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Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12-13; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Matthew 5:1-12a

The Lord is calling us back to Himself - from sin and sadness to salvation and gladness.
‘The great Day of the Lord is near - near and coming quickly... That Day will be a Day of wrath... I will bring distress upon the people... because they have sinned against the Lord’ (Zephaniah 1:14-17). This is God’s Word of warning. He is calling us back to Himself: ‘Seek the Lord - before the fierce anger of the Lord comes upon you, before the Day of the Lord’s wrath comes upon you’. We are to seek the Lord in ‘righteousness’ and ‘humility’. This is the way of being ‘sheltered on the Day of the Lord’s anger’ (Zephaniah 2:2-3). God is calling us to ‘worship Him in Spirit and in truth’: ‘Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to His service and pleasing to Him. This is the true worship that you should offer’ (John 4:24; Romans 12:1).
In Zephaniah, we have a story of sin - Woe to the city of oppressors, rebellious and defiled! She has not obeyed His voice. She has not …
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Tenth Sunday after Pentecost: Genesis 29:15-28; Psalm 105:1-11, 45b (or Psalm 128) or 1 Kings 3:5-12; Psalm 119:129-136; Romans 8:26-39; Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

Trust in the Lord. He is working in us to do us good. The tables are turned on Jacob. The trickster is tricked! The ‘trick’ was according to the ‘custom’ that the elder daughter should be given in marriage before the younger one (Genesis 29:23, 25-26). Seven years became fourteen years (Genesis 29:18-20, 27, 30). Jacob did receive his heart’s desire, but there was a lesson to be learned: Going God’s way is better than getting your own way. ‘All things work together for good to those who love God’ (Romans 8:28) - this doesn’t mean that we always get what we want. We must learn to ‘let go and let God have His wonderful way’, and to say, ‘This God - His way is perfect’ (Psalm 18:30). Out of love for Rachel (Genesis 29:18, 20), Jacob served Laban for an extra seven years. We would serve Christ better if we loved Him more. Jesus still asks the question, ‘Do you love Me?’ (John 21:15-17).
Look to the Lord and receive His strength. ‘Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face …

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost: Genesis 28:10-19a; Psalm 139:1-13, 23-24 or Isaiah 44:6-8; Psalm 86:11-17; Romans 8:12-25; Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Saved by grace, we are led “in the way everlasting.” Was this just another night (Genesis 28:11)? No! This was a night to remember, a night Jacob would never forget. God came to him with His wonderful promise of love: ‘I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you’ (Genesis 28:15). At Bethel (‘the house of God’), powerfully transformed by the presence of God - ‘Surely the Lord is in this place’ (Genesis 28:16) - , Jacob consecrated himself to the Lord. ‘If’ (Genesis 28:20) means ‘Since.’ See Romans 8:31 - ‘If (Since) God is for us, who can be against us?’ Giving the tenth (Genesis 28:22): this is not legalism, a kind of repayment scheme. There can be no ‘salvation by works.’ We are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). Our giving must always be a heartfelt expression of thanksgiving to the God of grace: ‘Loving Him who first loved me’. We are saved ‘to do good works’ (Ephesians 2:10) - not because we do good works!
God has given us eternal life. We pray, “Lead…

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost: Genesis 25:19-34; Psalm 119:105-112 or Isaiah 55:10-13: Psalm 65:(1-8), 9-13; Romans 8:1-11; Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

Choosing the Lord’s way: Our response to God’s grace Esau was a fool. He chose his own way rather than the Lord’s way. Jacob was a ‘heel’! ‘Born with his hand holding on to Esau’s heel..., he was named Jacob (Heel)’ (Genesis 25:26). A crafty twister, a manipulating cheat, there was nothing about him that merited God’s blessing. Jacob was not superior to Esau. Like Esau, Jacob was a sinner. Esau was not inferior to Jacob. Both were guilty before God. Why, then - in God’s purpose - does ‘the elder’ (Esau) ‘serve the younger’ (Jacob) (Genesis 25:23)? The answer is grace, the ‘amazing grace’ of God. Grace lifted Jacob. The glory belongs to God. Grace could have lifted Esau. By grace Jacob valued the birthright (God’s blessing). His way of seeking God’s blessing was devious. Nevertheless, he was seeking for God - and God, in His grace, found him and made him a new man (Genesis 32:28). ‘Wonderful grace of Jesus, greater than all my sin!’
Choosing the Lord’s way: Our choice for the whol…

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost: Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67; Psalm 45:10-17 or Song of Solomon 2:8-13 (or Zechariah 9:9-12); Psalm 145:8-14; Romans 7:15-25a; Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

Rejoicing in God’s love and faithfulness, let us seek His guidance and blessing. The detailed account of Isaac's marriage highlights the guidance of God. He directs the life of His people. This is our testimony - ‘the Lord... has led me on the right road’ (Genesis 24:48). The great lessons of this story are stated in Genesis 24:27. (a) the ‘steadfast love’ of the Lord; (b) the ‘faithfulness’ of God; (c) the guidance of God - ‘the Lord has led me’; (d) worshipping the Lord - ‘Blessed be the Lord...’ We are to seek God’s guidance, rejoicing in His love and trusting in His faithfulness. Looking to Christ, who went to the Cross for us, we are to say, with Him, ‘I have come to do Thy will, O God’, ‘I will praise Thee’, ‘I will put my trust in Him’, ‘Here am I, and the children God has given Me’ (Hebrews 10:7; 2:12-13). To those who do His will, praising Him and trusting Him, God will give much blessing - ‘an overflowing blessing’ (Malachi 3:10). ----- In Genesis 24:60, we read o…

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time: Isaiah 8:23-9:3; 1 Corinthians 1:10-13,17; Matthew 4:12-23

"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light" (Isaiah 9:2).
The prophecy has been spoken - ‘To us a Child is born, to us a Son is given...’. The prophecy has been fulfilled - ‘Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you: He is Christ the Lord’. Jesus Christ is our great Saviour. He is our ‘Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9:6: Luke 2:11). Jesus Christ has brought to us a great salvation. Through faith in Him, we enter God’s heavenly and eternal ‘Kingdom’ (Isaiah 9:7: Luke 1:30-33). This is ‘Good News of great joy’ - for ‘all the people’, for ‘all generations’. Let us rejoice in the Lord, as Mary, the mother of Jesus, did - ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour... for the Mighty One has done great things for me...’. Let us join with the angels in saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest...’ (Luke 2:10; Luke 1:46-50; Luke 2:14).

All The Grace Comes From God, And All Th…

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time: Isaiah 49:3,5-6; 1 Corinthians 1:1-3; John 1:29-34

Don't Keep God's Great Salvation To Yourself.
"The Lord said to me: You are my servant, Israel, through whom I show My glory ... I will make you a light to the nations, that My salvation may reach to the ends of the earth" (Isaiah 49:1,7).
We are not to keep the Lord's salvation 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 an…