. Our hopes are dashed. Nothing seems to work out. Everything seems to go wrong. We allow things to get on top of us. Very quickly and very easily, things can get completely out of control. Everything is out of proportion. It seems like there is nothing worth living for. Suicide becomes a strangely attractive way out. What are we to do when such thoughts fill our minds? – Remember God's promise: "The peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7).
22nd May: 2 Samuel 18:1-33
Some die young. Others live to a ripe old age. None of us can predict what lies ahead of us. There are some things that are beyond our control. We look at what is happening and we say, 'I wish things could be different'. Absalom had been killed. David wished he could have died instead of him. It was not to be. Each of us must die our own death: 'No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him – the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough – that he should live on for ever and not see decay' (Psalm 49:7-9). There is, however, a 'Man' who has died for us - Jesus Christ, 'our Lord and our God'. He 'gave Himself as a ransom for all'. 'Christ died for sins, once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God' (John 20 28; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; 1 Peter 3:18).
23rd May: 1 Corinthians 15:1-45
Here, we learn of Christ's resurrection: the fact – 'Christ has been raised from the dead' – and the meaning – 'the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep' (20). We look back to His resurrection. We 'remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead' (2 Timothy 2:8). We look forward to our own resurrection. We will be 'raised' – 'imperishable…in glory…in power…a spiritual body' (42-44). Looking back to His resurrection and looking forward to our own resurrection, we are to live, here and now, in 'the power of His resurrection' (Philippians 3:10). We believe the fact of the resurrection. We live in the power of the resurrection. We rejoice in the hope of the resurrection. With 'resurrection' faith in the 'resurrection' God, let us live the 'resurrection' life as a 'resurrection' people!
24th May: 1 Corinthians 15:46-16:24
In Christ, there is 'victory' – glorious, eternal, heavenly victory (54-57). Every day, we face a battle. It is a battle for faith, love and service. (a) We are called to trust the Lord: 'Stand firm in your faith' (13). We are to have faith. It is to be a growing faith, a faith which is growing stronger. (b) We are called to love the Lord. This is to be the most important thing in our life: 'love for the Lord' (21). Christ's question comes to us: 'Do you love Me?' (John 21:15-17). Is our love for Him growing stronger or getting weaker? (c) We are called to serve the Lord: 'Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord' (58). Let's get rid of the lazy, 'can't be bothered' attitude. We shall be victorious through 'the grace of the Lord Jesus' (23).
25th May: 2 Samuel 19:1-39
'My lord the king is like an angel of God in discerning good and evil' (27;14:17). Setting God's servants on a pedestal is a dangerous thing. Don't imagine that they will always get it right. They won't. They have their faults and failings as well as everyone else. They need forgiveness just as much as anyone else. They look great – from a distance. The closer you get to them, the more you see that they're not all they're cracked up to be. From a distance, they seem like spiritual giants. Close up, they're not so impressive. Build up God's servants with unrealistically high expectations, and you're setting them up for a very great fall. The closer you get to them, the smaller they become. There's one Man who's different: our Lord Jesus Christ – The closer you get to Him, the bigger He becomes!
26th May: 2 Samuel 19:40-20:26
'The words of the men of Judah were fiercer than the words of the men of Israel' (43). At the heart of all this conflict was Sheba. He was a real trouble-maker. 'A worthless fellow', he was up to no good. A complainer, he wreaked havoc among God's people. He was out to make an impression – and he succeeded. Sadly, it was all negative. He did a great deal of 'harm' (1-2,6). How sad it is when there is strife among God's people! God's Word speaks out strongly against this kind of thing: 'While there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh…?'. Strife can arise when we attach too much importance to certain individuals and pay too little attention to the Lord: … 'I belong to Paul'… 'I belong to Apollos'…'. Remember – 'Paul planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth' (1 Corinthians 3:3-7).
27th May: 2 Samuel 21:1-22:7
There's no two ways about it. God's people were getting it rough. There seemed to be so many problems. Were they to give up hope? – Not a bit of it! Read verse 14 – 'After that God heeded supplications for the land'. What happened when God heard and answered the prayers of His people? – 'the plague was averted from Israel' (24:25). Things would have been an awful lot worse, if it was not for the Lord hearing and answering prayer! Keep on praying. Keep on believing that God hears and answers prayer. He is not a tragic victim of circumstances – 'Poor God. He can do nothing about it all'. Don't believe that. That's the lie of the devil. He is still the living God. Things are not out of His control. He is still on the throne. God can, if we will – 'If my people…' (2 Corinthians 7:14). Pray 'for the land'!
28th May: 2 Samuel 22:8-51
David's 'song' of praise is also found in Psalm 18. Some things are worth repeating! David is praising the Lord. He is giving glory to Him. We must never tire of praising God. We can never praise Him enough. He is always greater than our inadequate worship. He is 'worthy to be praised' (4). Again and again, we must lift our hearts and voices to Him in praise. Think of the Lord. Think of how great He is. Think of how much He loves you. Think of how much He has done for you. Let your song of praise rise to Him: 'The Lord lives; and blessed be my Rock, and exalted be my God, the Rock of my salvation' (47; Mission Praise, 306). Some things are worth repeating – when we're giving all the praise and glory to the Lord! Praising the Lord – We were created for this. We have been redeemed for this.
29th May: 2 Samuel 23:1-39
By birth, David was 'the son of Jesse'. By grace, he was 'the man who was raised on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, the sweet psalmist of Israel' (1). What we are in ourselves is nothing compared with what we can become through the grace of God! Look at David. Listen to what he says, 'The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me, His Word is upon my tongue' (2). What had David done to deserve this? What was so special about him? Nothing – This was the work of God, the work of divine grace. In ourselves, we are 'godless', good for nothing, 'like thorns that are thrown away' (6). In ourselves, we are not 'mighty men' (8-9). How can we be changed? – 'The Lord wrought a great victory' (10,12). Which of us can be described as 'a valiant man…a doer of great deeds' (20) – apart from the grace of God? 'By grace you have been saved…'(Ephesians 2:8-10).
30th May: 2 Samuel 24:1-25
Here, we see the spirit of pride. David wanted to 'know the number of the people' (2). Why? He wanted to feel important – 'the big man'. He was not giving the glory to the Lord. He was taking it for himself. Did God give up on David – 'a hopeless case, too full of himself and his own importance'? Of course not! The Lord, whose 'mercy is great', drew David back to Himself. David confessed his sin – 'I have sinned greatly…I have done very foolishly…I have sinned and I have done wickedly' (10,17). David was accepted by the Lord – 'The Lord your God accepts you'. He was brought from pride to praise (23,25). This is what God has done for us. We are 'accepted in the Beloved' – 'to the praise of His glorious grace' (Ephesians 1:6).
31st May: Proverbs 10:23-11:11
'With his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbour' (9) – This kind of thing is going on all the time! There is no respect for the 'neighbour'. An easy target, he is treated with contempt. He is slandered without mercy. It is not without reason that God's Word says to us, 'The tongue is a fire…With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men…My brethren, this ought not to be so' (James 3:6-10). God knows what we are like. We 'destroy' people with 'the tongue'. It is character assassination. What drastic effects this kind of thing can have: 'a city…is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked'! Can the blessing return again? God's Word is clear – 'By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted' - , but we must learn to speak and live as 'the upright' and not as 'the wicked' (11).

Daily Devotional Readings: Year Two - June

1st June: 1 Kings 1:1-53
David's reign was coming to an end. He would be replaced by Solomon (30). No one goes on forever. Every day takes us one day closer to the day of stepping down and handing over to someone else. We must pray that the future will be 'greater' than the past (37,47). Some kings reign for a long time. Some reign for a short time. The important thing is not the length of time. It's the quality of the leadership. Have the people been brought closer to the Lord? This is what matters more than anything else. In all the changes of life, we must learn to say, 'Blessed be the Lord' (48). We do not trust in this man or that man. We trust in the Lord. David's time was almost gone. Solomon's time would come and go. When all God's servants have slipped into the past, one thing will remain true – 'the Lord lives' (29).
2nd June: 1 Kings 2:1-46
God's purpose does not stand still. It moves forward. This was a new beginning for God's people. Solomon was not to do his own thing. He was to do God's will: 'Keep the charge of the Lord your God' (3). He was to serve God's purpose: 'that the Lord may establish His Word' (4). There are to be no comparisons between one man and another. God's servants are not to be in competition with one another. Some may have been looking back to the past – 'How will we manage without David? God had already moved on from there. He was pressing on to the future – 'If your sons…' (4). God's blessing would not come easily. There were obstacles to be removed (13-46). If 'the Word of Christ' is to 'dwell in us richly', we must 'put to death what is earthly in us' (Colossians 3:5,16). God will not bless us if we do not obey Him.
3rd June: 1 Kings 3:1-28
Solomon was a complicated man. We wonder what was most important to him – his alliances with the world or his allegiance to the Lord, 'building his own house' or 'building the House of the Lord' (1-3)? In verses 9-13, we learn that Solomon prized wisdom more than riches. In verse 14, Solomon is reminded that he must keep on loving the Lord: 'If you will walk in My ways…'. We look at Solomon. We see ourselves. We claim to love the Lord. The world has a 'fatal attraction' for us. In each of us, there is conflict, a lifelong conflict between 'the desires of the flesh' and 'the desires of the Spirit'. We are faced with a choice. Will it be love for the Lord or love for the world? Don't 'abandon your first love' (Galatians 5:17; 1 John 2:15; Revelation 2:4). Make it simple: Jesus comes first!
4th June: 1 Kings 4:1-34
'God gave Solomon wisdom' (29). Solomon shared this wisdom with others (32-34). Christ is 'our Wisdom' (1 Corinthians 1:30). Don't keep Him to yourself. You may not know much about 'trees…beasts…birds…reptiles…fish' (33). If you know Jesus, you know all that you really need to know! You can live a happy life without knowing much about history, geography, science…. You cannot have true happiness without knowing Jesus. He came to give us abundant life (John 10:10).You can teach others about many different subjects. You will not help them to find true happiness if you are not telling them about Jesus. The most important lesson is really very simple: 'Jesus love me…' (Church Hymnary, 418). Will you share this lesson with others? You can't give them anything better than this: the love of Jesus.
5th June: 2 Corinthians 1:1-2:11
Times of trouble can turn out to be times of great blessing – 'God…comforts us in all our affliction' (1:3-4). Whether good things or bad things are happening to you, don't forget this: God loves you. His Word is 'not Yes and No' – 'Yes, I love you. No, I don't love you'. In Christ, His Word is 'always Yes' (1:19). How do we know that God loves us? – 'God showed His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us' (Romans 5:8). Whatever may happen to us, nothing can change this great fact: Christ died for us. This is the great fact of God's love. Life is not easy. There is 'Satan', always seeking 'to gain the advantage over us' (2:11). We do not stand alone in our battle against Satan. God 'has given us His Spirit in our hearts'. He is the 'guarantee' of our final victory (1:22).
6th June: 2 Corinthians 2:12-3:18
How do we react when things don't seem to be going very well? We all need the encouragement of God's Word: 'Thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumph' (2:14). When everything seems to be going wrong, we need to be reminded of God's Word: 'In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us' (Romans 8:37). When we feel so weak, we receive strength 'from God'. We are strengthened by 'the Spirit of the living God' (3:5,3). We must learn to look beyond our circumstances to our Saviour. In Him, we see 'the surpassing glory'. As we look upon 'the glory of the Lord', we are 'changed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory' (3:18). In life's many hard times, may God help us to see what He is doing in our lives and not only what we think is happening to us.
7th June: 1 Kings 5:1-6: 13
Do you 'rejoice greatly' when you hear the Word of the Lord (5:7)? God wants to 'establish His Word' among us (6:12). He wants to establish His presence among us. He is 'the Word made flesh'. He 'dwells among us, full of grace and truth'. He is 'Emmanuel' – 'God with us' (John 1:14; Matthew 1:23). As you read about the building of the temple, remember God's Word: 'You are God's temple…God's Spirit lives in you…God's temple is holy…you are that temple…your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you…We are the temple of the living God; as God said, 'I will live among them…'(1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16). 'A dwelling place of God in the Spirit' – That's what you are (Ephesians 2:22)!
8th June: 1 Kings 6:14-7:12
Solomon took seven years to build 'the House of the Lord' and 'thirteen years' to build 'his own house' (6:37-7:1)! What are we to make of this? Are we more concerned with pleasing ourselves or serving God? Is our life more self-centred than God-centred? These are important questions. They are questions which we cannot sweep under the carpet. Jesus invites us to think about our priorities: Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth…lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also…No one can serve two masters… You cannot serve both God and Money' (Matthew 6:19-21,24). We are not to be 'lovers of self, lovers of money…lovers of pleasure! We are to be 'lovers of God' (2 Timothy 3:1-5). What kind of person are you becoming ? Each of us must choose.
9th June: 1 Kings 7:13-8:13
We read about 'the silver' and 'the gold'. We are called to choose between the life of fruitful service – 'gold, silver, precious stones' – and the unfruitful life – 'wood, hay, straw' (51; 1 Corinthians 3:12-15). We read of 'the ark of the covenant of the Lord' being 'brought to its place, in the inner sanctuary of the House, in the most holy place. We are told that the glory of the Lord filled the House of the Lord' (6,11). The glory of the Lord fills the House of the Lord whenever the Word of God is honoured by the people of God. Jesus Christ is the Word of God (John 1:1,14). The glory of the Lord fills the House of the Lord when Christ is given the place of highest honour among the people of God. Do you want to experience God's glory? Honour His Word. Love His Son – the Lord Jesus Christ.
10th June: 1 Kings 8:14-53
The person who leads us in worship, the place where we worship or the God whom we worship – Which is the most important? We know what our answer should be. No person or place is more important than the Lord. Often, we take our eyes off the Lord. Solomon directs our attention to the Lord. Leading 'all the assembly of Israel' in worship, he says, 'Blessed be the Lord' (14-15). The glory does not belong to Solomon. It belongs to the Lord. In his prayer, Solomon contrasts the place where we worship with the God whom we worship: 'Heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain Thee; how much less this House which I have built!' (27). We must think big thoughts about God. He is 'the God of Israel' (15,17,20,23,25-26). He is more than that. He is our God. He loves all nations (Isaiah 45:22; 49:6; Acts 13:47; John 3:16).
11th June: 1 Kings 8:54-9:28
What is happening when we are gathered together for worship? Is this merely a human thing, something which we do? No! – There is something more. God is at work. He is there to 'incline our hearts to Him…'(58). Before we have gathered, God is there, waiting for us, ready to speak His Word: 'Let your heart be wholly true to the Lord your God…' (61). God wants us to be holy. He wants us to be wholly true to Him. Holiness is no 'kill joy' affair. It is a life of joy and gladness (66). There is here a very important lesson: Seek holiness and you will find happiness. Seek happiness in yourself and you will not find it: 'If you turn aside from following Me', you 'will become a heap of ruins' (6-8). What a mess we make of things when we forget about God! Let's 'walk before Him with integrity of heart' (4).
12th June: 2 Corinthians 4:1-5:10
God has called us to salvation – 'God has shone in our hearts…' (4:6). He has called us to service – 'having this ministry by the mercy of God' (4:1). We receive salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ: 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved' (Acts 16:31). We are not to keep our faith to ourselves. We 'believe'. We are to 'speak'. This is God's way of reaching 'more and more people' with His 'grace' (13-15). Our experience of salvation and our empowering for service are both grounded in one great gift from God: 'God…has given us the Spirit' (5:5). We fail our Lord often. Our faith is weak. Our witness seems so ineffective. When you feel such a failure, remember the Spirit. He will not fail you. He is our 'guarantee of heavenly and eternal glory' (4:16-5:5).
13th June: 2 Corinthians 5:11-7:1
'Reconciled' to God through Christ, we have received 'the ministry of reconciliation'. Saved by Him, we are to 'work with Him'. We are 'not to accept the grace of God in vain' by living for ourselves. We are to be 'ambassadors for Christ'. We must proclaim the urgent message of salvation – 'now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation'. We must call men and women to respond to God's message of salvation: 'Be reconciled to God' (5:18-6:2). If we are to be effective 'ambassadors for Christ', we must dedicate our lives to Him: 'Let us cleanse ourselves…and make holiness perfect in the fear of God' (7:1). Without this heartfelt commitment to godly living, we cannot really serve the Lord at all. Our wrong lives will drown out our 'right' words. We need true lives as well as 'true' words.
14th June: Psalms 26: 1-27:12
God's love for us inspires our loyalty to Him: 'Your love is ever before me, and I will walk continually in Your truth' (26:3). Loyalty to the Lord involves worshipping Him and walking with Him (26:11-12). Walking with God is not easy. There are 'enemies round about' us (26:4-5, 9-10; 27:2-3,6,11-12). What are we to do? We are to worship God: 'One thing have I asked of the Lord…that I may dwell in the House of the Lord…' (27:4). What are we doing when we gather in the Lord's House for worship? This is what we are doing – 'Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage' (27:14). Where does our strength come from? It comes from God: 'The Lord is my light and my salvation… The Lord is the stronghold of my life'. Strong in Him, we say, 'My heart will not fear… I will be confident' (27:1,3).
15th June: 1 Kings 10:1-11:13
'King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth' (23). It sounds impressive – until you look more closely at Solomon's life! What else does God's Word tell us about him? – 'His heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God…Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely…His heart had turned away from the Lord…Solomon did not keep the Lord's command' (11:4,6,9-10). When everything seems to be going well, God invites us to look beneath the surface, to look a little deeper. Great words had been spoken about Solomon (10:9). Now, everything had gone sour. Solomon had lost the place. This can happen to any of us. We can lose our way. Read the story of Solomon as a warning: Don't let this happen to you! Stay close to God.
16th June: 1 Kings 11:14-12:24
Life can be a very slippery slope. You can go downhill very quickly – if you're not careful! Solomon let things slide – and he was never the same again. He fell – and he never got back up again. After he died, there was 'rebellion' – and it lasted for a long time (12:9). It was bedlam. Chaos reigned. The people couldn't agree among themselves. Everybody was pointing the finger at somebody else. What did God have to say about all this? – 'Do not go up to fight against your brothers…' (12:24). God's Word seems so simple. We're the ones who make everything so complicated – when we're looking out for ourselves, when we're forgetting to listen for God's Word. We need to stop giving off – 'This is what I think'. We need to start listening. What are others saying? What is the Lord saying?
17th June: 1 Kings 12:25-13:34
These were dark days for God's people. They were deeply divided. There was the northern kingdom (Israel). Jeroboam was their 'big man'. There was the southern kingdom (Judah). Rehoboam was the 'voice' of the south. What a shambles it all was! Each side seemed intent on outdoing the other – ungodliness. Sin reigned in the north (13:33-34). Sin reigned in the south (14:22-24). The 'big man' was not so big in the eyes of the Lord. The 'voice' did not speak the Word of the Lord. Was there any hope? Yes! There was an unnamed 'man of God' who spoke 'the Word of the Lord' (13:1). In all the confusion of these difficult times, God was planning for a better future. His Word concerned Josiah: 'a son shall be born…(2). We look beyond Josiah to Jesus: 'to us a Child is born…a Son…' (Isaiah 9:6-7).
18th June: 1 Kings 14:1-15:8
It makes depressing reading – a lot of bad news from the north (16), a lot of bad news from the south (22). Many people wondered, 'Will there be peace in my lifetime?'. Sadly, the hostilities continued for a very long time (15:6). Were there no glimmers of hope? Was there no light at the end of the tunnel? Had God given up on the situation? There is a Word of hope: 'The Lord will raise up for Himself a king…' (14). There is good news. God is raising up 'an army of ordinary people, a kingdom where love is the key'. What part can God's 'ordinary people' play in His extraordinary purpose? – A very important part: 'The Church is here for healing of the nations' (Songs of Fellowship, 20,216). Can there be healing? Yes! – if there is love. Don't give up hope: 'May the God of hope…'(Romans 15:13)!
19th June: 2 Corinthians 7:2-8:7
We may face difficult circumstances. We may experience much suffering. In all of this there is one thing we must never forget: 'God…comforts the downcast' (7:6). He lifts us up when we are down. He enables us to 'excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness, in love, in giving' (8:7). How are we to excel in everything? We must 'give ourselves to the Lord' (8:5). Everything else flows from this. We are to 'give ourselves in devoted service to others' (12; 8:4-5). Where does this spirit of 'rich generosity' come from? It comes from God, from 'the grace that God has given' to us (8:1-2). It comes to us as we give ourselves to Him. Before we can 'excel in this grace of giving', we must receive 'from His fullness, grace upon grace' (8:7; John 1:16).
20th June: 2 Corinthians 8:8-9:15
How are we to be 'cheerful' in giving ourselves to the Lord (9:7)? How are we to be confident that 'God is able to provide us with every blessing in abundance' (9:8)? Before we ever think of giving ourselves to God, we must look at all He has given to us. We look away from ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ: 'You know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ…' (8:9). We look at Him and we say, in our hearts, 'Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!' (9:15). Can our giving to Him even begin to compare with His giving to us? We give to Him as those who have first received from Him. In his giving, we see His love. Our giving expresses our love, our response to His love: 'We love because He first loved us' (1 John 4:19). Rejoice in His love. Thank Him - for 'every blessing in abundance'!
21st June: 1 Kings 15:9-16:28
A lot of kings are mentioned here. We soon lose track of their names. With one solitary exception, they are all better forgotten than remembered. Thank God for the one glimmer of light: 'Asa did what was right in the eyes of the Lord…The heart of Asa was wholly true to the Lord all his days' (15:11, 14). We need more people like Asa. God is looking foe people who will stand out from the crowd, people who will dare to be different. Pleasing the Lord is more important than pleasing people. It is so easy to forget this. We want to be popular. This is all that matters to us. If we are serious about following Jesus, we must be prepared to go it alone: 'Tho' none go with me, I still will follow' (Mission Praise, 272). Let's honour God – in our attitudes and actions.
22nd June: 1 Kings 16:29-18:16
Things were getting desperate: 'Ahab did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him' (33). What did God do about this? How did He respond to this situation? God sent His prophet, a man who would stand up for God against Ahab. 'When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him' (Isaiah 59:19). Where did Elijah come from? He came from God! All we know about Elijah's early life is expressed in the words: 'Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead'. There is something else we know about him. He was a man of God. He was a man with a message, a man who spoke in the Name of the Lord the God of Israel' (17:1). Things happened when Elijah was around. This was the Spirit of God at work – in power!
23rd June: 1 Kings 18:17-19:21
Life is full of ups and downs. For Elijah, there was a very highpoint. He prayed. 'The fire of the Lord fell'. 'All the people said, 'The Lord, He is God'' (37-39). This was followed by a very low point: 'O Lord, take away my life' (4). We are so changeable. Often, we fell like we are being torn apart. Our emotions pull us in different directions. Sometimes, we are full of joy. At other times, we are at the point of despair. We find ourselves in a turmoil of confused emotions. What are we to do? Are we to 'pull ourselves together'? This seems to be the very thing we can't manage to do. Are we to 'hope for the best' – 'Some day, some way, things will get better'? We think about this, and we wonder, 'What happens if things get worse?'! Look to the Lord. His love is unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable.
24th June: 2 Corinthians 10:1-11:15
We are engaged in warfare. Is it 'worldly war'? Do we use 'worldly weapons'? No! It is spiritual warfare. God has given us His weapons (10:3-4). Our enemy is 'Satan' - 'the god of this world' (11:13-15; 4:4). We face him with 'the whole armour of God', with 'the Gospel of peace' (Ephesians 6:11,13,15). We are not fighting for ourselves. We are not fighting in our own strength. The battle is the Lord's. He is our Strength. Without Him, we fail. With Him, there is victory. Everything is centred upon the Lord. We are to have, 'a sincere and pure devotion to Christ' (11:13). We are to 'boast of the Lord' (10:17). We are to seek the Lord's commendation (10:18). Be devoted to the Lord. Give glory to Him. Seek His approval. These are the things that really matter, the things we must never forget.
25th June: 2 Corinthians 11:16-12:10
'My grace is sufficient for you' (9). These are tremendous words! Believe them. Apply them to yourself. Let the strength of the Lord come to you as you reflect on these great words. God is speaking His Word to you. Whatever is going on in your life, whatever difficulties you are facing, God's Word is still the same: 'My grace is sufficient for you'. Do you think God will let you down? Don't believe it – not even for a moment! It is a lie of the devil. It's 'as old as the hills'. Way back in Genesis 3:1, Satan was spreading doubt: 'Did God say?'. God says, 'My grace is sufficient for you'. Satan comes along and says 'Surely you don't believe that!'. 'When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail, By the living Word of God I shall prevail' (Redemption Hymnal, 261). Did God say? – Yes! He did say!
26th June: 1 Kings 20:1-43
Sometimes we say, 'I can't', when we mean, 'I won't'! We are 'busy here and there' – too busy for God, for doing His will, for obeying His Word. Is this a case of 'I can't'? No! It is 'I won't'. We choose. We decide how we will use our time. God looks at our life. He sees what is most important to us and He says, 'You yourself have decided it'. He sees that our choices have been self-centred rather than Christ-centred. He says, 'So shall your judgment be' (40). Can we change? Yes! God says, 'Come, strengthen yourself, and consider well what you have to do' (12). There is a decision to be made. We must be obedient to God's Word: 'Be strong in the Lord' (Ephesians 6:10). Our strength is not in ourselves. It is in the Lord. Wait on the Lord and renew your strength (Isaiah 40:31). 'Strengthen yourself' – in the Lord.
27th June: 1 Kings 21:1-22:14
We read of human sin and divine judgment (21:1-4,15-16,20-24). There is also something else here: the mercy of God – 'Because he has humbled himself before Me, I will not bring the evil in his days…'(29). The judgment of God will come – but not yet. It is held back by the mercy of God. We live in confusing times. There is much evidence of sin. There are some signs of repentance. What are the servants of the Lord to say? Is there a single message, a Word of judgment, a Word of mercy? Here is what we must say: 'What the Lord says to me, that I will speak'(22:14). Let us not settle for a one sided message – preaching judgment without a glimmer of hope, promising mercy without issuing the Gospel warning. May God help us to be like Paul: 'I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God' (Acts 20:27).
28th June: 1 Kings 22:15-53
Ahab's repentance (21:27) didn't last long! He continued to live in sin (22:8). He died in shame (37-38). Ahab's son – Ahaziah – was just like his father – 'a chip of the old block': 'He …provoked the Lord, the God of Israel to anger in every way that his father had done' (51-53). Jehoshapat was a different type of king – 'he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord' (43). Here, we catch a glimpse of our Lord Jesus Christ – 'I do as the Father commanded Me' (John 14:31). Don't be like Ahaziah –'he walked in the ways of his father…the ways of sin' (52). Let's be like Jesus – Walking in the ways of our Heavenly Father. God says to us, 'This is the way; walk in it' (Isaiah 30:21). Let us say, 'As for God, His way is perfect' (2 Samuel 22:31). Let us pray, 'Our Father in heaven…Your will be done (Matthew 6:9-10).
29th June: 2 Corinthians 12:11-13:14
'The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all' (13:14). We have often heard these words spoken. Here, we are reading them in the Word of God. How often do we think about these words? What do they mean? These are life-changing words. Through 'the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ', we become 'rich' – blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing' (8:9, Ephesians 1:3). 'In love God has destined us to be His sons through Jesus Christ' (Ephesians 1:5). How do these blessings become ours? How doe we become God's children? We hear the Word of truth, the Gospel of our salvation. We believe in Christ. We are sealed with the promised Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). Such great blessing – 'the Spirit is poured upon us from on high (Isaiah 32:15)!
30th June: Proverbs 11:12-31
'He who wins souls is wise' (30). 'He who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward' (18). Righteousness is not purely a private matter. God's Word tells us that 'those who turn many to righteousness shall shine like stars for ever and ever' (Daniel 12:3). Winning others for Jesus Christ is not easy. To those who commit themselves to this great work, God gives His precious promise: 'He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him' (Psalm 126:6). In this work, we must remember: It is not what we do that makes the real difference. It is the Lord working through us. Never forget: 'Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain' (Psalm 127:1). Always remember: When our work is done 'in the Lord', it is never 'in vain' (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Daily Devotional Readings: Year Two - July

1st July: 2 Kings 1:1-2:13
'He took up the mantle of Elijah' (2:13). Elijah's ministry had ended. Elisha's ministry was about to begin. It was the beginning of a new era. This may have been a new ministry. It was not, however, a new message. Both men preached the Word of the Lord. Elisha continued Elijah's work. He took up where Elijah had left off. He brought the Word of the Lord to the people. Elisha was not exactly the same as Elijah. He was Elisha – not Elijah! There was, however, continuity. The second ministry built on the work done during the first ministry. The laying of the foundations – This is what Elijah's ministry had been all about. Now, Elisha would build on this good foundation. He would take the work of God forward. Into the future, on to the second stage – This is what Elisha's ministry was all about.
2ndJuly: 2 Kings 2:14-3:27
'Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?' (2:14). Elijah was no longer there – but God was still there! Don't imagine that God goes away when there's a change of ministry. While Elijah had been serving the Lord, Elisha was being prepared for his time. God is always one step ahead of us. We are living in the present day. He is planning for the future. With each succeeding generation, the question is asked, 'Where is the Lord?'. In every generation, God is looking for those who will serve Him – 'testifying of the Gospel of the grace of God, testifying of repentance to God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, declaring the whole counsel of God' (Acts 20:24,21,27). This is 'the mantle of Elijah' (2:14) – the mantle of prophetic ministry. Will you 'take up the mantle' for God and the next generation?
3rdJuly: 2 Kings 4:1-44
The situation seemed hopeless – 'The child was lying dead on his bed' (32). What did Elisha do? – He 'prayed to the Lord' (33). What are we to do when everything seems hopeless? Pray: 'Restore us again, O God of our salvation …Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?' (Psalm 85:4,6). When we are at our lowest ebb, God is waiting to hear from us. Our prayer may not be eloquent – but it must come from the heart! Perhaps, we can hardly put our prayer into words. God looks beyond our inadequate words. He looks into our hearts. If, in our hearts, we are saying to Him, 'Restore the joy of Your salvation to me, and provide me with a spirit of willing obedience'. He will hear and He will answer (Romans 8:26-27; Psalm 51:12). You can make a new beginning with God – right now!
4thJuly: 2 Kings 5:1-27
How are we to receive God's blessing? Are we to 'do some great thing'? Are we to prove ourselves worthy of His blessing? No! The Word of God gives this simple instruction: 'Wash and be clean' (13). Salvation is not something to be paid for or earned. It's 'the free gift of God in Jesus Christ our Lord' (Romans 6: 23). We don't come to God, saying, 'Look at me. Look at how good I am. Look at my religion. Look at my morality. You've got to bless me. I deserve it'. We come to Him, believing His Word – 'the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin' – confessing our sins and trusting in His promise of forgiveness – 'If we confess our sins, He forgives them and cleanses us from everything we've done wrong' (1 John 1:7,9). Forget about 'doing some great thing'. Obey the command that really matters: 'Wash and be clean'.
5thJuly: 2 Kings 6:1-23
Elisha was 'the man of God' (6,9,15). This was the important thing about him. More than anything else, he was 'the man of God'. We find the same phrase in 1 Timothy 6:11 – 'But as for you, man of God,…aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness'. We are to be people who put first things first. There is nothing more important than this: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind'. Does this seem too heavenly-minded? Jesus also says, 'Love your neighbour as you love yourself' (Luke 10:27). We are not to be super-spiritual. We are to be spiritually natural and naturally spiritual. Let there be no conflict between loving God and loving our neighbour. Christ is our Lord. We serve others for His sake (2 Corinthians 4:5).
6thJuly: 2 Kings 6:24-7:20
We read, in 7:2, of 'windows in heaven'. Malachi 3:10 also speaks of 'the windows in heaven'. Calling us to 'bring the whole tithe (tenth)' to Him, God invites us to look to Him to 'open the windows of heaven and pour down an overflowing blessing'. In 7:9, we read of 'a day of good news'. What 'a day of good news' it will be when God 'opens the windows of heaven and pours down an overflowing blessing'. All of our days of good news come from the day of good news: 'I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day…a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord' (Luke 2:10-11). 'In Christ', there is 'every spiritual blessing'. God has given us so much. Let us give ourselves to Him: 'Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called' (Ephesians 1:3; 4:1).
7thJuly: 2 Kings 8:1-29
'Go to meet the man of God and inquire of the Lord through him' (8). God's servants, appointed by Him to serve the people in His Name, play a significant part in leading the people to a deeper knowledge of God. They bring the Word of God to the people. That is what they have been called to do. It is good to have faithful teaching from God's Word. There needs also to be faithful hearing, reading and doing of God's Word. God's servants can take us so far – and no further. You can take a horse to the water, but you can't make it drink! God's servants say, 'Here are 'the wells of salvation''. It is up to the people themselves to take the next step: 'With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation' (Isaiah 12:3). God's Word is provided for you. It is delivered to you. What are you doing with it?
8thJuly: Galatians 1:1-2:10
'A revelation of Jesus Christ' (1:12) – This is what the Gospel is all about. Christ is the Gospel. Without Him, there is no Gospel. What was Paul's testimony? What did he preach to others? – God 'was pleased to reveal His Son in order that I might preach Him…' (1:15-16). We have no other testimony. We have no other message. Christ is our Testimony. Christ is our Message. Paul's conversion, Paul's preaching – All of this comes from a very long time ago. So much has changed. Things are so different now. We listen to this kind of talk and we wonder, 'Is the Gospel still relevant?'. Should we not leave Christ in the past and 'get on with living in to-day's world?'.We listen to the world's talk and we are filled with doubts. Listen to God's Word: 'Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever' (Hebrews 13:8).
9thJuly: Galatians 2:11-3:22
Who is the Christ who stands in the centre of Paul's testimony and preaching? He is the crucified Christ – 'I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me'. He is the living Christ - 'I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me'. In Christ, there is love – 'He loved me'. In Christ there is life – He 'lives in me' (2:20). The world tells us to forget about Christ – 'He's out-of-date'. The Word of God calls us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, to keep walking in the Spirit. Don't be a fool. Don't let the world's 'patter' drown out the Lord's warning: 'Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?…Are you so foolish? Having begun with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh?' (1,3).
10thJuly: Galatians 3: 23-5:6
'God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts' (4:6). The Spirit is not a reward we earn by being good people. The Spirit is God's gift (Titus 3:5). Paul connects the gift of the Spirit with Christ's death for us and our faith in Christ (3:13-14). We do not come to God with our religion in one hand and our morality in the other, insisting that we deserve to be blessed by Him. We look away from ourselves to Christ – 'Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy Cross I cling' (Church Hymnary, 83). All pride in ourselves must be brought to Christ's Cross as we humbly pray, 'Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me, break me, melt me, mould me, fill me' (Mission Praise, 613). God has given His Spirit to us. Let's give ourselves to Him – to 'be filled with the Spirit' (Ephesians 5:18).
11thJuly: Galatians 5:7-6:18
What are we praying for when we ask God to fill us with His Spirit? We are praying 'for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control'. This is 'the fruit of the Spirit' (22-23). How are we to be filled with the Spirit? How does the fruit of the Spirit grow in our lives? We keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, saying in our hearts, 'God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world' (6:14). 'Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace' (Mission Praise, 712). Looking to Him, let's concentrate on the one thing that really matters – living as 'a new creation' (6:15).
12thJuly: Psalms 28:1-29:11
'The Lord is my Strength…The Lord is the Strength of His people' (28:7-8). Our personal strengthening is closely related to the strengthening of God's people. Don't be a 'lone ranger', going it alone, keeping yourself to yourself. Share your strength with others. Draw strength from them. 'Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another' (Hebrews 10:24-25). Where does your strength come from? It comes from 'the Lord' who 'sits enthroned as King for ever' (29:10). We grow strong as we listen for 'the voice of the Lord' (29:3-9). Don't let God's voice be drowned out – 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God' (Matthew 4:4).
13thJuly: 2 Kings 9:1-37
God's judgment on Jezebel was awesome (30-37). Why does God's Word speak to us so strongly of judgment? God is warning us. He is calling us to repent, to return to Him before it is too late, before our opportunity for repentance has gone. Make sure that you don't reach the point of no return. 'Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near' (Isaiah 55:6). For you, this may be God's time. The Lord may never be so 'near' again. You are in 'the valley of decision': 'Today, when you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts' (Joel 3:14; Hebrews 4:7). There is still time – to open your heart to Christ, to trust Him as your Saviour, to become a new creation in Him. Here is a prayer you can pray: 'Restore us, O God; let Thy face shine, that we may be saved!' (Psalm 80:3,7,19).
14thJuly: 2 Kings 10:1-36
Jehu was a proud man: 'Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord' (16). He was full of his own importance, a bit special, a bit out of the ordinary, a cut above the rest. God did not share Jehu's opinion of himself – 'Jehu was not careful to walk in the law of the Lord the God of Israel with all his heart…'(31). Jehu's attitude was 'I'm all right, Jack'. He didn't bother to look too closely at himself. Let God's Word search your heart: 'The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword…discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart' (Hebrews 4:12). Let this be your prayer to the Lord: 'Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!' (Psalm 139:24). Make sure that you mean it!
15thJuly: 2 Kings 11: 1-12:21
Let us 'make a covenant' – to 'be the Lord's people', to 'do what is right in the eyes of the Lord' (11:17; 12:2). Part of this 'covenant' will involve our use of 'money'. Real covenanting with the Lord will always mean much more than how much money we give to Him. Real giving is a matter of the heart: 'the money which a man's heart prompts him to bring into the House of the Lord' (12:4). 'God loves a cheerful giver' (2 Corinthians 9:7). Our giving will only be cheerful when it comes from the heart. There are three types of giving: 'Grudge giving' – 'I have to'; 'Duty giving' – 'I ought to'; 'Thanksgiving' – 'I want to'. What kind of giver are you? This is an important question. Is it just 'the Church always looking for money'? No! There is more: God wants us to give ourselves to Him.
16thJuly: 2 Kings 13:1-14:16
We love making comparisons. 'This one's better'. 'That one's better'. Some kings were better than others. What's the difference between a bad king and a good king? It's really very simple. The good king does what is 'right in the eyes of the Lord' (14:3). The bad king does what is 'evil in the eyes of the Lord' (13:11). This is not a matter of popularity. It is a matter of obedience. It's possible to be popular among the people without being obedient to God. Obedience is more important than popularity. We must choose obedience – even when popularity doesn't come into it. There is one King who stands head and shoulders above all other kings. Jesus Christ is 'King of kings and Lord of lords' (Revelation 19:16). How does your life look 'in the eyes of the Lord'? Pleasing Him – Nothing matters more than this.
17thJuly: 2 Kings 14:17-15:22
Throughout life, we are faced with choices. Some of our choices are very important. Some are relatively unimportant. Everything can seem so complicated. Even the less important decisions appear to be very difficult. It's very confusing. You wonder what to do. You don't know which way to turn. In all of life's decisions, there is no more important choice than this: What will I do - 'evil in the eyes of the Lord' (14:24; 15:9,18) or 'right in the eyes of the Lord? (15:3). You're wondering what to do. You're looking for guidance. Here's a prayer you can pray: 'Send your light and your truth. Let them guide me' (Psalm 43:3). Jesus is 'the Light' and 'the Truth' (John 8:12; 14:6). Keep looking to Him, asking Him to be your Guide. He will give you wisdom to know God's will and strength to do God's will.
18thJuly: 2 Kings 15:23-16:20
Within every one of us, there is conflict. It is the conflict between good and evil (15:34,24,28; 16:2). Paul experienced this conflict: 'I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. I don't do the good I want to do. Instead, I do the evil that I don't want to do…When I want to do right, evil lies close at hand' (Romans 7:18-19,21). What are we to do when we feel this conflict tearing us apart? We are to confess our sin – 'Wretched man that I am!'. We are to trust in Christ – 'Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!' (Romans 7:24-25). While we are in this earthly body, the conflict rages on. We 'wait in patience for deliverance by the Lord'. When He returns, we will 'rejoice in His salvation' (Lamentations 3:26; Isaiah 25:8-9; Hebrews 9:28).
19thJuly: 2 Kings 17:1-41
'The people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt' (7). What happens when people reject the God of salvation? – They become 'empty' and 'worthless' because they have chosen to 'pursue emptiness' by 'following worthless idols' (15). If you don't have salvation, you have nothing. Jesus makes this perfectly clear when He says, 'What will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? (Mark 8:36). You can have it all – all that the world thinks is important – and yet have nothing – nothing that really matters! The world has its 'winners'. They have won 'the praise of men'. We must be careful: 'Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God'. It's better to be 'God's friend' (James 4:4; 2:23)
20thJuly: Ephesians 1:1-2:10
'By grace you have been saved through faithfor good works' (2:8-10). God calls us to live a 'holy' life. We cannot make ourselves holy. We are spiritually 'dead'. We need to be 'made alive' – by God. Holiness does not come from ourselves. It comes from the Lord. Long before we ever thought of loving Him – He loved us. Our love for Him is so changeable. His love for us is unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable. It is eternal. He loved us 'before the foundation of the world'. He will love us 'in the world to come'. This is the love of God, the love which inspires us and enables us to live a 'holy' life (2:1; 1:4; 2:7). When we realize the truth concerning ourselves – 'nothing good dwells within me' (Romans 7:18) – and God – He is 'rich in mercy' (2:4) - , we will 'praise His glorious grace' (1:6).
21stJuly: Ephesians 2:11-4:6
By the grace of God we are called to salvation – 'saved through faith' - , sanctification – 'for good works' - , and service - 'according to the gift of God's grace…by the working of His power', we are enabled 'to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ' (2:8-10; 3:7-8). When we consider all this, we say in our hearts, 'To God be the glory'! (3:21). We are 'strengthened with power through His Spirit in our inner being' so that we might live as those who are saved, sanctified and serving. Even when we are deeply conscious of our own great weakness, we draw encouragement from this: God is 'able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us' (3:16,20). We grow in grace as we share in fellowship – 'eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit' (4:3).
22ndJuly: Ephesians 4:7-5:14
God wants us to 'grow up in every way into Christ' (15). We are to 'walk in love' (2), a life which is 'pleasing to the Lord' (5:10). It is so easy for us to settle for something less than God's very best. We settle down into a state of spiritual complacency. What does God have to say about this? – 'Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God' (30). He gives us His wake-up call: 'Awake, O sleeper…'(5:14). God says to us, 'Awake, awake, put on your strength…Shake yourself from the dust, arise' (Isaiah 52:1-2). Have you become 'lukewarm'? - 'Be zealous and repent'. Christ says, 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him' (Revelation 3:16,19-20). What will you say to Him? – 'Come into my heart, Lord Jesus. Come in today. Come in to stay'.
23rdJuly: Ephesians 5:15-6:24
'Be very careful how you live' (5:16). This is for all of us – in every situation of life. How are we to live? We are to 'be filled with the Spirit'. We are to have 'reverence for Christ'. We are to live 'as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart'. We are to 'be strong in the Lord'. We are to 'pray at all times in the Spirit'. We are to 'to love our Lord Jesus Christ with love undying' (5:18,21;6:6,10,18,24). Careful living emerges from true spirituality. It is not a matter of rules and regulations. It is a matter of love for Jesus. We're not to be like the Pharisees: 'On the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy', 'These people honour Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me' (Matthew 23:28; Mark 7:6). Take care – because you love Jesus!
24thJuly: 2 Kings 18:1-37
Hezekiah 'held fast to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him…' (6). We give up so easily. We start well, then we lose our way. We don't stick at it. Some people are all smiles – when things are going well. When the going gets tough, they lose their smiles – and you can't see them for dust! What's the problem? – They've taken their eyes off Jesus. They're looking around at everyone and everything – except Jesus. Notice how different Hezekiah was! He 'held fast to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him'. This is what makes the difference – Keeping your eyes on Jesus. What is it that keeps us going? We are 'kept by the power of God' – He 'is able to keep us from falling' (1 Peter 1:5; Jude 24). 'Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus' (Hebrews 12:1-2).
25thJuly: 2 Kings 19:1-37
'Do not be afraid because of the words you have heard' (6). Who are you listening to – the world or the Lord? Sometimes, the voice of the world seems to be so loud – so loud that we can hardly hear the voice of the Lord at all. We need to listen well if we are to hear the voice of the Lord in today's world. When we are discouraged, we need His Word of encouragement: 'The zeal of the Lord will do this' (31). When you feel like saying, 'I can't', remember this: 'Our God is able' – 'able to help those who are tempted', 'able to provide you with every blessing in abundance', 'able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think' (Daniel 3:17; Hebrews 2:18; 2 Corinthians 9:8; Ephesians 3:20). Don't say 'I can't'. Say, 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthen me' (Philippians 4:13).
26thJuly: 2 Kings 20:1-21:18
'Carried off to Babylon' (20:17) – There's a real sadness about these words. In Revelation 18:2, Babylon is described as 'a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit'. In today's world, it seems like things are going the same way. 'Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!' (Revelation 14:8; 18:2) – Everything seems to be falling round about us. We hear so much bad news. We wonder, 'What does God think about all this?'. God is looking for people who will stand when everyone else is falling, people who will stand up for Him – 'Come out of her, My people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues' (Revelation 18:4). Even 'in Babylon', there were 'the chosen' – people who belonged to the Lord (1 Peter 5:13). Let us be such people – 'in the world' but 'not of the world' (John 17:11,16).
27thJuly: 2 Kings 21:19-23:3
You never know what's going to happen next! There was repair work going on at the House of God (5-6). It seemed so mundane. What happened next was certainly not mundane. Revival broke out! A book was found. It was 'the Book of the Law' (8).The rediscovery of God's Word brought transformation. Everything changed when the Word of God took its rightful place among the people. King Josiah wanted to find out what was in 'this book that has been found' (13). He read its 'words' to 'all the people' (23:2). The words were not only read.They were acted upon: 'The king…made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord and to keep His commandments…with all his heart and all his soul…and all the people joined in the covenant' (23:3). They returned to 'the ancient paths', to 'the good way' (Jeremiah 6:16) – and so must we!
28thJuly: 2 Kings 23:4-30
In 18:5, we read about Hezekiah; 'There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him'. Here, we read something rather different – 'Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him'(25). This seems confusing: Which was the better king - Hezekiah or Josiah? We need to look more closely at these statements. Hezekiah is commended for his trust in the Lord – ''Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel' (18:5). Josiah is commended for his obedience to God. His actions were 'according to all the law of Moses' (25). Trust and obedience belong together. Hezekiah's faith led to obedience (18:6). By his obedience, Josiah showed that he had 'turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might' (25). We need both – trust and obedience.
29th July: 2 Kings 23:31-24:17
'The king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon all the men of valour…all of them strong and fit for war' (24:16). A prisoner of war is taken out of the battle. We have been given 'the whole armour of God' (Ephesians 6:11,13). We must use 'the weapons of our warfare'. We must 'take every thought captive to obey Christ' (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). It is not easy to 'fight the good fight of faith' (1 Timothy 6:12). Satan wants to make us his prisoners of war. Satan is a very powerful enemy – 'the whole world is in the power of the evil one'. We must live as those who 'are of God', firmly convinced that 'He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world' (1 John 6:19; 1:4). The world seems so strong. The devil seems so powerful. It will not always be so – 'Hallelujah!' (Revelation 16:19; 18:21; 20:10; 19:1,6-7).
30thJuly: 2 Kings 24:18-25:30
'Finally, in the end, it came to the point that He cast them out of His presence' (24:20). There is a real word of warning here. God is patient – 'He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance' (2 Peter 3:9). We dare not presume upon God's patience: 'Shall we go on sinning, so that grace may increase? God forbid!' (Romans 6:1-2). There can come a point when God says, 'This is the point of no return, the end, the final straw'. This is what God's Word says in Romans 1:21-28 – 'They did not honour God or give thanks to Him…Therefore God gave them up…They worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator…For this reason God gave them up…Since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up…'. Don't wait until it's too late. Come to Christ now!
Mon. 31stJuly: Proverbs 12:1-14
The Word of God shows us the way we are not to go as well as the way we are to go. We are told that 'the root of the righteous stands firm' (12). We are warned: 'he who follows worthless pursuits has no sense' (11). Do you have any sense? Here's the most sensible thing you could ever do: Let 'Christ dwell in your heart through faith'. Be 'rooted and grounded in love…the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge'. Does it make any sense to live a life of emptiness – 'worthless pursuits' – when you can be filled with all the fullness of God'? What sense is there in living a life that amounts to nothing – 'worthless pursuits' – when you can have 'His power at work within you'? There are two ways: the way of giving 'glory to God' and the way of 'no sense' (Ephesians 3:17-21). Only one 'Way' makes sense – Christ (John 14:6).

Daily Devotional Readings: Year Two - August

1st August: 1 Chronicles 1:1-54
What are we to make of this long list of names? - A waste of space? Are we wasting our time looking for God's Word here? No! God has a very important message for us! Do you ever feel insignificant - just one among so many? Here`s God's Word for you - You are important. A lot of people are named here - God considered every single one of them important enough to be included in this list! Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? To every believer, Jesus says, 'Rejoice' - 'Your name is written in heaven' (Luke 10:20). 'Rejoice' - Your name is included in 'the Lamb`s book of life' (Revelation 21:27). Jesus calls us 'by name', He gives us His Name - 'the Name above every name', the Name of our salvation. 'Believing in His Name', we become 'sons of the living God' (John 10:3; 20:31; Philippians 2:9; Acts 4:12; Romans 9:26).
2nd August: 1 Chronicles 2:1-55
More names - lots of them! It's great to have a name! You have a name. You're not just a nameless
person of unknown identity. It's even greater to have the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, given to us for our salvation. In His Name, we have God`s promise of salvation - 'every one who calls upon the Name of the Lord will be saved' (Romans 10:13). God calls us to have faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. God does not speak to us of salvation without calling us to have faith in Christ. He does not say, 'Everyone will be saved'. That's what we might like to hear, but it's not what God has said. This is what His Word says to us, 'every one who calls upon the Name of the Lord will be saved'. Call upon the Name of the Lord. Let Him fulfil His promise: 'The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe' (Proverbs 18:10).
3rd August: 1 Chronicles 3:1-4:23
God answers prayer - 'Jabez called upon the God of Israel, "Oh that You would bless me...". And God
granted his request' (4:10). Behind the name, 'Israel', there are many other names, many faces, many people, many prayers rising up to the God of Israel, many believers calling upon the Name of the Lord, looking to Him for His blessing. The story of 'Israel' is a story of 'disobedience' and 'mercy' (Romans 11:25-32). This is the story of our life. We have been disobedient to God. He has been merciful to us. How are we to receive the blessing of God? Pray to God for His mercy: 'Have mercy on me, O God, a sinner' (Luke 18:13). Come to Him with this earnest prayer: 'Oh that You would bless me...'. How much does the blessing of God matter to you? How much do you really want to be blessed by the Lord? Make it the most important thing: 'Oh that You would bless me...'.
4th August: Psalm 30:1-12
'I will exalt You, O Lord' (1). God is not exalted because we exalt Him. We exalt Him because He is exalted: 'He is exalted, for ever exalted, and I will praise His Name' (Mission Praise, 217). How do we come to the point where we say, 'I will exalt You, O Lord'? We realize our need of Him - 'when You hid Your face, I was dismayed' (7). We look to Him for mercy - 'To You, O Lord, I called; to the Lord, I cried for mercy' (8). God hears and answers our prayer - 'You turned my wailing into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy' (11). God calls us to worship Him - 'Sing praises to the Lord, O you His saints, and give thanks to His holy Name' (4). 'The joy of the Lord', His 'unutterable and exalted joy', gives us 'strength' (Nehemiah 8:10; 1 Peter 1:8). We worship God: 'O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever' (12).
5th August: Proverbs 12:15-28
What harm can be done by 'reckless words' (18). We need to take care how we speak. As those who belong to Christ, we have a special responsibility. We are to 'witness' for Him. We are to give our 'testimony', declaring what He has done for us. We are to speak of the 'one thing' that is more important than anything else - what the Lord has done for us: 'I used to be blind, but now I can see' (John 9:25). This is what the Lord has done for us - 'He has called us out of darkness into His marvellous light' (1 Peter 2:9). There is a better way than the way of 'lying lips' (22). When the 'lying tongue' has no more to say for itself, there will be one confession of faith which will remain forevermore: 'Jesus Christ is Lord'. This cofession brings 'glory' to 'God the Father'. Let it be your confession of faith: 'Jesus Christ is Lord' (19; Philippians 2:11).
6th August: Psalm 31:1-24
'Into Thy hand, I commit my spirit' (5). These words were spoken by Christ as, in death, He gave Himself for our sins (Luke 23:46). For Christ, there was suffering - 'I am the scorn of all my adversaries' (11). His suffering was followed by rejoicing, the joy of the resurrection - 'I will be glad and rejoice in Your love, for You saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place' (7-8). God answered the prayer of His Son - He brought Him into the 'spacious place' of the resurrection, the 'spacious place' which is, for us, 'eternal salvation' (Hebrews 5:7-9). We look to the crucified Christ and we say, 'Praise be to the Lord, for He showed His wonderful love to me' (21). In the risen Christ, we are 'strong and our hearts take courage' (24).
7th August: 1 Chronicles 4:24-5:26
God wants to lead us in the way of victory (5:22). We dare not take His victory for granted if we are not willing to walk in the pathway of discipleship. As well as the promise of victory, there is also the warning against disobedience. If we are disobedient, we will be defeated (5:25-26). God doesn't want us to be disobedient and defeated. He wants us to be obedient and victorious. With the promise of victory - 'From victory to victory His army He shall lead' - comes the call to discipleship - 'Stand up! Stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the Cross!' (Church Hymnary, 481). God is calling us to be faithful. He is warning us - 'Do not love the world...If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him'. The Lord`s way is better than the world's way - 'Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind' (1 John 2:15; Romans 12:2).
8th August: 1 Chronicles 6:1-60
The names tell a story - the story of what God is doing among His people. They speak of the faithfulness of God. He loves every one of these people. He loves every one of us. We forget the names. God doesn't. Everyone is important to Him. We rejoice in 'the great love of God'. We rejoice in Christ 'who came to this earth to redeem every one'. In the many names, forgotten by us yet remembered by God, we hear the message, 'God is love'. Among the many names, we read of those who 'ministered with song'. We read of 'the service of song in the house of the Lord'. God is calling us to worship Him: 'Sing aloud, loud, loud! Sing aloud, loud, loud! God is good! God is truth! God is beauty! Praise Him!' (31-32; Church Hymnary, 415-416).
9th August: 1 Chronicles 6:61-7:40
Is there no end of names? - The more names we read, the more we wonder at the amazing scope of God's love: 'God so loved the world...' (John 3:16). We read of 'the cities of refuge' (67-70). We take refuge in the Lord. He is 'our Refuge and Strength, a very present help in trouble' (Psalm 46:1). We have Christ as our Saviour: 'Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need' (Hebrews 4:16). When 'evil' threatens to overwhelm us (23), we must come to God with this confidence: 'the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin'. We must ask God to strengthen our faith in Christ: 'This is the victory that overcomes the world. Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?' (1 John 1:7; 4:4-5).
10th August: Psalm 32:1-11
The forgiveness of sins - what a tremendous blessing this is (1-2). We receive God's forgiveness when we confess our sins to Him. This is the Psalmist's testimony: 'I made my sins known to You, and I did not cover up my guilt. I decided to confess them to You, O Lord. Then You forgave all my sins' (5). This is the promise of God: 'If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness' (1 John 1:9). Knowing that our sins have been forgiven by God, we can face our many trying times with confidence in Him: 'You are my hiding place. You always fill my heart with songs of deliverance whenever I am afraid. I will trust in You, I will trust in You. Let the weak say, "I am strong in the strength of my God"' (7; Mission Praise, 793).
11th August: Proverbs 13:1-11
'The light of the righteous rejoices' (9). Jesus is our Light. He is 'the Light of the world'. In Him we rejoice. Through Him, 'we have now received recociliation'. We are no longer walking in darkness. We are walking in the light with Him, giving thanks to God that 'the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin' (John 8:12; Romans 5:11; 1 John 1:7). What a wonderful thing God has done for us in Christ. He has 'called us out of darkness into His marvellous light'. Let us 'declare His praises', rejoicing in His great love, His rich mercy and His saving grace (1 Peter 2:9; Ephesians 2:4-5). Keep on rejoicing! There is light at the end of the tunnel - even when you have 'to suffer grief in all kinds of trials'. Don`t lose sight of 'the goal of your faith' - 'the salvation of your souls' (1 Peter 1:6-9).
12th August: Psalm 33:1-22
'Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous' (1). We have plenty of good reasons for rejoicing in the Lord.
He opens His heart to us, making known 'the thoughts of His heart to all generations' (11). In His heart, there is love for us - 'the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord' (5). He speaks to us of His love. Listening to His voice of love, our joy increases as we learn to trust in His Word - 'the Word of the Lord is right and true' - and rest in His faithfulness - 'He is faithful in all He does' (4). We have good cause to say, 'Our heart is glad in Him' (20). Think of God's love - His heart of love, His purpose of love, His Word of love. Let His love touch your heart and change your life. May His love cause each of us to pray from the heart: 'May Your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord' (22).
13th August: 1 Chronicles 8:1-40
.How sad it is to find the name of Baal, the god worshipped by the Canaanites, appearing in this list of those who professed to be the people of God! The name 'Esh-Baal' (33) means 'man of Baal' or 'man of shame'. It is a 'shameful thing' that those who are called to be the people of God should lose sight of their high calling and become servants of Baal. The name 'Merib-Baal' (34) highlights the sadness of those who lose their way in life. Originally meaning 'opponent of Baal', this name came to mean 'loved by Baal' or 'my lord is Baal'. God's Word warns us against the danger of becoming a 'double-minded man' (James 1:8). Trying to live with one eye on the Lord and the other eye on the world is a sure recipe for disaster. Satan will be be quick to welcome us if we take our eyes off Jesus. 'Let us fix our eyes on Jesus' (Hebrews 12:2).
14th August: 1 Chronicles 9:1-44
In verse 13, we read of 'very able men for the work of the service of the house of God'. Some have been called by God to preach His Gospel and teach His Word. All of us have been called to serve the Lord. It may not be preaching and teaching. It will be something you can do for Him. In this chapter, we read of some who were 'chosen to be gatekeepers', some who were 'assigned to take care of the furnishings and all the other articles of the sanctuary...', some who were 'entrusted with the responsibility for baking...' and others who were 'singers' or 'musicians' (22,29,31,33). There's something for everybody: 'There`s a work for Jesus ready at your hand, `Tis a task the Master just for you has planned. Haste to do His bidding, yield Him service true; There`s a work for Jesus none but you can do' (Redemption Hymnal, 570)
15th August: Philippians 1:1-2:11
Do you feel like you can`t go on? Do you feel like giving up? Here`s God`s Word of encouragement for you: 'He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the Day of Jesus Christ' (1:6). God finishes what He starts - 'He didn`t bring us this far to leave us. He didn`t teach us to swim to let us drown. He didn`t build His home in us to move away. He didn`t lift us up to let us down'. In all the changes of life, we must remember this: God is faithful. His love is unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable. We don`t keep going because we are strong. We are 'kept by the power of God' (1 Peter 1:5). In 'humility' let us live 'to the glory and praise of God' (2:3; 1:11). 'Jesus Christ is Lord' (2:11) - He will give you the strength to keep going when you feel like giving up.
16th August: Philippians 2:12-3:11
God's command - 'Work out your own salvation' - must never be separated from His promise - 'God is at work in you' (12-13). We do not save ourselves - We 'put no confidence in the flesh'. We are saved by the Lord - We 'glory in Christ Jesus' (3). We are to 'shine as lights in the world', directing attention away from ourselves to Him who is 'the Light of the world; - our Lord Jesus Christ (15; John 8:12). We have this testimony: "I have 'no righteousness of my own'. 'Through faith in Christ', I have received 'this rtighteousness from God'" (9). We are living in difficult times. This is 'a crooked and perverse generation' (15). We are called to 'hold fast the Word of life' (16). It will not be easy. We will face many difficulties. We must take encouragement from this: 'God is at work in you' (13).
17th August: Philippians 3:12-4:23
'Christ Jesus has made me His own' (3:12). In Paul`s words, we hear an echo of Jesus` words, 'You did not choose Me...I chose you' (John 15:16). Christ has claimed us for Himself. He has laid claim to every part of our life. We are to 'rejoice in the Lord always' (4). We are to bring 'everything' to Him in prayer (6). We are to be 'content in all circumstances' (4:11-12). We are to face every challenge with confidence in His strength - 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me' (4:13). We are to trust Him to 'supply' our 'every need' (4:19). In every situation, we can come to the Lord, trusting in His promise: 'the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus' (7). Whatever is happening, take it to the Lord in prayer and let Him give you His peace.
18th August: 1 Chronicles 10:1-11:19
Saul's life can be summed up in one word - 'unfaithfulness': 'he was unfaithful to the Lord'. This is a warning: Don`t become like Saul who 'did not keep the command of the Lord...and did not seek guidance from the Lord' (10:13-14). David was quite different from Saul. He became king 'according to the Word of the Lord'. He grew in strength because 'the Lord of hosts was with him' (11:3,9). David was helped greatly by his 'mighty men, who gave him strong support in his kingdom, together with all Israel' (11:10). These things were 'written for our instruction' (Romans 15:4). Praise God for what He has done in the past - 'Blessed be the Lord for ever!' (Psalm 89:52). Pray for more of His blessing in the future - 'O that some one would give me to drink from the well of Bethlehem' (11:17; Revelation 22:17; John 7:37-39).
19th August: 1 Chronicles 11:20-12:7
Here, we read of 'the mighty men of the armies' (26), 'the mighty men who helped him in war' (1). What are we to learn from this list of names? We must look on from here to 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 where we learn some vitally important lessons regarding spiritual warfare. We learn what our war is not and what our weapons are not: 'we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly'. We learn where our strength comes from and what it is to be used for: 'the weapons of our warfare...have divine power to destroy strongholds'. We learn about the goal of our warfare: 'We...take every thought captive to obey Christ' pressing on toward an 'obedience' which 'is complete'. Make this your prayer, "Lord, help me to be 'valiant..., a doer of good deeds' (22).
20th August: 1 Chronicles 12:8-13:14
'The kingdom of Saul was turned over to David according to the Word of the Lord' (23). What was God's purpose in giving the kingdom to David? 'In the days of Saul', there had been spiritual neglect. Now, God was calling His people to return to Him - 'let us bring again the ark of our God to us' (3). The people returned to the Lord (4). They rejoiced in Him (13:8). Sadly, their joy was short-lived. Failure to do God's will lead to the withdrawal of God's blessing (13:9-10). Where the Word of God remains among God's people - honoured and given its rightful place - , there will be blessing (13:14). How are we to honour God's Word? - 'Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only'. Pray that you will not be a 'hearer who forgets'. Pray that you will be 'a doer of God's Word' -obedient to God and blessed by God (James 1:22,25).
21st August: Psalm 34:1-22
Looking to the Lord, we are 'radiant' He has 'delivered' us. He has 'saved' us (4-6). Rejoicing in God's salvation, we say, 'I will bless the Lord at all times' (1). We call upon others to worship the Lord with us - 'O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His Name together!' (3). We invite them to trust in the Lord and come to know the joy of His salvation - 'O taste and see that the Lord is good! Happy is the man who takes refuge in Him!' (8). We encourage them to keep on hearing the Word of the Lord so that they may learn to walk with God - 'Come, O sons, listen to me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord' (11). We seek to lead people on to spiritual maturity. We say to them, 'Depart from evil, and do good', praying that they will become 'mature', 'trained by practice to know the difference between good and evil' (14; Hebrews 5:14).
Tues. 22nd August: Proverbs 13:12-25
What do you do with the Word of God? How do you respond to the Word of God? What a difference there is between those who respect God's Word and those who despise His Word. We have here a word of warning - 'He who despises the Word brings destruction on himself' - and a word of promise - 'he who respects the commandment will be rewarded' (13). Those who keep on ignoring God's Word are putting themselves in great danger - 'He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck will suddenly be broken beyond healing' (29:1). Those who take God's Word seriously will find 'great reward' - God's Word 'revives the soul', 'makes wise the simple', 'rejoices the heart' and 'enlightens the eyes'. May your heart often meditate on His Word. May your mouth often speak His Word (Psalm 19:11,7-8,14).
23rd August: Psalm 35:1-28
The Psalmist prays, 'Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me!' (1). Jesus says, 'In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world' (John 16:33). Paul rejoices in the Lord`s victory - 'If God be for us, who can be against us?' (Romans 8:31). How do we know that God is for us? How do we know that the victory is ours in Christ? We read the words of John 3:16 - 'God so loved the world that He gave His only Son...' - and we say, with the Psalmist, 'Then my soul shall rejoice in the Lord, exulting in His deliverance' (9). We read the words of 1 Corinthians 15:57 - 'Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ' - and we say, with the Psalmist, 'I will thank Thee...I will praise Thee...all the day long' (18,2,8).
24th August: 1 Chronicles 14:1-15:15
David recognized that it was 'the Lord' who 'had established him king over Israel' (14:1). David sought to honour the Lord in everything. We see this in his battles with the Philistines - (a) He 'inquired of God' (10,14); (b) He 'did as God commanded him' (16,10-11); (c) He gave all the glory to God - 'God has broken through...the Lord brought the fear of him upon all nations' (11,17). We must learn from David - Seek the will of God; Do the will of God; Give all the glory to God. David was not only a political leader - a king. He was also a spiritual leader, a leader of worship. He calls us to be sanctified, set apart for the Lord. We will not be blessed by the Lord unless we honour Him in our hearts. Let's be sure to hear and heed this call to live our lives 'according to the Word of the Lord' (15:11-15).
25th August: 1 Chronicles 15:16-16:6
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 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' (16,28-29,2,4). God calls us to worship Him continually' (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).
26th August: 1 Chronicles 16:7-36
Here, we are called to worship - 'O give thanks to the Lord...Sing praises to Him...Glory in His holy Name...Seek His presence continually' (8-11). We are to 'remember the wonderful works that He has done'. We are to call on others to worship Him - 'Sing to the Lord , all the earth!'. We 'worship the Lord' and, filled with heavenly joy, we say to those around us - 'Let the earth rejoice... "The Lord reigns!"' (12,23,29,31). In a book of so many names, this marvellous song of praise stands out. It is a high point. Everything else seems so commonplace. Treasure God's special high points of praise and worship. Don't despise the ordinariness of everyday life. Why does God give us His high points? - He wants us to return to our everyday life with renewed strength. 'Wait on the Lord and renew your strength' (Isaiah 40:31).
27th August: Psalm 36:1-12
Read about God's 'steadfast love' and rejoice in Him: 'Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens...How precious is Your steadfast love, O God!...O continue Your steadfast love to those who know You...' (5,7,10). Rejoicing in the Lord's 'steadfast love' is quite different from taking His love for granted. We dare not say, "God loves me. I can do what I like". We must not become like the wicked - 'there is no fear of God before his eyes' (1). Where there is true rejoicing in God's 'steadfast love', there will also be 'the fear of the Lord' which 'is the beginning of wisdom' (111:10). A real appreciation of God's 'steadfast love' brings with it a real awareness of our own sinfulness. Knowing how much God loves us leads us to pray, 'Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away' (11).
28th August: 1 Chronicles 16:37-17:27
Sometimes, God's "No" means "Not now. Later". David wanted to build a Temple for the Lord. God said, "No" - 'You shall not build Me a House to dwell in' (1-4). This was not God's last Word on the matter - 'one of your own sons...shall build a House for Me' (11-12). One ministry comes to an end. Another ministry begins. We wonder, 'Has God said, "No"?'. Has He said, "There will be no blessing"?'. God's "No" may mean "Not yet". The blessing will come - but not yet. The "No" was spoken to David, yet still, there was the promise of God: 'the Lord will build you a House' (10). The true servant of the Lord does not say, "The blessing must come in my time"! God's servant rejoices in the "not yet" blessing of God - 'still the vision awaits its time...If it seem slow, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay' (25-27; Habakkuk 2:3).
29th August: 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' (14). Jesus speaks to us about 'good fruit' and 'bad fruit'. He warns us not to be deceived by those who have no real love for Him: 'You will know them by their fruits' (Matthew 7:15-20). How does good fruit grow in the 'tree' of our lives? - 'Blessed is the man...whose delight is in the law of the Lord...He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season' (Psalm 1:1-3). There is good fruit to be enjoyed when we take delight in the Word of the Lord. There is bad fruit to be thrown away. Let's throw away the bad fruit - '...strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness...' - and enjoy the good fruit - 'love, joy, peace...'. Let 'the fruit of the Spirit'grow in you - 'be filled with the Spirit' (Galatians 5:19-24; Ephesians 5:18).
30th August: 1 Chronicles 18:1-20:8
Victory belongs to God. Victory is given by God. This is the great lesson of David's victories - 'the Lord gave victory to David wherever he went' (18:6,13). There are no 'giants' able to stand in the presence of God (20:8). Every 'giant' must be brought to the ground. There are 'giants' standing in the way of our spiritual growth. The 'giants' of unbelief, disobedience, spiritual pride and self-righteousness must not be allowed to hinder our growth in grace. We must fight our spiritual battles in the strength of the Lord, confident that , through His 'divine power', 'every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God' will be brought to nothing (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). Let the 'giants' come tumbling down. 'Grow in the grace and knowledge our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ'. Give all the 'glory' to Him (2 Peter 3:18).
31st August: Psalm 37:1-40
Those who 'trust in the Lord...will dwell in the land'. Those who turn from Him will 'perish' (3,20). Through faith in Christ, we look ahead to 'a heavenly country', 'better' than anything we will know on earth (Hebrews 11:16; Philippians 3:20). We have caught sight of 'a happy land, far, far away, where saints in glory stand, bright, bright as day'. We have heard the sound of their song - 'O how they sweetly sing, "Worthy is our Saviour King!"'. We lift our voices to the Lord - 'Loud let His praises ring, praise, praise for aye'. Still, some are perishing. They have not come to Christ for salvation. To them, we say, 'Come to this happy land, come, come away; Why will ye doubting stand? Why, still delay?' (Revised Church Hymnary, 587). Trust in the Lord now and look forward to being with Him in heaven.

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...