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Fourth Sunday in Lent: 1 Samuel 16:1-13; Psalm 23; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41

Don’t settle for “second-best”. ‘Samuel did what the Lord commanded’ (1 Samuel 16:4). Real obedience comes from ‘the heart’. It is more than just ‘keeping up appearances’ (1 Samuel 16:7). ‘The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart’- This is something we must never forget!’ ‘It’s the presence of Your Spirit, Lord, we need’ (Songs of Fellowship, 256) - This is the lesson we must learn from the stories of Saul and David. The great difference between the two men is summed up in 1 Samuel 16:13-14: ‘the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David... the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul’. David exerted a good influence upon Saul (1 Samuel 16:23). Sadly, however, Saul’s best days were behind him. He was only a shadow of what he could have become if he had chosen to become ‘a man after God’s own heart’ (1 Samuel 16:13-14). Don’t settle for second best when you can have God’s very best!
Jesus Christ is God’s very best. Jesus Christ has ‘tasted death for everyone’ (Hebre…
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Third Sunday in Lent: Exodus 17:1-7; Psalm 95; Romans 5:1-11; John 4:5-42

Called to serve the Lord, we begin with worship, praying and listening to His Word. Worldly people create problems (Exodus 17:3). Moses asks, ‘What shall I do...?’ (Exodus 17:4). Indecision asks, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’ (Exodus 17:7). He gives victory (Exodus 17:8-9, 13). Joshua is being equipped for special service - ‘in the ears of Joshua’ (Exodus 17:14). God’s great concern is that His people move forward together. The work is not to be left to the few (18:18). God is looking to faithful servants who will ‘bear the burden’ together (18:21-22). There is much to be done, but we must never forget this: ‘prayer and the ministry of the Word’ (Acts 6:1-4). You may not be a Moses or a Joshua, but you can play your part. We rejoice in who God is and what He has done for us. Assured of His presence with us, let us worship Him: ‘Blessed be the Lord...’ (18:10-11).
We are to worship the Lord with joyful thanksgiving. ‘Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord... Let us come bef…

Second Sunday in Lent: Genesis 12:1-4a; Psalm 121; Romans 4:1-5, 13-17; John 3:1-17

Human failure and divine faithfulness This is a divine Story, carried forward by God’s grace and power. God’s very great promises (Genesis 12:1-3) find their ultimate fulfilment in the coming of God’s eternal Kingdom (Revelation 21:10). We have not reached our heavenly destination. We are still caught in the tension between obedience (Genesis 12:4) and disobedience (Genesis 12:11-13). We are conscious of our human failure, yet we rejoice in the divine faithfulness. We read of Abraham’s sin (Genesis 12:10-20), yet we look beyond this to God's salvation. This is not simply the story of Abraham. It is the Story of Abraham's God. This becomes clear in the change of name. Abram (‘exalted father’) draws attention to the man. Abraham (‘Father of Many’) points to God’s purpose (Genesis 17:5). Like Abraham, we are to worship God (Genesis 12:7-8). We are to say, ‘He is exalted’. We are to say, ‘Christ must increase, and I must decrease’ (John 3:30).
Our help comes from the Lo…

First Sunday in Lent: Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7; Psalm 32; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11

Created by God and for God, we have sinned against Him. We noted, in Genesis 1:1-3, the importance of getting our priorities right - God, God’s Word, God’s Spirit. Here, we emphasize the importance of these priorities. We are under God. We must remember that He is God (Genesis 2:15). We are to obey God’s Word (Genesis 2:16-17). Here, we learn that the act of obedience is an act of freedom. In Christ, we are set free to obey God. God says, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden’. He does not then say, ‘You are free to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’. He says, ‘You must not’. The act of disobedience is not an act of freedom. By choosing the way of sin, we show that we are in bondage. We are not free. We are the captives of sin, and we need to be set free - by Christ (John 8:32, 36). We come to know God, choosing good rather than evil, as we follow the way of God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:16; Hebrews 5:14). The creation of woman is bound up with the crea…

Ninth Sunday (or Last Sunday) after the Epiphany (Transfiguration of the Lord) – Exodus 24:12-18; Psalm 2 (or Psalm 99, suggested as an alternative for Ninth Sunday); 2 Peter 1:16-21; Matthew 17:1-9

May our words point to Jesus Christ, the living Word of God. Moses was alone with the Lord - receiving the Word of the Lord (Exodus 24:1-2). Moses went to the people - speaking the Word of the Lord (Exodus 24:3). There was also a written ministry of the Word (Exodus 24:4). At the heart of our worship, there is ‘the blood of the covenant’ (Exodus 24:8; 12:13; John 1:29; Hebrews 9:22; 10:4; 9:13-14; 1 John 1:7). Moses worshipped on ‘the mountain of God’ (Exodus 24:12-18). We worship ‘in spirit and truth’ (John 4:19-24). We come to the Father through Christ and in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:18). We come on the basis of Christ’s blood shed for us (Hebrews 10:19-22). We come as those to whom the Spirit has been given (John 1:33; 3:34). With ‘the Spirit of God’ living in us and helping us as we pray, let us feast on Christ, the Truth, the living Word, to whom the written and spoken words point us (Romans 8:9,26; John 14:6; 1:1,14; 17:17).
May our words point to Jesus Ch…

Eighth Sunday after the Epiphany – Isaiah 49:8-16a; Psalm 131; 1 Corinthians 4:1-5; Matthew 6:24-34

Good News for everyone: Jesus Christ is our Redeemer. ‘I, the Lord, am your Saviour, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob’. We are not to keep this to ourselves. God wants ‘all mankind’ to ‘know’ (Isaiah 49:26). ‘Jesus, the Name to sinners dear, the Name to sinners given, it scatters all their guilty fear, it turns their hell to heaven’- This is not something to keep to ourselves. We must make Christ known to others - ‘Oh, that the world might taste and see the riches of His grace! The arms of love that compass me, would all mankind embrace. His only righteousness I show, His saving truth proclaim: ‘tis all my business here below to cry: “Behold the Lamb!” Happy, if with my latest breath I may but gasp His Name: preach Him to all, and cry in death: “Behold, behold the Lamb!”’ (Mission Praise, 385). ‘Go into all the world and preach the Good News’ (Mark 16:15).
Good News for everyone: In Jesus Christ, there is “full redemption.” We are not to pray to God with superficial …

Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany – Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18; Psalm 119:33-40; 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23; Matthew 5:38-48

Holiness and love
Holiness and love - the two belong together (Leviticus 19:1, 18, 34). God calls us to live a life of holiness, a life of love. Through His Spirit - the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love - , He enables us to live this life. We need His promises. We need His commands. Take them both together - not one without the other! Promises without commands - We take God for granted, we presume on His blessing. Commands without promises - Our 'obedience' becomes a legalistic thing which has nothing to do with the Gospel of grace. We are to 'be holy... before Him in love' (Ephesians 1:4). 'The holiness without which no one will see the Lord' (Hebrews 12:14) is to be accompanied by the 'love' without which we are 'nothing' (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). The Lord has redeemed us: By His grace, we shall 'be holy... in love' (Leviticus 19:34, 36).
Through the Scriptures of truth, we are led on the pathway of holiness and love.
‘Revive me ac…