Thursday, 29 September 2016

Blessing, Deliverance And Resurrection

Genesis 1:20 - “Let the waters bring forth abundantly.”
What abundance of blessing there is when the living water of the Holy Spirit are flowing freely among the Lord’s people (John 7:37-39; Ezekiel 47:5,9).
Genesis 1:21 - “great whales”
Remember “the great fish” that swallowed Jonah (Jonah 1:17). This was God’s way of showing us that “salvation comes from the Lord” (Jonah 2:9). From the story of Jonah’s mighty deliverance, we look on to the mighty miracle of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. He died, but He did not remain dead. He rose from the dead.

The Word Of The Lord And The Spirit Of The Lord

“Do not interpretations belong to God?” (Genesis 40:8).
It’s a great blessing to have the Word of the Lord. There’s another great blessing. God has given to us the Holy Spirit. Through the working of the Holy Spirit in us, the Word of God comes alive. It is more than just a book. It is the Word of God to me. It is the Word of God to you. The Holy Spirit opens our eyes. He shows us Jesus. he leads us to Jesus. He gives us love for Jesus. Thank God for His written Word. Thank Him for the Holy Spirit. We read the Word, and the Holy Spirit says to us, “This is for you.”

Be Strong And Courageous! ...

This is the story of what God was doing with His people. He was giving them the land He had promised to them. Joshua was to be the leader of God's people. Joshua’s strength came from the Lord: “Be strong and courageous! ...The Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
The report of the spies - “The Lord has given us the whole country” (Joshua 2:24) - emphasizes that God is in control. God is working out His purpose, His perfect purpose, His purpose of love.
It is important to remember this. Without this understanding of the events recorded in the book of Joshua, we will lose our way and fail to see what relevance these events have for us. From these events, we learn that our strength comes from the Lord, who does great things for us because he loves us with a perfect love.
The crossing of the River Jordan was a significant event. It was an event to be remembered. It wasn’t just a geographical event. It was more than a movement from one place to another. It was a spiritual event, a work of God. The meaning of this event would bring blessing to God’s people down through the years: “The Lord did this so that everyone in the world would know His mighty power and that you would fear the Lord your God every day of your life” (Joshua 4:24). The past affects the present. It shapes the future. We remember the Lord so that we might learn to fear Him, now and always.
The victory over Jericho came immediately after the appearance of “the Commander of the Lord’s army.” It was God who told His people how they were to approach the city of Jericho. Everything about this victory marked it out as the work of God: “So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout the land” (Joshua 6:27). The Lord accomplishes His work when His people obey His instructions. We must never forget this. All glory must be given to the Lord. It’s not our obedience which earns His blessing. It’s His power and His love, which sends His blessing down from heaven. His blessing is sent to those who are obedient. It’s always the gift of His grace. It’s never the reward for our good works.
The victory over Ai (Joshua 7 & 8) could not take place until the sin of Achan had been dealt with. There needs to be the tearing down of sin before there can be the building up with salvation. This is a spiritual principle of the greatest importance. God withholds His blessing from us when we withhold our obedience from Him. It is to an obedient people that God sends His blessing. We must,in repentance, remove the barriers to God’s blessing. When we do this, we can, then, reach out, by faith, and receive the blessing that He is so eager to give to us.
“The Lord fought for Israel” (Joshua 10:14). This is what we must see in all the conflicts between Israel and the other nations. God is working out His purpose. He is fulfilling His promises. Without this spiritual dimension, the events recorded in the book of Joshua are of no real significance for us today. Keeping this spiritual purpose at the centre, we will learn this great lesson: The Lord fights for us.
“Don’t be afraid of them because I am going to give them to Israel” (Joshua 11:6). This is the Word of the Lord that lies at the heart of Joshua’s account of Israel’s victories. The victory comes from the Lord. He gives His people the victory. This is still God’s Word to us. As we face our enemies - everything that stands in the way of our spiritual progress, we must stand on the Word of the Lord - His promise of victory.
In the book of Joshua , there’s plenty of geography - lots of place names. There is also the spiritual emphasis on the direct connection between obedience and blessing. We see this in the life of Caleb (Joshua 14:6-9,13-14). There’s something remarkable about Caleb - “I am 85 years old” and “still as fit to go to war as I was when Moses sent me out.” He was still saying, “If the Lord is with me, I can drive them out, as He promised” (Joshua 14;10-12).
The division of the land among the tribes (Joshua 15-19) seems to be so mundane, yet it’s part of the Word of God. This reminds us that even the mundane aspects of our life are lived out “in the presence of the Lord” (Joshua 18:10; 19:51).
The cities of refuge (Joshua 20) and the cities that were given to the tribes (Joshua 21) - This isn’t particularly interesting. We should never lose sight of the spiritual dimension, with which Joshua 21 ends: “The Lord gave Israel the whole land ... The Lord allowed them to have peace on every side ... The Lord handed all their enemies over to them. Every single promise that the Lord had given the nation of Israel came true” (Joshua 21:43-45).
“The Lord is the only true God” (Joshua 22:22,34).
In this new land, the Israelites faced conflict. This was more than a conflict between nations. It was a conflict between the one God and the many gods. It was a conflict  between the true God and the false gods. God’s Word to His people was clear - “You must be loyal to the Lord your God” (Joshua 23:8). God is still speaking to His people. He is still saying, “Get rid of the gods ... Serve only the Lord” (Joshua 24:14). The choice must be made - “Choose today whom you will serve.” God is calling us to make our response: “I will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). After reading many chapters, full of names, we must remember that there is one Name which is more important than all the other names. It’s the Name of the Lord our God. After reading so much about military exploits, we must remember that it is in the Name of the Lord that we are called to do battle. There’s a spiritual battle to be fought. In this battle, we fight for the Lord. We fight in His strength. In this battle, there’s one thing that matters more than anything else. It’s the glory of God.

God Is Calling Us To Return To Him.

God takes sin very seriously. He sends his judgment upon sin. The unleashing of His fury turns the sinful nation into a wasteland (Ezekiel 5:13-14). When we read of such things, we wonder, “Is there any hope?” When we are reading so much about sin and judgment, we must not lose sight of the love of God. In love, He calls men and women to return to Him.
In Ezekiel 6, we have a message concerning divine judgment. Note the emphasis - “you (they) will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 6:7,13-14). If we are to appreciate the greatness of God’s salvation, we must see the greatness of our sin and the greatness of the judgment from which we are delivered through God’s mighty work of salvation.
“The end is coming” - We read these words five times in Ezekiel 7:1-6. These are words of judgment. Ezekiel 6 ends with the words, “Then they will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 7:27). In His judgment, the Lord is known as the holy God. If the people refuse to return to the Lord, there will be judgment. This is the word of warning. It comes as a call to repentance, a call to walk with God in obedience.
In Ezekiel 8, we have a description of sin - “very disgusting things”, even more disgusting things” (Ezekiel 8:6,9,13,17). When we read such “bad news”, we wonder, “Is there good news?” The answer of God’s Word is “Yes”! God does not leave us in our sin. He sends His Son to be our Saviour. This is the Good News, for which the prophets paved the way. Their ministry exposed sin, so that sinners might see their need of the Saviour.
If holiness is to be preserved, there must be a divine judgment upon sin. We cannot grow in our love for God, if we continue to have love, in our hearts, for the ways of the world. “Abba, Father, let me be Yours and Yours alone” (Dave Bilbrough, Mission Praise, 3).

Holy To The Lord

Exodus 28:1-30:38 
In all our worship and in all of life, we are to be “holy to the Lord” (Exodus 28:36). Holiness lies at the heart of God’s instructions to His people. God speaks of the special blessing of His “presence” at “the tent of meeting – “My glory will make this place holy” (Exodus 29:42-43). The holiness of God is full of love. He lives among His people as the God of redemption: “I brought them out of Egypt so that I might live among them” (Exodus 29:45-46). In the Lord’s presence, there is grace – “in the Lord’s presence … the sins in their lives are removed” (Exodus 30:16). This redemption, given to us by the grace of God, is to be an ongoing experience through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Our salvation is never to be taken for granted in an arrogant way. Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we do receive assurance of God’s salvation – but we must never forget this: “Holy to the Lord” (Exodus 30:37).

Look To Jesus - And Learn From Him.

In Matthew 9:18-38, we read about Jesus' healing ministry. At the end of Matthew 9, there's a reminder to us that the Lord's work is to be carried on by His followers - "The harvest is large, but the workers are few. So ask the Lord who gives this harvest to send workers to harvest His crops" (Matthew 9:37-38). Jesus wasn't saying, 'Look at what I am doing and see how great I am." He was saying, 'Look at what I am doing and learn from Me - learn how to see the crowds with compassion, to see them in their trouble, to see how helpless they are - "like sheep without a shepherd" (Matthew 9:36). we are to be looking at Jesus and learning from Him. We are to be looking at the world and seeing how we can serve the world for Jesus' sake (2 Corinthians 4:5).

God's Gift - Eternal Salvation

Genesis 1:30 - “I have given”
The gift of God – Life is God’s gift. He is our Creator. Salvation is God’s gift. Jesus is our Saviour. The Holy Spirit is God’s gift. He has come to live in us. He will take us to live with God – to give glory to God forevermore.
Genesis 1:31 - “everything was very good”
When we look at the world as we know it, it’s hard to take this in! We must take our stand upon God’s Word. There was a time when “everything was good.” There was a time before our sin spoiled everything. There will, again, be a time when everything will be a good. There will be a time when sin will be no more. It will be a time of giving glory to God forevermore.

Lead us, Lord, in holiness and victory.

Without You, Lord, we are weak. With You, we are strong. Lead us, Lord, out of our failure and into Your victory, out of our sin and into Your holiness. How are we to walk with You in holiness and victory? - We must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, our Saviour (Hebrews 12:1-2; Acts 4:120. When we fail You, Lord, help us to learn from the testimony of Peter - he failed (Matthew 29:69-75), and he was filled (Acts 4:8). Help us to join, with Peter, in saying, "Lord, You know that we love You" (John 21:15-17).

The Strong Meat Of God's Word

Genesis 1:29 - “meat”
We need the strong meat of God’s Word if we are to grow strong in the Lord. Let us feed on the Word of God. Let us pray that our hunger will increase. The more we hunger for the Lord, the more fully He will satisfy us.

Is There Light At The End Of The Tunnel?

In Job 3, we see Job in a state of deep depression. At this stage, there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. He is in desperate need of the Lord’s sustaining strength. Where will the Lord’s help come from? When will his time of suffering come to an end? Job has many questions. He doesn’t have any answers. This “the dark night of the soul.”
In Job 4 - 5, we have the first speech of Eliphaz. On the pretext of bringing comfort to Job, Eliphaz brings a message of accusation. However much Eliphaz claims to be bringing God’s Word to Job, we can be sure that he is not God’s messenger. Why? - It’s because his message conflicts with God’s understanding of Job’s situation (Job 1:8).
In Job 6 - 7, Job replies. There is real pain in Job’s words. He speaks of his “grief” and “misery” (Job 6:2). There is a real longing for God to answer his prayer. Sadly, his prayer has become a cry of despair: “that God would finally be willing to crush me, that He would reach out to cut me off” (Job 6:9). Even though he is in great distress, Job retains sufficient clarity of thought to know that his so-called ‘friends’ have got it wrong - “Please change your mind ... Change your mind because I am still right about this! ...or is my mouth unable to tell the difference between right and wrong?” (Job 6:29-30). There is sadness here - “As a cloud fades away and disappears, so a person goes into the grave and doesn’t come back again” (Job 7:9). Job hasn’t broken through this sense of hopelessness to the triumphant faith, expressed in his confession of confidence in God: “I know that my Redeemer lives ...” (Job 19:25-26), a tremendous declaration of Christ’s resurrection and our resurrection in Him. It’s so wonderful that in a book, filled with so much suffering, there is this marvellous glimpse of an eternal glory, in which all suffering will be banished forever.