Monday, 28 October 2019

Fire!

Daniel 3:1-30

Fire - danger, heat
There is, in God’s Word, a word of warning and a word of promise.
This is the way we are not to go. This is the way we are to go.
 * “Our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29).
 * “The bush was not consumed” (Exodus 3:2).
 * “Our God is an awesome God” (Rich Mullins) - we must never forget this.
Fire is to be respected. Our God is a holy fire. He burns away our dross.
 * “Refiner’s fire, my heart’s one desire is to be holy, set apart for You, Lord; I choose to be holy, set apart for You, my Master, ready to do Your will” (Brian Doerksen).
 * “O God of burning, cleansing flame, send the fire! Your blood-bought gift today we claim: send the fire today!... We need another Pentecost! Send the fire today!” (William Booth).
This is the inspiring and empowering fire: the Holy Spirit. “Give me oil in my lamp. Keep me burning” - burning for God.
 * Isaiah 43:2 - “You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you.”
There were four men in the furnace of blazing fire - Jesus was there: “the fourth was like a son of the gods” (Daniel 3:25),
We go through many testing times, but we are not alone. Jesus is with us. He’s there with His grace: “My grace is sufficient for you. My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). He calls us to put our faith in Him.
 * In the fiery furnace, the men were burning for God. They weren’t being consumed by the fire. They were shining for God. Their light was calling out to others.
Come to the light. Come to the Lord.
When we look at these men, we must look beyond them to the Son of God. Jesus passed through the “fire” for us. He was forsaken by God so that we might be welcomed by God.

Empowered by the Holy Spirit, let us follow the Lord.

Paul's life was not easy. His life story was not always a glowing success story. He suffered persecution because of his faithfulness to Christ and the Gospel. He spent time in prison because he refused to compromise his commitment to Christ. How was he able to remain faithful to Christ in such difficult circumstances? The answer is quite simple: the Holy Spirit. How did the Holy Spirit work in Paul's life? How does the Holy Spirit work in our lives? The Holy Spirit empowered Paul to be a disciple of Jesus. The Holy Spirit empowers us to be followers of the Lord.

"The Son of Man is going to die as the Scriptures say He will" (Mark 14:21).

We look at Jesus. In everything, he lived his life "as the Scriptures say." What about us? Are we becoming more like him? Are we learning to live the way he lived - "as the Scriptures say"?


Sometimes, Lord, Your blessing seems to be "so near and yet so far."

Deuteronomy 3:1-29
Sometimes, Lord, Your blessing seems to be "so near and yet so far." Help us, Lord, as we seek Your blessing, to remember that it is never our own achievement. It is always Your gift to us. We do not achieve victory in our own strength. You give to us Your victory. When, Lord, we feel like we are in a barren wilderness, help us to remember that the place of testing can become the place of triumph - when we put our trust in You.

Help us, Lord, not to keep Your Good News to ourselves.

Proverbs 11:12-31
Lord, You’re calling us to win others for You. You’re calling us to share Your love with them. You’re calling us to bring Jesus to them. Help us, Lord, not to keep Your Good News to ourselves. Help us to pray, “Here I am, wholly available – as for me, I will serve the Lord” (Chris Bowater).

Is there still hope of God's blessing?

Jeremiah speaks of God’s judgment - “I’m bringing disaster and widespread destruction ...” (Jeremiah 4:6). This message comes to us as a word of warning, a plea to the people to return to the Lord and find His mercy - “So put on sackcloth, mourn and cry because the Lord’s burning anger hasn’t turned away from us” (Jeremiah 4:8). This is the call to repentance. We read of God’s burning anger, and we wonder,”Is there still the hope of God’s blessing?” God is speaking of His judgment - “Nation of Israel, I’m going to bring a nation from far away to attack you,declares the Lord, I won’t destroy all of you” (Jeremiah 5:15,18). God’s Word  concerning the threat of judgment is a call to the people to honour Him as God: “Pay attention to My warning, Jerusalem, or I will turn away from you. I will make your land desolate ...” (Jeremiah 6:8). The ministry of Jeremiah differs from the ministry of the false prophets. They say, “Everything is alright!” He says, “It’s not alright! (Jeremiah 6:14). Jeremiah calls upon the people to make a new beginning with God - “Stand at the crossroads and look. Ask which paths are the old reliable paths. Ask which way leads to blessings. Live that way, and find a resting place for yourselves” (Jeremiah 6:16).

Some Ideas For Preaching On Christ's Crucifixion

Were we there when they crucified our Lord? – Yes. He died for our sins.
In this remarkable prophecy, we see Jesus Christ, crucified for us – ‘the Lord has laid all our sins on Him’ – and risen from the dead – ‘After the suffering of His soul, He will see the light of life’ (Isaiah 53:6, 11).
‘Were you there when they crucified my Lord?’ (Mission Praise, 745). We might put this question to Isaiah. In one sense, he wasn’t there. He lived long before the time of Christ. In another sense, he was there. God opened his eyes. God gave him a glimpse of what was going to happen in the future.
‘Were you there when they crucified my Lord?’ In one sense, we weren’t there. These things happened long before we were even born. In another sense, we were there. It was our sins which Christ took with Him to the Cross. It was our sins which He left behind Him when He rose from the dead (Romans 4:25).
Jesus Christ – forsaken by God and pierced for our transgressions
Read of the Psalmist’s sufferings. Think of the Saviour, suffering for you (Psalm 22:7-8, 18; Matthew 27:39 ,43, 35).
We highlight two statements: ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’, ‘They have pierced my hands and my feet’ (Psalm 22:1, 16).
Jesus Christ was ‘crucified and killed by the hands of the lawless men’ (Acts 2:23). There is, however, more to His story than this: ‘The Lord has laid all our sins on Him’ (Isaiah 53:6).
When we read of Jesus Christ, ‘pierced for our transgressions’, we see Him ‘pierced’ by men and forsaken by God (Isaiah 53:5; Zechariah 12:10; John 19:34; Matthew 27:46).
Looking on to Jesus Christ, risen, exalted and returning, we see Him still bearing the marks of His suffering – ‘the mark of the nails’, ‘a Lamb standing as though it had been slain’, ‘pierced’ (John 20:25; Revelation 5:6; 1:7).
Jesus Christ has ‘tasted death for everyone’ (Hebrews 2:9). Now, through Him, salvation is proclaimed to ‘the congregation’, to ‘the ends of the earth’ to ‘future generations’ (Psalm 22:22, 27, 30). Jesus Christ, ‘the same yesterday, today and for ever’, proclaims salvation to the great ‘congregation’, drawn from ‘every tribe and language and people and nation’ (Hebrews 13:8; 2:12; Revelation 5:9).
Looking back to Christ’s crucifixion, looking forward to His return
We have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:19). We are to live as those who are awaiting the Day of the Lord’s return (Hebrews 10:25).
We look back to what Christ has done for us. We look forward to what He will do for us.
Looking back and looking forward: These are both found in Hebrews 9:28 – ‘Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him’.
We remember our Saviour. We remember what He has done for us: ‘the Son of God loved us and gave Himself for us’(Galatians 2:20).
We eat bread and drink wine, giving thanks that our Saviour went to the Cross for us – His body broken for us and His blood shed for us.
We are not only looking back. We are also looking forward: ‘As often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes’ (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).
Remember – and pray, ‘Come, Lord Jesus!’(Revelation 22:20).
As we remember our Lord Jesus Christ, we see how sinful we really are and we pray for ‘mercy’ and ‘grace’ (Hebrews 4:15-16). It is through His grace and mercy that we are able to look forward to ‘eternal salvation’ (Hebrews 5:9).
“It is finished”. The work of redemption is completed. Jesus is the risen Lord.
The story continues. Jesus is betrayed. Jesus is arrested (John 18:1-11). He stands before the Jewish authorities (John 18:12-14, 19-24).
Jesus is ‘drinking from the cup which the Father has given Him’- He drinks from the cup of our condemnation that we might drink from the cup of His salvation (John 18:11; Matthew 26:38-39; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26).
Jesus’ death was not only ‘expedient’. It was ‘necessary’- for our salvation (John 18:14; Luke 24:26).
Alongside the story of Jesus there is the story of Peter (John 18:15-18, 25-27). Jesus’ death was not the end of His story – He rose from the dead (Luke 24:5-6; Acts 2:23-24). Peter denied the Lord three times. This was not the end of his story. For each denial, there was a new commitment (John 21:15-17). For each denial, there were, on the Day of Pentecost, 1,000 people brought to Christ (Acts 2:38, 41).
‘Barabbas was a robber’. He was released (John 18:39-40). There was ‘no crime’ in Jesus. He was ‘crucified’ (John 18:38; 19:4, 6, 16).
Was Jesus no more than the innocent victim of a shameful and tragic miscarriage of justice? No! Jesus, the King of kings, chose to die.
Looking ahead to the Cross, He said, ‘For this I was born…’ (John 18:36-37). In love, He chose death on the Cross.
As truly as Barabbas, each of us can say, ‘He took my place and died for me’. In His death, Jesus did not only take the place of one sinner, Barabbas – ‘He took the place of many sinners’. He did not simply bear the punishment deserved by one sinner, Barabbas – ‘The Lord made the punishment fall on Him, the punishment all of us deserved’ (Isaiah 53:12, 6).
‘It is finished’ (John 19:30). These are not words of despair. They are words of triumph.
At an early stage in His public ministry, Jesus said, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me to finish His work’ (John 4:34). Even then, He was looking ahead to the Cross, to the completion of the work of redemption.
In one sense, ‘it is finished’- on the Cross. In another sense, there is more to be done – by the Father. The Cross is followed by the resurrection – ‘God raised Him from the dead’(Acts 2:24; Romans 10:9).
To come to the words, ‘It is finished’ is not to reach the end of the story.
Jesus was laid in the tomb (John 19:42). This was not the end of His story.
He was raised on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:4)!

Life isn't easy. Sometimes, it seems like there are nothing but hard times.

2 Samuel 7:1-29
Life isn't easy. Sometimes, it seems like there are nothing but hard times. There doesn't seem to be alight at the end of the tunnel. That's the way it feels - but it's not the way it is! Our feelings will lead us away from You - if we let them! Our feelings can run riot over us. They can wreck our lives. Help us, Lord, to look beyond the chaos. Help us to look to You. Sometimes, it feels like You're far away. That's the way it seems to us - but it's not the way it really is! You are with us - now and always (Matthew 1:23; Matthew 28:20).

The Holy Spirit comes from God. The Holy Spirit changes us.

(i) The Holy Spirit comes from God.

- The new birth (John 3:3, 7). 

- “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Luke 3:16).

(ii) The Holy Spirit changes us.

 - “Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-4).

 - “When the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you shall be My witnesses” (Acts 1:8).

Lord, we have begun to follow Jesus.

Numbers 11:1-35
Lord, we have begun to follow Jesus. Help us to keep on following Him. Again and again, we are tempted to turn back, to return to the ways of this world. Help us to keep on saying, "I have decided to follow Jesus - No turning back. The world behind me, the Cross before me - No turning back. If no-one joins me, still I will follow - No turning back."

We thank You, Lord, for Your Holy Spirit.

Numbers 10:1-36
We thank You, Lord, for Your Holy Spirit. He works in us to bring blessing to us. He works through us to bring blessing to others. Without the working of Your Spirit, there can be no blessing. May the "living waters" of Your Spirit flow in our hearts and out from our hearts to others to bring blessing to many (John 7:37-39).

We thank You, Lord, for Your Word. It's " a lamp to our feet and a light to our path,"

Numbers 8:1-26
We thank You, Lord, for Your Word. It's " a lamp to our feet and a light to our path" (Psalm 119:105). As we read Your written Word, we hear the voice of Jesus, Your living Word. Jesus speaks to us. He calls us out of our darkness. He calls us into Your light. It's the light of Your salvation. It's the light that changes everything. It's the light of Your love.

Lord, You gave Your Son, Jesus - to be our Saviour.

Numbers 7:1-47
Lord, You gave Your Son, Jesus - to be our Saviour. Help us to give ourselves to You - to be Your servants. Jesus died for us. Help us to live for Him. Help us never to forget His sacrifice - "Love so amazing, so divine." May we be challenged by His sacrifice - "Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all." Help us to respond to His sacrifice - "Love so amazing, so divine, shall have my soul, my life, my all."

We thank You, Lord, that Jesus, Your Son, has taken our sin upon Himself.

Numbers 5:1-31
We thank You, Lord, that Jesus, Your Son, has taken our sin upon Himself. We thank You that He brings Your salvation to us. With Jesus as our Saviour, we cannot remain the same as we were before we met Him. Jesus changes us. He makes us new. Help us, Lord, to live in the power of this new life which Jesus gives to us. Help us to live in His power - the power of His love.

Lord, You're calling us to grow in Christ.

Numbers 4:1-49
Lord, You're calling us to grow in Christ. You're calling us to be changed - changed in our way of thinking, changed in our way of living. You're calling us to be less self-centred - and more centred on You. May there be less doing our own thing - and more following Jesus, less living in the weakness of the flesh - and more living in the power of the Spirit.

Lord, we thank You for Your Word.

Numbers 2:1-34
Lord, we thank You for Your Word. You have spoken to us. You are still speaking to us. It's Your Word that leads us on into Your future. Help us to listen to what You are saying to us, to build our lives on Your Word, to let Your Word flow out from us, to bring blessing to many.

Living for You, Lord, is not easy.

Numbers 1:1-54
Living for You, Lord, is not easy. We face determined opposition from Satan. He keeps coming back at us, again and again. We thank You, Lord, that we do not stand against him in our own strength. We stand in Your strength, in the victory of our risen Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Teach us, Lord, that what You have done for us is always so much greater than anything we could ever do for You.

Leviticus 25:25-55
Teach us, Lord, that what You have done for us is always so much greater than anything we could ever do for You. You gave Your Son, Jesus, to be our Saviour. Your Holy Spirit has come to live in our hearts. He's changing us. He's making us more like Jesus. You give us the privilege of serving You - sharing, with others, the wonderful love of Jesus. You've done so much for us. You've given so much to us. What have we done to deserve all of this? - Nothing! It's Your gift. We can only say, "Thank You, Lord."

Lord, we hear the questions ...

Leviticus 24:1-25:24
Lord, we hear the questions, "Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?" and "Who shall stand in His holy place?" - and we say, 'This is too much for us." We thank You, Lord, that there is Good News for us. There is One who has ascended the hill of the Lord. There is One who stand in Your holy place. Jesus has ascended the hill of the Lord. Jesus stands in Your holy place. He has ascended Your holy hill - for us. He stands in Your holy place - for us. He has "received blessing from You" - for us (Psalm 24:3-5). When , Lord, we come to worship You, help us to come in the Name of Jesus: Just as I am, without one plea but that Thy blood was shed for me ... "

Lord, You call us to "worship You in spirit and in truth."

Leviticus 22:17-23:44
Lord, You call us to "worship You in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). Where does true worship come from? - It comes from You. It comes from Your Spirit. It comes from Your Truth. We read the Holy Scriptures - and we begin to worship You. We open our hearts to the Holy Spirit - and the spirit of praise grows stronger in us. We listen to the voice of our Holy Saviour - and He leads in the pathway of true worship. True worship comes from You: "Fill Thou our life, O Lord our God, in every part with praise."

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Help us, Lord, to turn from ‘the works of the flesh’ and seek ‘the fruit of the Spirit.’

Proverbs 20:1-30 
‘Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler; whoever is led astray by it is not wise’ (Proverbs 20:1). Lord, teach us the truth of these words – before it’s too late! Teach us that there is a better way than the way of drunkenness. It is the way of being filled with the Holy Spirit: ‘Don’t get drunk on wine, which leads to wild living. Instead, be filled with the Spirit’ (Ephesians 5:18). Help us not to ‘live according to the flesh.’ You’re calling us to ‘live according to the Spirit.’ You warn us against making the wrong choice: ‘To set the mind on the flesh is death.’ You show us the way of blessing: ‘To set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.’ You say to us, ‘Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.’ Help us, Lord, to turn from ‘the works of the flesh’ and seek ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ (Romans 8:5-6; Colossians 3:2; Galatians 5:19-23).

Some things are worth repeating!

Psalm 107:1-43 
Lord, there are some things that are worth repeating! The story of Your amazing grace is worth repeating over and over again - ‘Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress’(Psalm 107:6,13,19,28). The call to praise You is also something we need to hear again and again - ‘Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men’(Psalm 107:8,15,21,31). Help us, Lord, 'consider Your great love.' Help us to ‘give thanks to You’(Psalm 107:43,1). 

Help us, Lord, to live a Godly, Christlike, Spirit-filled life – a life of love.

Proverbs 17:1-12
What kind of people are we to be? What kind of life are we to live? Lord, You’re calling us to live a life of “love” (Proverbs 17:9). How, Lord, do we learn what love is? – We learn from You. You show us what love is – “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son … ” (John 3:16). In Jesus, we see perfect love – “The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). The Holy Spirit fills our lives with Your love – “The fruit of the Spirit is love” (Galatians 5:22). Help us, Lord, to live a Godly, Christlike, Spirit-filled life – a life of love.

The Friendship Of The Lord, The Fear Of The Lord

Proverbs 19:1-29 
‘The fear of the Lord leads to life’ (Proverbs 19:23). ‘The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear Him’ (Psalm 25:14). Lord, we read these words, and we think, ‘What a strange combination – friendship and fear!’ We ask, ‘How can there be friendship where there is fear?’ Here, we have a special kind of friendship – ‘the friendship of the Lord’ – and a special kind of fear – ‘the fear of the Lord’. Why is this friendship and fear so special? It’s because You, Lord, are special! You are the God of perfect holiness – ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty.’ Help us to come before You in ‘the fear of the Lord’ – ‘Woe is me! I am undone; I am a man of unclean lips…’. You are the God of perfect love. You He call us into friendship with Yourself – ‘Your guilt is taken away and your sin forgiven’ (Isaiah 6:3,5,7). We rejoice in ‘the friendship of the Lord’. Help us to respect You with ‘the fear of the Lord’.

Help us, Lord, to see the light at the end of the tunnel – “the salvation of our souls.”

Proverbs 13:1-11
“The light of the righteous rejoices” (Proverbs 13:9). We thank You, Lord, that Jesus is our Light. He’s “the Light of the world” (John 8:12). In Him, we rejoice (Romans 5:11 – “the blood Of Jesus, Your Son, cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). We thank You that, through Jesus, You have “called us out of darkness into Your marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9). When, Lord, we’re going through hard times, help us to see the light at the end of the tunnel – “the salvation of our souls” (1 Peter 1:6-9).

Help us, Lord, to invite Jesus, Your Son, to be our Saviour and our Friend.

Proverbs 18:1-24 
Lord, we thank You that ‘the fountain of wisdom is an overflowing stream’ (Proverbs 18:4). We read the joyful testimony of Paul: ‘The grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus’ (1 Timothy 1:14), and we say, in our hearts,  ‘This is the “wisdom” we must seek – the wisdom which receives “salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). True wisdom finds its overflowing joy in the Saviour: ‘The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe’ (Proverbs 18:10). We rejoice in Jesus. He is Your Son – ‘You shall call His Name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High’ (Luke 1:31-32). He is our Saviour – ‘You shall call His Name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins’ (Matthew 1:21). He is ‘the Friend who sticks closer than a brother’ (Proverbs 18:24). Help us, Lord, to be wise. Help us to invite Jesus, Your Son, to be our Saviour and our Friend.

Jesus Is Our Forever Friend.

Proverbs 17:13-28
“A friend loves at all times” (Proverbs 17:17). Help us, Lord, to look beyond human love and human friendship. Help us to see Jesus. His love is the greatest love. He is our greatest Friend. Thank You, Lord, for Jesus. Thank You for His love. He’s our Forever Friend. May we know, in our hearts, that His love is ‘always and forever’ love.

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Lord, we have so many reasons for rejoicing in You.

Psalm 33:1-22
“Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous” (Psalm 33:1). Lord, we have so many reasons for rejoicing in You. You have opened Your heart to us (Psalm 33:11). You have shown Your love to us (Psalm 33:5). Help us to trust in Your Word, and rest in Your faithfulness (Psalm 33:4). We rejoice in “Your unfailing love” (Psalm 33:20,22).

Lord, it’s Your love for us that inspires our loyalty to You.

Psalm 26:1-27:12
“Your love is ever before me, and I will walk continually in Your truth” (Psalm 26:3). Lord, it’s Your love for us that inspires our loyalty to You. You love us. This is what makes us want to walk with You. In Your love, You lead us in the way of Your salvation. We don’t begin with walking with You. We begin with worshipping You. We celebrate Your love for us, and we receive Your strength – strength for living the new life, the life that brings glory to You.

When, Lord, we sin, help us to come to Jesus.

Job 34:21-35:16 
“If you have sinned” (Job 35:6). Help us, Lord, to think about Job, about Jesus, and about ourselves. “Job feared God and shunned evil” (Job 1:1). Job wasn’t being singled out for special punishment, because he was much more sinful than anyone else – but this doesn’t mean that he had never sinned (Job 7:21; Job 13:26). Help us, Lord, to look beyond Job to Jesus. He did not sin (Hebrews 4:14-16) – but He did suffer: “He suffered for us … He bore our sins … He died for us … He died for our sins” (1 Peter 2:21-24; Romans 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:3). Thank You, Lord, for Jesus, our Saviour. When we sin, help us to come to Jesus. He is our “Redeemer” (Job 19:25). He gives us “quietness” and “songs in the night” (Job 34:29; Job 35:10). Help us, Lord, to “be still and know that You are our God.” Help us to “shout for joy to You” (Psalm 46:10; Psalm 98:4).

Lord, help us to listen for the voice of Your love – and not to be deceived, discouraged, and distressed by words that come to us from Satan.

Job 25:1-27:6
Lord, we hear biting sarcasm in Job’s response to his ‘comforters’: “How you have helped him who has no power! How you have saved the arm that has no strength!” (Job 26:2). We hear Job’s searching question: “With whose help have you uttered words, and whose spirit has me forth from you?” (Job 26:4), and we pray, “Lord, help us to listen for the voice of Your love – and not to be deceived, discouraged, and distressed by words that come to us from Satan.”

We thank You that You are not only the God of great power. You are also the God of great love.

Job 22:1-23:7
Lord, we read Job’s question: “Would He contend with me in the greatness of His power?” We also read his answer: “No; He would give heed to me” (Job 23:6). We thank You that You are not only the God of great power. You are also the God of great love. If You, Lord, were nothing but power, we would have good reason to be terrified of You. At the Cross of Jesus, we see how much You love us. In Jesus’ resurrection, we see Your power. It’s not just the power to do strange and mysterious miracles. It’s the power of Your love – the love that lifts us when we’re down, the love that leads us on to a life, in which there will be “no more death or  mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4).

Lead us, Lord, out of the bitter way and into the better way.

Job 16:6-17:16
“There is no violence in my hands, and my prayer is pure” (Job 16:17). We wonder, Lord, ‘Is this no more than Job’s own opinion of himself?” Your Word tells us that it’s also Your view of Job: “My witness is in heaven, and He that vouches for me is on high” (Job 16:19). As we read about Job and his suffering, Help us to think about ourselves. How do we react when suffering comes our way? Do we become bitter – blaming You and turning away from You? Or, do we become better – “the righteous holds to his way, and he that has clean hands grows stronger and stronger” (Job 17:9)? How, Lord, can we become better – and not bitter? It’s Your  love that changes us (Romans 5:3-5). It’s Your love that lifts us when we feel like we’re falling down. Lead us, Lord, out of the bitter way and into the better way.

Sometimes, Lord, we need to say, “The less said, the better.”

Job 13:1-14:22
Sometimes, Lord, we need to say, “The less said, the better.” We read what Job said about his ‘friends’ – “Oh that you would keep silent, and it would be your wisdom!” (Job 13:5). We feel for Job. From his ‘friends’, there was nothing but one accusation after another. What was he to do? What are we to do? We turn to You, Lord. Can we look beyond our suffering? Is there something better? – “If a man dies, shall he live again?” (Job 14:14). We thank You, Lord, for the answer of faith: “I know that my Redeemer loves … Even after my skin has been stripped off my body, I will see God … ” (Job 19:25). Help us, Lord, to look to Jesus, the risen Lord, to hear His Word of triumph: “Death is swallowed up in victory”, and to offer to You our joyful praise – “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:20,54,57).

When Satan is hurling his accusations at us, help us, Lord, to keep on listening to what You’re saying to us. May the voice of Your love lift us out of the pit of our despair.

Job 11:1-12:25 
We read, Lord, about Job – “a righteous and blameless man! (Job 12:4). He was suffering, and he was confused. Was He being punished by You? That’s what Zophar was telling him - Job must have done  something pretty awful to deserve this. You, Lord, were saying something very different – “My servant Job” (Job 1:8). When Satan is hurling his accusations at us, help us, Lord, to keep on listening to what You’re saying to us. May the voice of Your love lift us out of the pit of our despair.

What are we to do, Lord, when we think that You're against us?

Job 9:20-10:22
What are we to do, Lord, when, like Job, we think that You are “against” us (Job 10:2)? Where do such negative thoughts come from? Do they come from You? No! They come from Satan, the “accuser ” of Your people (Revelation 12:10). When Satan attacks us, help us to remember that You love us, that Jesus died for us, that “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”, and that “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 5:8; Romans 8:1; Romans 8:37).

Help us, Lord, to see that bad things can and do happen to people who love You as well as people who don’t love You.

Job 8:1-9:19
We read the words of Bildad. He speaks as a ‘know-it-all’. He sees what has happened to Job, and he thinks, ‘Job must have forgotten God’. He fails to see that Job has not forgotten God. Help us, Lord, to see that bad things can and do happen to people who love You as well as people who don’t love You. When things are going badly, help us, Lord, to remember Your long-term purpose. You’re preparing us for ‘eternal life’ (Matthew 19:29). Help us to look beyond our sufferings. They are ‘slight and short-lived’. Help us to look ahead to the ‘eternal glory that is greater than anything we can imagine’ (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Help us not to listen to Satan. He’s trying to put us down and keep us down. Help us to listen to listen to the voice of Your love. Your Word lifts us up.

Job 4:12-6:7
Lord, we read about Eliphaz. We see so much pride. We don’t see much love. Satan is speaking through Eliphaz. Help us not to listen  to Satan. He’s trying to put us down. He’s trying to keep us down. Help us to listen to the voice of Your love. Your Word lifts us up. Help us to look to You, to be lifted by You, and to give all the glory to You.

What, Lord, are we to do when we find ourselves sinking into a state of deep depression?

Job 3:1-4:11
What are we to do when, like Job, we find ourselves sinking into a state of deep depression? Help us, Lord, to remember Jesus. Help us to remember His suffering. He suffered for us. He suffers with us. We thank You that Jesus knows how we feel. He’s been there. He went to the Cross – for us. Behind His suffering, we see His love. In our suffering, we need Jesus. We need His love. Without His love, things will only get worse. Thank You for Jesus – for His love and His help.

When, Lord, life is hard, and it’s difficult to understand what’s going on, help us to hold on to Your promise: “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength."

Job 21:1-34
Lord, we sense Job’s deep disappointment, as he says to his ‘comforters’, “How then will you comfort me with empty nothings? There is nothing left of your answers but falsehood” (Job 21:34). We thank You, Lord, that Job was looking beyond his ‘comforters’. He was looking to You: “He knows the way that I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). When life is hard, and it’s difficult to understand what’s going on, help us to hold on to Your promise: “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles … ” (Isaiah 40:31).

Help us, Lord, to listen to what You’re saying to us before we start telling other people what we think You should be saying to them.

Job 20:1-29
Lord, we read Zophar’s detailed description of “the wicked man’s portion from God, the heritage decreed for him by God” (Job 20:29). We wonder if Zophar has ever thought of asking the question:’ Help us, Lord, to learn from Zophar ‘Does all of this apply to Job? Is Job a wicked man? Is Job being punished by God? Help us, Lord, to learn from Zophar’s mistakes. Help us to listen to what You’re saying to us before we start telling other people what we think You should be saying to them. May our words be Gospel words – words of love, words of encouragement, words of hope. May our words bring glory to Your Name, the Name of love, the Name of Your salvation.

Friday, 25 October 2019

Lord, we thank You for Jesus, our Saviour.

Lord, we thank You for Jesus, our Saviour. In Him, You have given us "every spiritual blessing" (Ephesians 1:3). What blessings You have given to us - the forgiveness of sins, the Holy Spirit living in us, eternal life with You (Ephesians 1:7,13-14). Help us to praise You today. Help us to praise You every day.

Lord, we give all the glory to You.

Lord, we give all the glory to You. We think of Jesus, crucified for us - and we say, "Thank You, Lord - You have done for us what we could never have done for ourselves." You have brought us out of the darkness of of our sin and into the light of Your salvation - out of sadness and into gladness. Help us never to forget that You have saved us. Help us to live, each day, as Your faithful servants.

Sometimes, Lord, we wonder what it's all about!

Sometimes, Lord, we wonder what it's all about! When we feel like this, help us to know that You love us. Help us to see that You are working in us - to teach us to love You.

Lord, we thank You that You are in control ...

Lord, we thank You that You are in control of the things that are happening to us. We do not always understand what's going on - but you do!

The Word Of The Lord In Your Mouth

"Now I'm convinced that you are a man of God and that the Word of the Lord from your mouth is true" (1 Kings 17:24).

"the Word of the Lord in your mouth": What a  privilege this is! - God gives us His Word to speak for Him. What a responsibility it is! - May God help us to be His faithful witnesses. 

Lord, we thank You for Your great love.

Lord, we thank You for Your great love. There is no love like Your love. We think of Your Son giving Himself, in death, for us. We think of His suffering for us and we say, “Saviour of the world, what have You done to deserve this?” We look at the Cross, and we see more than suffering. We see love, and we say, “Saviour of the world … what have we done to deserve You?” Beyond “the mystery of undeserved suffering”, we catch a glimpse of something else – something very, very wonderful: “the deeper mystery of unmerited love” (Common Order, Prayer for Good Friday).

God is calling us to praise Him.

Psalm 118:19-29 

God is calling us to praise Him.
 * “I will praise the Lord” (Psalm 118:20).
 * “I will praise You” (Psalm 118:21).
 * “You are my God, and I will praise You” (Psalm 118:28).
Praise is more than words that we sing in church. Our whole life is to be full of praise to God.
We come to the Lord’s Table to receive forgiveness from Him. We go from the Lord’s Table to share His forgiveness with others.
 * “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us” (Matthew 6:12),
 * “Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so also you must forgive” (Colossians 3:13).
 * How many times should I forgive my brother? - “As many as seven?” “Seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22). If we’re still counting, we’ve missed the point!
 * “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they’re doing” (Luke 23:34).
Thank God that Jesus prayed this prayer for every one of us. Let it shape our attitudes and actions towards one another.
May God help us to be less like the Pharisee, and more like the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14). This is true praise. It pleases God.

From God's First Word To Us - Our Sin - To His Final Word To Us - His Salvation


"How can mere mortals prove their innocence before God?
Though they wished to dispute with Him, they could not answer Him one time out of a thousand." (Job 9:2-3)


"Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God." (Romans 3:19)


Why does God speak to us about our sin? This is just the beginning of His work in us. He shows us our sin - "through the law we become conscious of our sin." (Romans 3:19) - so that we might see our need of the Saviour and come to Him, and receive, from Him, the forgiveness of our sins - "But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe." (Romans 3:21-22) 

The world doesn't like having the Lord's people among them.

"Egypt was glad when they left, because dread of Israel had fallen on them." (Psalm 105:38)

The world doesn't like having the Lord's people among them. It reminds them that they need to be saved by the Lord - and they look being reminded of this. May God help us to be faithful to Him. May our lives call upon sinners to return to the Lord.

O for a closer walk with God ...

"Peter followed Him at a distance" (Mark 14:54).

Following Jesus at a distance - this is always a dangerous thing to do. Before long, Peter was denying that he even knew Jesus (Mark 14:66-72).
"O for a closer walk with God ...  ", walking on "the road that leads me to the Lamb" (William Cowper).

Prayer is about what we're becoming as well as what we're saying.

"Lord, teach us to pray ... Ask, seek, knock ... " (Luke 11:1,9).
Prayer is more than a form of words. It's about what we're becoming as well as what we're saying. Are we becoming people who are learning to say, "What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer"? "Take it to the Lord in prayer" - Teach us, Lord, to do this.

Faith and Holiness

Let us never forget the importance of faith and holiness – 'without faith it is impossible to please God ... without holiness no-one will see the Lord' (Hebrews 11:6; 12:14). We are to 'live holy and godly lives' – 'make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love ... if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ'. In all of this, let us never forget to give all the glory to our Saviour – 'To Him be glory both now and for ever!' (2 Peter 3:11; 1:5-11; 3:18).

What, Lord, are we to do when we encounter opposition?

Nehemiah 2:19-4:9
What are we to do when we encounter opposition? We’re seeking to serve You – and the enemies of Christ and His Gospel are making life difficult for us. Help us, Lord, to look to You. May we know, in our hearts and lives, the truth of Your Word: “The people who know their God will be strong” (Daniel 11:32).

Help us, Lord, to open our hearts to You, to lay our lives before You, and to do the work that You give us to do for You.

Ezra 1:1-2:35
"Rebuild the House of the Lord" (Ezra 1:3). This, Lord, is what You're calling us to do. Who are You calling? Is it just a few 'special' people? - No! It's "all those whose spirits God had moved" (Ezra 1:5). Help us, Lord, never to say, "There's nothing for me to do." There's always something we can do. Help us to open our hearts to You, to lay our lives before You, and to do the work that You give us to do for You.

Life is full of ups and downs.

1 Kings 18:17-19:21
Life is full of ups and downs. There are high-points – “The fire of the Lord fell” and “all the people said, ‘The Lord, He is God’” ( 1 Kings 18:37-39), and there are low-points – ”O Lord, take away my life” (1 Kings 19:4). Lord, we are so changeable. Sometimes, we’re full of joy. At other times, we’re at the point of despair. We find ourselves in a turmoil of confused and confusing emotions. What are we to do? What can we do? Can we pull ourselves together? We try – but we fail. Lord, help us to look beyond our own efforts. Help us to look to You, to believe that You can change us, You can come to us in our weakness, You can give us Your strength – the strength that we need to love You more and bring more glory to Your Name, the Name of our salvation.

Lord, help us to rise to the challenge: to live as Your people, people who know You, love You and serve You.

1 Kings 16:29-18:16
We read about Elijah: “The Word of the Lord came to Elijah”; “You are a man of God and the Word of the Lord in your mouth is the truth” (1 Kings 18:1; 1 Kings 17:24). You’re challenging us to be all that You’re calling us to be – people who love You, people who are listening to You and speaking for You, people who are living for You. Lord, help us to rise to the challenge: to live as Your people, people who know You, love You and serve You.

Lord, help us to put You first in our lives.

1 Kings 15:9-16:28
“Asa did what was right in the eyes of the Lord … The heart of Asa was wholly true to the Lord all his days” (1 Kings 15:11,14). Lord, help us to be more like Asa – to put You first in our lives. You want to take control of our attitudes and our actions. Change us, Lord. Change the way we think. Change the way we live. May pleasing You be our top priority – the thing that matters most to us.

Where, Lord, does our hope for the future come from?

1 Kings 12:25-13:34
“A son shall be born” (1 Kings 13:2). There would be a new king and a better future. Where, Lord, does our hope for the future come from? Does it come from earthly kings? No! It comes from Jesus, our Saviour. He’s the “King of kings.” He’s the “Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16). We read the words of prophecy: “to us a child is born … a son.” We read what Your Word says about Him. He is “Wonderful.” From Him, we receive wonderful blessings (Isaiah 9:6-7). Thank You, Lord, for Your Son, Jesus.

Lord, Your Word seems so simple – but we don’t always listen to what You’re saying to us!

1 Kings 11:14-12:24
“Do not go up to fight against your brothers” (1 Kings 12:24). Lord, Your Word seems so simple – but we don’t always listen to what You’re saying to us! Less ‘This is what I think’ and more ‘What is the Lord saying to me?” – that’s what we need. Help us, Lord, to listen to You – and to be changed by Your Word.

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Learning From God's Word: Ruth

Ruth 1:1-22
Following the triple tragedy of the deaths of Elimelech, Mahlon and Chilion (Ruth 1:3-5) and the departure of Orpah (Ruth 1:14), there was a new beginning for Naomi and Ruth. This new beginning came to them when "they came to Bethlehem" (Ruth 1:19). The town of Bethlehem marked a new beginning for them. It marks a new beginning for us. This was the place where our Saviour was born. "They happened to to enter Bethlehem just when the barley harvest began." The timing of their arrival turns our thoughts towards fruitfulness. We come to our Saviour - born at Bethlehem, and He makes us fruitful in His service. Without His help, we cannot even begin to see a harvest gathered in for Him. If we are to see the Lord's blessing on the work we do for Him, we must look to Him, putting our trust in Him.

Ruth 2:1-4:22
This is the story of Ruth and Boaz. It is a story which leads on to David (Ruth 4:22) - and, beyond him, to Christ. In this story of love, we have the fulfilment of Naomi's words: "May the Lord bless him" (Ruth 2:20). It is a story which prompts the response: "Praise the Lord" (Ruth 4:14). It is a  story which points beyond itself to the story of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: the story of the greatest blessing of all - salvation; the story which inspires our worship, causing us to say, with heart and voice, "Praise the Lord." In this short story, we learn an important lesson: As we read the many stories told in Scripture, we must learn to see, in each of them, the story of our Saviour. 

The Revelation Of Jesus Christ

Revelation 1:1-20

This is ‘the revelation of Jesus Christ’ (1). It comes from Him and it speaks of Him.
Christ ‘loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood’ (5). We rejoice in Him.
Christ is ‘coming with the clouds’ (7). We must get ready for Him.
‘The revelation of Jesus Christ’ calls for our response. It is not ‘for information only’. We are to ‘pay attention to what is written in it’. We are to ‘take it to heart’. We are to ‘do what it says’ (3).
Christ reveals Himself to us. Is it for our benefit only? Is it just to make us ‘feel good’? No! We are to share with others what the Lord is teaching us.
Christ said to John, ‘Write what you see’ (19). Don’t keep it to yourself. Share Christ. Tell others about Him. Tell them what the Lord has done for you.
Speak His words of love: ‘Come...and learn from Me’ (Matthew 11:28-30).

First Things First

"Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness" (Matthew 6:33).

First things first - This is what Jesus says to us. 
What He means is this - The Lord is King.
 * The Lord is King. Let this be real in your life.
 * The Lord is King. Let this change you.
 * The Lord is King. Let this make a difference - in the way that you think and the way that you live.

Being Justified By God Begins When We Stop Trying To Justify Ourselves.

"he wanted to justify himself" (Luke 10:29).

Justifying ourselves is the exact opposite of being justified by God. Justifying ourselves - This is about saying, 'I'm right. I haven't done anything wrong.' Being justified by God - This is about saying, 'I have sinned. I need to be forgiven.' How can we receive forgiveness if we don't think we've done anything wrong? Receiving God's forgiveness begins with our confession: ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner’ (Luke 18:13). What does Jesus say about the man who prayed this prayer? - "This man ... went home justified before God" (Luke 18:14).

A House Of Prayer, A Life Of Prayer

"a house of prayer" (Matthew 21:13)

Our whole life is to be "a house of prayer" - centred  on God, shaped by prayer. This means more than going to a place that is called "a house of prayer." God is calling us to a life of prayer. He's calling us to be prayerful people, people who love to be in His presence. Where are we to begin? - We must begin with the prayer - "God, be merciful to me, a sinner" (Luke 18: 13). We must begin with this - "The blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). Everything good comes from this staring-point: "in me, there is no good thing" (Romans 7:18). The "good thing" - salvation - has to come to us from outside of ourselves. It has to be given to us by Jesus, our Saviour. When we begin here - how great is our sin, how great is our Saviour, we begin in the right place, the place where spiritual growth begins.

We thank You, Lord, that You are the God of new beginnings.

1 Kings 2:1-46
We thank You, Lord, that You are the God of new beginnings. Your purpose doesn’t stand still. It moves forward. Will we move forward with You? – That, Lord, is the question that each of us must ask answer. We cannot stand still. There are two ways we can go. We can move forward with You. We can go back to the past, back to what we were before Christ saved us, before He took hold of our lives, before He began to make us new people. Dare we even think of going back to the old life? That life can’t even begin to compare with our new life in Christ. Help us, Lord, to press on into the future, Your future, the new life in Christ, eternal life.

A positive faith is much more helpful than a purely negative reaction!

The Pharisees were subtle - just like the ‘ancient serpent who is the devil’ (Genesis 3:1; Revelation 20:2). They tried ‘to entangle Jesus in His talk’ (Matthew 22:15). They wanted to trap Him and bring a charge against Him. They asked Jesus about payment of taxes to Caesar (Matthew 22:17). Jesus moved beyond this question to our greatest responsibility: ‘Render ... to God the things that are God’s’ (Matthew 22:21). If we must speak words of political significance - ‘Render.. to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s’ (Matthew 22:21) - , let them arise out of this: Giving God His rightful place in His Church, the nation and the wider world. Jesus’ words to the Sadducees, in Matthew 22:29, were not simply a protest against the religion of the Sadducees. They were a protest for the Scriptures and the power of God. A positive faith is much more helpful than a purely negative reaction!

Monday, 21 October 2019

Keep On Worshipping The Lord.

"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good works, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:24-25).
It's great that we are able to encourage one another in the Lord. Hebrews 10:25 speaks about "the assembling of ourselves together" and "exhorting one another." Each of us has a particular ministry of encouragement to those with whom we are gathered together to worship the Lord. It is a privilege to be able to share something of this ministry of encouragement with other people. We encourage one another in the Lord when we gather together for worship (Hebrews 10:25). The preaching of Christ strengthens our faith (Romans 10:17). What a great encouragement it is to know that "God is pleased through the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe" (1 Corinthians 1:21). What happens in the place of worship is important - but it's not the be-all and end-all. There's more than worship in the Lord's House. There's life outside of the place of worship. In the world - That's where we're to live a life of "love and good works" (Hebrews 10:24). If, when we're in the place of worship, we start thinking that this is all that there is - an hour on a Sunday, we've got it all wrong. When our worship ends, our witness begins. Our witness is more than words. It's living the life of a believer. In the world - This is where we see how real our worship is.

Don't Neglect God's Great Salvation.

Refusal to come to Christ for salvation leads to judgment: ‘How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?’ (Hebrews 2:3).

Saved - by grace, for good works, to be a witness

 * Saved by grace - "He saved us, but not because of anything we had done to gain His approval. Instead, because of his mercy He saved us" (Titus 3:5). 
 * Saved for good works - "God’s saving kindness ... trains us to avoid ungodly lives filled with worldly desires so that we can live self-controlled, moral, and godly lives in this present world" (Titus 2:11-12).
 *  Saved to be a witness - We are to "show the beauty of the teachings about God our Savior in everything we do" (Titus 2:10). Witness is more than what we say. It's what we do. Our whole life - words as well as actions - is to point people away from ourselves to our Saviour.

In all that we do, we need love.

"Christ makes me bold enough to order you to do the right thing. However, I would prefer to make an appeal on the basis of love" (Philemon 8-9). 
In all that we do, we need love. We learn this love from Jesus "who loved us and gave himself for us" (Galatians 2:20).

More Than Words ...

"Our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction" (1 Thessalonians 1:5).
We need more than words. We need the power of the Holy Spirit.

In the Lord ...

"Always be joyful in the Lord ... I know how to live in poverty or prosperity" (Philippians 4:4,12).
In the Lord - This is the important thing. Poverty with the Lord is better than prosperity without Him.

God Gives His Blessing To Those Who Are Walking With Him In Obedience.

“You have … obeyed my voice in all that I commanded you. But take careful heed to do the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul. So Joshua blessed them … ” (Joshua 22:2,5,6).
We don’t earn God’s blessing as a reward for our obedience. His blessing is always His gift – but we must never forget this: He gives His blessing to those who are walking with Him in obedience.
Remembering that God’s blessing is given by Him and not earned by us, we must not forget to give thanks to Him when we are blessed by Him. We must also remember that we dare not take His blessing for granted. We dare not presume that He will continue to bless us if we do not continue to walk with Him on the pathway of obedience.

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

Knowing the Lord Jesus Christ is more important and more wonderful than everything else (Philippians 3:8).
Paul's testimony lifts us above the shallow superficiality of the worldly way of thinking. Too often, we attach too much importance to the things that aren't really that important. We need to be reminded that Jesus is the most important Person of all. No-one else can ever be more important and more wonderful than Jesus.

Salvation is never our achievement. It is always God's gift.

"There is no comparison between God’s gift and Adam’s failure" (Romans 5:15).

Adam's failure and God's gift - What a difference there is between the two! What Adam could not do, God has done. Salvation is never our achievement. It is always God's gift.

Be what God has made you "in Christ" ...

"In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires" (Romans 6:11-12).
Be what God has made you "in Christ" - not what sin has made you without Christ.

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Blessing From God, Glory To God

"I have reason to glory in Christ Jesus in the things which pertain to God" (Romans 15:17).

Where has the blessing come from? Does it say something about how worthy we are? No! It's not about us. We haven't done anything to deserve God's blessing. The blessing comes from the Lord. To Him be all the glory!

Strong words - words for today

“… watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned … By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people” (Romans 16:17-18).
These are very strong words. They are words which have a great deal to say to the Church at a time when it seems that the voice of permissive society is threatening to drown out completely the voice of Holy Scripture. When Paul addresses the problem of divisions among God’s people, He calls us to be faithful “to the teaching you have learned.” Behind Paul’s words concerning “the teaching you have learned”, there is something else: “according to the Scriptures.” We see this in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Paul begins by speaking about “the gospel which I preached to you” (1 Corinthians 15:1). As we look on to 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, it becomes clear that he is not concerned with drawing attention to himself. What he is concerned about is this: “according to the Scriptures” – “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

God is preparing a glorious future for us.

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
How does the Lord keep us walking in His way? – He keeps on bringing to our attention the glorious future which He is preparing for us. He keeps on reminding us that we are being prepared for His eternal glory. How is He preparing us for ”praise,  glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed”? – He is teaching us to “love Him. ” The more we are learning to love Him, the more we will look forward, “with an inexpressible and glorious joy” to  ”the end result of our faith, the salvation of our souls” (1 Peter 1:7-9).

Friday, 18 October 2019

A Great Privilege And A Great Responsibility

"Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple" (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).
God has given us a great privilege - "you yourselves are God's temple... God's Spirit dwells in your midst."  He's given us a great responsibility - we must take care of "God's temple." When God's Spirit comes into our hearts, what does He do? Does He give us a feeling of superiority - we're better than they are? No! He calls upon us to search our hearts more deeply: "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 139:23-24).

Where does praise come from?

"Praise God in His sanctuary" (Psalm 150:1). "Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit... glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
Where does praise come from? How do we learn to "glorify God"? We learn that we "have been bought with a price" (1 Corinthians 6:20). At the Cross of Christ, we learn to praise God. We see Jesus, crucified for us - and our hearts are filled with praise to God. This is where praise begins. It doesn't begin with us. It begins with God. It begins with Jesus. It begins with the Holy Spirit.

The Lord's Return

"Now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2).
In our thinking about the Lord’s Return, it is very important that we do not forget that the decision between salvation and judgment is one which must be made here and now. The Bible speaks of the Day of the Lord’s Return as a Day of salvation for the Lord’s believing people. The Lord’s Return will also bring a Day of judgment for all who turn their backs on the Saviour. The Bible also speaks of another day of salvation, another day of judgment. That day is today. This is precisely what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6:2 - “Now is the day of salvation.” Now is the time for making your decision for Christ. Now is the time for faith in the Saviour. Jesus underlines the importance of our present response to Him. He does this, in John 3:18, when He speaks of those who are already under judgment because of their unbelief: “he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the Name of the only Son of God.” The Lord awaits for our response now. May God help us to put our trust in His Son, Jesus Christ. May God help us to await Christ’s Return with joyful expectation.

"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all’ (2 Corinthians 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’ (2 Corinthians 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’ (2 Corinthians 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 do 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)!

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

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

"Receiving the promise of the Spirit through faith" (Galatians 3:14)

What does this mean? It may be helpful to think, first, about what it doesn't mean.
We must never think of the Holy Spirit as a reward that is given to us because we have faith - the more faith we have, the more the Holy Spirit is given to us. Where does this kind of thinking come from? It comes from human pride. We make too much of our faith - and we get things the wrong way round.
When faith is real, it changes us. This is something that we must always emphasize - but we must make sure that we never give the impression that the Holy Spirit is a reward - God's way of recognizing how well we are doing in the life of faith. When we think that we are being rewarded, the focus is on ourselves - 'Look at what I've achieved. Look at the progress I've made.'
We are called to make progress in the life of faith - but we must never forget where this progress comes from. It comes from the Lord. Every thought of holiness comes from the Lord. He puts it into our hearts. We do not begin with our faith - 'I'm going to live a godly life', and, then, somewhere along the line, we start thinking about the Holy Spirit as God's reward, earned by us because of our growing desire to become more like Jesus. The Holy Spirit isn't God's way of rewarding us - 'You've made some progress. I'll reward you with the Holy Spirit.'
How did we come to faith? The Holy Spirit, brought us to faith. He was working in our hearts. He was leading us to see that there was nothing good in ourselves. He was leading us to stop trying to save ourselves. He was leading us to look away from ourselves to Jesus. He was leading us to stop trying and start trusting - looking to Jesus to do for us what we could never do for ourselves.
How are we led in the paths of righteousness? It's the Holy Spirit who leads us closer to our Saviour, Jesus. He shows us that the self-centred way of life will never satisfy the deepest longing of our hearts. He keeps on saying to us, 'There's something more. There's a different way of living. There's a better way of living.'
Where does this new life come from? Do we make up our minds that we're going to live a better life - and hope that God will reward us with His Holy Spirit? What is this? - It's the religion of the Pharisees.
What does it have to do with God's salvation? Nothing! It's all about our human achievement. We'll never start looking to the Lord for salvation until we stop trying to save ourselves. A reward is earned by us. Salvation is given to us. A reward sends us back to our own human resources. It says to us , 'What are you going to do to show that you are worthy of this reward?' Salvation points us to Christ. It tells us what He has done for us. It calls us to look to Him - to trust Him as our Saviour, to confess Him as our Saviour. It calls us to live for Him - without ever forgetting that He died for us.
The religion of the Pharisees is all about keeping the law, and hoping that you'll be rewarded. What happens when we're honest with ourselves, and say, 'I can never keep the law the way I should'? That's when we start to realize that we need more than the law. We need the Gospel.
We don't begin with the law - what we can do for God. We begin with the Gospel - what He has done for us. Go back to Exodus 20. There, we have the Ten Commandments. Before that, there is God's declaration, 'This is what I have done for you' (Exodus 20:1-2).
We must never begin with something that we do. We must always begin with what God has done. Even, beginning with faith is missing the point of the Gospel of grace. Our faith can never be any more than a response to God's grace. His grace comes before our faith. In grace, He reaches out to us. His grace brings us to Christ. His grace leads us to put our faith in Christ.

"The law is our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ" (Galatians 3:24) - The Law of God, the Spirit of God and the Son of God

Some schoolmasters may be viewed as disciplinarians. I think, however, we should see the work of the Holy Spirit here. He convicts us of sin and leads us to Christ. This is not the impersonal law. It's the personal approach of the Holy Spirit. In grace and mercy, He shows us how far we have fallen short of God's perfect standard so that He might gently lead us to the Cross of Christ, the place where we receive the forgiveness of all our sins.
In Galatians 4:6, we learn that ‘God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts.’ The Spirit is not a reward which we earn by being good people. We are bad people who have broken God's law. The Spirit is God’s gift (Titus 3:5). The Spirit is not a reward which we earn because of our good works. Paul connects the gift of the Spirit with Christ’s death for us and our faith in Christ (Galatians 3:13-14).
When the Spirit brings us to Christ our Saviour, He takes us through a process which could be described as disciplinarian. We could look at His work in this way - so long as we see much more of divine grace in this than we would normally associate with the word "disciplinarian"!
The Spirit strips us of our human pride. He leads us to come to Christ with humility. When the Spirit has done His work in our hearts, 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.’ 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.’
Let's look beyond the idea of the law as a disciplinarian. Let's give thanks to God. He has given His Spirit to us. Let’s give ourselves to Him - to ‘be filled with the Spirit’(Ephesians 5:18).

"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace ..." (Galatians 5:22-23).

* The love in us comes from the love of God.
* The joy in us comes from the joy of God.
* The peace in us comes from the peace of God.
... The God of love, the God of joy, the God of peace ...
Without God, there can be no love in us, no joy in us , no peace in us ...
... Love, Joy, Peace ... That's what we find in Jesus.
The fruit of the Spirit grows in us as we are learning to love Jesus, learning to rejoice in our Saviour, learning to rest in the peace of Christ.
The fruit of the Spirit grows in us as we learn to walk with Jesus in the way of patience, kindness and goodness.
The fruit of the Spirit grows in us as we travel to the Cross of Christ where we learn the way of faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

"God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ …” (Galatians 6:14).

At the cross, we see Jesus Christ, “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” ( John 1:29). In the cross, we see the fulfilment of God’s eternal plan of salvation – “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). In the cross, we catch a glimpse of the eternal glory of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb … For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘He will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes’” (Revelation 7:10,17).
As we consider the glory of our Saviour, sent to us from eternal love, crucified for us, leading us on to eternal glory, let us join with Paul in saying “I will glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We rejoice in our Saviour. We give all the glory to Him. He's "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). What a great salvation He has given to us! It begins with the forgiveness of our sins. It continues with the Holy Spirit, living in us and leading us out of a life that is centred on ourselves and into a life that is becoming more centred on Christ. Beyond the blessings that we receive while we are here on earth, there is the glory of being with the Lord forevermore - the full glory of eternal life. This final glory will surpass every blessing that we have enjoyed during our earthly journey of faith and obedience. All of these blessings come to us from our Saviour - "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).

Giving Thanks To God

"I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers"  (Ephesians 1:16).
Prayer isn't all about asking. We must not forget to give thanks to the Lord.

Our love for the Lord comes from His love for us.

"And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God" (Philippians 1:9-11).
Our love for the Lord comes from His love for us. His love reaches us. His love changes us. With Jesus as our Saviour, our life changes direction. It's less of self - and more of Him. We're moving towards "the day of Christ." We're not there yet. We've got a long way to go. We find it so difficult to look beyond where we are right now. Jesus is very different from us. He looks right on to the end. He sees as we will be at the time of His Return. Now, we catch only a glimpse of the glory of Christ. Then, we will see Him in the fullness of His glory. What we shall be is still to be fully revealed to us. Saved by grace, promoted to glory - Here-and-now, these are, for us, words of faith. When He returns, we will enter into the full reality of what it means to be saved by grace and promoted to glory.

Enthroned

“You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel” (Psalm 22:3).
God is not enthroned because we enthrone Him. We enthrone Him because He is enthroned.

Eternal Blessings

 * “The Lord gives victory to His anointed” (Psalm 20:6).
Jesus is the Christ (the anointed). Through His death and resurrection, Jesus has won the victory over Satan. He won the victory for us. He gives His victory to us.
  * “Surely You have granted him eternal blessings” (Psalm 21:6). 
Through the mighty victory of Jesus Christ (God’s Anointed), there are “eternal blessings” – for us. 
  * “My God, God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Psalm 22:1).
How do eternal blessings come to us through Christ? When we see Christ, suffering on the Cross, we must give thanks to God that His suffering was for us. For Him, there was suffering. For us, there is salvation.
“‘Tis mystery all! The Immortal dies … Amazing love! how can it be that Thou, my God shouldst die for me! … No condemnation now I dread; Jesus, and all in Him, is mine!”
* “Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and  I will dwell in the House of the Lord for ever” (Psalm 23:6).
For us, God’s salvation begins while we are here on earth. They continue for “all the days of our life.” His  blessings do not come to an end when we leave this world. His blessings are eternal – “I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.”
 * “Your love, Lord reaches to the heavens … How priceless is Your unfailing love, O God!” (Psalm 36:5,7).
Where do God’s eternal blessings come from? They come from His love, His eternal love, His love which endures forever (Psalm 136).
  * “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered” (Psalm 32:1).
God’s eternal blessings begin with the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus was forsaken by God so that we might be forgiven by God.
  * “We wait in hope for the Lord” (Psalm 33:20).
The forgiveness of our sins is just the beginning of God’s eternal blessings. There is more to come. We look forward to being with the Lord forevermore.

The Word of God - Spoken In The Power Of The Spirit Of God

“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul” (Psalm 19:7).
God’s Word does not return to Him empty. It accomplishes the purpose for which He sent it (Isaiah 55:11). Often, we feel like God’s Word returns to us empty. It never returns to Him empty. Wherever God’s Word is preached in the power of the Holy Spirit, God is at work. He is doing more than we realize. Some may refuse to listen to the voice of the Spirit – but the Spirit keeps on speaking to them, calling them to return to the Lord and receive His free gift of salvation: “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on them, and to our God, for He will freely pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7). Let us pray that the Word of God will be spoken in the power of the Spirit of God: The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul (Psalm 19:7).
Psalm 19:14
Pray that ‘the meditation of your heart’ and ‘the words of your mouth’ will be filled with the Spirit of love.

Prophecy - Preparing The Way For The Saviour

"Rejoice with all your heart... Shout in triumph... Your King is coming to you... " (Zechariah 9:9). Here, we have the prophecy that was fulfilled by Jesus when He entered the city of Jerusalem, on His way to the Cross. This is followed, in Zechariah 9:10, by the words, "He will rule from sea to sea, and from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth." This speaks to us of the coming King and His coming Kingdom. While we are here on earth, we catch glimpses of the coming Kingdom. The full revelation is still to come. It will come - in God's time.
"From them (the people of Judah) will come a cornerstone" (Zechariah 10:4). Here, we have a prophecy concerning our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Cornerstone of our faith, the Cornerstone upon which the Church is built. He is our solid Rock. Those who build on Him are wise. "I will bring them (the people of Judah, Joseph's people) back because I have compassion for them" (Zechariah 10:6) - This is the love of God and the salvation of God. Through the Lord Jesus Christ, we receive life. This life gives us new strength.
Favour and unity (Zechariah 11:7) - God will look with favour on His people when they are united in Him. Let us seek the Lord's favour. Let us be united in seeking His favour. Let us seek to be united in the Lord, praying that He will look upon us with favour.
"I will pour out the Spirit of blessing and mercy on David's family and on those who live in Jerusalem" (Zechariah 12:10). Through our Lord Jesus Christ, who is "greater than David", we receive the blessing of the Spirit. This blessing is given to us through the mercy of God. It's all of grace. All the glory belongs to the Lord. Let us magnify His Name, the Name of our salvation. After Jesus' ascension, His apostles were told to wait in Jerusalem until the Spirit of the Lord was poured upon them. What a day it was - the day of Pentecost - when the Spirit came upon them in power.It was power for the effective communication of the Gospel, leading to the conversion of many. Such an outpouring of the Spirit brings great glory to the Lord. When great numbers of sinners are brought to the Saviour, all we can say is that this is the Lord 's doing and it is marvellous in our eyes. Hallelujah!
Favour and unity (Zechariah 11:7) - God will look with favour on His people when they are united in Him. Let us seek the Lord's favour. Let us be united in seeking His favour. Let us seek to be united in the Lord, praying that He will look upon us with favour.
"A fountain ... to wash away their sin and stain" (Zechariah 13:1) - Here's a prophecy that points forward to our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. In death, He gave Himself for us. His blood was shed for us.Through His death, by the shedding of His blood, we receive the forgiveness of our sins. This is such a great blessing from such a great Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ.

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...